An Eye on the World

During the peak of the '98-'99 boom times, the feel-good (if somewhat vapid) sounds of house and trance dominated dance floors around the country, with the I-want-what-feels-good-right-now vibe displacing a more eclectic array of sounds. But as the economic euphoria faded and that self-centered time gave way to a more globally aware and less certain era, the dance scene has responded with deeper, more complex material.

One such artist is the eccentric and prolific gypsy musician known as Zeb, who, as part of New York-based collectives Organic Grooves and Turntables on the Hudson, has developed a following with his catchy guitar melodies and bass-y grooves. In his latest incarnation as the Spy From Cairo, Zeb delivers an internationally flavored dance album that blends Indian, Arabic, Afrobeat, and Jamaican dub vibes with bouncy dance floor beats and irresistibly funky hooks.

Released on the outstanding British label Stoned Asia, An Eye on the World's tracks reflect Zeb's own quirky awareness of world events. Cuts like "Don't Panic I'm Islamic" and "All the Beautiful Machines" effortlessly join organic elements like Sufi wails, Middle Eastern strings, and North African hand drums with Zeb's signature production touches, like heavy bass drops and trailing echoes. The results, though paced for the dance floor, are deep, textured beats proving that dance music need not be self-absorbed, but can in fact be outward-looking and universal.


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