More please

Clearly the investment in a quality studio and finally coming out of the basements and home recording studios has paid off


More please
by bahmani

To jump right in, the thing I love most about Kiosk, is their predictable unpredictability. Just when you think you have them pegged, that they are going to shift from what you know, they shift off into a different direction dragging you not so much as surprised, but gladly so behind them. You're like a late entry to a long conga line at a wedding and you only have enough time to ask the person in front of you, "Where the hell are we going?"

Whether done on purpose, or merely a haphazard result of the free creative process, Kiosk's latest album, "Global Zoo" takes us on the wildest ride yet. Stretching our imagination over the span of rock, blues, tango, waltz, and dare I say country western, and urrrp the long thought dead Disco!

The album as a whole has far better audio quality and is better mixed than any album so far. Clearly the investment in a quality studio and finally coming out of the basements and home recording studios has paid off. The sound is so much richer and deeper and the quality of each instrument is superb in this latest presentation of free Iranian art.

Ever the social critic, the lyrics are once again, cryptically poignant as Sobhani monotones his patentable nasal voice through possibly some of the most critical words ever spoken out against the institutionalization of apathy within the Iranian community both here and back home. Clearly, this ought to prove once and for all, you don't have to be there, to speak valid truth to power, from here. What's more is, you can do it to a nice danceable beat! My only wish is that the album had the lyrics, so we could read them, understand them, and memorize them easier. I've played the album like 13 times and I'm still quite lost in most of it.

Here's my track by track breakdown:(apologies in advance)

Track 1 and Track 10: Ay Ay Ay (v.1) and (v.2)
This is better known as the Tarzan-o-Cheetah song we've heard a few times live now. This time mixed as a highly moody atmospheric ballad, the first version demonstrates Kiosk's least acknowledged trait, namely the incredible array of musical talent in this band. Track 10, I found works better of you listen to first and then let the CD player loop you back to the beginning. But I'm weird.

Track 2: Sirabi-e-Naft 
I'm not sure I would have had the pestehs to put this Brad Paisley-esque Country Western swing second, maybe they snuck it in, to get it out of the way. This is a continuation of Sobhani's ever biting lyrics, this time pointing out what a wacky double edged sword an oil-based economy can be, in as funny a way as I have ever seen done. Ardalan Payvar adds his own comedic touches adding burps here and there, with his rock tuned wurlitzer keyboardism. That's right, I'm calling it Keyboardism! Because to hear Payvar play keyboard is a fast growing religion.

Track 3: Pragmatism-e-Eshgh
Another cynical song, this time about love, and the overall general decay of common Iranian society. I think. At once professing his love, while at the same time declaring that he's finally given up, the system wins, he is going with the flow, and "I'm no longer the person I used to be." I especially liked the crass Chris DeBurgh photo op reference. The style is what I call Soviet Vodka House blues, a good demonstration of Kiosk's research and knowledge into this form of protest or more accurately dissident-speak. I don't particularly prefer this form, I think it is too nostalgic to be useful, and to be frank I'd like to see less of it in the future guys, but I can understand their nostalgic affinity for it. Even though they're too young to be nostalgic. Yet another crime of the revolution.

Track 4: Agha Negahdar
In his own version of "Stop the world I want to get off!" Sobhani belts out a superb Rock-Blues ballad not as the wimpy Chris DeBurgh, but more along the lines of an angry Chris Rea. Sobhani rails against corruption in his call out of the various Mafias of Soccer, Oil, Music, and Sugar (staple food commodities), and pulls away the false veil of the system, claiming rightly that the reforms themselves have now been "reformed".

Track 5: Kafsh
Possibly the most mosh-pit-worthy track of the album. This song proves it is extremely fun to be angry. It actually helps anger cut to the bone. Smile before you get as angry as you know you can, Sobhani drags you out into the street by your hair, with the roughest guitar solo, a vapid thrashing for your willing pain/enjoyment.

Track 6: Livanha, Botriha, Galonha
It takes you with a drunken stumbling tango back to the vodka house complete with Payvar's waiting wailing accordion to soothe your hangover. Again, I think this style is more of buzzkill personally, but so well assembled and Payvar's obvious love of this form is so compelling, you can't help but stick around.

Track 7: Gerogangiri Dar Bagh-e-Vahsh

This song reminds me completely of Eric Clapton's Crossroads, partially with it's profession of ethereal love. It shifts to a complete different gear when during the guitar solo, it blends traditional American rock blues and introduces for possibly the first time in history, a singularly recognizable Iranian rock riff.

Track 8: Charkhesh-e-Pooch
It's back to the cafe once gain, instead of Russia and Vodka, we are taken on a back street romantic slut-strewn stroll through the sleazy alleyways of a French bistro, complete with the painfully wailing of Payvar's accordion. Perfect Absinthe music.

Track 9: Yarom Bia
Hold off on the absinthe though, because you may not need it after listening to this. Possibly the most bizarre tribute to the original Tajik classic, this one will blow your mind if you realize the long lost disco beat, all that is missing is Donna Summers' Bad Girls hook "Awwww!... toot! toot!....beep! beep!", until you sit stunned, as you recognize none other than the Master himself Mohsen Namjoo, joining in after the first refrain. I would have expected Namjoo would never go for this arrangement, but you can hear the obvious fun he is having, and then you realize, no it's perfect!

Those of you who might think that 10 tracks is too few, trust me, in this album, it's a lot!

If I had to choose what I would like Kiosk to explore more of in future albums, it would have to definitely be the Rock direction. While I understand the quaint familiarity of Russian vodka house blues in "Pragmatism-e-Eshgh" and "Livanha, Botriha, Galonha" are entirely useful and by now even a staple of what has come to be known as Kiosk-style music. I feel that the more energetic and moving pieces are in their rock direction. But I am just a 47 year old head banger, who merely wants "more please".

Plus not playing more rock is a total waste of guitarist Babak Khiavchi's obvious talents, while Sobhani stretches beyond his Knopfler-esque nasal voice on occasion, enough to prove that he can (if he wants to) actually sing once in a while. Sobhani while doing all the singing duty as per usual, is no guitar slouch himself, often and easily adding to Khiavchi's waiting begging arsenal of well schooled weaponry.

On a final note, I have to say that Ardalan Payvar firmly establishes himself as Iran's new Jon Lord on this album, and shows how well he can add an eager element that is often overshadowed when you have not one, but 2 great guitarists on board with all the tools and plenty of ammo. Oh Lord Payvar! Bestow upon us thy gifts! Let us rock with thine keyboard, leave the temptation of the coffee and vodka houses and deliver us unto your blessed psychedelic 60's organ riff fingerplay!

-- November 16, 2008 -  Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre (with special guest Babak Amini)
-- November 28, 2008 -  Seattle, WA Neumos
-- November 30, 2008 -  Vancouver, Canada Richards on Richards

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