Formed in London, England about six years ago, émigré Ethiopian band Krar Collective create a timeless, otherworldly sound through their principal instrument the krar (played by Temesgen Zeleke), which is supported by kebero drums (Grum Begashaw) and the ululating (intense wailing) vocals of Genet Assefa. Krar Collective’s goal is to interpret songs and dances from all over Ethiopia (That’s a lot of styles!) and put them on the international stage. They believed that sticking to a spare instrumental lineup and avoiding Western instruments altogether would prove a strength. The six‐stringed acoustic krar resembles a small harp, but Temesgen has electrified this uniquely Ethiopian instrument, wielding it like a guitar or a violin as the song requires. In his hands, plugged in and strummed with hypnotic vibes, the non‐fretted krar becomes a gritty, ancient rock guitar, contributing to a sound full of jangling grooves, mysteriously haunting melodies, eruptions of bass harmony, and so much more.
Genet Assefa, a former pop singer living in London, England, has the power to rival any Ethiopian diva you’ve ever heard. She possesses a seemingly endless repertoire of dance moves, as well as an equally endless wardrobe. The spellbinding rhythms of the double‐headed kebero drum provide the trio’s backbeat. Traditionally used to accompany the ancient religious celebrations of the Ethiopian Orthodox church, the kebero finds a new home in the seductive but spare grooves of Krar Collective’s performances. No flashy solos here: just top‐notch playing which, sometimes, is heavy enough for hard rock, yet, at other times, can be as soft as rice shifting in a silk purse. Because of its raw, minimalist instrumentation and intense delivery, Krar Collective has been dubbed “The Ethiopian White Stripes;” however, its sound is much bigger and most of its songs are longer.