Building on the success of Music of the Persian Mystics, as well as a bit of general interest in Afghan culture that's still simmering, ARC put together a nice group of Afghan expatriates and Iranian musicians to make a relatively straightforward set of Afghani songs. Iranian songstress and opera singer Zohreh Jooya takes up the female vocals with much more tenderness than her opera training had allowed in the previous album, and Hamid Golestani provides some very worthwhile male vocals in the majority of the tracks, including some sly bits of qawwali here and there. Madjid Derakhshani continues his course of composition from the previous album in the more classical end, but here rabab player Sobeir Bachtiar also joins him for the bulk of the writing, and both play their respective lutes to good effect to boot. Drummers include tabla player Masoud Walizala from Kabul and Derakshani's student Amirabbas Zare. The range of styles here isn't as grandiose as, say, Rounder's Afghanistan Untouched, but the music is also recorded in a better quality to compensate. The bulk of the sounds are based on the urbanized sounds of Kabul with some influence from Herat in the west (especially given that some of the artists are Iranians with closer proximity to Herat). The music itself is performed quite well, with the performers all providing fine playing for their parts and coming together admirably. Other albums will certainly have a greater breadth (and perhaps greater authenticity as well), but this one will do just fine for the curious incoming listener looking for a basic taste of the music of Afghanistan.
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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg