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Saeedi; Salim Ghazi : Iconophobic

Salim Ghazi Saeedi is an Iranian composer who has previously released three albums under the name Arashk. This time however Salim has not only used his name for the CD, but also written, performed, recorded and mixed every note on this disc.

There's no pretending that Iconophobic is an easy ride - that gently (or not so gently) political album title really gives a strong indication as to Saeedi's motivations behind his music. There are no vocals on the album, in fact the harsh laughter that opens the album is the only human voice anywhere to be found. However the song titles and the one sentence descriptions of them that can be found in the CD insert leave no doubt that Iconophobic is a strong statement from Saeedi on life in his home city of Tehran. For example "And My Heart Aches Like 100 Aching Hearts" is described as "When I realised that man's inner being is retarded", whereas "Dance In Solitude" portrays "The final resort to eternal loneliness of mankind is dance... In solitude".

It all may sound very hard going, and in truth Iconophobic can be just that, however if you can devote forty minutes to immerse yourself in Saeedi's claustrophobic visions, then the clipped stark electronic beats that form such an integral part of these songs do begin to release their grip on the varied, yet themed melodies and arrangements. A mixture of clean, sparse guitar and atmospheric keyboards take us on an oppressive journey through some harsh, yet alluring songs where synthesized strings carry much of the basic melodies, with some piano, and the odd distorted guitar chord breaking up the odd time signatures and angular themes.

There is little in the way of "release" on this album, with Saeedi more than happy to allow the tension to build and build in a way that conveys his frustrations very effectively. Never quite progressive in tone, the phrase art-rock would be a better description for what is a remarkably uncomfortable and minimalist set of songs. When I say minimalist, that doesn't mean that there is little going on, in fact the arrangements can be quite dense, but the overall impression is of an aching emptiness.

Equally challenging and beautiful, Iconophobic is definitely not an album for all occasions, however if you are in an introspective, melancholy mood, then it is a welcome and revealing companion.

Track Listing
1. Composer's Laughter
2. A Satire On Hell
3. And My Heart Aches Like 100 Aching Hearts
4. Asiyeh
5. The Songful Song Of Songbirds
6. Transcend Ecstasy With Ecstasy
7. Don't You See The Cheerful Rainbow
8. Music Is A Haram
9. Dance In Solitude
10. Eternal Melancholy Of Loving Women
11. Give My Childhood Back
12. Breast-Milk
13. I Am Beautiful, Are You Beautiful?

Added: September 28th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Salim World
Hits: 5871
Language: english

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