First I just want to say that this cd is listed incorrectly. While Debashish Bhattacharya is indeed The Living God of Hindustani guitar, he had no part in the recording and/or production of this cd. This cd was recorded in 1955 and 1970 by Deben Bhattacharya.
Okay now that that's out of the way, onto the music. This disc is excellent! One of the things that strikes me as odd is that when you hear people mention "fiddle music" or "fiddle tunes" in the United States they are almost always referring strictly to Appalachian fiddle traditions. What is sorely and sadly overlooked (or just plain unknown) is the wealth of brilliant fiddle music throughout Asia and western Africa. The fiddle of this recording is the ghichak. It's one of the Asian spike-fiddles that is part of that wide range of cousins encompassing everything from the kamancheh of Iran to the erh-hu of China. Throughout this disc it is played masterfully. Several of the ghichak tunes on this disc are (as the liner-notes told me) love songs, but we aren't talking that bland breed of mainstream sappy American love songs. These love songs are fiery and passionate, full of driving rhythm and melodic beauty.
For you fans of Hindustani music, you also get a rabab tune. The rabab being the much older instrument from which the sarod was born. This is one of my favorite songs on the disc.
You also get the surnai, a horn. Track #2, the Atan Nomad Dance is incredible! My head would tell me that the surnai is a reeded oboe-cousin but the liner-notes make no mentions of a reed in their description of it, so I'm not sure. Either way, this instrument reaches its pinnacle (for this disc, at least) on track #2. Just absolutely blazing tone and attack. It almost reminds me of Sonny Fortune's best moments on Miles Davis' best electric album, Pangaea. Plus there is excellent percussion accompaniment (and one zeir baghali [a small hand drum] solo track) throughout this disc.
Okay before I go on forever about nearly every track on this cd I will cut myself short and just say that this is an excellent collection of Afghan folk musics. I recently reviewed Ustad Mohammad Omar's great Virtuoso Of Afghanistan cd, and this cd is an excellent contrast to that one. That disc being more of an "Afghan classical" disc you get to hear something more along the lines of what royalty would have listened to... it's more of a royal court disc. This disc is the opposite, this is the music of the people. Would those who favor "classical" musics prefer the super-human technical facility of Omar's disc? Possibly yes, but we have to listen to things on their own terms. The music on Inside Afghanistan was not played by people who had the luxury of practicing and studying music for 15 hours a day everyday as is the way of musicians of Indian, Iranian, etc... royal court traditions.
This disc is the music that sustained these people through work, celebration, and other aspects of day-to-day life. As I said in my review of Virtuoso Of Afghanistan, I listen to this brilliant music and can't help but wonder how the Taliban could grow up around this stuff and decide to outlaw it.