10 Unexpectedly Awesome Foreign Musical Genres

“World music” is a ridiculous label for any number of reasons, but perhaps the most pernicious is its us-and-them implication — the idea there’s our music and there’s their music, and never the twain shall meet. In fact, music is a constantly flowing and evolving thing, and the ever-increasing flow of Western culture to the rest of the world — and vice versa — has made for some fascinating musical hybrids, as well as some entirely new sounds. Some of these are well-known, but others have languished in relative obscurity over the years. So here are some of our favorite unexpectedly awesome genres from around the world, past and present.

Indian psychedelic fusion

We touched on this genre a few months back in our East-meets-West mixtape. Bollywood producers have long been fond of “borrowing” Western sounds, and with the sheer weight of music they have to turn out year after year, it’s hard to blame them. In the same way that Western food on the subcontinent always ends up being spiced up and Indo-fied, however, whatever Western sounds get used are eventually infused with a distinctly subcontinental flavor, and the results are often awesome. Indian fusion sounds have been the subject of some great compilations over recent years, and they’re also turning up as samples here and there (like the song above, which was sampled by Madlib a few years back).

Suggested compilation: Sitar Beat! Vols 1-4 (Guerilla Reissues, 2006)