Various Traveler ‘03

As this is Six Degrees’ summing up of sorts in the year’s best dance-world music sounds, one may not be surprised to spot dZihan & Kamien, MIDIval PunditZ, Bob Holroyd and Karsh Kale in the track listing. It is surprising however, that they managed to sum up some of the best selections into a mere ten tracks. That said, the collection does kick off to a good start with Garry Hughes’ "Bobi Cespedes meets the Rocker’s” dub remix of Cespedes’s song "Rezos.” Dzihan & Kamien’s "Still the Jazz” remixed by Dormeister & Rodney Hunter Zundapp wanes in comparison, hardly managing to climb out of its one-dimensional chill out lethargy before coming to a close. In contrast, Lumin’s "Izgrala” stands out with its ambient drum & bass rhythms (albeit a little too new age in parts for some tastes). MIDIval PunditZ continue to surprise in terms of the territory they are willing to venture into, rivalling Talvin Singh’s virtual status quo position as the king of Asian electronic/programming music. "Dark Escape” happily experiments with tabla as a potential accompanying percussion instrument in a techno-like track: not untried previously, but successfully pulled off by the duo. Half-way into the collection is the hidden jewel by Ojos de Brujo. The Catalan collective reinvigorate their traditional flamenco and Catalan rumba style by incorporating the hip-hop method into their own form. "Quien Engana No Gana” is spectacular, flawless and sadly, only a little over three minutes long. Voting for Ojos de Brujo as one of the year’s best is a delightful revelation for listeners eager to find new sounds. Look out for this collective. (Six Degrees)