Friday, October 22, 2010

Aster Aweke


Aster Aweke 
14" x 8"
oil on wood, 2010

I've already told you about the blog Awesome Tapes from Africa, and I say again: It is awesome. Their second to last entry was once again a gem: Aster Aweke's very first tape from the late 1970s recorded in Addis Ababa. I had never heard of Aster Aweke (b. 1961, Ethiopia) but she is apparently well known in the US, to which country she moved in 1981. As I do once in a blue monday, I ran a tape deck along with the digital sounds of the blog, clicked on the image of the cover for the original tape cassette, set my printer to 66%, print, and I have a home made replica of the original tape. Surely many have done this before me but I should ask the blog's proprietor, Brian Shimkovitz if this is ethical or not, one day I will...  And thanks to Phil Briggs for his informative comment regarding Aweke on the Awesome Tapes' site, and to Wikipedia for that matter for additional information. I'm really into thanking people right now so here's to Ross Simonini of Believer magazine who lead me to Awesome Tapes from Africa back in 2008.

Painting that lovely image from that cassette, I again, as with the previous pipe player, went into naive mode: I painted like a beginner:: I painted like I painted Asta and Boris when I was sixteen::: A small brush, hardly any medium, no vision or plan besides to paint that lovely image. Asta and Boris , by the way, were my brother's first two dogs (he's had a bunch now, and names them following the alphabet, just like the hurricanes, I can't remember his C, but then he had Daisy, then Ezra, now his dog's name starts with a G I believe). It was my painting debut with the set of oils I had just received for Christmas (actually Sinterklaas, Dec. 5th) from him. Those paintings were quite nice, the dogs were Danes, and I really captured their eyes' sad goofy look. Painting the painting opened up the opportunity to make it into a psychedelic painting, but I refrained. I think that one can still sense the psychedelic possibility even without the purple and orange mushroom shapes and the stairs going all spirally into the sky. Then listen to the tape and get all orange and purple and mushroomy. And if you keep listening, you come to track 4, and you'll hear the spirally stairs. The stairs FYI are pretty much the same as Jonathan Richman's stairs in Egyptian Reggae from about the same time. Don't get any wrong ideas: I swear I wasn't intoxicated when I wrote this... promise (this is not the 1970s!)

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