Intercultural exchange, communication, and understanding, in my mind at least, are the key to alleviating many of the underlying interpersonal irritations caused by globalization. The world has gotten faster and more diverse, and many people lack a certain perspective when it comes to interacting with cultures outside of their own; not out of malice or just willful ignorance, but due to omissions in education or interaction. Thus, I personally find it very noble and useful for musicians and labels to try and bring new audiences into the music that shapes certain cultural backgrounds.

One such example would be Afghan Music In Exile: Mashhad 2022, a project coined by the wonderful Australian label Worlds Within Worlds to put forth the music of various Afghan (folk) musicians who had to leave behind their motherland lest they face oppression, torture, or worse at the hands of the despicable Taliban regime. Included on this release are artists from different dynasties, regions, and backgrounds, all of whom help shed a light on the diverse traditions of Afghan music amidst a struggle for survival and freedom (both very literally and metaphorically).

We at Everything Is Noise are delighted to bring you a brand new single and music video off this intriguing project today: “Feraq” by Asef Habibi. Having spent his life between the cities of Mashhad and Herat while receiving musical education from masters such as Karim Herawi, Habibi has become one of the most sought-after singers and teachers in Herat. He has also played a plethora of shows and festivals in Afghanistan and Iran. Habibi left the country in November 2022; his current projects include a band with rubab player Nasim Khushnawaz (who is also part of this compilation).

“Feraq” (meaning ‘separation’ or ‘grief [on account of absence]’; perhaps equal to a feeling of homesickness) is a Kabuli ghazal, presented by Habibi on vocals and harmonium, Vahid Delahang on the rubab, and Ramin Ahmadi on tabla. Habibi’s rich and supple timbre proves his reputation as a masterful vocalist; his performance is emotionally and technically striking. The sound of the instruments beautifully meshes with his incantation, making for a delightful experience. Seeing these talented individuals at play in the accompanying video is a treat as well. You can watch it for yourself below:

Afghan Music In Exile: Mashhad 2022 is managed and produced by musician and videographer Michel Gasco and co-produced by Worlds Within Worlds label owner Lachlan R. Dale (also of Art As Catharsis). Gasco himself has worked extensively with the community of exiled Afghan musicians in Iran; the fruits of his efforts now culminate in this unique project. Here’s what he has to say about this massive, decade-long undertaking: ‘This album is one of a kind, and a celebration of a great culture that has been under unbearable pressure with extremists trying to silence it. We hope that provides a gateway for new audiences into the rich musical history of Afghanistan.‘ Adds Asef Habibi, ‘This project will have positive effects on art in Afghanistan, especially for those Afghans who don’t know the music of their country. It also shows how interested our foreign friends are in the music and art of Afghanistan.

As you can see, this compilation is the result of hard labor, passion, and dedication to a community whose embers are on the brink of being snuffed out by the hands of hatred and tyranny. Everyone involved wishes to preserve the rich heritage of the Afghan culture and share it with an international audience; in short, Afghan Music In Exile: Mashhad 2022 was created to ‘amplify the voice of these artists to ensure they are not forgotten.‘ All proceeds will be given to the artists and communities behind the project, in hopes that this will help alleviate some of the disastrous effects of this precarious situation.

Afghan Music In Exile: Mashhad 2022 was released on June 23 via Worlds Within Worlds records. If the above article at all piqued your interest, I suggest you go and pick up this truly magnificent (and magnanimous) compilation right here; you can also donate to Afghan musicians directly by following that link should you so desire. Thank you to Asef Habibi and everyone else involved for entrusting EIN with this very special premiere, and all the best to the Afghan musicians fighting to be heard: may your songs and voices reach open ears (and hearts) around the world.

Dominik Böhmer

Dominik Böhmer

Pretentious? Moi?

Leave a Reply