Putumayo Presents Arabic Beat (Putumayo World Music, 2012)
Anyone who’s read my reviews with any regularity knows that I just go all gooey for Arabic music, so it’s no surprise that Putumayo Presents Arabic Beat made me a little light-headed when it landed in my review stack. Pooling artists from Algeria, Morocco, Spain, France and Syria, Putumayo offers a contemporary listen into Arabic music from rai to raqs sharki. Set for release on July 31st, Arabic Beat culls out what’s hip and happening on the Mediterranean Arabic music scene and giving these musicians a leg up to reach out to a wider audience.
Putumayo’s Dan Storper offers this, “Arabic Groove, our first exploration of this music, has been our best-selling album since Putumayo World Music began in 1993. It’s clear that, contemporary Arabic music’s upbeat, danceable grooves have universal appeal. And, even if you are a long time Arabic music fan, some of these artists will be new discoveries.”
Hipness abounds with hypnotic grooves by Djamel Laroussi’s “Kifach Hilti” and Ali Slimai’s “Lirah.” The flirty and slightly quirky “Narbat” by Nour rocks with some slick guitar lines and a potent French flair. Arabic Beat is a cornucopia of goodness with Morocco’s Samira Saeid and some superior vocals on “Saab Alyia,” Watcha Clan’s sassy little number “Osfour” and Syria’s Zein Al-Jundi’s “Ajmal Gharam” with its dishy accordion lines. Coolness reigns over the lushly funky “Itim” by Ahmed Soultan and Cheb Amar’s “Lala Torkia” is strung with such delicious Arabic percussion that listeners will be begging for more.
Dan Storper goes on to say, “We’ve been working on this collection for three years and have never chosen to release an album based on what’s going on in the world. It’s always about the music and the contemporary music scene in the Arabic world continues to evolve in new and exciting ways.”
Putumayo’s musical collections have always been about traveling down the beaten path as well as the obscure trail to find and share the quintessential essence of a particular genre to share with a wider audience and Arabic Beat is no exception. Ripe with the fresh energy of up-and-coming musicians exploring the possibilities of Arabic music, Arabic Beat is unrepentantly addictive.