She’s a 25-year-old hottie from Uzbekistan, she writes her own songs and plays guitar (well, it’s a two-stringed lute called a doutor, but same deal), she’s charmed audiences all over the world. With such a buildup, her debut disc on RealWorld is likely to be a huge disappointment, right? Uh, wrong. It’s pretty much perfect.
These are great songs, sung beautifully in Nazarkhan’s crystalline/smoky voice (contradiction? not really), and augmented by a tasteful mix of “traditional” instrumentation and “modern” electronic touches. Producer Hector Zazou is not exactly known for his light touch on the boards, but here he finds the right blend: the doutor (mostly played on the disc by master Toir Kuziyev) carries the melody, but Zazou makes it funky for us (the title track), or gets it working on the ambient tip (“Gazli”) or pumps it up into orchestral prog (“Galdir,” “Alla”).
It’s fascinating how similar this sounds to many other musics around the world. Uzbekistan is smack-dab in the middle of Central Asia, so the touches of Chinese-style harmonics and the use of Indian tablas are not surprising, but the similarities between Nazarkhan’s vocal stylings and the work of African fusionists like Gigi and Issa Bagayogo are uncanny. She’s just as effective in floaty territory, like in “Orik Gullaganda” where her voice cuts through the murk, as she is in more uptempo tunes like “Yallajonim”. And, no, I have no idea what she’s singing about, and I don’t care. It’s dopeness anyway.
And she’s cute as hell. But don’t let that fool you or sway you. I’m just saying though.
So: great disc, great talent, great future, etc. Watch this one, or be left behind.
Real World Records: http://www.realworldrecords.com/