Various Artists

Rough Guide to Arabesque

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People are familiar with rai or some of the more traditional music to emerge from North Africa and the Middle East, but lately there's also been an undercurrent of more adventurous music -- hip-hop and electronica. The roots still shout loud and proud, but the sounds (often made by artists who've moved to Europe or the U.S.) are as hard and modern as anything, anywhere -- for example, the rap of Clotaire K or Mafia Maghrebine, the edgy, skittering rhythms of U-Cef, or the powerful trance of Gnawa Impulse. And this compilation makes the ideal introduction, from the pounding beats of "A Muey A Muey," which was a revelation and breakthrough when it first appeared, to the contemporary remix of Ali Slimani's "S'Habi." The full range of the music gets an airing here, and for anyone with an urge to explore the lesser-known (for now) areas of Maghrebi music, this is the starting point.

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