Six Degrees Series :: Arabian Travels 2
Saturday, October 4th, 2003 @ 22 pm: the DJ is hunched over the mixing desk, anticipation etched on his face. He's been waiting for this moment all week. Rarely is he this eager about the first record of his set for the night. The lower level of the lounge-bar is still in unwind mode; model types in their Jimmy Choos daintily sip on their Cosmo's - schmoozing is in full effect tonight. As the first few strains of the record emanate from the speakers, the DJ feels as if all eyes are on him. The tension is thick, he dares a peek at the crowd and almost breathes a sigh of relief, no one's really noticed. And then it happens; the bass drop in the middle of the ghostly strings; muted yet jarring. In the middle of the swaying bodies, a few nods in the direction of the man responsible for the exotic sounds - not nods of recognition or friendship but of appreciation for adding some flava to the night's proceedings. The DJ is yours truly and that track is the Eastenders' "Tender."
The regions represented on this latest installment of the Six Degrees Travel Series - France, Canada, Germany, Japan, Ireland, Turkey, Egypt - read like a cross-section of the world map. But isn't this Arabian Travels 2? If there is one thing you cannot say about a Six Degrees release is that it is geographically constrained. For someone whose ears have not been exposed to Arabic/Middle Eastern music beyond that of Chebs Khaled and Mami, this was a great (albeit, electronic) primer to the diverse melodies that modern 'Arabian' music exponents can create. Its a shame I missed the first volume. A blunder I will soon make up for.
The first two tracks are pretty mellow and exotic excursions into dub and ambient territory. Montreal DJ Arkin Allen who records under the name Mercan Dede mixes Sufi mysticism with strings and electronic flourishes on "Nar I Ney." Next up is "Tender" which just bubbles with deep bass grooves and Middle Eastern strings to give us seven minutes of pure laidback chillout bliss, all courtesy of Stefan Müller (DJ Eastenders) who brought us the equally excellent Orientation 1 & 2. According to the label website, Makyo's "Shalale" was written with belly dancers in mind and once the percussion starts getting desperate at 5:09, all you wanna do is follow along to the handclaps that close out the gorgeous tune. Things do get a little more uptempo from the next track onwards which features the masterful percussion of Reda Darwish. Ever since Advent reviewed his album, I've been feenin' for a listen of Christophe Goze and I sure-as-hell was not disappointed. dZihan & Kamien now have major competition, at least in my book. Middle Eastern electronica at its finest.
The party doesn't stop on this one. One listen to this set of tunes and you'll be convinced that the Arabian Massive is giving its Asian counterpart a run for its money. Play this way loud at your next global jet set gathering and don't forget to take a toke...of the sheesha, that is.