Various Artists

Hotel Tara: The Intimate Side of Buddha-Lounge

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David and Steve Gordon, the go-to compilers and DJs for the Sequoia label, are back with another thoroughly enjoyable and thematically questionable compilation of chillout groove music for the post-new age. Call it "mystical world groove" or "sensuous nu-global" music, but really, what it is is a three-way cross between worldbeat, ambient, and new age music. It avoids the new age label in part by being genuinely concerned with groove and in part by downplaying the facile, faux mysticism by which the most shameless of the new agers tried to spin simplistic straw into spiritual gold. But at the same time, those who appreciate the practical aspects of new age music (namely, the way it facilitates relaxation, meditation, and/or seduction) will find plenty to love in these Sequoia collections as well. Funky as they can get -- and they do get pretty funky at times -- they're never anything less than pleasant and gentle. Hotel Tara doesn't have anything to do with hotels, but it does feature a very cool surf-derived bassline on Ginkgo Garden's "Woodland Ride," a fun mix of faux Gregorian chant and found-sound space-mission dialogue on Joe Weineck's "Apollo 13," and the downright weird (but unimpeachably funky) "Radio Shamanistan" by Opera to Relax. Skip over the Gordon brothers' own "Enter the Sacred, Pt. 2" (note to the Gordons: using nature sounds to evoke the sacred is a cheap and tired gimmick), but linger a little over Jaya Lakshmi's gorgeous "Govinda Hari." Very nice overall.

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