Review - Arabian Travels 2

Artist: Various Artists

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All too often these "ethno-electro" compilations provide a comfortable, if not too deep, voyage into funky globalism. Tablas, oud, koto ... whatever "exotic" instrument you're curious about can somewhere be found wedded to a decent club beat on a CD that will provide you with about an hour of uninterrupted jet-set chill. To be sure, "Arabian Travels 2" is another fine entry in Six Degrees' estimable series of such releases. Yet, unlike other labels, every disc 6D releases always contains a surprise or two that snaps your reverie. Here, it's stunning cuts from Mercan Dede ("Nar I Ney" is a phenomenal pan-Arabic dreamer gliding along a restlessly propulsive beat) and Esoterica (who check in with "Allisallah," a retro charmer that's as evocative of a mid-'80s Jeddah mixtape as it is a downtempo playlist), along with eight other high-quality tracks. You've never heard any of the acts here, with the exception of Eastenders (although Natacha Atlas does make a guest appearance), but that shouldn't delude you into thinking that this is just another compilation of no-name talents. Indeed, the opposite is true.

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