Various Artists

Edge of the World [Narada]

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Edge of the World is one of two worldbeat compilations released simultaneously in a cooperative venture between Global Rhythm magazine and the Narada label (its companion volume is titled Planet Buzz). Both offer somewhat similar collections of music that involve various kinds of fusion between the electronic textures of American and European dance music and the melodies, instrumental timbres and rhythms of South America, Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean; all tracks are culled from the free sampler discs that come with each issue of the magazine. To Narada's credit, this means that much of the material on these discs came from some of its competitors, including Ninja Tune, Luaka Bop, Six Degrees and other similarly broad-minded labels. Edge of the World features excellent contributions from such established names as the Dhol Foundation (whose "Healing With Turmeric" starts things off on a blisteringly funky high note), Zuco 103, and Karsh Kale, but some of the best moments come courtesy of the more obscure artists, such as the brilliant Mexican ensemble Los de Abajo, and a young Cameroonian songwriter named So' Forest. There's even a cameo appearance by second-wave ska veteran Terry Hall (late of the Specials), on the vaguely Arabic "Gathering Storm." Recommended.