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The Best of East/West Music
a highly opinionated wandering (in no particular order) through 'asian' audio

1. Anjani
"Angel By Your Side" is the defining cut on this jazz/world music-influenced debut. "Angel" opens with a seductive guitar arpeggio with which Anjani's fingers beckon you into her world - a candlelit world where her soulful voice takes you from LA to Okinawa to Hawaii and back. The only question is whether you'll come back.  
Visit her web site to find out more.

2. Cocco
Cocco is often compared with Alanis Morrisette, because a) she rocks b) she's sensitive c) she rocks with sensitivity and d) she's brutally open and honest in her lyrics.
That said, she doesn't actually sound like Alanis. She's the best artist in Japan right now, so I would recommend you give her a listen.

3. Anggun
Self titled debut. Truly world music. She sings in Indonesian, French, and English. Great voice, borderless songs, beautiful woman. Visit her web site to find out more.

4. Faye Wong
Only Love Strangers
Scenic Tour
Not for Sale

The most famous singer in Hong Kong (and the Chinese world). She's a true voice, not just some pop-doll.
"Scenic Tour" is her best, I think, but "Not For Sale" is also great, including a perfect cover of Tori Amos' "Silent All These Years".

5. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Iz-The Man And His Music
Facing the Future
A big man with a spine-tingling voice, 'Bruddah Iz' died in 1998. Fortunately, these two albums are a grand testament to his truly Hawaiian voice and his Global vision.

6. Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi
Best Collection
Japans' Bruce Springsteen.
One of the few singers in Japan who sings with real feeling.
'Kanpai' is a truly great song.

7. Vanessa Mae
If you haven't heard of Vanessa, you will.  She's the new East/West poster girl - and given her exotic looks, a good choice. 
Born in Singapore to a Thai mother and Chinese father, then raised in England, she's a world class violinist who's building a gumbo of musical styles.   Classical-rock-techno-scottish-dance-funk only starts to describe this. Check it out, you're sure to find a few songs you like.

8. Frankie Chan / Wong Kar Wai
Ashes of Time OST
Fallen Angels OST
Chungkng Express OST

The music from the films of Wong Kar Wai is another reason why he's considered the best filmmaker in Hong Kong.
Frankie Chan shows amazing diversity on these three soundtracks.

9. Kodo
Best of Kodo
A Japanese Taiko Drum Group (that means bare-assed men with big sticks).
Awesome live or on video.
This is their best CD.

10. Noel Quinlan
Middle Kingdom 1, 2, 3, 4
10 Women of China
Masters of China
This series is a collection of Chinese songs and instrumentals arranged for Western ears.
It's a great starting point for explorations into Chinese music.

11. Dadawa
Sister Drum
Voices from the Sky

Chinese Box OST
Tibetan Chant influenced these "World Music" albums. But, really, these are better described as "Other-Worldly Music".

12. Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar

Supply your own swaying palm. Start with this sampler, then move through the rest of this excellent series. Visit Keola Beamers' homepage to find out more.

13. Kama Sutra
Original Soundtrack
If you want to sample some Indian music, this would be a good CD to start with. Or rent the movie and get some eye-candy with the music!

14. The Brilliant Green
My favorite Japanese band sounds like a cross between the Bangles and the Seatlle sound. Aggressive pop, with lyrics in English and Japanese.

15. Kitaro
Best Of Kitaro
Great music to use as the soundtrack for your life. East/West instrumentals that cover all moods.

16. Yothu Yindi
Tribal Voice
This aboriginal rock band is Australias' most original export.
More proof that rock'n'roll is primitive!

17. Hapa
In the Name Of Love
Great Hawaiian guitar and harmonies with a mainstream flavor.

18. Nanase Aikawa
ID (her greatest hits collection)

I call her "Japan's Joan Jett". She rocks, which is something that's unusual for female singers in Japan.
"Like a Hard Rain", and "Bye Bye" are both cool tunes.

The Best of the Rest

The Music of Vietnam Vol 1.1 and 1.2
Celestial Harmonies Label
Traditional Vietnamese Music is hard to describe. It's full of motion, and the instruments are often shrill in tone, but the overall effect is soothing. Great morning music.

Vision of the Maestros 1-20
Lately I've been listening to Chinese instrumental music. It's exotic, yet melodic.
There appears to be no differentiation between classical, folk, and traditional music. I stay away from vocal performances, as I can't bear the high pitched voices.
I've been buying a series by the BMG label called Vision of the Maestros. There are about 20 releases in the series, covering all the various Chinese instruments from the Zheng (a Chinese Koto) to the Ehru (a two stringed violin).

Concave Scream
Singapore's best rock band. While that's not saying much, these guys are actually pretty good.

A Muslim vocal group, from Malaysia, that performs with only a percussive accompaniment. Very good.

The Boom
Okinawa Song
Here's a really great traditional song, done in a modern version.

Music from the Lonely Planet
This album (actually there's two), taken from the Lonely Planet travel series, covers the whole world and has some really cool tunes.

AR Rahman
Maa Tujhe Salaam
Hands down, the best Indian song I've ever heard. A killer beat, and a great joyous vocals.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Mustt Mustt
The big man from Pakistan. He had a great career, but this is best album - at least to Western ears.

Influencing the West

The Vapors
Turning Japanese
This is the godfather of Asian influenced songs. A whole generation of us grew up singing, "I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so". One of my all-time favs.

David Bowie
China Girl
"And when I get excited, my little China girl, she says - oh baby, just you shut your mouth..."
This must be the godmother. I can't spend a day in China without this song popping into my head.

Alanis Morrisette
Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie
Alanis is all over the Indian music thing - melodically and spiritually.
But, hey, when you can pull it off with songs like "Uninvited" and "Thank You", I say go for it!

Return to Innocense
World dance music. The chants on the song "Return to Innocence" come from a Taiwanese tribe.

More soundtrack music with influences from all cultures. You can't go wrong with any Vangelis album.

A Few Others Worth Mentioning

Michael Masley
Mystery Repeats Itself
I'm walking through the streets of San Francisco on a cold day, when I spot this guy who looks like Richard Branson, wearing a ski-cap. He's sitting in front of a modified dulcimer (it's called a cymbalom), waving around fingers that look like Freddie Krueger own nightmare. Intrigued, we wait a moment. His fingers caress the instrument, producing the most ethereal sounds I've ever heard. eerie, sensual, melodic, enveloping. I instantly snapped up this cd. It's truly a gem. Visit Michael at his web page and order this recording, or look him up next time you're in The City.
Very few things make me happier than stumbling on great music. A find like this is what wandering is all about.

Semantic Spaces

These guys predate Enigma and B-Tribe and are better, if less commercial.

Peter Gabriel
Shaking the Tree
Secret World Live
The Joshua Tree
Achtung Baby
My two very favorites....
Music as celebration, meditation, inspiration, and provocation.  Peter Gabriel and U2 do it all.  Great in the studio. Even better live.
Buy these CD's.  Get the videos for Secret World and ZooTV.  And, for God's sake, see them in concert.  You'll thank me.