The Western image of bellydancing is associated with Greek or Middle Eastern restaurants, or some form of low-cost home seduction. The truth, of course, is something different. It's an ancient form of dance, requiring extremely complex body control to execute properly -- and it's original name, baladi, has nothing to do with the belly, translating instead as "country dance." But whichever way you look at it, the music on this compilation is made for the dance, whether it's the satisfying full Egyptian strings of Jalilah and Mokhtar Al Said's "Enta Omri," a piece originally written for the great Oum Kolthoum, or the stunning buzuq work of the late Mohamed Matar, whose nimble, inventive playing deserves greater exposure. The centerpiece, however, belongs to Nubian percussionist Mahmoud Fadl, with "Aament Bellah," a piece written to illustrate the power of the dance to lighten spirits and the oppressive weight over everyday life. At 12 minutes, it demands a lot from the listener, but amply repays it with shards of musical genius from the ensemble, and a rhythm that can't be denied. The music ranges from the classical compositions of Mohammed Abdel Wahab to folk pieces, presented in a manner that largely runs the gamut of Middle Eastern music. And if you get tired of using it for dancing, it makes excellent listening too.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson