Desert Roses, Vol. 4 (CIA, 2006)
Desert Roses, Vol. 4 continues the Desert Roses series that was originally released by the Mondo Melodia label. The focus is modern Arabic pop. The selection includes the characteristic dance-oriented Arabic music that is so popular in Egypt, Lebanon and the Gulf countries as well as a Rai song by Cheb Nasro.
Some of the pieces are unexpected like Tres Amigos, which mixes the popular reggaetón with Arabic pop. The CD also includes a lot of bellydance music, which seems to be popular now in dance circles. Bellydance music is rootsier, with a generous use of traditional instruments and excellent drumming. It is more traditional and attractive than the chart oriented Arabic pop.
For global electronica with a Middle Eastern feel you can check out Oojami, one of the most interesting outfits practicing this kind of music. They have a full CD on the same label titled Boom Shinga Ling.
The album even has a connection with the infamous character known as Borat (Sasha Baron Cohen). His brother, Erran Baron Cohen plays "Let there Be Light," a Klezmer-Arabic electronica piece recorded under the name of Zohar.
Three or four years ago, a record label executive bragged that Arabic music was going to be the next big thing in world music. That never happened, but there is great music out there. Check out some of it. Buy Desert Roses, Vol. 4.