Qais Essar and The Ghost You Love Most

For me, Qais Essar is the embodiment of artistic subtlety, rendering divine beauty with each note he plays on the Rabab. His Afghani roots, combined with a love for rock and contemporary experimental sounds create a musical recipe which makes the heart flutter and the soul awake. The Ghost You Love Most, Qais’ latest offering, is an enticing and raw blend of dual simplicity and intensity.

The first track – The Culmination of Sorrow – gently draws you in like a mythological siren song, a slow burner, it then uplifts, revealing its true strength and power. The album is like an embodiment of Qais as an artist, a man whom from the outset appears contemplative and thoughtful, yet this is only one part of a complex soul, comprising myriad facets, from the reserved to the expressive.

The Ghost You Love Most is an EP that conjures visions of both paradise and paradise lost, a prevailing feel of intimacy, of lamentations and instrumental proclamations is all cradled in a cinematic vibe that makes me come to the conclusion that Qais Essar has achieved a greatness and artistic clarity, even if he doesn’t wish to think so himself. The more I listen, the more deeper in love I become.

Cultural, this is an abundant detailing of Afghani instrumentals and of an Afghanistan that now only exists in the hearts and minds of those with a deep connection to it, with visions of Kabul during its days as a cosmopolitan hub and the ancient mountains of the Hindu Kush.

Storytelling is what defines The Ghost You Love Most, with a narrative that is wordless yet specific, imparting a gift to the listener to come up with his own of definition, like Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The story is realised a few moments before a song comes to close, allowing for moments of reflection and to act as a hinterland between this and the next song.

You enter another world, a world that is eternal and fairy tale like at its core. Giving the mind scope to nurture ones own personal imagination, a quality that only music of this kind can do. From beginning to end, songs rise and fall with profound sublimity.

Qais is like a magician, constructing transcendent melodies, which are imbued with an evocative and delightful playfulness. A harbinger of joy and of sadness, he is able to take your emotions in his hand and lovingly tease them. His breadth of skill and distinct musical charm is something one can treasure and enjoy forever.

Photos by Chris Rivera, Album art by Safwat Saleem. all images courtesy of Qais Essar.