Ali Khan


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The San Francisco-based band Ali Khan delivers an artistic, authentic album that appeals to Middle Eastern natives and world music aficionados. The core members of the band (Sukhawat Ali Khan, Riffat Salamat, and Richard Michos) provide vocals and all strings. For percussive instruments, guest instruments such as the didgeridoo, and other specialized sounds a variety of other artists lend their talents. The overall tone of the album is exotic, authentic, and almost hypnotic, especially in the first few tracks. Electric guitars and hand drums lend a lulling, heavy tone to "Ali Dum" and "Shahabaz Kalander." Things pick up significantly toward the end of the album, however. The tempo of "Naina" and "Sagina" is significantly quicker than that of the early songs, and lilting, chanted vocals carry the melody forward. By contrast, "Alaap Jyot" is more of a meditation than a song; there is no discernible structure or time to it. In spite of its West Coast origins, this album makes no concession to Western-attuned ears. The vocals sit in the Eastern scale throughout the entire album, and the instrumentation complements them perfectly. If you didn't know any better, you'd think this album was imported from somewhere in the Middle East or India.

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