Zen Connection vol 2
"The silence which prevails is deepened rather than broken by occasional sounds that float up from a near-by village," writes Alan Watts in his classic The Way of Zen. Compiler Leigh Wood is also fond of quoting Watts in this second installment of his Zen Connection series, citing man's dual nature as a necessary feature of the species: part organic, part technological, part righteous and definitely, wickedly, part evil. It's the blend of both life and beats that makes take two on One World Music a success; the sounds rising from his village foster our plunge into the silent.
On this journey, however, technology sounds pretty natural. Lush strings, soft vibes, trustworthy drum kicks mingle with a chorus of numerous languages. Wood takes from the Buddha Bar notion of collecting lounge tracks but avoids the pretentious pitfall of his predecessors: bedroom producers dropping generic beats over orchestras are absent as he hips us to real artistry. Labeling the two discs Yin and Yang, the compilation evokes much more of the former, but you won't complain.
Wood does showcase some well-trod tracks - Thievery Corporation, Talvin Singh, Natacha Atlas, Badmarsh & Shri - but mixes in a variety of newer cuts to keep it fresh: Karsh Kale's tribute to his daughter, "Milan;" NYC's Navdeep with vocals by Bikram on "Yogi;" S.L.A.C.'s roving, almost despairing "Ejderha;" Phil Thorton's Zen Remixed "Resolution." Even the circulated tracks are worth revisiting, as Atlas' "This Realm" is among her best, and Thievery Corp's "Meu Destino" is put to justice.
dZihan & Kamien capture the big sound of Arabic strings against the bigger jazz-house beats they're known for on "Ford Transit." On the Yang disc, it is one of the hardest cuts, as the duo is infamous for jacking bass tones way up and working saxophones into violins. It's the perfect disparity that isn't contradicting at all: two rivers flowing into one and the million other images sages conjure to compliment life's seeming disparities. It's the connection this journey is about, and with that, Wood has done his job.