Review | Songlines

Vulture Prince

Top of the World

Rating: ★★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details

Artist/band:

Arooj Aftab

Label:

New Amsterdam Records

July/2021

Pakistani-American singer and composer Arooj Aftab weaves the Hindustani vocal tradition into exquisite arrangements that are mournful but moreish, creating an enchanting record expressed in a striking minimalist-folk style.

Vulture Prince, Aftab’s third album, is dedicated to the memory of her late brother and displays a restraint that may speak to her grief. Percussion is rarely deployed. Propulsion comes instead through implied grooves, such as the harp and double bass lilt of ‘Baghon Main’, which features a beautiful violin solo by Darian Donovan Thomas. Aftab uses space artfully. Her vocals are often absent from the arrangement for longer than you might expect, and are all the more moving for this sparseness.

‘Last Night’ might be considered the album’s odd-one-out. It sets a Rumi poem to a dusky dub beat, with certain phrases translated into English. The tone of Aftab’s album is so enduring, however, that even this reggae exploration feels consistent. The detour also hints at a playfulness that may reemerge on less heavy-hearted material in the future. For now Vulture Prince is beguiling and original in its sorrow.

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