Putumayo’s World Groove is a 2-CD compilation of music from around the world and features twenty tracks with a very wide range of styles. It’s erratic in some places, excellent in others, but fans of electronica and the eclectic will certainly find plenty to enjoy here.
Putumayo World Music is a label that was formed from New York’s Putumayo clothing company, and is dedicated to promoting diverse international music. The cover design is very attractive and colourful, and the company’s good works include using part of the proceeds from CD sales for education projects in underdeveloped countries.
Some of the music is European, however: the opening track of CD1 is by French DJ Rouge Rouge, and Germany’s 2raumwohnung also have a contribution. But while there’s a pleasing mixture of rhythms over the compilation as a whole, many of the songs are repetitive to the point of dreariness.
Rouge Rouge’s ‘Attention’, for example, repeats the same phrase with minimal variety for just short of four minutes, and its lyric “Attention, attention, attention, baby, attention: attention, baby, baby, baby” grates. Similarly, Turkey’s Mustafa Sandal’s ‘Aya Benzer’ doesn’t deviate from its one guitar phrase and cries out for a middle eight.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of CD 1 is Mali’s Issa Bagayogo’s ‘Nogo’. A slow, teasing build up explodes into swirling funky rhythms, with a powerful deep-voiced lead backed by distant, trippy chanting.
Disk 2 has a strong trip-hop influence throughout many of the tracks. There’s an interesting piece of Mobyesque fusion of blues and electronica from New York on Organic Grooves’ ‘Banal Reality’ (taken from Putumayo’s Blues Lounge compilation).
Issa Bagayogo appears again on a track from Putumayo’s African Groove and there’s some Middle Eastern pop from Nabiha Yazbeck, a popular female singer Putumayo have done much to promote to the wider world. The final track of World Groove, Abdel Ali Slimani’s ‘Moi et Toi’, features Arabic singing to European rhythms.
Putumayo deserve great credit for their efforts in promoting diverse artists, and their other CDs are well worth looking into for anyone interested in the world music scene.