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Various Artists Sahara Lounge

Ever eaten at a Lebanese, Korean or Indian restaurant? Then you know that pop tends to sound corny and too slick for its own good, no matter what language it's sung in. Unfortunately, pop figures too prominently on the Sahara Lounge compilation. Despite its aim of blending Middle Eastern rhythms with electronic beats, most of the time the songs would be better suited for the chopping block than the cutting edge. There are some nice moments-particularly Mohammed Mounir's staccato Egyptian vox on "Hanina" and the loopy swing of "Dub4Me," performed by Lebanese duo Soap Kills. Still, it says something that the best song on Sahara Lounge, "Cleopatra in New York," is by Manhattan's Nickodemus and Carol C. Perhaps traditional Arab musicians sound better on their own; or in the hands of Western sampler gurus, rather than their own pop producers.

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