Various Artists

Rasa Mello II

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Despite its title, there's nothing particularly mellow about most of the music on this unusual compilation -- or at least, there's nothing mellow about its best tracks, which luckily make up a majority of the program. The album opens with a gloriously cheesy number entitled "Voyager in the Night," credited to Lawrence d'Arabia (which seems to be a pseudonym for Jean-Michel Jarre), and the Spanish guitar, tympani, and swelling horns and strings end up sounding like an attempted fusion between a spaghetti Western soundtrack and Middle Eastern exotica. It's wonderful. Things get less goofy and more funky as the program progresses, with a nice downtempo funk setting of some poetry by Tagore (credited to Deepak Chopra, whose heavily treated voice is woven in among some virtuoso programming by Adam Plack), a fascinating duo between fretless bass and tabla by Grupo Batuque, and a nice remix of "Guide Me God" by Ghostland, featuring guest vocals by Sinéad O'Connor and Natacha Atlas. The album bogs down into unimpressive ambient noodling in the middle, but the first half and the last few tracks are well worth the price of admission. Highly recommended.

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