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1001 Nights

Mad Sheer Khan

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Album Review

An Algerian native living in France who's best known in the West for his work with Nico and Sting, Mad Sheer Khan enlisted an impressive range of female vocalists from around the world to interpret songs based on poems from the book 1001 Tales of the Arabian Nights in their own native tongues. Native America, Tibet, Israel/Palestine, Algeria, Africa, Pakistan, and India are all represented here, with the artist's expressed goal to "convey the diversity of the world through a common spirit." The concept works well, with Khan and a stellar multicultural lineup of musicians tailoring each song to its singer. Fela Ababsa lends her captivating voice to "Night of Algerian," which segues seamlessly into "Algerian Sunrise," a gorgeous instrumental passage featuring the strings of Bulgaria's Plovdiv Chamber Orchestra. Morocco's Mamani Keïta's passionate wail drives the fiery "Night of the Gnawas" to a dynamic crescendo, with wickedly syncopated rhythms and strings helping to sell the drama. Only on the insistent "Night of Navajos" does Khan make a misstep, his synthesized sounds taking the listener out of the timeless mood the previous songs create. Still, this is a bold, experimental record that shows it really is a small world after all.

1001 Nights, Mad Sheer Khan
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