2007-12-30There's little on Devotion to connect it with Algerian-born producer Cheb i Sabbah's last release, a rhythmic blend of traditional North African songs. There is even less to suggest that this gorgeous meditation on the devotional music of India is the work of one of Europe's most innovative DJs. In place of electronic beats and synthetic instruments, Devotion serves up Indian and North African percussion seamlessly blended with India's premier vocalists and instrumentalists. The genius is the distillation. Cheb i Sabbah conveys the scope and intensity of extended classical styles in fairly compact songs that nearly burst apart with drama. Opening track "Jai Bhavani" features stirring call and response singing, while "Kinna Sohna" sung by Master Saleem is a composition by the late, great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan that pays fit tribute to this qawwali legend. "Qalanderi," is the first here to use full-frontal vocal loops and keyboards, but these meld nicely with North African instruments. If you've ever forgotten why you love music, this song will surely remind you. And if you can resist steadily increasing the volume, especially during the throttling coda, you're made of stronger stuff than I am. -- Bob Tarte
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