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(37:50, ‘Salim World’)
TRACK LIST: 1. Composer's Laughter 1:29 2. A Satire on Hell 3:03 3. And My Heart Aches Like 100 Aching Hearts 2:16 4. Asiyeh 3:10 5. The Songful Song of Songbirds 3:37 6. Transcend Ecstasy with Ecstasy 3:39 7. Don't You See the Cheerful Rainbow 3:21 8. Music is Haram 3:03 9. Dance in Solitude 3:02 10. Eternal Melancholy of Loving Women 1:19 11. Give My Childhood Back 3:35 12. Breast-Milk 3:16 13. I am Beautiful 3:00 SOLO PILOT: Salim Ghazi Saeedi – guitars; keyboards
Prolusion. Iranian composer and multi-instrumentalist Salim Ghazi SAEEDI first appeared a few years back as one of the core members of the metal band Arashk, which now has a total of four productions to its name. "Iconophobic" is his first solo album, and was issued in the summer of 2010.
Analysis. Residing in Iran and creating music is a challenging task. Once one of the most western-oriented countries in the Middle East, with a healthy and growing scene also for western-inspired rock music, the government has since the late 70's moved to create a far more conservative environment, to the extent that a law proposition saw the light of day in 2010 where it was suggested that music in itself should be outlawed. A challenging environment doesn't reduce the creative needs of artists though, but it does make it more troublesome to express themselves. Personally, Arashk is the only band I know of from the country once known as Persia, and their exploits have intrigued me so far. And while in some respects markedly different in expression, this solo debut of Saeedi is another production that has been a most interesting experience. Violin and string arrangements are central features throughout this release, digitally crafted, I assume, but of good quality. Standalone motifs from violin and sometimes cello with symphonic backing are the most common representation of this aspect of the compositions, more often than not in arrangements that for me sound exotic, presumably utilizing movements with more of a basis in Middle Eastern and Persian traditions. Distinctly folk-tinged gentle guitar motifs are another feature that makes frequent appearances, many of which in sound would appear to be performed on a rather different string instrument than the regular guitar I'm more used to encountering, although this could also come down to tonality and compositional traditions rather than different instrumentation. Nevertheless, both these traits add an exotic touch to the proceedings, and in the case of the first of these also a stylistic expression awfully close to chamber rock when seen in the overall context. While the initial description may indicate that this is more of a folk and classical release, that isn't really the case. Bass and drums set up the foundation quite nicely on all these endeavors. In a few instances purebred electronic textures replace these elements partially or in full, crafting a highly intriguing contrast between an industrial sounding rhythm motif and eastern string arrangements. Saeedi also finds the time to incorporate metal-tinged guitar riffs and a few solo runs in most escapades too, further adding to the rich variety of textures with different stylistic expressions and cultural backgrounds. And whether utilizing enthralling repetitions with hypnotic qualities or ever-changing and constantly evolving approaches, these pieces keep a high interest level. At least if you have a soft spot for such a blend of styles and sounds. Personally I'd point out the haunting atmospheres of Give My Childhood Back and the following Breast-Milk as the best among plentiful of strong efforts on this CD.
Conclusion. If you enjoy the thought of encountering compositions with distinct influences from the Middle East and Iran, blending classical music, folk music and rock, spiced with a few metal touches, Salim Ghazi Saeedi has created a must-have CD in the shape of "Iconophobic". Always seeking, always adventurous, experimental and challenging, his creations may not be the most mainstream-oriented around, but are also far removed from the avant-garde parts of any musical universe. Highly recommended, particularly to an open-minded art rock audience.
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