Albums of the year: World (Two)

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The Independent Culture

The Aga Khan's ongoing project to eternalise the little-known traditional musics of Central Asia has led to a brilliant series of Smithsonian Folkways CDs.

While Kyrgysztan erupts in violence, In the Shrine of the Heart: Popular classics from Bukhara and Beyond reminds us that there's another side to the picture. In the Footsteps of Babur: Musical Encounters from the Lands of the Mughals traces the musics of Central Asia, Afghanistan and North India, with five outstanding instrumentalists creating pieces on the spot.

Meanwhile down on the Indo-Gangetic plain, Paban Das Baul's Music of the Honey Gatherers captures the music of ganja-smoking minstrel-mystics. And I loved Gopal Krishan Dhrupad's Khyal, reflecting the sound of the rare unfretted vichitra veena – majestically deep and resonant, and supported by the tabla and tempura.

From further east comes Zen Hoyo: Liturgy of Zen Buddhism, consisting of a complete Zen ritual. Nearer home, Joana Amendoeira's A Flor da Pele confirms this Portuguese artist's claim to be one of the best living fadistas. And in Bold as Light Bavarian multi-instrumentalist Stephan Micus shows what quiet miracles can be created by layering his own sound, singing and playing some exotic Far Eastern instruments.