Various Artists

Bombay Beats [Water Music]

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Fusing Indian pop and Punjabi folk music with house and hip-hop beats has been a popular pastime for years now, but this collection sets itself apart from the pack by putting more emphasis on the Asian and less on the Western elements. Sure, there are plenty of funky breaks, but Bombay Beats feels less like a work of East/West fusion and more like a showcase of state-of-the-art South Asian pop music than do most similar compilations. Whether it's Feroz Khan singing "Put Sarderan De" or Shin G.C. bouncing his way through "Nach de Punjabi," the predominant flavor is pure Indian -- or at least pure Euro-Indian. On the other hand, Maduu's "Slow Down" and Mykej's "Sitar in the Sky" both bounce along on deeply hip-hop-inflected grooves, and "Soham," by Dao, ends the program with a very impressive piece of intricate, almost delicate junglism. In fact, most of the album's best tracks come near the end -- other highlights include two beautiful contributions from the great Black Star Liner: "Yemen Cutta Connection Dub" and the outstanding "Harmon Session Special." All the Asian Underground masses will love this as a matter of course, but those who want an introduction to the best in modern Indian music will find this collection a great place to start as well.

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