While "Tantra" rhymes with mantra and the artful CD cover gives off a vibe of multicultural exotica, the term "Taal Tantra" actually roughly translates to "Meditation on Rhythm" — a goal beautifully and hypnotically achieved by the five-piece quintet (four Berlin-based jazz musicians and tabla master Tanmoy Bose) over a two-year recording period in Berlin and Calcutta. Bose, who first joined forces with the others in 2001, is a familiar voice on the Indian/global music scene via his tours with Ravi and Anoushka Shankar and Amjad Ali Khan and his participation on recordings like Concert for George (an all-star memorial concert tribute to George Harrison) and Full Circle. In creating its trippy and hypnotic transcendental fusion of dreamy melodies, jazz improvisation, and vocal and percussion experimentation, the quintet creates a colorful and seductive East-West dialogue that shows how music overpowers the forces that divide cultures. For the casual, curious listener, it's probably best to get caught up in the entirety of the project, because most of the tracks evolve into multidimensional mood-swing experiences. A few individual highlights bear mentioning, however. "Khandam" begins with the wild, breathy vocal percussion of Bose and Andreas Weiser before a darting jazz melody driven by saxman Tilmann Dehnhard heats up; this gives way to a spirited electric guitar improvisation (over a steady percussion line) by Kai Brückner. "It's Been a Long Way" lives up to its name as a 12-minute steady meditation populated by powerful, seductive vocal chants (first male, later angelic female), the sanfona (like an accordion), jazz guitar, and a soulful sax interlude backed by city sounds and distant distorted chants. The heart and soul of the collection is the moody, atmospheric "Between the Worlds," which features female chanting, a swirling melody on the bansuri flutes, a touch of swooping sax, double bass, and the exotic spice of the shennai. If you've never heard of these instruments, that seems to be the point — to use this fascinating music as a springboard to learning about other cultures. Jazz and Eastern music have rarely blended so well.