It's no exaggeration to say that the Ensemble Kaboul have literally kept Afghan music alive through many difficult years. Based in Geneva (hence the French spelling of Kabul) and led by Khaled Arman who plays the rubab lute - the Afghan national instrument - they represent thetraditional and popular sound of Afghan music. Thanks to its position at the crossroads of Asia, Afghan music is a heady and accessible mixtureof Indian, Persian and Central Asian sounds - and in the hands of a group like this, it obviously has an international appeal. Khaled's father Hossein Arman, who sings and plays harmonium in the ensemble, had a considerable reputation at Radio Afghanistan. Things got difficult for musicians in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 and the mujaheddin took power with their extreme Islamic beliefs. That's when Hossein decided to leave and follow his son who'd already left to studyin Europe. The situation got worse when the Taliban came to power in the mid-90s and music was entirely banned and instruments destroyed. It was then that Khaled and the Ensemble Kaboul really felt a duty to sustain the music of their country. Their first CD "Nastaran" was considered Top of the World by Songlines magazine. Ensemble Kaboul have not yet been back to Afghanistan as the situation with respect to music is still uncertain.
--Short biography by Simon Broughton, March 2003, at WOMAD.org