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Cheb i Sabbah 

Devotion (Six Degrees)

Wednesday, Feb 6 2008

While Algeria-born, San Francisco–based DJ and producer Cheb i Sabbah is known far and wide for his ecstatic "1002 Nights" events featuring live musicians, vocalists, and dancing, his latest release takes a decidedly more mystical turn. Devotion offers versions of religious songs — from the Hindu, Sikh, and Sufi traditions of India — which are more suited to meditation or a quiet tea room than the dancefloor. Modern influences are kept to a minimum; this isn't a trance album with a few vague tabla samples thrown in to make it authentic. Devotion features the masterful singing of Rana Singh on "Koi Bole Ram Ram" and the soaring vocals of Shubha Mudgel on the lovely "Morey Pya Bassey." The late, great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is represented with a cover of his "Kinna Sohna," while the 10-minute, reggae-tinged "Haun Vaari Haun Varaney" tells of Sabbah's global influences. "Aaye Bhairav Bholanath" is the most energetic and uptempo of the tracks on Devotion, but even this one is in praise of Lord Shiva, as all these songs are basically prayers to God, in all his or her forms. It may not be quite on the level of a Pharoah Sanders, but the aim is the same — transcendence through music and a shoutout to whatever higher powers might be up there.

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