Magazine article New Internationalist

The Rough Guide to the Music of Afghanistan

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Rough Guide to the Music of Afghanistan

Article excerpt

The Rough Guide to the Music of Afghanistan

by Various Artists RGNET1237CD 2CD)

Thanks to the Taliban's capacity to be killjoys of the first degree, The Rough Guide to the Music of Afghanistan opens up with a well-known Afghan song - 'Zim Zi m Zim' - so zappy that it would make their puritanical hearts explode. And it's sung by a woman. To be honest, Zim's 90 seconds in not one of this double album's highlights - it has unattractive squelchy synth lines, programmed percussion and it seems to be looking for a disco. But its singer, Setera Hussainzada, is a forward-looking woman who defies death threats to go on stage.

Produced with the Rough Guide's typical panache, this survey of Afghan music is an eye-opening one. Thorough sleeve-notes remind us that pre -Taliban Afghanistan was a music-loving place, saturated not only with Sufi devotional songs, but folk tunes that reflected the country's location between Pakistan, Iran and the "stans' of the former USSR. …

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