December 13, 2005
It seems the power of music is stronger than medicine. At least that is the way it is for Payam Eslami, who would rather practice guitar then practice medicine. Born in Tehran in 1977 this is the kind of kid who possibly has no clue about pre revolutionary Iran and why the Shah was bad. He even started playing guitar at 18, so his musical knowledge is limited at best. But as things in Iran go nowadays, life is super compressed, and super fast.
The lack of it means the slightest glimpse of personal freedom is captured and worshipped beyond obsession, the adaptive speed of the Iranian youth is so fast that there isn't enough time for fads and trends to develop and die out,. The process is merely fluid. So goes Payam and the group he helped found, Oriental Silence.
Clearly the political incorrectness of the word Oriental has not made it through just yet, but it is merely the literal translation error of "Sokooteh-Shargh" and actually a cool name especially for a rock band.
Heavily influenced by Floyd, Clapton, Satriani and I will also venture he's got some Sabbath, Motorhead, Nugent, and even a bit of Rush in there as well, it blows one's mind that this sound is actually coming out of post revolutionary Iran.
Here listen to these 3 tracks and then come back and we'll continue our discussion.
Not bad huh!
Of course the band is not allowed to play publicly, I mean just look at them for God's sake! This needs to be put down as yet another crime committed in the name of religion, but hey, if religion is so right, and this kind of music is so bad, then a) why did God invent it, (and the Internet) or pleasure for that matter, and b) why does this kind of music sound so good?
To me it even sounds that much better precisely because it comes from Iranians, in Iran. Kind of like how Iranian fruit seems to taste better. In this case, forbidden fruit.
Fellow band member and co-guitarist Farzad Fakhreddini, is the son of the well-known Iranian composer and the Iranian National Music Orchestra’s conductor, Farhad Fakhreddini. Bebin, even a Persian Dad couldn't stop his son's deep plunge into Rock!
Bass player Hamed Hamidzadeh, keyboardist Reza Zarasvand, and drummer Amirali Taheri each bring a sense of independence and individualism and a surprising amount of experience and live performance to the group. You can see that each has his own personality. This is great to see. And even better to hear.
The influences are clear, and the interpretation is fresh but there is some element missing, and I think I would venture to say it is lacking an overall confidence. whihc is altogether understandable given their situation. That can unfortunately only be gained by live performing, which I can't even imagine how they would pull off, except illegally, underground, or maybe off at some remote rave somewhere in northern Tehran or some ecstasy dropping rich young businessman's Dizin chalet, where the Rock Nazis aren't on patrol.
But there is nothing like looking into an audience member's eyes, connecting on a painful guitar solo, and nodding knowingly, that "I know, brother, I know" look, to give you back something that this kind of music usually only takes away from your soul when you play it alone.
I either wish Oriental Silence was here so I could listen to them live, or that I was there and could listen to them freely. But it doesn't look like I can have any of what I want for a while. Which really really sucks.
I can't even write about it anymore.
Obviously, you can't buy their album anywhere, but their website allows you to download their awesome songs, and you can watch some of the videos of past live performances whihc are really fun to see.
To get compilation videos and audio samples of Oriental Silence online: OrientalSilence.com
It took me a while to figure out how Afshin got away with getting a fun new pop sound past the old school 6/8 guardian council of the LA music machine. Afshin is just simply a big fat liar. He's also the kind of candy that hot girls like.
But put that visual aside for a minute, and here's the clever trick; on Aso Pas (Mixed Up?) and Maach (Peck/Kiss?), he's made the first few opening notes sound just like the kind of 6/8 that your typical LA 6/8 producers want to hear, then several bars later when everyone has left the meeting, he switches gears completely and does what he wants. And we want what he wants. In this case a fresh hot infection of updated pop with a wide variety of world influences.
This is a 2 album review (TY To FJ on the recommendation) because I simply can't choose, and it's not often you can buy 2 solid albums from the same artist.
Those of us who danced our way to middle age during the 80's and 90's will fondly recall Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Dazz Band, and yes, even a bit of Bob Marley mixed in for good measure.And then there is the twist even I couldn't imagine. The addition of rough and tumble aggro-German hip-hop rap to a Baba Karam on "Bikhial"? This is possibly the weirdest thing I have ever heard that actually works, in a whip-me-hurt-me-make-me-eat-schnitzel kind of way.
As hip-hop gains more and more of my respect over time, Afshin has brought in the kinds of hip-hop I like and scattered it deftly around his songs.The other thing I like is that Afshin has put a twist on traditional lyrics. Normally we have to endure the wimpy and helpless singer destroyed over the curve of you Iranian ladies' eyebrows and how your love can somehow cause hearts to explode into pieces or even better, flames!
Afshin will thankfully have none of this nonsense, on "Digeh Azat Baadam Miad" (I Don't Like You Anymore). Finally!It is clear that Afshin has been forced to capitulate and balance his art with the demands of the LA machine and puts in the required number of bandari songs which seems to be a trademark of Iranian pop music these day, and I have decided to simply stop fighting it. It's not fair to all the good people I have met from Khuzestan over the years. Plus these are rally good ones, almost Yemeni.
Even the ballads are good. Listen to "Tak Derakht" (Lone Tree) which is surprising because who does ballads anymore? Euro-treatment combined with soulful singing, Afshin sounds a bit like Marc Anthony only better, if you ask me. These are consummate pop albums, listenable from start to end, well timed and nicely balanced.
The ultimate test for me though is, for lack of a better word, the "commutability" of an album. How well does it commute? Or does it last through my typical 40 minute to 1 hour daily commute to and from work. Afshin more than passes this test, not only lasting beyond my daily drive, it popped itself proudly out of my car and made its way into the house CD player, lasting well beyond dinner. If you can afford it (and who can't?) get both of these albums: Aso Pas and Maach.
If you have to choose one over the other, talk yourself out of it and buy both anyway, come on, it's less than the cost of a couple Starbucks and stop being cheap. If you really, really, really have to choose one over the other, I'd probably go with the newer Maach, but you're really starting to bug me.
Click to order Aso Pas or Maach online from eworldrecords.com