World 2004 - Charlie Gillett
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Various Artists
World 2004

cd cover The label website calls this "the must buy World Music Compilation of the year" and for once, you should believe the hype. There are tons of killer tracks on this survey of the last 12 months of World Music releases, too numerous to do justice to here. Assembled by the BBC's Charlie Gillett, he shows yet again why he's one of the most influential figures in the UK World Music scene.

Artists featured include Ojos de Brujo, Kekele, Sidestepper, Chava Alberstein, Kanda Bongo Man, and an exclusive track from Khaled's new album. One of my favorite tracks is "Chet Boghassa" from Touareg nomads Tinariwen, who Gillett calls "the leading blues group in the world today, bar none" to which I add my hearty agreement. There is a timeless cool to this track that defies description, coupled with an infectious yet spare bluesy groove, and a simultaneous sense of familiarity and novelty that makes this an instant classic.

Other favorites are "Parti Lany" from Hungary's Amorf Ordogok, and Bucovina Club Vs. Taraf De Haidouks' "Carolina" off the compilation Electric Gypsyland (although I think the Se˝or Coconut Vs. Košani Orkestar track from that comp would have made an even better choice). The only maddening thing about this CD are the liner notes, which present the artists in a completely different order than they appear on the CD; making learning more about a specific artist a frustrating hunt and peck experience for those of us without a photographic (or even much of a remaining short-term) memory. Other than that, this compilation is an embarrassment of riches in what I was almost going to write off as an otherwise lean year. Looks like I'm just not listening hard enough. - Eric Iverson

Available from cdRoots

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