Album: Various Artists, The Rough Guide to... Afghanistan (World Music Network)

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I'd found my favourite track before the terrible news came: a love song from Badakshan, with lute, fiddle and drum.

This compilation has poignant timing, given the fact that Afghanistan is descending into anarchy: it allows us a glimpse of the way music has traditionally unified this country. Here is the wonderful Mahwash; here is the "Afghan Elvis" Ahmad Zahir, killed in a mysterious car crash 30 years ago; here are three of the greatest players of the rubab, Afghanistan's national instrument. Excellent.