Various Artists

Punjabi Lounge

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From the Buddha Lounge people comes Punjabi Lounge, a two-disc, continuously-mixed set similarly steeped in sonic and cultural cross pollination. Panjabi MC (ft. Desi Boys) kicks things off, crossing Banghra, James Brown, and hip-hop rhythms for an irresistibly danceable track. "Maifa" is probably the strongest thing here, though Jolly Mukherjee's "Kirwani" is a lengthy blend of chattering jungle beats, traditional instrumentation, and swirling mystery. Problem is, these highlights are scattered among the usual chillout compilation grooves (Moby's "Another Woman"; "Air Giant" from Transglobal Underground) or misguided inclusions. "Prophecy," Nitin Sawhney's collaboration with Terry Callier, is an interesting track. But what's it doing here? Similarly, an interminable "after dark" mix of Echo Dek and "Futurism" offers none of the exotic -- or at least intellectually curious -- flair promised by this set's title or earlier material. Disc Two fares a bit better, with interesting material from Rhinôçérôse and Kevin Yost, as well as up-and-comers like Ether, whose "Kashmir Love" expertly crosses traditional percussion and sitar with rhythm. Moments like these give this set some legs, and will offer the casual listener something tangible. Ultimately however, like so many compilations, Punjabi Lounge finds itself struggling to fill the gaps that open between the flashy cover art and a handful of solid cuts.

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