Hailu Mergia is a one-man band. In 1985, master accordionist and veteran bandleader, arranger and keyboardist released the Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument cassette. In a nostalgic effort to bring back the vintage accordion sound of his youth, Hailu gave Ethiopian music a sonic makeover. He was already celebrated for his work with the groundbreaking Addis Ababa ethio-jazz and funk outfit Walias Band. With imagination and a visionary sense of the self-contained possibilities of modern music, he captured the popular sounds of the past using the modern tools of the day.
Hailu Mergia weaves Moog and DX7 synthesizers, Rhodes electric piano and rhythm machine into the rich harmonic layering of his accordion, creating hauntingly psychedelic, elegantly arranged instrumentals. These tunes draw from famous traditional and modern Ethiopian songs, as Hailu brilliantly matches lush Amhara, Tigrinya and Oromo melodies with otherworldly flavors soaked in jazz and blues, synthesizing a futuristic landscape. He balances Ethiopian music’s signature melodic shape with beautiful analog synth touches, floating upon clouds of hypnotically minimal rhythm tracks.