Review ·

San Francisco-based Six Degrees Records is world renown for its roster, which makes incredibly diverse and eclectic global beats. Each year the label produces a sampler album, its Traveler series, that features the best in the genre, providing a delicious taste and tease of sounds ranging from flamenco hip-hop to Balkan drum 'n' bass. The series features artists known for blending and bending different genres, producing music that's as intriguing as it is mind-expanding. Traveler '03 is no different.

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The songs cross borders and cultures, weaving sounds into an international, one-world feeling that's completely unique, pairing African and Indian chanting with hip-hop, trip-hop and electronica. The album has a deep spiritual overtone that resonates on each track.

Traveler '03 begins with ethereal chanting before moving into a trance-meets-dub groove and the spoken-word of artist/producer Bobi Cespedes on "Rezos," the title track from Cespedes' solo debut, remixed by Garry Hughes. Richard Dorfmeister and Bobby Hunter Zundapp remix dZihan and Kamien's "Stiff Jazz," blending an echoing rap with deep house, forming a new type of club-style house music. On "Izgrala," Lumin takes traditional Indian music and twists it into an excellent acid-house tune that would have dancers on their feet in an instant.

Other one-world-no-borders examples include the cross-cultural sounds of soulful Spanish rap blended with traditional female Indian vocals on Ojos de Brujo's "Quien Engana No Gana." The two sounds have a steady groove and fluidity that sound superb together. "Airlock!" by Shrift brings forth Brazilian-tinged '70s soul and disco with vocals in both English and Portuguese. The breathy, almost whispered, feathery vocals are very sensual, especially with the occasional kissing sounds that punctuate the track; it's reminiscent of neo-disco devotees Air. Other featured artists include Karsh Kale, Ben Neill and Bob Holroyd.

Traveler '03 is heavy on the electronica, but with the twists and mixing of traditional and new it sounds like no other electronica being made today. The international and cultural elements spanning Africa, China, and points beyond make this unique and wildly experimental, let alone wonderfully pleasing to the ear.

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