Ashkhabad

City of Love

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    9
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Creative sarp -- and nagara -- driven arrangements (think balalaika and lute) spun by violin, clarinet, and tar hand-drum plus accordionist Kurban Kurbanov, who continually amazes. The instrumentals resemble Egyptian film music, with simple but sensuous lead instruments talking back and forth with a lush set of strings. Equally strong vocal cuts lean on versatility of singer Atabai Tsharykuliev, who's by turns sultry, beguiling, cajoling and humorous. A great pop release whose roots are manicured but never butchered.

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