R.E.G. Project: II

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Shakti/Virgin/EMI; www.shaktirecords.com.

Too many postmodern techno and remix endeavors boil down to the monotony of hammering grooves, repetitive beats, and one-dimensional drum and keyboard programming. Fortunately, DJs Ralph Khoury, Elie Barbar, and Guy Manoukian—who reside in Beirut and comprise the R.E.G. Project—have injected relentless intrigue into these 10 compelling tracks. Whether writing their own material or remixing pieces by others (including the Brazilian classic "Manha de Carnaval"), these musical techies typically put Middle Eastern instruments (oud, nay, tabla, kanun) and other kinds (violin, cello, piano, guitar) at the forefront of their dance-driven mixes. The cognitive dissonance that ensues from this collision of space-age machinery, Western pop, and ancient Arabic idioms is at once bedazzling and strangely liberating.

Whether you put on this CD to accompany your favorite movement practice or use it as the sound track for a dancing-in-your-head session under headphones, these simply throbbing but complexly ornamented tracks can take you
on a dizzying world tour and leave you pleasantly spent.

Derk Richardson is a longtime YJ contributor who also writes about popular culture for SFGate (www.sfgate.com), Acoustic Guitar magazine, and other publications.