‘Anbessa Dub’ is an innovative project produced by Zvuloon Dub System that links the threads
of diverse lands, languages and cultures to weave a novel original sound in the world of music.
The project is the realization of the band members’ ethos of “ONE WORLD, ONE LOVE, ONE MUSIC” accomplished by blending elements of Roots Reggae with scales, rhythms and languages of Ethiopian music. The word Anbessa translates to ‘lion’ in Ethiopian Amharic.
The Rastafarians that invented reggae saw Ethiopia as the Promised Land, and considered its Emperor Haile Selassie I to be the incarnation of God on Earth. Jamaican Rastafarians are descendants of slaves that were taken from Africa from the 17th century on. They see an analogy between the story of the Israelites and the one of the Africans that were enslaved and deported away from their motherland.
The thousands of reggae songs that were written in the last 60 years are a crystallization of the intention of the Rastafarians’ longing for the day of their return to their motherland Africa as a free people. Ethiopia in particular represents the grounds upon which African struggle and resistance against European colonization unfolded.
Rastafarians were therefore very deeply influenced by the idea of the Ethiopian myth and from
the figure of Haile Selassie; nevertheless, their actual knowledge of Ethiopian customs, music
and languages was limited in scope.
The new Zvuloon Dub System project blends roots reggae within the context of the unique
vibration of Ethiopian culture. The project offers fresh versions of famous songs from the golden
age of modern Ethiopian music together with original songs written by the members of the
The project features several artists from the ‘Beta Israel’ community (the Jewish Ethiopian
community that immigrated to Israel during the 80’s and the 90’s) playing the music they grew
up with, in their mother tongue. The collaboration of these artists with the members of Zvuloon
Dub System creates a new style of music which is neither “Ethiopian music” nor “Jamaican Roots
Reggae”, but rather a new sonic manifestation that crosses borders and cultural boundaries.
The aural signature of the group is an elegant synthesis of the pentatonic scales typical of Ethiopian
music with the characteristic drum and bass heavy sounds of reggae dub rounded out by jazzy
free-form lines of the brass section filling the spaces. Electric guitars with sounds characteristic
of funk and soul music are augmented by the traditional Ethiopian instruments and African
drums. The lyrics of the songs talk about the longing and nostalgia for the forgotten and beloved
The band is about to release its second album entirely dedicated to this innovative union of
Ethiopian music and Reggae. The album (which is slated to be released early in 2014) features
songs in three different Ethiopian languages: Amharic, Tigrinya and Gurage.
The lead singer of the band, Gili Yalo, was born in the Gondar region of Ethiopia in 1979. In
1984 Gili’s family began an arduous journey on foot towards the land of Israel. After staying in
a refugee camp in Sudan for several months, the family finally immigrated to Israel. Gili was
raised in Safed and Ramla.
“My mother says that during the journey from Ethiopia to Israel, while sitting on my father’s shoulders, I was singing songs in Amharic. That was the time when my mother felt that I was destined to become a singer, and I haven’t stopped singing ever since”.
In his youth, Gili sang with ‘Pirkhey Yerushalaim’ band, and has sang in several bands since then, mainly in English. Gili has been a member of Zvuloon Dub System since 2010. Via collaboration with the other members of the band, Gili has been exposed once again to the Amharic music he heard in his childhood in Ethiopia, bringing him full-circle to his roots, culture and mother tongue .
Zvuloon Dub System is an 8 piece band consisting of the cream of Israeli underground musicians.
Adopting their name from one of the twelve tribes of Israel, the band was formed in 2006 by the Smilan brothers.
They share the same deep passion for roots reggae and dub along with influences from a variety of music styles– Ethiopian jazz and rare grooves from the 70’s, the soul, funk and jazz from the US, as well as Israeli oriental music. In creative solidarity with some of the pivotal producers of reggae such as Lee Perry and King Tubby, the band is keen on creating not just their own music but their own sound. All their tracks are produced, recorded and mixed in the band’s analog studio, representing a continuation of a rich cultural heritage. Their debut album “Freedom Time” released on April 2012 on vinyl, CD, and digital format by the band’s independent label, Med.Tone Records.
“Freedom Time” is composed of 9 original songs as well as a groovy reggae rendition of the Jimi Hendrix cut ‘Voodoo Chile’ illustrating the culturally synesthestic aim of the group. Internationally prolific Jamaican reggae artist Ranking Joe also contributes on some cuts.
While the album has a laid back and soulful vibe to it, the live performances reveal the more energetic side of the band illustrating the edge developed during years of live performing. The band not only achieved great success in the reggae scene, but also amongst many music lovers from other genres.
Critical Acclaim for “Freedom Time”
“Zvuloon Dub System demonstrates conclusively why they are Israel’s top reggae band, proving great roots music today finds some of its finest expressions outside its Jamaican homeland. Touching on many of the major themes of conscious reggae with authentic rhythms and tasty lead vocals, Zvuloon deserves a wide international audience.” Roger Steffens, Founding Chairman, Reggae Grammy Committee
“Freedom Time takes the listener back to the golden days of reggae in the 70’s – if I had heard the album without knowing who it was, I would have thought that it was a rare Glen Brown production mixed at King Tubby’s. The musicianship, singing, and production are all top notch. It’s great to find new reggae that sounds so authentic yet so natural.” Michael Goldwasser, Easy Star All Stars
“This small miracle is happening now, with the appearance of “Freedom Time”, the debut album of Zvuloon Dub System.” Album review by Ben Shalev, Haaretz newspaper
“Their sound is organic, fresh, and reminiscent of classic 70’s roots-reggae, yet uniquely their own.” The Reggae Review
“…surprisingly good and mature sounding project” Reggae-Vibes.com
On stage, the band brings a cool breeze of vibrations from around the planet.
With a powerful lead singer, groovy rhythm section and an eccentric brass section, Zvuloon Dub System creates a round and heavy Dub experience giving a new meaning to the word reggae.
In early 2013 the band released ‘Weed Out’, a 12″ single featuring new songs from international reggae stars Cornell Campbell and Ranking Joe.
The band has backed some of the top reggae singers visiting Israel such as the lead singer of Israel Vibration, Apple Gabriel, Jamaican singer Echo Minott and UK DJ Brother Culture. They have opened the stage for international reggae artists Don Carlos, Barrington Levy, Alpha Blondy and Groundation. In 2011 the band toured in Canada and Cyprus and played all around Israel including all the prominent local festivals.
Zvuloon Dub System consists of:
Gili Yalo – vocals Ilan Adiri – tenor sax Inon Peretz – trumpet Ilan Smilan – guitars Simon Nahum – rhythm guitar Lior Romano – keyboards and melodica Tal Markus – bass / backing vocals Asaf Smilan – drums and percussions