The 28 tracks on this two-disc set were culled from BBC Radio 3's nominees for its 2003 world music awards, with all the tracks bearing 2001-03 copyrights. Unsurprisingly, it's very much like hearing a quality two-hour specialty world music program, either in the BBC or, in the US, on noncommercial radio. Certainly the diversity can't be faulted, with performers from Mali, Senegal, England, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Portugal, Cuba, Russia, Sweden, Finland, India, Spain, Mexico, Morocco, and other countries represented. The nature of the music, even given that's bound to cover a wide range given the concept, is also eclectic, from traditional folk styles to dance tunes using modern technology, as well as tracks that cross both regional and genre boundaries. Certainly the compilers can't be accused of plumbing for the familiar, either, as only a handful of names -- Salif Keita, Eliza Carthy, Fela Kuti bandmember Tony Allen, Youssou N'Dour, and Trilok Gurtu, perhaps -- might be familiar to the more casual world music appreciator. If there's any flaw, perhaps it's that a good deal of the selections seem to somehow be inhibited, consciously crafted with state-of-the-art technology, or genteel, as if the rawer aspects of world music might have been underrepresented. There are nonetheless some interesting, even quirky pieces here, like the Gotan Project's tango-dub fusion on "Santa Maria (Del Buen Ayre)"; Kimmo Pohjonen's spooky accordion work "Kaluaja"; Alka Yagnik's lush Indian soundtrack number "Pyar Ka Matlab"; and Omar Faruk Tekbilek's Turkish-bossa nova-like fusion on "Shinanay."
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2