Qais Essar

Qais Essar

Qais Essar

The Ghost You Love Most

I was looking at some pictures of Afghanistan taken in the 1960s. It was an article in a business magazine showing what the country was like before the more or less non-stop wars began in the late ’70s. The article shows that the country wasn’t a perfect place, but it was a pretty nice place. US and Soviet aid helped build good roads, schools and universities. The images are a shocking contrast to the Afghanistan we’ve come to know.

Qais Essar wants you to know more about Afghanistan’s culture too. Essar is a contemporary Afghan composer and instrumentalist who lives in the Phoenix area. He is the master of the rabab, a traditional stringed instrument in the lute family. His original compositions draw on Hindu and Afghan classical music. His song, “The Crown Sleeps” from the animated drama, The Breadwinner, won a Canadian Screen Award.

The Ghost You Love Most is Qais Essar’s fourth album. The music is hypnotic and evokes a spiritual journey. I find it hard to describe the music. There is a fusion of rock and traditional sounds happening. On “Journey to Qaf”, the rabab is front and center with drums laying low in the mix, yet keeping the music moving forward. What this reminds me of the most are jazz guitarists like Ralph Towner and Egberto Gismonti. It’s calm, meditative music. The ghost in the album title could be the Afghanistan of Essar’s parents and grandparents. I’m certain that Qais Essar uses his work to support Women for Afghan Women and other civil society groups. The Ghost You Love Most also offers hope for what Afghanistan might become again. Someday.

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