Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Sowal Diabi: De Kaboul à Bamako [Accords Croisé, 2022]
With a project name translating "question" in Persian and "answer" in Bambara and an album title that begins in Afghanistan and ends in Mali, this gorgeously articulated and textured collaboration featuring musicians from many related lands including several European ones is topped off by jazzy Malian sophisticate Mamani Keita and conservatory-trained Iranian sophisticate Ada Nosrat. You've never heard anything quite like it, and if you let it sink in a little you'll be impressed at least and transported if you're willing to be--it's enough to make you believe international understanding can be achieved from the top. Combining dance modes or honoring a deceased tabla player, juxtaposing "habit" and "feeling," following 13th-century Sufi poet Rumi here with '70s Afghan hitmaker Siar Hashimi there, the combination of juxtaposition and amalgamation is both calming and inspiring. If only life could imitate art once in a while. A