Various Artists

Putumayo Presents: World Groove

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Deciding not to pigeonhole themselves with any single culture to work from as a base, the folks at Putumayo this time have put out an album of groove music from a sector no smaller than the world itself. Despite this original statement though, the focus of the music lies in Europe and Africa, with some small bits of disruption. The phenomenon of dance music has its core in Europe, so it's not terribly surprising that they'd be at the forefront of the world groove (aka world-tronica, aka ethno-trance) movement, as well as purely European dance music that features heavily here. The album opens up with the French DJs Rouge Rouge and a surprisingly catchy bounce. Turk Mustafa Sandal has a remix straight from mid- to late- '90s American R&B, and some very nice electro-pop from a German group leads into another French DJ collective, closing the first European pass with a surprisingly effective Cuban hook. Starting a tour of Africa, the current master of fusing the old and new, Issa Bagayogo, combines synths, koras, and ngonis on a hit from his Timbuktu album. Zap Mama bridges the gap between continents culturally, adding a deep thump under the usual vocal prowess, and a hip-hop hit from Cheb Mami's Dellali album follows, moving the focus north a bit. Finishing up the African pass is South African Brenda Fassie, remixed into some dub-like dance. Moving out of the main spheres a bit at the end, there's a piece of electro-son from Edesio, and a piece from the Middle East by Lebanese Ragheb Alama. Included with the disc is a stray Egyptian/Indian video from the Travel the World With Putumayo DVD, as well as a full album-length sampler taking from the full lines of groove and lounge CDs on Putumayo. Given the incredible beats and dance music on the primary disc, and some extra bonuses, this disc ranks highly among world dance releases for the year.

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