Aam Zameen: Common Ground (Avokado Artists Recordings/Ais, 2011)
The Indian Canadian artist Kiran Ahluwalia is a female powerhouse on the world music scene with recordings such as the self-titled Kiran Ahluwalia and Wanderlust to her credit, as well as collaborations with the Chicago Sinfonietta, Tanya Tagaq, Delerium and Eccodek. For her latest Aam Zameen: Common Ground, Ms. Ahluwalia teams up with the Tuareg group Tinariwen to fuse the desert blues with her own brand of Indian song.
Kicking off Aam Zameen, Ms. Ahluwalia goes straight for the good stuff with a rousing version of Nusrat Fatah Ali Khan’s “Mustt Mustt. Packed with dishy vocals by Ms. Ahluwalia, that signature rootsy Tinariwen sound and some ululations that will send shivers up your spine, this track is spectacular.
Fans are treated to a dreamy version refashioned into “Mustt Mustt Redux” and a closing extended “Mustt Mustt.” The gems stack up on Aam Zameen with the flowing strains of “Rabba Ru,” the exotically evocative “Raqba” and the sweetly colored “Matadjem.” There’s even a little funk thrown in at the opening of the Indian saturated “Zindagi.” Aam Zameen turns out a truly collaborative fare with nods to Ms. Ahluwalia’s roots with the infectious rhythms of India and guitar lines of Tinariwen’s Saharan desert blues sound. The effect is potent and deeply satisfying.
In addition to Tinariwen and Ms. Ahluwalia’s band, Aam Zameen shows off the excellent musical expertise of guest musicians from the Tuareg group Terakaft and Gambian ritti player Juldeh Camera (again, with the shivers up your spine). If that weren’t enough, Justin Adams lends his guitar work and acts as co-producer along with Rez Abbasi, with Peter Moore of Cowboy Junkies fame to master the recording
Ms. Ahluwalia has unearthed a magical mix on Aam Zameen.