A few years ago, few outside the small West Asian country of Azerbaijan had heard of Alim Qasimov. Now, he is one of the brightest stars of Asian music. In 1999, he earned the IMC-UNESCO international music prize, awarded to the artist who best champions the idiom in which he or she performs. This newfound critical acclaim was accompanied by a proportional amount of hype. This meant there was incredible pressure for him to live up to heightened expectations on the follow-up, Love's Deep Ocean, released on Network Records in 2000. Qasimov, ever the professional, responded with an apt demonstration of his august vocal talent. Love's Deep Ocean is highlighted by Qasimov's mastery of mugham, the traditional music of his homeland, and complemented by a surprising variety of other disciplines, showcasing the breadth of his other influences. First off, the album contains two gorgeous tributes to qawwali legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, tracks that have reappeared from an earlier compilation. Not wanting to be limited to solely mugham, Qasimov also delves into ghazal poetry, a kind of verse derived from a Persian segment of Azerbaijan, which Qasimov has melded with folk songs. This album also has distinguished itself with its expanded instrumentation. In addition to his normal percussion and spike fiddle, Qasimov uses the balaban, a twin-reeded duduk (something like an oboe); a klarnet (a West Asian clarinet); and the nagara, a metal bowl drum. But the greatest treat on any Qasimov album will always be his vocal ability. Stretching through the uppermost limits of a majestic falsetto, dancing from pitch to pitch with unimaginable ease, this man's voice is truly something to behold. A common pick on erudite music critics' top ten album lists of 2000, Love's Deep Ocean is a must-have for those looking to expand their musical horizons.
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AllMusic Review by Kieran McCarthy