Various Spirit Of India

Finally, another compilation of contemporary South Asian beats has surfaced to further the interest of those who liked the Anokha collection a few years back. Spirit of India originates from France and is composed of two discs, one traditional and one called "new vibes," each of which approaches 80 minutes. Disc one is truly a sampler: all 15 tracks are between two and seven minutes long, which makes one wonder whether these selections have been edited from longer compositions. This question isn't answered because there are no liner notes to give any background on the artists or their areas of speciality - a serious omission in any compilation of "traditional" music. Despite this major shortcoming in information, the music flows very well and there is plenty of diversity in styles to serve as a springboard for further personal research. Disc two is an outstanding compilation of beats by top-notch artists like Badmarsh, Asian Dub Foundation and Black Star Liner, as well as non-Asian artists who have successfully integrated Indian influences into their work. Beats from dub to house to the conceptual junglism of Bill Laswell and Talvin Singh are sequenced together perfectly. This disc is so well paced, it almost sounds like a DJ mix, but there isn't a cross-fade to be found. Despite the irredeemably cheesy cover art and the lack of information on any of the artists, this is still a must-own for beat miners of the globe. (Wagram)