Various Artists

Putumayo Presents: Travel the World with Putumayo

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Putumayo Presents: Travel the World with Putumayo is the first in a series of DVDs in the works from Putumayo, presenting the visual accompaniment to the last ten years of albums. Some of the top names in the line are represented in various music videos and concert footage here, though there is also much amiss (presumably to come in future releases). The videos are almost entirely shot on location in the country of origin, and are generally quite colorful and vibrant. The opposite side of that coin is that some of the videos often appear to be shot with a handheld camcorder, and the image quality corresponds from time to time. Despite this, the music is the real star regardless of the visual aspects. The disc starts out with some Congolese mambo courtesy of Ricardo Lemvo, moves through Chico César's Brazilian ode to Africa (heading in the other direction) and finds itself in the Czech Republic with a vaguely Spanish sound. The Parisian Gotan Project pumps out some tango electronica in Santa Maria (del Buen Ayre) with a nod to the Piazzolla opera, and Tukuleur provides a Senegalese rap over a cover of Toto's "Africa" (in one of the higher production value videos on the disc). The disc jumps around throughout Africa for the rest of the music video portion, with exceptions from Brazil's Rita Ribeiro and Canadian Celt Mary Jane Lamond. The music video portion ends on a cross-cultural piece blending modern Arabesque (Arab electronica) with Indian vocals for a Bollywood-esque extravaganza in front of the Taj Mahal, almost certainly the hands-down highlight of the disc. Two fine videos from Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi and Habib Koite follow from concerts in a Zimbabwean bar and a Belgian concert hall, respectively. The videos are inconsistent in quality, but the music is essentially a greatest-hits compilation of Putumayo's catalog, and as such can barely go wrong.

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