Various Artists

Electric Lotus

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Fusing Eastern sounds and rhythms with Western sensibilities is certainly not a new idea. And while hundreds of electronic producers have looked toward southern Asia for inspiration, no one is yet to top George Harrison's primal looped beat on "Tomorrow Never Knows." But impossible competition with the Beatles notwithstanding, Daramsala native Baba G. has made a career out of taking the sounds of his Indian home and recontextualizing them for Western audiences. This collection finds Baba G. working with some of America's most forward-looking hip-hop producers, including Dan the Automator, DJ Swamp, and Damon Elliot, to produce an album's worth of music that veers from inspired fusion to bad ethnic restaurant fodder. Surprisingly, it is Dan the Automator's contribution that is the weakest of the group. Despite his consistently clever work as a member of Handsome Boy Modeling School and Gorillaz, "Ali Mola" is a flat singalong that displays none of his usual savvy. DJ Swamp fares a little better with his uptempo "Lotus Mix," but falls short on the plodding "Sun." Only Damon Elliot performs extremely well, surprisingly so since his most notable work as producer for Pink and Destiny's Child makes him the most conventional of the bunch. "Father" morphs a wailing Indian cry into lightning-quick scratching, while "Holy Prophet -- What Are You?" turns a churning sitar and chant loop into a magnificent platform for rapper Man Man and reggae vocalist Sky High. Baba G. himself performs nicely on the electro-acid-tinged "Mola," indicating that perhaps he should have kept the controls to himself because his all-star team of co-producers often fails to score points.

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