Various Artists

Think Global: Bellydance

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Created by Oxfam and ecologically packed in recycled card, this is yet another release in a global series of compilations, but for a good cause. The very word "Bellydance" might make some Westerners want to cringe, but it's a living art form, one that in its original form of "oriental dance" dates back a long way. Although a lot of atrocious music has been released for belly dancing, this is the glorious exception to the rule. Every track is a peak, whether it's the intricate arrangement of Mohamed Abdel Wahab's "Aziza" by Hossam Ramzy or the superb Turkish playing of Omar Faruk Tekbilek. The rhythms are crisp and complex, multi-layered with delicacy, and the strings swirl with the majesty you'd expect on any recording of Middle Eastern music (Mahmoud Fadl's "Sirec El Hobb" is outstanding). Carefully paced and sequenced, this is a disc that can be used for dancing, but also one that warrants several listenings to unravel all the depths of pleasure of the qanun (hammered dulcimer) or the oud (listen to Mohammad Al Asan on the former and the remarkable Richard A. Hagopian on the latter). There are also some excellent vocalists featured, like Smadar Levi and Fatme Serhan. Altogether a superb compilation, not just of music for belly dancing, but of Middle Eastern sounds.

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