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Cheb i Sabbah :: As Far As: a dj mix
[six degrees]   review from derek  


There's something about boundaries Cheb i Sabbah knows nothing about. A few months back, when asked what would follow his 6D South Asian trilogy, he let in on a mixed CD of roots music from his native Algeria. Fast forward a half- year and As Far As spans 3 continents - Asia, Arabia and Africa - and 9 languages. Just don't call it unfocused.

As Far As is one of those DJ collections you wish you had the know-how (and contacts) to release. If his intent on albums like Krishna Lila and Shri Durga were to trace the connections between classical Indian tradition and digital reconfigurations, that goal goes global here. The beats are woven so well all prejudices melt into the greater mind of music.

Rolling through massive waves, Solace opens with a bangin' d'n'b impinged "Saptak (The Samaya Mix)," Sabbah refreaking this floor crusher. Najma follows with equal weight (avoid this year's Vivid and stick to a track worthwhile) on "Miskatonic," then working in spoken word via Asian Dub Foundation's "Colour Line." The record goes mystic, adds mystique, layering in synths and eerie sonic backdrops with his own "Pour Matoub" before Toires picks up the pace on "Layoun Lokdhor."

The waves continue. The Egyptian diva herself, Natacha Atlas (her Something Dangerous joint is one you'll want to peep) pops up without surprise, as she segues the energy Africa-style. Gnawa Impulse backs-to-back with Trilok Gurtu, whose "Have We Lost Our Dreams" is undoubtedly the most melodic cut, with Mali's Golden Voice, Salif Keita, adding true Africana blues to the mix. Old cohort jazzman Don Cherry near finishes with a Sabbah tampering, closing out with another original, "Hari Om Narayan." It's a fitting ending: reflective, spacious, full circle to India.

With record shelves diluted and divulged of DJ comps, Sabbah remains a few hundred steps in front of the rest. While compilers race to capture the perfect vision of one style, Sabbah runs circles around the world again.



ethnotechno rating: 4.5 out of 5
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  1. solace :: saptak -cheb i sabbah's samaya mix (pick)
  2. najma :: miskatonic
  3. asian dub foundation :: colour line (pick)
  4. paul horn :: agra -cheb i sabbah's emerald mix
  5. cheb i sabbah :: pour matoub
  6. toires :: layoun lokdhor
  7. natacha atlas :: soleil d'egypt
  8. makale :: salla (pick)
  9. gnawa impulse :: lahillah express -jan rase mix (pick)
  10. trilok gurtu :: have we lost our dream?
  11. sekouba bambino :: sinikan
  12. cheb i sabbah :: hari om narayan