1. Pomegranates: Persian Pop, Funk, Folk and Psych of the '60s and '70s (B-Music)
Beautifully presented selection of groovy, vintage sounds from the vastly under-explored Iranian pop scene. Each track is a killer. This comp might just be the funkiest LP released in 2011.
2. Ahmad Zahir - Hip '70s Afghan Beats (Guerssen)
This is a much-needed compilation from one of my favorite artists, Ahmad Zahir, a singer known as the "King of Afghan music." This disc focuses on Zahir's funky, psychedelic sides, and to my knowledge, it's the first time Zahir's music has been packaged for release outside of Asia.
3. Bambara Mystic Soul — The Raw Sound Of Burkina Faso 1974 to 1979 (Analog Africa)
Raw sounds indeed, this is an eye-opening look at the amazing soul scene of 1970's Burkina Faso.
4. The Sound of Siam:Leftfield Luk Thung, Jazz and Molam from Thailand 1964 -1975 (Soundway)
Luk Thung is a popular style of Thai folk music. This comp focuses on the jazzy, soulful side of Luk Thung. Some of these tracks were available on a Sublime Frequencies reissue years ago, but it's great to have them back with proper liner notes and artist credits.
5. The Original Sound of Cumbia: The History of Colombian Cumbia & Porro As Told By The Phonograph 1948-79 (Soundway)
Lovingly compiled by Will "Quantic" Holland, this 55-track two-disc set documents Cumbia's birth and tracks its progression throughout Colombia.
6. Ilaiyaraaja - Maestro Ilaiyaraaja & The Electronic Pop Sound of Kollywood (Finders Keepers)
An excellent three-volume exploration of composer Ilaiyaraaja, the king of Tamil cinema (a.k.a. Kollywood). There is a head-spinning array of sounds here, from funky excursions into disco and rock to primitive electronica.
7. Opika Pende: Africa at 78 RPM (Dust to Digital)
This exhaustive four-disc, 100-song set offers a glimpse at early 78 RPM recordings from across the African continent. Staggering in its density, this collection will enthrall researchers and collectors for many years to come.
8. BAZZERK — African Digital Dance (Mental Groove)
This two-disc set of kuduro music, which is the uptempo, bass-heavy electronic music from Angola, was made famous by Portugal's Buraka Som Sistema and Diplo.
9. DRC Music - Kinshasa One Two (Warp)
Damon Albarn traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo with producers Actress, Jneiro Jarel and Dan the Automator. The results of their collaborations with local Congolese musicians are collected here.
10. Havana Cultura: The Search Continues (Brownswood)
This is the second volume of DJ Gilles Peterson's musical journey through Cuba. Peterson presents the new sound of Cuba; here there is jazz, hip-hop and soul filtered through traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms.