Various Artists

Hip Guide to Marrakesh

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Evidently, Hip Guide to Marrakesh is the first in a planned series of compilations that will endeavor to sketch the musical contours of exotic locales. Which is fine, except Hip Guide sounds more like a typically average downtempo set, spiced with vague references to African and Arabic rhythms. It doesn't help that, besides Fragile State's leadoff track, there's almost no name recognition for any of the comp's artists. The "Earth Shattered" remix of Freedom Dancer's "Middle Sky" interprets hyperactive drum'n'bass in tabla and oud, while "Koubba" (from Ancienne S, whoever they are) puts its beats believably in the North African desert. Disc two of Hip Guide is more of the same, opening with a track from relatively well-known electronicist Al-Pha-X (aka Declan Flynn) before wandering into a faceless mix of beats that suggest the clogged chillout section at your local record shop more than they do Marrakesh. Late set entry Starry Shehan does concoct a mild bhangra groove on "Don't Cry," but it's not enough to make Hip Guide to Marrakesh an essential travel companion.

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