This Rough Guide treads ashore to the hilly outposts of Mediterranean life where music is still the lifeblood of the old, opulent cultures that hail from the region. Spaniard Benjamin Escoriza features alongside Turk Mercan Dede, Croatian Darko Rundek, Corsican ensemble A Filletta and Albanian brass band Fanfara Tirana.
Open any travel brochure and you are sure to see the Mediterranean - with its clichéd sparkling beaches, sumptuous food and complementary climate - featured on its glossy pages. Greece has always been a land of artistic endeavour - its Ancient Empire accepted as the cradle of Western civilisation. Just like the pluming pillars that house the Parthenon, Greek traditional music has stood proud throughout the centuries and is still being mined by contemporary folk artists. Kristi Stassinopoulou and Stathis Kalyviotis open the album and remix traditional demotikasongs to striking effect while solo guitarist Dimitris Mistikadis looks at the rebetikatradition for inspiration.
The other great classical empire, Rome, was of course centred around an Italian base. Daniele Sepe is a Neapolitan musician known for fusing traditional themes with just about anything else you can imagine filling the cities simmering soundscape medieval chants, tarantella and free jazz are all on his radar.
Skipping up the coast to Croatia, we hear a track from the Darko Rundek &;amp Cargo Orkestar album Ruke. Although this isn't an exclusively Croatian-inspired project: on the album Balkan riffs nestle alongside Latin rhythms. Speaking of bawdy Balkan brass, Fanfara Tirana are a raucous Albanian ensemble whose recordings bristle with energy.
Swooping down again and eastwards to Turkey, Mercan Dede presents a whirling rhythmic song topped with Zerina Cokoja's stretching, languorous vocals. Other contributions are heard from Palestinian Ramzi Aburedwan, Moroccan Emil Zrihan, Egyptian Salamat, Lebanese Ishan Al-Mounzer and Israeli-fusion band Ruth Yaakov Ensemble.
Even still the process of exchange is ongoing. In the twentieth century alone, as the European Union has strengthened, expanded (and variously weakened) new sounds have been shared. Listen to Akim El Sikameya mixing Algerian and French flavours, Watcha Clan's Sephardic folk remix or Benjamin Escoriza's Franco-Spanish accordion playing for examples in action. This Rough Guide blazes a trail across the Mediterranean, audibly connecting the roots music's of the region along its way.
The bonus alum is a vibrant collaboration by accomplished Spanish guitarist Eduardo Niebla and Palestinian oudplayer Abdel Salameh.