Various Artists
Pathaan presents Stoned Asia Music Edition 4

By Elizabeth Wells

I have a slight problem with any compilation that boasts a marriage of 'authentic' rhythmic chants and global beats with a contemporary club sensibility, as it begs the question of authentic what, exactly? As tracks come from all over the place, including Denmark and New York, praising this collection for its 'ethnic' sounds seems somewhat meaningless...

Anyway, I was still curious to see if the Stoned Asia movement was progressing and moving into new territory, as it's been going some years now. Sadly, I can't find much innovation going by these tracks. Bally Sagoo's opener is nice enough, with its slow dubby vibe and sitars, but the follower, by Bliss, which the press release claims is a 'great track all about "life"' made me somewhat nauseous. If you can imagine Enigma still going strong and making tracks with wailing muezzins and vocal washes designed to excite you to some crescendo of emotion, it might sound a lot like this. A lot of the tracks really just fall down because they're full of 'ethnic' clichés: cheesy vocals, panpipes and slightly tired percussive tabla sounds which the average British clubber probably thinks sums up 'world' music.

It's not all bad. Punta Allen by Blade has a lovely hip hop-inspired bassline, some nice jazzy overtones and a female vocal with absolutely no vibrato in sight. Also really refreshing to hear the 'authentic' instruments played on The Bollywood Brass Band track. Finally, The Kumbla Mela Experiment Elephant track is quite a hybrid of a track: big beats, bass guitar adding some funk, sampled voices and sitars, and at 10 minutes, gives everyone something to get their teeth into.
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