Buddha Bar III — Selections
George V / Musicrama
Having managed the music department at a major retailer in recent months, I’ve come across certain “buzz” CDs that customers hear about from friends, and eventually become more trendy than hip-hugger jeans. The top honoree the last year or so has been the Buddha Bar series, based out of the music spun at the Parisian lounge Mecca of the same name. Here we have Volume III, with the honor of turntable composer going to… some guy named Ravin.
It’s almost if Deepak Chopra ventured beyond his Oprah-friendly facade and served as mentor to a bunch of world musicians. The new-age sounds mixed together on the series would be the end result, and Ravin does little to deviate from that path. Since it is a French import, many of the acts might be unfamiliar to most stateside, but that doesn’t mean they’re no less credible than the players here.
However hokey the motives surrounding this disc’s release may be, there is merit musically to Volume III, which infuses dub, classical Indian sound, and an Enigma-esque coating to evoke enchanting ambience whenever you listen. No wonder ever-changing pop deity Madonna and fashion magnate Donna Karan consider Buddha Bar to be the cat’s meow. But that’s also my only problem with this. As with almost any celebrity-endorsed product, the hype outweighs the quality. If I ever dared venture into the actual Bar, I’d probably get rejected like Huey Lewis at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Being sold at fashion boutiques might lessen its street cred, and the velvet rope motif might seem a bit elitist, but under all these extraneous layers is a CD that remains enlightening to the heart and mind at best, and utterly pretentious at worst. You decide.