Various Artists

Traveler '01

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The best introduction to the panethnic dance music label Six Degrees is through its Travel Series, an annual compilation that usually focuses on modern expressions of local traditions in one particular area. For the 2001 installment, the focus was less specific, however, and the artists featured come from countries as disparate as India (Sam Zaman [aka State of Bengal]), Brazil (Zuco 103), Cuba (Patato), and the U.K. (Future Loop Foundation). As might be expected, the music is all danceable in various ways, but more surprising is the unpredictability of the various flavors from one track to the next. State of Bengal's "Rama Communication," with its frenetic jungle breakbeats and smooth synthesizer washes, sounds more like London than India (though there are hints of tabla and tamboura peeking through the mix), while Patato's "San Francisco Tiene Su Propio Son" (remixed here by Mark Barrott of Future Loop Foundation) would sound like straight American acid jazz if it weren't for the occasional Cuban-accented Spanish lyric. All of this points to a healthy development in international dance music: a willingness to steal from everyone everywhere, recognizing and celebrating cultural difference without letting oneself be limited by it. Highly recommended.

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