Close the blinds, light some incense and secure your best belly chain for Natacha Atlas' belly-dancer-hits-the-club-scene album "Gedida." The multicultural release mixes North African, Arabic and Western dance music into a collection that is foreign to the American ear, yet mysteriously pleasing in small doses. Atlas chants and whirls her way through 11 cuts, offering lines like: "Let's talk about ideas, inspiration, liberation, consciousness raising, experimentation, invocation and innovation."
She explores her half-Muslim, half-Jewish ancestry with decidedly political, religious and sometimes love-stricken lyrics. Her phrasing is reminiscent of an ancient ritualistic prayer session, set to an array of squealing strings and scratching percussion. "Gedida" means "new" in Arabic, and this CD is a definite novelty to Stateside listeners. But if you already own finger cymbals and a pillar candle, you're halfway there.