[27 October 2009]
Ariana Delawari’s parents moved from Afghanistan to the U.S. to avoid a Soviet invasion just before she was born. After seeing a chance to rebuild the country a few years ago, they moved back. Their daughter takes her stage name, and the name of this, her first album, from the nickname of an Afghan general who fought successfully against the Soviets. Her love of the 1960s shows in almost everything—the album sweeps along on extravagant rowls of fuzz and trippy, slurring string arrangements. Sitars hum, and Asian percussion pops.
The 1960s Westerners who travelled through her parents’ part of the world along the hippie trail borrowed the local instruments for their music, and she borrows them back. Two of the tracks are Afghan songs, and here the fuzz bows out while she sings against an acoustic backing. The idea is worthy but her voice doesn’t have the power to make the most of it. The layers of fuzz in the other songs not only sound good, they also pad her vocal lightness. Still, after reading about Taliban brutalities, particularly toward women, it’s fantastically satisfying to hear one of these women bouncing back at them, as on “Be Gone Taliban”, when she whips up violins, sitars, seagull wails, growling: You have no business in our country, get out.