[stoned asia records]   review from gandhi  

Of the few remnants of the Asian Underground boom of the mid-to late 1990's, only a few artists continue making the kind of music that made the sound popular and so accessible to the wider mainstream audience. One of those artists is United Airlines employee turned DJ/Producer-wonder Farooq Ahmad Khan, better known simply as Pathaan.

Pathaan has been at the forefront of the dance/world scene since the beginning, making his name at the now legendary Swaraj night that exploded out of London's trendy East End and continuing even today with his Stoned Asia music series and accompanying club nights. Breaking slightly away from the Stoned Asia compilations in name, Pathaan's most recent release, the follow-up to 2003's Indian Sunset, Global Sunset, is an exotic blend of east meets eastern with bits of the west mixed in for good measure.

The compilation is divided into two discs, the first entitled Sunset, and accordingly the second disc, Sunrise. Both discs present that down-tempo-chill-out-ambient vibe that Pathaan is well known for, perfect for any lounge, or for the late-night, after hours club minded individual.

As soon as the CD begins to spin, the listener is in for an interesting musical journey. The Almamegretta remix of Massive Attack's "Karmacoma," is nicely put together, but it is the second track, Manish Vyas's "Ishq," with its pulsating percussion and stimulating vocals that garners one's full attention. Another highlight is Chris Coco and Afterlife's mellow "Time to Love," with its jazz meets world feel. The listener's interest is again piqued with Ben Onono's "Badagry Beach." Onono's "Beach" sounds almost familiar, but there is no way this tune could ever be forgotten. As disc one closes, or as the "sun sets," so to speak, the beautiful "Bel El Madhi" by Souad Massi leaves one wanting more. It is one of those tracks that can be felt, despite the lyrics not being in English.

The other half of the Global Sunset, Sunrise, opens on quite a different note, with State of Bengal's remix of Qawwali great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's, "Shadow"-- perhaps my favorite track of the entire compilation. It begins slowly, with Nusratji's eerie vocals floating through the air, ready to be carried away by State of Bengal's well produced drum kit and electronic additions, and SOB obliges brilliantly.

As the "sun rises," the notion that this second disc is supposed to be the up-tempo one fades, as "In the Shade," and Thievery Corporation's remix of Ustad Sultan Khan's "Tarana" both have that down-tempo feel, with "Tarana" taking on a groovy dub element. The pace picks up quickly though with the uplifting Brazilian "Volume," by Carla Alexander, and the rising of the sun is reinforced by another highlight of the album, Hisham Abbas's "Habibi Dah (Nari Narien)." This track is Arabic meets Bollywood, and has the potential to be a mainstay on the international floors of clubs everywhere.

It isn't often that I commend compilations as they often contain songs that are either overplayed or widely available on other albums. That being said, the compilation never seems to bore or repeat. Pathaan, on Global Sunset has come up with something quite innovative, serving up a challenging and original mixture of organic global grooves that mesh quite naturally together.

ethnotechno rating: 5 out of 5
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  1. Massive Attack :: Karma Coma (Napoli Trip Mix)
  2. Manish Vyas :: Ishq -Cheb I Sabbah's Delhi Masjid (pick)
  3. Orchestral World Groove :: Didjeridub
  4. Fragile State :: Four-Four-Four (pick)
  5. Chris Coco meets Afterlife :: Time To Love
  6. Banzai Republic feat. Natasha Atlas :: Love Throughout The World
  7. Pleb :: Toast Me
  8. Hybrid :: Marrakech (pick)
  9. The 1001 Nights Project ft. Dania :: Leiley (Transglobal Underground 'Way Out' Mix)
  10. Ben Onono :: Badagry Beach (pick)
  11. Ralph Myerz :: Nikita
  12. Souad Massi :: Bel El Madhi (The Gate of the Past) (pick)

  1. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook :: Shadow (State of Bengal Remix) (pick)
  2. Stephane Malca & Omar Faruk Tekbilek :: In The Shade (pick)
  3. Ustad Sultan Khan :: Tarana (Thievery Corporation Mix)
  4. Spy From Cairo :: The Queen Dub
  5. Carla Alexander :: Volume
  6. Karminsky Experience :: Belly Disco
  7. Hisham Abbas :: Habibi Dah (Nari Narien)
  8. Sao Benitez :: State of Independence (pick)
  9. Oi Va Voi :: D'ror Yikra
  10. The Amalgamation Of Soundz :: Destiny (pick)
  11. Orient Expressions :: Lodos
  12. Leftfield :: Rino's Prayer