Personnel: Ustad Hossein Arman (vocals, harmonium); Zohreh Jooya (vocals); Siar Hashimi, Wahid Kamran (tabla).
Audio Mixer: Renaud Millet-Lacombe.
Photographer: Bettina Frenzel.
Translators: Diz Heller; Jeannine Blanpain.
Arranger: Khaled Arman.
Anyone with an interest in Asian music will find this album to be fascinating and enjoyable. Although the music here comes from different parts of Afghanistan, largely material written in the first half of the 20th century, the emphasis is on songs from northern Afghanistan, once part of Khorasan, with its Persian influences evident in the microtones. The general influence of Indian music on the country is pervasive (there's also a Pashtun piece, "Del Aram Na Razi"). The music is beautifully performed and sung throughout (Jooya is a wonderfully delicate singer), and the robab lute gets a good workout on "Man Mast O To Divina." Longer liner notes, especially about the songs themselves, would have been useful. However, as a window into one of the world's least-known cultures -- for all that it's in the papers every day -- it's invaluable, and shows the innate warmth of the country, and the depth of its culture. ~ Chris Nickson