Various Artists

Modern Bellydance from Lebanon

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This album is a mixture of the traditional and the modern, the Middle Eastern and the Western. As such, it almost defines contemporary belly dance, a form which has become a creature of the media, rather than the folk music it was originally danced to. Still, the results are OK. The track "Ma'zoufat al Moulouk" is heavy on the synths, but also heavy on the drama. The percussion, by Mohammed Gouda, is never cheesy. The instruments, such as the accordion and sax from the West, and the kanoun and santour from the Middle East, add to the atmosphere. One wishes they were used more. Emad Sayyah sings on about half the tracks; he has a good and pleasant voice. Sometimes the proceedings descend into the ridiculous, as on "Khasr'l Harir," which has goofy timbres and strange sound affects reminiscent of the theme from the original Addams Family. As today's belly dance music goes, this disc is definitely above average -- which isn't saying all that much.

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