Various Artists

Afghanistan: On Marco Polo's Road

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AllMusic Review by

Part of the Music of the Earth series, this album of Afghan music is surprisingly pleasant. It starts out with a piece on the ghichak (related to the Iranian kamantcha), which sounds like something one might hear in the midst of a bazaar, minus the background noise. Following is a similar piece, but at a softer level, with a slower tempo. The third piece is actually a small medley of two songs, in the same genre as the first two -- love songs. The fourth piece is a splendid work following in the genre, but with only two instruments, played by a father and son team (the son is nine years old). After this is a solo improvisation on the zirbaghali drum by the nine-year-old son of the previous song's performer. The rest of the tunes are folk songs from various areas of Afghanistan. Overall, the quality of the musical works is amazing. The songs hold the same humanistic quality that much of the middle eastern music is based on -- to be on a par with humanity while remaining only simple musical instruments is something special. The highlights are almost every track of music, whether the listener is accustomed to these styles of music or not.

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