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Thursday, February 26, 2004

Review - Sahara Lounge

Artist: Various Artists

Posted on Thu, Feb 26, 2004 at 4:00 AM

Thankfully, this collection of "entrancing fusions of Middle Eastern melodies and rhythms with cutting-edge electronica and remixes" (cough, cough) isn't nearly as cloying as the back-cover blurb would lead you to believe. In fact, despite the obvious attempt by the folks at Putumayo to ratchet up the club cachet on these dozen tracks, the majority of them succeed simply as solid Arabic-language pop songs with an exceptionally modern bottom end. Most of the songs originate from -- and reflect -- the pop scenes in Morocco, Lebanon, the UAE and other culturally relaxed desert locales, and it's the tracks like "Desert Road" (by English guitarist Justin Adams) and the clumsy "Cleopatra in New York" by Nickodemus that, in their attempt to "fuse cultures," wind up sounding the most ill-advised. Arabic pop -- or any other pop music for that matter -- doesn't need the imprimatur of Western "cutting-edge electronica" to make it valid. There are hundreds of producers working in scores of styles in dozens of countries that can make interesting and vibrant music on their own, thank you very much. This compilation, however unintentionally, makes that point quite well.

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