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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

SIVAN PERWER

By Tom Pryor

Min Beriya Te Kiriye
Daqui/ Harmonia Mundi

Singer Sivan Perwer is the voice of the Kurdish diaspora. A Turkish-born Kurd who's lived in exile for 20 years (first in France, and now Spain), Perwer has worked tirelessly to preserve the old songs and musical traditions of the Kurdish people. A modern-day dengbej (a traditional Kurdish bard), Perwer has re-created a musical homeland, one of the few solaces available to his stateless and exiled people. The recording catches Perwer live in Performance at France's Langon festival in 2003, backed by a crack band that includes some of the finest Kurdish musicians alive today. Perwer is in fine form here, his powerful voice wracked with sobs and quavering with lament one minute, and giving vent to a full-throated righteous rage the next. Songs such as "Helebce" (or "Halabja"), "Ware Me" and the title track give vent to the usual Kurdish frustrations, but familiarity doesn't diminish their power to evoke sadness and loss. Luckily, not all the songs are laments, and the romantic and traditional material balances out the overwhelming sadness of Perwer's protest songs.