The nearest most of us Brits get to world music is at the annual World Of Music And Dance festival (WOMAD) at Reading. Even then we're not really there to seriously concentrate on the music, but to stroll around in rainbow clothes bought from some Fair Trade stall and get pissed on hot spicy cider.
So to intently watch a DVD of world music videos while plumped on the sofa, sober, is quite a two-dimensional experience in comparison. But in many ways it does allow you to focus on what exactly the artists are saying, thanks to the (optional) subtitles, and learn about the rich folklore and multi-cultural traditions behind each song and video.
The DVD kicks off with the upbeat Mambo Yo Yo by Congo's Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca mixing African soukous and rumba with Cuban salsa. In the brightly coloured backstreets Lemvo sings of Eleggua, the messenger of the Orinhas - gods of Afro-Cuban religion Santeria. Then we have the video of Brazilian Chico Cesar's Mama Africa, taken in one shot and winner of Brazilian MTV's video awards.
A rich gypsy ballad filmed in a poor village comes courtesy of the Czech Republic's Vera Bila & Kale. While the Parisian-based Gotan Project provides a modern twist to Argentinian tango, mixing a Bandoneon (Argentinian accordion) riff with a little dub and electronica.
The DVD goes on to feature Senegal's Tukuleur who sample Toto's 80's hit Africa and is part filmed on Gonee Island, an important transfer point for African slaves on the way to the Americas. There is also a reggae-influenced song about war-torn children by Guinea-Bissau's Bidinte, a live performance by Mali great Habib Koite and his band Bamada, and a special features section with biography info on all artists and a mini-documentary on Putumayo itself.
A pretty comprehensive selection, you would say. What bugs me however is that the DVD represents musical culture from just one European country, the Czech Republic. This raises that old hot potato question: what is the exact definition of World Music? The answer could form the basis of a thesis, but the impression that this DVD gives is that it's mainly African music. There are two Senagalese artists on here one after the other - the aforementioned Tukuleur and then Toure Kunda, and there are two songs by Zimbabwe's Oliver Mtukudzi.
Celtic music is indeed represented here by Mary Jane Lamond, but she hails from Canada. If it's not African rhythms it's Latin American vibes, but surely the DVD could represent a wider range of cultures. For starters, what about music from the Orient such as China? Music from the Middle East such as Iraq? Music from, dare I say it, the UK?
Apart from all that Putumayo, which was set up in 1993 to provide introductions to world music, has produced a DVD that is accessible to those who are newly venturing out to explore different musical cultures - perhaps wishing to follow in Damon Albarn's tracks. And while the compilation has a pretty Westernised vision of what world music entails, Putumayo stays true to its slogan: "Guaranteed to make you feel good".