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Music

East dances with West
The boys of Blurred Vision

By Mitra Sadrameli and Tandees Tanavoli
September 15, 2003
The Iranian

When brothers Soheil & Sepehr Osloobi first moved to Toronto Canada in 1988, neither one of them imagined they would be playing their own music to packed audiences in New York City, Vancouver, and Toronto.

"Music was always one of the biggest things in my life," says Soheil, the 28-year-old bass player and lyricist of Blurred Vision. "I was more interested in staying home and playing music than to go and play outside. Music helped me cope with the cultural shock of moving from Iran to Canada. When Sepehr was older I realized that we both shared the same passion for playing music, and that we were very compatible in our style. We also realized early on that we were more interested in performing the music that we wrote than merely playing other people's work. In essence our music took over us, as if it was driving us, not the other way around."

The two brothers started playing together in 1996 and two years later they started the band. Soheil explained where the name Blurred Vision came from. "There is no absolute black and white in life, but rather one gets to see clearly after having looked at life through blurred vision," in a nutshell a clear perspective borne out of the haziness of life.

The band's choice of name leaves no illusion that its intent is not only to make beautiful music, rather to beautiful and relevant music. Neither brother has had formal musical training. Listening to their music however, one would not be able to guess so.

Sepehr, 21, who plays the lead guitar, sings and co-writes the songs with his brother recalls his first experience with a musical instrument. At the age of 15, he got his hands on a guitar, sans strings. Everyday he would play various rock and roll videos and carefully observe the guitarist's finger positioning. Sepehr would then imitate the images on the screen.

A few months later after turning 16, Sepehr finally strung his guitar. He remembers the recently strung guitar immediately felt comfortable and familiar, even though up to that point he had not actually heard any of the music he had "practiced" on it. Within a week, he recalls, he wrote his first song.

Soheil, on the other hand, started playing the acoustic guitar at the age of 20. "It felt very uncomfortable. Then one day I picked up a bass at a friend's, and I knew this was it! I had found my instrument."

Initially the Blurred Vision did not have a professional vocalist so they would borrow friends or family to sing their songs. They recount interesting experiences with their well meaning amateur singers. Then 3 years ago, Sepehr started fronting for the band. "I always wanted to sing, but I wanted to perfect my instrument before singing."

Their music is a combination of harmonious rhythm and melodies, influenced by Soheil's socially conscious lyrics. When asked where they get inspiration for their lyrics, Soheil replied, "All areas of life, every road you take in life, brings you to a point where you reach spirituality... I would like to make people think at the same time as they are tapping their feet to the beat of our songs. Our inspiration comes from all aspects of life, human relations, human reactions, and the world around us." Sepehr also added, "The most important aspect of a musician is not to preach. Life around us, and everything involved in it works itself into our music."

In addition to the world around them, Soheil's background in literature heavily contributes to the lyrics and the feel of their music. Soheil, a big fan of Eastern and Western literature and philosophy draws deeply from the works of such great Persian poets as Rumi, Hafiz, Ferdowsi as well as many Chinese and Japanese counterparts.

Sepehr, who left Iran at too young an age, relies on Soheil's translations of these works. Both brothers are very well read and consider their on going self-imposed education a blessing which reflects itself in their music.

Blurred Vision's debut album is entitled Silent Rain. The collection is a celebration of various instruments and melodies from around the world intermixed with a music that reflects the two brothers. The international flavour gives this collection a unique sound worthy of our attention.

In Silent Rain one notices a combination of influences from various artists such as Pink Floyd, Frank Zuppa, Beatles, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Middle Eastern, and African music, though they are quick to mention that they are not out to imitate any of these artists. "Our music must stand on its' own. If we had to categorize it, we would like it to be considered World Music. We are not trying to imitate anyone," Soheil explains.

The album was in the making for the last year, although the material for it was being developed for over 3 years. The band added a new member during the recording of Silent Rain. Richard Moore, a classically trained percussionist, joined Blurred Vision after an illustrious career of his own during which he has accompanied many prominent artists including YoYo Ma. Moore has contributed another layer of sophistication to an already exquisitely arranged collection.

Another equally important member of the band - off stage- is Gary Taylor from Talent Inc. Blurred Vision's manager. Taylor has been in the music business for over 40 years, and has been a part of Blurred Vision since it was established five years ago.

Each of the eight tracks on Silent Rain reveals the eclectic taste of Blurred Vision. Into The Night's rhythm is inspired by African music. The bongos and the chanting in the back- ground give a subtle African flavour to this track.

Amistad de Fuego [Listen] the most up-beat song in the collection was recorded in collaboration with the Cuban band Valentin Y Dos Del Caribe, who among other things contributed the distinct African-Cuban sound. Float [Listen], another track, rides on Gregorian chants. The title track Silent Rain [Listen] , is a reggae-ska influenced piece. Classical middle-eastern influence can be picket out quite easily in most of their music, blending easily and comfortably with their eastern and western harmonies.

There are no limits to the type or sound of the instruments Blurred Vision use in their music. For brothers who grew up with classical Iranian music, Soheil and Sepehr exhibit an eclectic taste in the music they listen to and the music they write.

Limited editions of Silent Rain are available exclusively through the band's website, blurredvisionmusic.com. >>>> Music forum

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