Buddha Bar compilation albums
The Buddha Bar compilation albums are a widely acclaimed series of compilation albums issued by the Buddha Bar bar, restaurant, and hotel franchise created by restaurateur Raymond Visan and DJ and interior designer Claude Challe in Paris, France. Following its establishment, the Buddha Bar "became a reference among foreign yuppies and wealthy tourists visiting the city", and "has spawned numerous imitators", becoming popular in part because of the DJ's choice of eclectic, avant-garde music. It became known internationally for issuing popular compilations of lounge, chill-out music and world music, also under the Buddha Bar brand, released by George V Records. Buddha Bar began issuing compilations in 1999, and has since "made a name for itself with its Zen lounge music CDs and remains a hit – especially with tourists".
In 2001, a Billboard Magazine critic placed the compilation in his "top ten" musical events of the year, stating of proprietor Claude Challe that "[t]he legendary master of pop and dance music in France has aroused the attention of the global chill-out community with this series of mixed compilations", and concluding that "Buddha Bar is not only a good restaurant in France but also one of the best music experiments to come out of France in the past few years". On a more critical note, the Oxford Handbook of Music Revival describes the music of the Buddha Bar collection as "close to muzak-like mixtures with neither recognizable original components nor clearly identifiable new structures". Another commentator wrote:
Challe quit his partnership in 1993 and returned to Paris where he subsequently opened the internationally acclaimed Buddha Bar. ... Similarly to Café del Mar, Buddha Bar also released CD compilations featuring "lounge", "world" music, a successful enterprise that suggests the striking inequalities associated with the commodification of Third-World art: whereas cassette tapes of Pakistani singer Nusrat Ali Khan are sold in India for about US$1, the same songs remixed within a deluxe Buddha Bar CD are priced in the West at about US$50.
Challe compiled and produced the first two Buddha Bar albums. The series thereafter continued with different DJs, including DJ Ravin, Sam Popat, and David Visan (son of Buddha Bar founder Raymond Visan). The Buddha Bar has also released some original music for its albums, specifically the songs "Buddha Bar Nature" and "Buddha-Bar Ocean", composed and produced by Arno Elias, the composer of "Amor Amor" from Buddha Bar 2, and Amanaska. This release included a DVD of nature and ocean footage directed by Allain Bougrain-Dubourg.