World Music Review

Sarah Poulette

Asian Lounge sounds fairly straightforward: chill music from Asian countries, right? Not quite: Asian Lounge is a compilation by Putumayo (easily the biggest name in world music), known for their interesting tracks from different places and eras no matter what the theme. While there are a couple obligatory tracks of emotional-but-low-key-vocals in other languages to a backing of moody string instruments and hand-slapped drums, Asian Lounge is refreshingly varied in its tracks and music styles. The eleven tracks on the CD feature artists from across the globe – from Japan and India to France and the United States. Tracks vary between traditional folk sounds to modern dance grooves. One of the best tracks on the album is by Biddu, the man who co-wrote the ridiculous ’70s song “Kung Fu Fighting.” His song “Eastern Journey” is just as funk-oriented, but he uses the traditional Indian sitar. Other notable tracks, like Nitin Sawhney’s “Koyal” or Prem Joshua’s “Funky Guru,” include traditional sounds weaved with techno beats. There are other tracks that are noteworthy because of their weird sounds: a reggae cover of a Vietnamese folk song, and wellness-guru Deepak Chopra reading well-known Indian poetry over electronica. At best, most people equate ‘lounge music’ with background music (at worst, they just find it boring). Almost every track on Asian Lounge is interesting and not only deserves but demands attention. This is a really enjoyable album. Putumayo is known for its great compilations, and Asian Lounge is no exception.