Ghazalaw Ghazalaw Marvels of the Universe
An unlikely dialogue between a ghazal singer from India’s most densely populated city and a folk singer from a small Welsh seaside town stands as an exemplar of the “back to the future” global village of so-called world fusion. Ambient is arguably a more accurate moniker for this musical synthesis of two superficially disparate cultures that are linked by a linguistic relationship to Sanskrit. The mellifluous singing of Mumbai’s honey-toned Tauseef Akhtar and Criccieth’s sweet-voiced Gwyneth Glyn, individually or in unison, and the poetic nature and emotional compatibility of their respective languages, Urdu and Welsh, creates listening guaranteed to soothe the most savage breast. Glyn’s stanzas, dating back to medieval times, and Akhtar’s ancient love poems fit like velvet gloves — as do the gossamer instrumental beds made by Manas Kumar’s Indian violin, Ashish Jha’s tabla percussion, Sanjoy Das’s acoustic guitar and Georgia Ruth Williams’s exquisitely played Welsh harp. Williams makes valuable back-up contributions on vocals. While there’s little variety in tempo or feel throughout Ghazalaw’s eponymous debut album, a swift exchange between fiddler and tabla player at the end of Apni Ruswaayee / Sefyll Yn Stond provides a soupcon of excitement and the similarly tongue-twistingly titled tail-end tracks, Guzur Jaayenge Jab Din / Hiraeth and Jugnu Ke Sitara Tha / Hen Ferchetan are enlivened by flamenco-esque guitar falsetas and gypsy-style violin. Overall, Ghazalaw is gently mesmerising and meditative rather than mind-blowing, rendering it more suitable as a soundtrack for a yoga school session than a festival rave.