Various Artists

A Window on the World Sampler [Box Set]

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If you can rank the generosity of a record label by its samplers, then the French world music imprint Inédit (distributed by Naive) sure gives a lot. Released in mid-2002, A Window on the World is a four-CD set sold for the price of a single CD. It contains four hours and 40 minutes of music from around the globe, all taken from previously released Inédit productions. The sound quality is consistently excellent and the selection of tracks provides a clear overview of the label's catalog and its diversity of musical expression, both secular and sacred. The first three CDs cover one region each: Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, the latter also including a generous serving of excerpts from the Anthology of Azerbaidjiani Mugâm (a nine-volume series). Each of the first three discs follows a logical geographical itinerary. Disc four is less satisfying, mainly because some regions of the world are less well represented in the label's catalog (good; it leaves room to grow). After a journey through Russia and Eastern Europe listeners jump to three South American cuts and a final blues number by John Dee Holeman -- the plane simply flies too fast for this last part of the trip. But again, this set doesn't pretend to be a well-balanced survey of world cultures, but a sampler. And a very fine one it is. Beginners in the field of authentic world music have a chance to taste many meals before deciding what to eat.

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