Various African Travels

Titles like these usually suggest something of a tourist's view of the given non-Western music scene, but unlike previous outings, the sounds on African Travels are sweet and full of a vitality that's rare for such compilations. It's mostly comprised of remixes of African artists, but the producers aren't of the Deep Forest/Enigma school. Instead, they're coming from the soulful studio minds in today's house scene - itself a derivative of African and Brazilian celebration music. Masters At Work's "MAW Expensive" takes Fela Kuti's anti-self-hatred anthem, "Expensive Shit," and drives it fiercely with a female vocal ensemble, featuring current MAW diva Wumni, in the lead. The Ivory Coast trio of singers, Les Go, sing sweet, melodic lines on "Dan Gna," while Joe Claussell sets up a deep house groove with an interruption of ecstatic traditional drumming at the track's climax. The Gus Gus remix of Mabi Thobejane's "Sidudla" and Bob Holroyd's "Waking the Spirits," with its retro Fingers bass motif, are not as energetic as the others, and the down-tempo cuts by Future Loop Foudation and Beat Pharmacy are, at best, generic. (Six Degrees)