Kiosk’s Music: Evoking Memories

Reading the comments to my collections of photographs from the recent Kiosk’s concert made me think about the criticisms. There are people who criticize Kiosk for the lack of originality. There are others who think Kiosk will be forgotten within a few years because it is “a third rate rock band at best.” To me, though, the most important part of Kiosk’s work is not the music itself but all the other things attached to it.

I think what makes Kiosk unique is not the music specifically, but the way Kiosk’s songs evoke memories. The lyrics are the story of a generation who grew up during the 1980-1990s. The music might sound like Dire Straits, but even that is a reminder of the type of music people like me used to listen during those dark years. The sarcastic irony of the lyrics, the witty criticism, the deep sorrow, and the anger in the contemporary Iranian underground music says something that I don’t think can be ever translated or explained in any other language. To understand “Shahrak emshab ma’moor-baazaare” first you have to know what “Shahrak” and “Ma’moor-baazaar” mean, and then you have to know the horror of seeing a bunch of “Ma’moor” and their “Minibus.” To understand the dark humor of “Zoghal-e Khoob” you need to remember the early days of the revolution and all the hope and joy that filled the air, the political repression and mass executions that followed that period, and today’s popularity of opium among the same generation who was the most hopeful and the most active during the first years of the revolution.

The same can be said about Mohsen Namjoo. What Kiosk and Namjoo share is not their style of Music –which is very different– but the mixture of anger, sorrow, dark sarcasm, and suspicion towards everything “sacred” (Yes, what do you expect? Jahanshah Javid is a member of the same generation.) When Namjoo says he is willing to make music with “Sedaaye Sag” he is basically trying to do the same thing Kiosk does with “Fohsh-e Khaar-maadar” in the song “Bi-Tarbiat”. “Omri tey namoodim andar omidvaari” in Namjoo’s song, “Nowbahaari”, is about the the same subject Kiosk’s “Zoghaale khoob” is about. It is all about a generation who has a bitter memory of the past, who is deeply hopeless about the current situation, and cannot find a way out of the abyss.

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