Watch the incredible music of Jawad Tabesh and support Afghan musicians in exile


This video features Jawad Tabesh, a well-known classical singer from Kabul, who also performs folk music from Herat. Jawad moved to Mashhad in Iran just before the Taliban took over Herat (as well as the rest of Afghanistan). The piece features Jawad Tabesh (vocals, harmonium), Nasim Khushnawaz (rubab), Ramin Ahmadi (tabla) and was recorded in Mashhad Iran in May 2022. It comes from a crowd sourced album, Afghan Music In Exile: Mashhad 2022, that captures performances from some of Herat’s most important musical dynasties from the past century, including members of the Khushnawaz, Delahang and Hassanpour families.

The project was produced by Spanish musician, composer, documentary filmmaker and independent researcher, Michel Gasco, who previously produced an incredible collection of pre war Syrian music – again with all profits going directly back to the artists involved. You can find it here.

We’ve been listening to this remarkable album over the last couple of weeks and been blown away by the sheer musical artistry on display. Aside from this remarkable vocal piece, you can hear traditional folk, Rubab, and Herati Dotar music. It’s an opportunity to experience Afghanistan in a new way, to move beyond the the media, political debates and war correspondents and experience a rich and vibrant culture that is in real danger of extinction. This music is like nothing else on earth.

This is what they have to say about it:

“The Taliban’s return to power in August 2021 has stifled the expression of Afghan musicians as a ban on music performance couples a new wave of oppression against the arts. Deprived of their livelihood, many artists are destitute, and many families are either starving or living in exile. This project aims to amplify the voice of these artists to ensure they are not forgotten. All profits from this release go directly back to the artists involved – with the hope this eases the substantial burden of living in a precarious situation while maintaining the rich and enduring musical traditions of Afghanistan.”

Aside from purchasing the album, you can make a direct donation to Afghan musicians, or purchase a limited edition photo series of 12 photos of Afghan musicians captured during the album recording, taken by Michel Gasco. It’s great when a good cause marries up so well with such remarkable soul stirring music.

Afghan Music In Exile: Mashhad 2022 is released via Worlds Within Worlds. You can find it here.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.