The Revolution Is Here

Well maybe not exactly, but it’s a good title for an article, and a good effort for first timers Kiosk and their debut album “adameh mamooli” (Ordinary Man), one of the up and coming underground (literally) Iranian alternative bands, slowly starting to come out into the light.

I think for the first time, I have heard lyrics that actually mean something, expressing the growing frustration and boredom with an increasingly materialistic and decadent life in modern day Iran. A refreshing and honest commentary on the superficial social scene Iran has become.

I am glad Kiosk said it, because I know that a lot of us over here have been thinking it, but couldn’t dare say it, as we watch the increasingly pervasive nose jobs, and “wet look” hairstyles and general “punky” attitude coming over in sloppy steamy buckets of pictures from today’s Iran. Usually announced on an email from a friend who has been browsing one of the many “Tehran??.com” sites, often accompanied by the comment “…look how advanced Iran is…”

From “roozmaregi”

Khoshbakhti yaani yeh mardeh kheeki
hessabeh banki, masheeneh meshki…
khanevadeh, yaani, chand ta bacheyeh loos
akhareh hafteh, jaddeyeh chaloos…
shakhsiat yaani gooshieh mobylet
addresseh khoonat, ya markeh shalvaret…
eeneh maanieh roozmaregi..

In an almost embarrassing homage to Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame, with a dash of Stevie Ray Vaughan blues guitar work, thrown in for good measure, Arash, the lead singer and principal guitarist, shows he has been doing his homework and belts out the wonderful bitterness with aplomb.

At first I wondered about the overall sound, but as I listened to the words, I found it to be an excellent choice for the material, and the songs are new and fresh versions of familiar roots rock. Basically this is a rock/blues album with Iranian lyrics. Isn’t that weird! (veird?)

I especially liked the commentary on “zorbaye malayeri“, a song set to a ridiculously addictive zorba-the-greek style song (it even picks up speed as you go!), but with such bitter soft lyrics that cut through the twanging guitar, all add up to make the song all that more politically dangerous and extremely funny to listen to. Here’s an example of what I mean,

Razeh exeereh javooni, Ba suction, ba lifting
zibayi faghat hameeneh, jarrahieh pelasteek
mardoonegi be ineh
heykal o body building
mageh adam mard misheh
bedooneh ring or lasteek?

On “adameh mamooli” the singer puts down all of the showing off going on, about which movies are cool to be seen at, which poem is popular to quote, who’s rich and owns which factory, by exclaiming himself to be an ordinary man, a self for self’s sake. And content to be so. Yearning for normal ordinariness. That’s pretty bold given what braggarts we tend to be.

On “taghseereh man bood” the singer decides to simply take the blame for and appease all of the common complaints about all the ills in the world, including Tehran traffic,  why the national soccer team loses by playing “too emotionally”, Iraq, Israel and even managing to squeeze in the Tamil Tigers, which I thought was an especially creative rhyme. While it may not actually solve any of the endless problems it lists, it is nevertheless cathartic to hear him address them and suggest that if you want to blame someone, anyone, you can blame him, if it makes you feel better. And it kind of does.

Because you can’t play this music anywhere publicly inside Iran, understandably the band is literally underground, and I predict, about to become a phenomenon. But with a twist. It wouldn’t be Iranian without one! The lead singer Arash (not even sure that is his real name) is based in Tehran, he put the initial guitar and vocal tracks together and sent them out on a CD, actually hand carried by a traveling passenger, to his childhood collaborators who now live in Canada, and the US respectively. Each added his part and sent it back to Arash for finishing, then the whole album was finally mixed and produced by Bamahang Productions out of Canada, who rightfully claim to be “…established by musicians, run by musicians, for musicians”. (Wake up LA!)

The overall quality of the recording is superb given the distance challenges (see above), but recording software has clearly come a long way and nothing surprises me anymore, except maybe why LA can barely pull off 192 on their recordings? But I shouldn’t even bother anymore.

If you like your music fine and dandy, and happen to like your head where it is, namely buried in the sand, this album is not for you. Simply move along, and keep on 6/8-ing your decadent ass off. But if you miss having ample doses of rough harsh truth in your music, and more importantly, can handle it, this is one of the strongest efforts put forward by anyone so far. Maybe too strong for you.

Listen and enjoy, but do it with caution because this album will do something most Iranians don’t count on, and what most Iranian popular music doesn’t do, and that is to make you actually think. Now that’s veird!

To Buy Kiosk’s album “Adameh Mamooli” Click Here

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