Aam Zameen - Common Ground - Kiran Ahluwalia

Outside Music

It’s an oldie but a goodie: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one, but the light bulb must want to be changed. In the mixed, matched and mashed-up world of global fusions, music traditions are like light bulbs. Care must be taken by performers, DJs and producers to lend an ear to what changes the music will lend itself to. Approached with sensitivity and respect for the basic structures of these time- honored rhythms and dialects, collaborative and creative merging of cultural elements can produce the most ear –tickling results. Without, they can construct a loosely stitched patchwork of uncomplimentary sounds. Fortunately, there is lots of common ground out there. Juno-winning ghazal girl, Kiran Ahluwalia met the inventors of the modern electric Tuareg blues, Tinariwen, along with Robert Plant and his guitarist/ producer, Justin Adams in 2009. Adams agreed to produce a collaboration between the South Asian vocalist and the Northwest African nomadic bluesmen, resulting in a gorgeous new dialogue for 2011, released by Kiran Alhuwalia called Aam Zameen – Common Ground. The seemingly effortless melding of these two transcendent styles elevates both to a higher plane of accessibility, adding grit and groove to the sensual beauty of Kiran’s ghazals and conversely, adding a satiny finish to the sand-roughened timbre of Tinaiwen. And, the conversation expands to include Ghanaian ritti player and Justin Adams associate, Juldeh Camara whose West African melodies weave in and out of several tracks. The lead-off prepares us for the synergy that follows. As Kiran explains, “I knew it would be compelling to have a song from the South Asian Islamic tradition performed with Muslims from Mali, and I could think of nothing better than the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan classic, Mustt, Mustt.” Forgive the horrible pun, but it’s a must, must listen. If Aam Zameen-Common Ground sets the tone for global releases to follow in 2011, it will be a very good year indeed.