Press Archive  



Human Encounter





2011 Single



namoWoman (2012)

namoWoman Review, Sea of Tranquility, Jon Neudorf, Dec 2014 [permalink]

Salim Ghazi Saeedi is an Iranian musician who released three albums with Arashk, a band I am not familiar with. He has three solo albums to his credit with namoWoman being his latest released in 2012. Saeedi plays all the instruments himself, dabbling in guitar, bass, keyboards and drum arrangements. This is a pretty tough album to crack as the music is quite challenging. Metal, fusion, jazz and world elements is what you will hear. The first four tracks feature plenty of biting guitar and heavy fuzzed out riffs combined with violin samples. The Persian elements are often interspersed among the heavy angular guitar work that has a definite avant-garde feel. "namoW", "nam", "amo" and "moW' all combine heavier riffs with a slightly disjointed sound and interesting chord progressions. The next few tracks are a little more eerie and spacious, my favourite being "oma" where the guitar cuts through the soundscape like a scythe through a field of wheat. The Persian influenced violin textures are a direct contrast to Saeedi's crazy guitar exploits. The last track "Wom" features jazzy piano and more fuzzier avant-garde guitar freak outs. The Eastern tinged guitar solo drips with an exotic flair that perfectly captures the ethnic mood of the album. Although not immediately catchy, Saeedi has created something a little outside the box of conventional norms and for that he is to be congratulated. He certainly has made an instrumental guitar centered album that should appeal to the those delving into the adventurous side of metal fusion music.

namoWoman review, The Rocker, Stuarta Hamilton, Oct 2014 [permalink]

Fancy some Iranian art rock / slash prog? Of course you do. I mean who doesn’t. And here comes Salim Ghazi Saeedi to fulfill those needs. This was actually self released a couple of years back, but is now getting a bit of an international push, which is a good thing, as he does deserve a wider audience for his one band styling. As befits something of this ilk, it turns out that “namoWoman” is “In between worlds of sexualities, dualities and tonalities”. Um, OK. Anyway, what he does is mix up his prog with some harder rock sounds, throw in some cinematic vibes, a helping of Persian classical music, and Bob’s your proverbial uncle. This is his third solo album, following on from three with the well known in Iran, Iranian band, Arashk, and will come as a treat to people who like later period King Crimson.

namoWoman Review, The Progressive Rock Files, Jerry Lucky, Apr 2014 [permalink]

I can only imagine how hard it must be to create progressive music in Iran and yet Saeedi bravely does it. Mostly in secret I would imagine. He told me in an email that Prog is quite alive in Iran but it’s all heard in underground concerts that are banned by the police. This is actually his 6th album originally released in 2012 and features 9 instrumental compositions all in the 4-minute range. He describes his music as Avant-Prog with a Prog-Metal edge to it and that certainly hits the mark. Its music that is angular and isn’t afraid of being just a little dissonant here and there. Each composition tackles a musical theme and then inserts energetic and distorted guitar solos in the nooks-and-crannies. Much of the music gives off an intense, complex vibe with subtle Middle Eastern influences coloring the music. It’s a mix of Persian music quarter tones and western music intervals and it’s that musical mix that gives Saeedi’s compositions a distinctly unique sound. Fans of RIO or Avant-Prog will find much to appreciate here. Not always an “easy listen” but one that is certainly mind-expanding. Hear for yourself:

namoWoman review, Your Music Blog, Peter, Sep 2014 [permalink]

First thing of note from this album, is that the artist hails from Iran. And to put it mildly, that is not exactly a (progressive) rock minded habitat. Salim describes this himself as “empty spaces filled with occasional wild electric guitars and expressive melodies while having oriental dance elements undercover”. And when you listen to the music, that line comes to mind pretty often. It is indeed a microtonal approach towards prog rock / metal. So what does that say? Well on first plays it actually sounds as if all instruments are playing for themselves, without listening to the others. Harmonic interplay seems rare, and melodies are hard to come by. And for me that makes it tough to sit through again and again. But remaining open minded is important in my book, so the play button was hit a number of times. And then you slowly discover the music and it starts reaching out. Track 3, amo, has a more laid back feel with violin or cello playing a more important role. Until the guitar joins in that is. I can understand the reference to King Crimson here, alienating listeners is no stranger to them either. Or getting better with each spin. Track 5, oWo (all song titles stem from the album title) also has a more clear melody and is beautiful. All in all you will have guessed this is not easy to digest. It takes perseverance and determination. Still kudos to Salim for sticking to his vision and bringing his musical vision to the world.

namoWoman review, Memorias de un fonografo, Juanma Vilches, Jun 2014 [permalink]

Recientemente recibí un sorprendente correo de Irán. Un chico llamado Salim Ghazi Saeedi me presentaba sus discos y, entre otras cosas, decía: "a pesar de las restricciones que el gobierno de Irán impone a la música rock he tenido la oportunidad de dar a conocer mi música más allá de sus fronteras". Es complicado no sentir una enorme curiosidad - y admiración- por alquien que se dedica a coger la guitarra y ponerle distorsión en un país donde hasta hace poco se imponían multas de miles de euros a músicos, se cancelaban conciertos y los discos deben pasar antes de ser editados por el ministerio de cultura, entre otras prácticas que persiguen la músicas y ciertos géneros, como el heavy, son considerados directamente satánicos. Baste leer algunas de las noticias de los últimos años, como esta sobre la banda Yellow Dogs, esta sobre la escena underground de Irán o esta otra sobre la persecución del rap y el rock para hacerse una idea del panorama.   Pues bien, una vez superada la curiosidad inicial y habiendo investigado un poco la escena iraní me dispuse a escuchar con detenimiento el disco. A pesar de que en su web menciona mútliples influencias, como Jeff Beck, Marty Friedman o Thelonious Monk , lo cierto es que este trabajo es complicado de etiquetar. Aunque puede adscribirse inicialmente al rock progresivo, Saeedi se dedica a explorar e investigar sobre multitud de géneros: jazz, rock, heavy, todo ello aderezado con música tradicional de su país y de Oriente Medio. Entre los sonidos más tradicionales sería obligado referirse a músicos como Hossein Alizadeh o Kooch como referentes principales, pero la amalgama que se presenta en NamoWoman es una verdadera locura.   El álbum se compone de nueve temas en el que ninguno supera los cinco minutos. Saeedi es el compositor y se encarga de todos los instrumentos, así como de la mezcla y la producción. Sin embargo, el disco no suena casero y bien podría haber sido editado por cualquier sello independiente europeo. Si bien la destreza y habilidad de Saeedi es palpable en cada una de las pistas, este trabajo es de difícil digestión. Hay un puñado de buenas ideas aquí y allá, pero personalmente echo en falta algo de la espontaneidad que destilaban por ejemplo Forgotten Silence en su disco Kro Ni Ka, con quienes Saeedi tiene algunos puntos en común. Aún así, habrá que seguirle la pista, porque su propuesta es tan arriesgada como atractiva. 

namoWoman review, DPRP, James R. Turner, Aug 2014 [permalink]

The country of Iran is a closed world to many over here in the West. All the things we get fed by the media are usually negative portrayals of a culture radically different to ours. 33 year old Salim Ghazi Saeedi is a self-taught guitarist and multi instrumentalist from Tehran, and is ploughing his own furrow in a limited musical scene over there. namoWoman, originally released in 2012, is Salims latest album, and follows his two previous instrumental releases 2010's Iconophobia and 2011's Human Encounter. With his exposure to Western influences being limited to bootleg tapes and CD's, Salim's style is influenced by his own culture, and elements of Western rock that snuck through the doors, as a result he is a unique performer, unfettered by Western rock traditions, and fluidly mixing his own cultural style in. Progressive fusion could be the best description for this album, or as Salim himself prefers "pictoral rock", as he likes to paint a picture with the aural soundscapes he creates. The dynamic tension across the album, which flows from track to track comes with his mix of Persian Microtonal Music and western jazz rock fusion, as he mixes in musical counterparts from his piano and then cuts across with a scything guitar. As a guitarist and writer he has been compared to Robert Fripp and Kavus Torabi, both intelligent musicians who forge their own musical paths, and I can see the similarities here. namoWoman, with its eye-catching cover and different moods, particularly on the sinister oma, is one of those albums that makes you think somewhere a film is missing its soundtrack. Salim Ghazi Saeedi as a performer and composer is a multifaceted and deft instrumentalist, mixing in metallic riffs, with elements of surf rock, jazz fusion, Persian influences and dance beats with his rhythmic insistent percussion, whilst the string driven counterpoint to the guitar is amazing on man. There is always so much going on in each song, that you need a few listens to pick everything up, and his is a mighty sound. Getting noticed over in the UK is hard work, trying to build a career in a non-existent music scene over in Tehran and then getting your music heard across the wider world must be even more a struggle, and yet, when the music is so absorbing, so intelligent, so alternative as this, then it makes it all worthwhile. If you like intelligent intense instrumental rock guitarists like Matt Stevens, or music that takes you where you weren't expecting to go like Knifeworld, Thumpermonkey or King Crimson, then get listening to this. Sometimes you find magic in the most unexpected places. 

[Spanish] namoWoman review,  Reseñas y Artículos de Música, Juanma Vilches, Jun 2014 [permalink]

Recientemente recibí un sorprendente correo de Irán. Un chico llamado Salim Ghazi Saeedi me presentaba sus discos y, entre otras cosas, decía: "a pesar de las restricciones que el gobierno de Irán impone a la música rock he tenido la oportunidad de dar a conocer mi música más allá de sus fronteras". Es complicado no sentir una enorme curiosidad - y admiración- por alquien que se dedica a coger la guitarra y ponerle distorsión en un país donde hasta hace poco se imponían multas de miles de euros a músicos, se cancelaban conciertos y los discos deben pasar antes de ser editados por el ministerio de cultura, entre otras prácticas que persiguen la músicas y ciertos géneros, como el heavy, son considerados directamente satánicos. Baste leer algunas de las noticias de los últimos años, como esta sobre la banda Yellow Dogs, esta sobre la escena underground de Irán o esta otra sobre la persecución del rap y el rock para hacerse una idea del panorama. Pues bien, una vez superada la curiosidad inicial y habiendo investigado un poco la escena iraní me dispuse a escuchar con detenimiento el disco. A pesar de que en su web menciona mútliples influencias, como Jeff Beck, Marty Friedman o Thelonious Monk , lo cierto es que este trabajo es complicado de etiquetar. Aunque puede adscribirse inicialmente al rock progresivo, Saeedi se dedica a explorar e investigar sobre multitud de géneros: jazz, rock, heavy, todo ello aderezado con música tradicional de su país y de Oriente Medio. Entre los sonidos más tradicionales sería obligado referirse a músicos como Hossein Alizadeh o Kooch como referentes principales, pero la amalgama que se presenta en NamoWoman es una verdadera locura. El álbum se compone de nueve temas en el que ninguno supera los cinco minutos. Saeedi es el compositor y se encarga de todos los instrumentos, así como de la mezcla y la producción. Sin embargo, el disco no suena casero y bien podría haber sido editado por cualquier sello independiente europeo. Si bien la destreza y habilidad de Saeedi es palpable en cada una de las pistas, este trabajo es de difícil digestión. Hay un puñado de buenas ideas aquí y allá, pero personalmente echo en falta algo de la espontaneidad que destilaban por ejemplo Forgotten Silence en su disco Kro Ni Ka, con quienes Saeedi tiene algunos puntos en común. Aún así, habrá que seguirle la pista, porque su propuesta es tan arriesgada como atractiva. 

namoWoman Review, Toucing Extremes, Massimo Ricci, Feb 2014 [permalink]

An intriguing item from 2012, from an equally interesting character. Salim Ghazi Saeedi is a 33-year old multi-instrumentalist composer born in Iran and still residing there, though he feels a close affinity with a number of diverse cultures under various guises. Not a surprise, then, to read about him on a polyglot website, including uncommon idioms, and a fabricated jargon called “babelish”. As far as the sheer musical content of this CD is concerned, we’re dealing with an earnestly executed intermixture of darkish chamber-rock constituents (often recalling, quite closely, pages of the Univers Zero book; but I was also reminded of the excellent and relatively unsung Simon Steensland, another brilliant observer of the one-man-RIO-band philosophical system). Leaving aside minor imperfections (very few, and totally excusable: specializing in all instruments is next to unfeasible) and given that sampled strings do not precisely warrant the same vibe of wood, there’s much here that tickles the curiosity. Saeedi never disobeys the rules of good taste, organizing and arranging the pieces neatly and enthusiastically. He plays guitar with somewhat disciplined wildness when necessary, but appears tight enough in the pre-written parts. His uncontaminated drumming and piano approaches are functional to the features of the overall sonority, and a couple of segments are genuinely respectable (the mildly neurotic “moW” and the complex “oma” are favorites of mine). Give this young gentleman credit; finding energies for such a type of end product in that geographic area does not appear to me as the easiest task. The time you’ll wish to spend with namoWoman won’t be squandered; this reviewer would be curious to hear the material on a label like, say, Moonjune – perhaps with a full group performing the scores together with their originator.

[German] namoWoman Review,, Klaus Reckert, Oct 2013 [permalink]

Die Besondere: Die Musik auf der im folgenden (zu Recht) in den Himmel gelobten CD bezeichnet der Teheraner Künstler selbst als "Avantgarde Ancient Artrock from Iran". Und es braucht schon besondere Etiketten, um dem hier Gebotenen annähernd gerecht zu werden. Beispielsweise "namoW" klingt wie ein klassisches Jazz-Trio, das über ein arabisches Thema jammt, bis sich eine galoppierende, näselnd verzerrte E-Gitarre solierend einmischt und der Kontrabass mit Bogen gespielt sich zur Wehr setzt, wobei der - ausgezeichnete - Schlagzeuger die beiden zu versöhnen sucht. Sämtliche Instrumente spielt Salim Ghazi Saeedi übrigens selbst! Alle Titelnamen ergeben sich aus der Zeichenfolge des titelnden, aus Mann und Frau zusammengesetzten Palindroms, namoWoman. Anspruch also auch hier. Wie viel Anspruch tatsächlich, offenbart erst der zweite Blick: Salim hat mit "Babel" (vgl. 2. Surfempfehlung) sogar eine eigene Kunstsprache mit einem individuellen, sehr ästhetischen Zeichensatz entwickelt. Das zweite Stück, "nam" variiert das erste Thema mit Violine, in sehr tiefen Lagen gespieltem Klavier und einer wie bei Mattias IA Eklundh flageolett-jubelnden Sologitarre. "oWo" könnte auch auf einer Zappa-CD stehen ("Hot Rats"-Phase) und "oma" eine verproggte Fassung einer Anour Brahem-Komposition sein. Persönlicher Liebling ist "man", bei dem Salim am Bass wie die Morgenland-Version von Greg Lake bei "Pictures At An Exhibition" klingt. Der Künstler bezeichnet übrigens Jeff Beck, Marty Friedman sowie den US-Komponisten Charlie Clouser als Haupteinflüsse. Vor dem sorgfältigen Hören von "namoWoman" hatte das überdimensioniert geklungen - doch jetzt nicht mehr...

 namoWoman review, Exposé Online, Jon Davis, Dec 2013 [permalink]

While the electric guitar is Salim Ghazi Saeedi's primary instrument, namoWoman doesn't sound like a guitarist's album so much as chamber music with electric guitar and (sometimes) drums. Other instruments featured prominently include piano, violin, and cello, all played by Saeedi himself. He's an excellent guitarist with an eclectic style mixing some metal elements with some fringey jazz and even avant-garde. The guitar is usually the lead voice in the arrangements, but there are some really nice moments for cello and piano as well. Aside from the stellar guitar work, the instrumental parts are well-played but not flashy. The arrangements are sophisticated, with a high degree of polyphony — the strings are not just playing chords to back melodies. The drum parts are interesting, and don't sound like standard rock or jazz parts, but often lock in with the other parts in unexpected ways rather than playing repeating patterns to provide a backdrop. Many of the tracks feature a low bass part played on the piano, with the right hand on the piano playing intermittent phrases and chords, often together with cello or one of the other instruments. It's exciting music with a very intimate feeling to it. The title of the CD, namoWoman, stems from an elaborate linguistic construct Saeedi has developed to use typographical elements to express philosophical propositions, but I won't go into that. The music stands on its own, and should be of interest to any fan of RIO, chamber prog, and unpredictable guitar.

 [German] namoWOman Review, Progressive Newsletter #78, Volkmar Mantei, Aug 2013 [permalink]

Stil: Ethno RIO Heavy Prog
Salim Ghazi Saeedi - namoWoman
(40:13, Privatpressung, 2012)
Und als lägen nicht sechs Jahre dazwischen, ist in Salim Ghazi Saeedis 2012er Album „namoWoman“ die gleiche Handschrift zu erkennen, wie im Debüt (Kritik weiter vorne im Heft). Dabei ist der ethnische Rahmen viel größer, wagt Salim vielfache folkloristische Ansätze und Arrangements, finden Jazz und selbst Avantrock erheblich größeren Raum. Dabei scheint es, als folge Salim Ghazi Saeedi keinem stilistischen Vorbild, sondern habe diesen ureigenen Klang stets verinnerlicht, so, als kennte er den aktuellen Avantrock nicht.
Es ist natürlich schwer, Parallelen als Univers Zero zu nennen, weil dies nicht im Ansatz wirklich funktioniert. Eher funktionierte es, Salim quasi als Alien im eigenen Staat zu bezeichnen, der als wohl einziger Künstler Art Rock und Metal spielt und dabei Tabus bricht, die anderswo nicht denkbar erscheinen und sonst auch nicht existieren.
„namoWoman“ ist, die Songs sagen es, eine Hommage an alles, was das Frausein aus Salims Sicht ausmacht, ganz ohne Worte ausgedrückt, nur in extravaganter Komposition zwischen wie Computerspiel anmutender Folklore-Extrakt, düsterem Kunstrock und metallischer Scharfkantigkeit. Salims Kompositionen sind heute weitaus ausgereifter und vielfältiger als zu Beginn. Die Komplexität der Themen ist nicht typisch Rock oder Prog, ist überhaupt nicht typisch. Selbst das, was im europäischen oder amerikanischen Avantrock extrem ausfällt, findet hier keinen Vergleich. Weit hergeholt ist also der Vergleich zu Univers Zero, und der liegt in der Düsternis der Themen, der Nähe zur Neuen Musik, in der Komplexität der Kompositionen. Indes ist Salim weitaus metallischer, härter und krasser als Univers Zero, und seine dunkle Seite hat eine seltsame Nähe zu, wie gesagt, Computerspielsounds (ich kenne nur „Siedler 3“, da daher kommt der Vergleich).
Die 9 Stücke bringen es auf 40:13 Minuten. Ich kann nur Neugierde auf diesen ungewöhnlichen Sound empfehlen, der Orient hat dem Okzident nur sehr viel zu bieten. VM (VM 11)

namoWoman Review, Progressor, Olav M Bjornsen, Jul 2013 [permalink]

Prolusion. Following his tenure in the band Arashk, Iranian composer and musician Salim Ghazi SAEEDI opted to embark on a solo career a few years back. Three full length albums have since been issued under his name. "NamoWoman" is the most recent of these, and was self released by Saeedi in 2012.

Analysis. While instrumental in execution, those who investigate this production closer will see that it's a conceptual work we're dealing with on this occasion, with gender roles and gender assumptions as the thematic topic of choice. And while I'm not that observant on such issues, my impression is that this thematic part of the project has been explored by way of composition details: themes recurring in part or in whole, certain arrangements revisited as well as explored in various subtly different alternative constructions, the very compositional structure itself also appears to have been planned in a thematic manner. The impression of this being the case is a strong one, and I suspect those with a particular interest for such issues to really have a go at analyzing this production from that perspective will get a lot to write about. Besides that aspect this album basically revolves around two different types of compositions, with a concluding piece that incorporates elements from both of them. The first four tracks are based around a jazz-oriented bass and drums foundation, with (presumably) digital violin as the main instrument, supplemented by piano, electric guitars and occasional use of a plucked guitar details, the latter details as well as the violin parts more often than not with a Persian/oriental feel to them, the electric guitar when utilized adding a darker, menacing mood to these constructions. Personally I didn't become enthralled by this latter arrangement, while the sequences sporting violin and piano on top of the more distinct jazz-oriented bass and drum foundation generally came across as tantalizing and compelling. The second set of compositions, tracks 5 through 8 on this CD, takes a few steps away from the jazz-oriented foundation and focuses more exclusively on plucked guitar details, guitar riffs and soloing supplemented by piano details and occasional use of violin. A set of tunes that generally comes across as compelling material too, although some instances of theme breakdowns, decaying arrangement development or dissonance reliant intermediate movements weren't quite to my personal interest. By and large I do feel that the gentler passages, without dark toned guitar riffs in the limelight, are the most intriguing for this part of the album. Final piece Woman, at least as I experienced it, appears to summarize the album experience as a whole, incorporating most if not all elements previously explored in one package. Like the album as such I found this piece uneven as a singular item, but more interesting as seen from a contextual point of view.

Conclusion. Salim Ghazi Saeedi's third solo album is an amalgam of stylistic details, incorporating elements from jazz, world music and metal into a context that probably isn't too far away from avant-garde in sum. Fairly challenging material that should interest those with a taste for progressive rock that strays outside of many conventional borders, yet without abandoning them completely. Those with a soft spot for Persian and oriental touches probably something of a key audience amongst those.

[Polish] namoWoman Review, Mały Leksykon Wielkich Zespołów, Robert "Morfina" Węgrzyn, May 2013 [permalink]

Prosto z Teheranu w Iranie (choć przemierzyła drogę poprzez Stany Zjednoczone) wylądowała u mnie zaskakująca płyta. Na pierwszy rzut ucha brzmi ona jak z kraju arabskiego. Wyobraźcie sobie, że tam również powstaje muzyka okołoprogresywna, są instrumenty i instrumentaliści, zespoły i grupy ludzi wspierających takowe poczynania. Dla mnie jest to pierwsze spotkanie z Salimem Ghazi Saeedim, ale jak zauważyłem, czytelnicy i słuchacze Małego Leksykonu Wielkich Zespołów mieli okazję poznać już jego dwie poprzednie produkcje: „Iconophobic” z 2010 roku i „Human Encounter” wydaną w roku 2011. Omawiana w tej recenzji płyta, nosząca tytuł „namoWomen” jest więc już trzecim albumem prezentowanym na naszych łamach. W dyskografii Salima znaleźć można jeszcze trzy najwcześniejsze tytuły: „Abrahadabra” (2006), „Sovereign” (2007) i „Ustugus-al-Uss” (2008). Zatem całkiem płodny jest to artysta.

Bez wątpienia Salim Ghazi Saeedi i jego krążek „namoWomen” jest w jakimś sensie jedną z najbardziej egzotycznych przygód jakie do tej pory przeżyłem. Okładka wydawnictwa zawiera fragmenty słynnego obrazu Caravaggio „Medusa” i robi spore wrażenie, natomiast muzyka…, powiedzmy, że budzi emocje. Z wielką ciekawością odkrywałem te dźwięki i z szeroko otwartymi uszami słuchałem jak się gra i nagrywa w Iranie. Trzeba przyznać, że Salimowi nie brakuje ciekawych pomysłów, jednakowoż odnoszę wrażenie jakby materiał umieszczony na albumie został nagrany na setkę, albo też realizator zapomniał o miksie materiału. Wszystko brzmi nad wyraz surowo, a surowość brzmienia i głośność wysuniętej maksymalnie na pierwszy plan gitary może okazać się porażką nawet przy produkcjach demonstracyjnych, a ta pozycja przecież do takich nie należy. Wyraźnie brakuje tu dobrego rytmu, soczystej perkusji i mięsistego basu.

Płytka zawiera dziewięć krótkich (4-5 minut) instrumentalnych kompozycji, których tytuły to anagramy tytułowego słowa „namoWoman”. Niekiedy są one dość mocno przekombinowane. Niekiedy bardzo eksperymentatorskie Salim gra w pojedynkę. Posługuje się jedynie gitarą, ewentualnie swoim syntezatorem gitarowym. Brzmi to wszystko dość egzotycznie, ale słucha się tego z… zaciekawieniem. Ale to ciekawość czegoś nieznanego, bo nieprawdą byłoby gdybym napisał, że słuchałem tej płyty z zapartym tchem. Mam nadzieję, że mózg tej operacji wyciągnie wnioski na przyszłość i w przypadku kolejnej płyty przedstawi dojrzalsze, a na pewno lepiej zmiksowane i staranniej wyprodukowane dźwięki.

[Italian] namoWoman Review, Arlequins webzine, Francesco Inglima, Apr 2013 [permalink]

Puntuale come un orologio svizzero! Anche a fine 2012 come ogni fine anno, Salim Ghazi Saeedi pubblica un album: “namoWoman”. Il terzo da solista in tre anni. Salim aveva precedentemente pubblicato altri quattro album come Arashk, il suo vecchio gruppo ormai sciolto. Per chi non lo conoscesse, Salim è un personaggio particolare e unico all’interno del panorama prog mondiale: è un chitarrista e musicista iraniano tuttofare che, da quando ha iniziato la sua carriera solista, si occupa di comporre e produrre i suo album ma anche di suonare ogni strumento. Altresì interessante la sua carriera che, seppur relativamente breve, è stata sempre in frenetica evoluzione. Partendo con riferimenti ai Nirvana e Metallica, è arrivato a suonare album che ricordano Univers Zero e X-Legged Sally. Attendevo quindi con grossa curiosità questa nuova prova da parte di Salim, verso il quale non nascondo una certa simpatia. Ciò che mi rendeva "impaziente" era sia la provenienza geografica di questo artista, sia le difficoltà che questi incontra nel fare musica, quella musica che è ciò che Salim ama maggiormente.
Noto subito, prima ancora di metterlo nel lettore, che è un disco palindromo! A partire dal titolo, per proseguire poi con tutte le tracce che, se concatenate in unica stringa, sono anch’esse palindrome. Partendo dalla prima traccia, “namoW”, da perfetto campione di Ruzzle, decompone la parola utilizzando sempre le stesse lettere fino ad arrivare alla penultima traccia, “man”, e all’ultima traccia, “Woman”. È palese quindi che anche quest’album, come i precedenti, è un concept. Dopo aver affrontato le proprie paure in “Iconophobic”, le persone che lo circondano in “Human Encounters”, ora è la volta di affrontare li proprio rapporto con l’altro sesso e la dicotomia uomo donna.
Basta, ancor prima di ascoltarlo, osservare la copertina dell'album per capire che non sarà un percorso semplice: vi è rappresentata “La Medusa” di Caravaggio che è un’immagine forte. Metafora della castrazione e della privazione che, assieme alla destrutturazione e ricostruzione della parola Woman, è premonitore del tortuosità della strada che ci attende.
Apriamo la custodia e infiliamo il disco nel lettore. Inizia l’album e notiamo subito con piacere che la produzione e le sonorità sono molto meno amatoriali che nei dischi precedenti. Salim sembra padroneggiare la situazione e il risultato finale è più che soddisfacente. Analizzando la musica notiamo che è molto più incentrata sulla chitarra, dando l’apparente impressione di un ritorno alle sonorità più metal propria dei dischi con gli Arashk. Tuttavia Salim non è più lo stesso musicista di qualche anno prima: è cresciuto enormemente e, pur ritornando in certi contesti, lo fa con una consapevolezza e una profondità musicale maggiori. Non ama certo le soluzioni più lineari e spesso, per esprimere i suoi concetti musicali, passa attraverso l’utilizzo di arzigogoli. Fa ampio uso dei microtoni, tipici della tradizione musicale persiana, riuscendo ad amalgamarli perfettamente nella sua musica in modo tale da non appesantirla, ma caricandola di fascino esotico.
Coloro che conoscono i precedenti album sanno già che il musicista iraniano predilige canzoni brevi che non superano i quattro o cinque minuti e non è “namoWoman” a fare da eccezione. Tuttavia in questo album le canzoni sono fortemente legate l'una l’altra ed hanno una continuità compositiva tale da poterle considerare come un’unica grande suite. Inoltre, rispetto ai precedenti album, la musica di Salim acquisisce maggiore concretezza. Siamo al settimo ed era quasi normale attenderselo! Nel disco sembra aver perso parte di quel candore musicale e quell’ingenua spericolatezza che normalmente lo caratterizza. È più consapevole dei propri mezzi e ha maggiormente a fuoco il suo obiettivo, ma le sue capacità espressive, ancora una volta, ci lasciano la sensazione di non essere del tutto complete. Non possiamo quindi che aspettare e accompagnare Salim nel suo percorso musicale e nella presa di coscienza delle proprie potenzialità. Ciò però non vuol dire che non possiamo goderci e gustare il lavoro fatto in “namoWoman”, sì ancora un po’ acerbo, ma dotato di vere originalità, personalità e genuinità, doti assai rare nelle uscite di oggigiorno. Intanto ricordiamoci di segnare nella nostra agenda l'appuntamento con l'uscita di fine 2013.

[German] namoWoman  review, Babyblaue, JSiggy Zielinskim, Apr 2013 [permalink]

Seinem "avant-garde ancient art-rock" bleibt der Iraner auch auf seinem dritten unter eigenem Namen erschienenen Album treu. Eigentlich versteht Saeedi "namoWoman" als sein sechstes Album, zumal die als Arashk veröffentlichten Alben von ihm größtenteils komponiert wurden.

Bei seinen Überlegungen zum Konzept von "namoWoman" offenbart Saeedi eine außergewöhnlich lebhafte Vorstellungskraft. So versucht er die auf zwei Geschlechtern basierende Sexualität in Frage zu stellen und schlägt vor, dass man sich durch Kastration in dieser Hinsicht neu erfinden sollte. Zu "namoWoman" erfand der Künstler zudem eine Fantasiesprache, die er "Babel" (geschrieben: lƎabEl) nennt.

Glücklicherweise findet diese beachtenswerte Vorstellungskraft auch in der Musik ihren Niederschlag. Die kreativ-launischen, zwischen Prog-Metal-Fusion, Avant-Prog und orientalischen Einflüssen angesiedelten Gitarrensolos von Saeedi werden von seinem Ein-Mann-Ensemble unterstützt, bei dem die Bassgitarre, das Schlagzeug, ein Klavier und ein Cello eine wichtige Rolle spielen. Falls man die Klangquellen für diese Instrumente genau erforschen will, ist man auf Vermutungen angewiesen. Das Schlagzeug wirkt beispielsweise sehr authentisch, auch wenn dessen Abmischung wahrscheinlich weniger den Rock-Standards und eher den Standards eines Jazz-Club-Konzertes entspricht. Die Arrangements der Ein-Mann-Band von Saeedi wirken zwar meistens wie nacheinander zusammengesetzt - und dadurch nicht gerade spontan - aber sie erwecken trotzdem den Eindruck, dass sie alle auf den wirklichen Instrumenten eingespielt wurden, und dass man einer interessanten musikalischen Reise lauschen darf, die allerdings nicht den üblichen Regeln einer bandinternen Teamarbeit entspricht.

Mit "namoWoman" Saeedi ist ein hörenswertes Album gelungen, das man gehört haben sollte, falls man finster eingefärbten Kammerprog in der Art von Univers Zero zu seinen Vorlieben zählt.

[German] namoWoman Review, Ragazzi Webzine, Volkmar Mantei, Apr 2013 [permalink]

Und als lägen nicht sechs Jahre dazwischen, ist in Salim Ghazi Saeedis 2012er Album "namoWoman" die gleiche Handschrift zu erkennen, wie im Debüt. Dabei ist der ethnische Rahmen viel größer, wagt Salim vielfache folkloristische Ansätze und Arrangements, finden Jazz und selbst Avantrock erheblich größeren Raum. Dabei scheint es, als folge Salim Ghazi Saeedi keinem stilistischen Vorbild, sondern habe diesen ureigenen Klang stets verinnerlicht, so, als kennte er den aktuellen Avantrock nicht.
Es ist natürlich schwer, Parallelen als Univers Zero zu nennen, weil dies nicht im Ansatz wirklich funktioniert. Eher funktionierte es, Salim quasi als Alien im eigenen Staat zu bezeichnen, der als wohl einziger Künstler Art Rock und Metal spielt und dabei Tabus bricht, die anderswo nicht denkbar erscheinen und sonst auch nicht existieren.
"namoWoman" ist, die Songs sagen es, eine Hommage an alles, was das Frausein aus Salims Sicht ausmacht, ganz ohne Worte ausgedrückt, nur in extravaganter Komposition zwischen wie Computerspiel anmutender Folklore-Extrakt, düsterem Kunstrock und metallischer Scharfkantigkeit. Salims Kompositionen sind heute weitaus ausgereifter und vielfältiger als zu Beginn. Die Komplexität der Themen ist nicht typisch Rock oder Prog, ist überhaupt nicht typisch. Selbst das, was im europäischen oder amerikanischen Avantrock extrem ausfällt, findet hier keinen Vergleich. Weit hergeholt ist also der Vergleich zu Univers Zero, und der liegt in der Düsternis der Themen, der Nähe zur Neuen Musik, in der Komplexität der Kompositionen. Indes ist Salim weitaus metallischer, härter und krasser als Univers Zero, und seine dunkle Seite hat eine seltsame Nähe zu, wie gesagt, Computerspielsounds (ich kenne nur Siedler 3, daher kommt der Vergleich).
Die 9 Stücke bringen es auf 40:13 Minuten. Ich kann nur Neugierde auf diesen ungewöhnlichen Sound empfehlen, der Orient hat dem Okzident nur sehr viel zu bieten.

[Croatian] namoWoman review, Sound Garden, Ljubiša Prica, Apr 2013 [permalink]

Ako kažem da je van uske „prog zajednice“ uglavnom nepoznati, samouki iranski glazbenik Salim Ghazi Saeedi izdao svoj treći solo album, pretpostavljam da će većina prijeći preko toga kao da je riječ o nečemu sasvim normalnom i po ničemu zanimljivim. I to je razumljivo s obzirom na relativno velike slobode izražavanja koje uživamo i na koje smo naviknuti. Međutim, ako se prisjetimo izuzetno nepovoljnog društvenog i političkog konteksta Irana u kojemu se zbog religiozne zatucanosti i zatrovanosti zapadnjačka glazba često shvaća kao djelo Sotone, gdje je gotovo nemoguće organizirati javni rock koncert i gdje je rock i metal scena vezana za underground i kućnu radinost, onda je jasno da prije svega treba skinuti kapu i nakloniti se hrabrosti duha, buntovništvu i upornosti ovog mladog čovjeka iz Teherana.

Salim je odrastao u neglazbenoj obitelji i tijekom toga vremena glavna mu je opsesija bio svijet računala. Njegov se životni put promijenio negdje na pragu punoljetnosti kada je došao u doticaj s Nirvanom i svoju opsesiju preusmjerio prema Kurtu Cobainu. Od 1999. godine započinje s paralelnim životom u svijetu glazbe koji će za koju godinu rezultirati i članstvom u iranskom progresivnom rock/metal bendu Arashk.

Imajući na umu spomenuti nepovoljni društveni i kulturni kontekst u kojemu je Salim zapravo stranac, da zarađuje kao inženjer a u slobodno vrijeme komponira i nekako gura glazbenu „karijeru“, da svira avangardnu, potpuno netipičnu glazbu nasuprot javno prihvaćene tradicionalne glazbe, postaje jasnije zbog čega je tema albuma namoWoman nadilaženje dualizma. On sam u intervjuu za portal The Rocktologist tvrdi da je nadilaženje dualističke strukture života koja je očitovana u dualističkom shvaćanju seksualnosti (muško/žensko) rješenje putem kojega možemo transcendirati ograničenosti ovoga svijeta, što simbolizira i glava Meduze čije je obezglavljenje Freud poistovjetio s kastracijom.1 Osim toga Salim je izmislio svoj jezik na kojemu je unutar omota napisao tekst sastavljen od parova suprotnosti. Iako nisam sklon psihoanalizi, čini se da sve to upućuje na Salimovu duhovnu rascijepljenost, nezadovoljstvo i frustriranost životom u Teheranu te konačno simboličnu kastriranost zbog nemogućnosti javnih nastupa. Na sve to upućuju i njegove riječi: About development in my mindset, of course it all depends on my living condition and real life happenings around me. Loves, hopes, bitterness and ugliness. I should say, living in Iran, one encounters all of these qualities in extreme amounts every day!2

Salim je apsolutni autor projekta. Osim što je u kućnom studiju komponirao i odsvirao sve instrumente (gitara, klavijature, bas) te isprogramirao i aranžirao bubnjeve, sam je miksao, producirao i dizajnirao omot. Ne može se ne primijetiti da je riječ o kućnoj, amaterskoj produkciji, iako krajnji rezultat nije loš. Na temu duliteta ukazuje i oštar kontrast između poprilično distorzirane gitare metalnog, zujećeg, oštrog i pomalo iritantnog zvuka te akustične pozadine koju stvaraju ostali instrumenti. Najveća mana su loše isprogramirani bubnjevi i tu postoji veliki prostor za napredak.

Sam Salim kategorizira svoju glazbu kao „avant-garde ancient art-rock“. namoWoman njegov je prvi album na kojemu eksperimentira s mikrotonalnim sustavom, pa na prvo slušanje uz prisutnu atonalnost može zvučati neobično. U cijelosti riječ je o idiosinkratskom i dosta mračnom djelu koje spaja egzotične, tradicionalne elemente Bliskog istoka s rock, jazz, nu-jazz, noise i metal zvukovima Zapada.


 namoWoman review, Music Zine, Apr 2013 [permalink]

Ce jeune guitariste/compositeur iranien vient à peine de fêter ses trente ans. Originaire de Téhéran, il pratique une musique qualifiée d’art-rock. Une expression sonore qui mêle rock, métal, prog ainsi que fusion jazz ; et au sein de laquelle on retrouve des traces de musique de chambre avant-gardiste. Il a milité chez Arashk, en compagnie duquel il a commis trois albums entre 2006 et 2008. Depuis, il a décidé d’embrasser une carrière individuelle et ce « Nano woman » constitue son troisième elpee personnel. Salim se charge de tout. Composition, production et instrumentation (NDR : guitare, basse, claviers et percussions). Les titres des neuf plages de cet elpee sont puisés dans les lettres du mot ‘Woman’.

"Namow" ouvre la plaque. La guitare est largement amplifiée. Un peu comme chez Jeff Beck. Interventions de basse, percus et cordes de violoncelle ainsi que de violon s’intègrent parfaitement à l’ensemble pour élaborer une musique de chambre expérimentale et complexe, riche en sonorités ésotériques. "Nam" embraie dans le même registre. Créative, sa musique se veut libre de toute contrainte, propice à l’improvisation, mais en même temps, et paradoxalement, respecte une structure bien établie. Les variations de cordes électriques prodiguées tout au long d’"Amo" semblent balisées par le reste de l’instrumentation. Une discipline élaborée, réminiscente des moments les plus exploratoires de Robert Fripp. Une rythmique rock s’invite sur "mow", avant de dériver vers l'Orient lointain, quelque part au cœur d’une médina cosmique. Les interventions de gratte sont partagées entre riffs denses et chapelets de notes libres. "Owo" défile lentement, subrepticement, telle une musique symphonique où les instruments prennent le relais sur fond de percussions. Réverbérés, aventureux, les accords de six cordes évoluent à la limite de la dissonance. "wom" baigne dans une forme de prog contemporaine. Les sonorités évoluent très lentement dans un climat dramatique. Ce tempo autorise un envol de cordes dans un style ‘beckien’. "oma" épouse d’abord un tempo aussi nonchalant que "wom", avant que la guitare métallique ne rugisse de fureur. Particulièrement dépouillé, "man" macère dans un climat orientaliste. La basse trace d’abord la voie, bien vite relayée par la guitare. Elle se fraie alors un chemin tortueux entre piano, cordes et percussions. Le spectre de Robert Fripp plane à nouveau. Cet étrange long playing s’achève par "Woman", fruit de la rencontre entre free jazz, rock âpre et world music. Une plage apparemment chaotique, mais parfaitement maîtrisée…

namoWoman review, Music Street Journal, Gary Hill, Nov 2012 [permalink]

The latest disc from Salim Ghazi Saeedi, this one (like its predecessors) takes the sound in new directions. It is a lot more freeform and dissonant, falling in closer to Rock In Opposition. Fans of that genre will probably find this to be his best release of the bunch. All the talent demonstrated on his earlier albums is evident here. This is just another side of the coin.
Track by Track Review

While the opening movement here feels a bit clunky and awkward, it has a real rocking sound to it. From there the cut turns towards some serious fusion and it has some great twists and turns. I particularly like some of the symphonic instrumentation that’s heard on this.
The symphonic instrumentation leads this one out and then it shifts to something closer to RIO music. Sure there is still some fusion here, but it’s merged with more pure progressive rock and some definite classical music. It gets pretty noisy and chaotic at times, and there’s some smoking hot bass work in the number. This really works through a lot of territory.
In a lot of ways this is even stranger. It’s got a lot of metallic crunch and it really has an ominous texture to it. There is still some fusion here, but overall this sits pretty well in the territory of hard-edged and dark RIO.
The pounding sounds that open this are almost heavy metal. Symphonic music is added to the mix as this thing continues. There is also a bit of surf turned world music guitar in the arrangement. Psychedelia is included here, too. It definitely gets more into noisy RIO as it continues.
Although the bass guitar at the start brings more of that RIO, symphonic elements are generally the only accompaniment for a while. This is very much like some form of twisted modern chamber music early on, but it grows out into more of a pure progressive rock arrangement from there. Later in the track it drops away and then symphonic instrumentation fights with electric guitar. The arrangement fills back out in this combative nature. Then it shifts towards more melodic from there.
There’s almost a mysterious, tentative feel to this as it opens. As it gets a bit heavier, but no less tentative, it’s almost foreboding. It builds and moves extremely slowly. It’s quite crunchy, but also very free-form and RIO-like. Then around the minute and a half mark a bass line takes control and ushers in one of the most effective jams of the whole set. It’s still quite freeform and a bit strange, but there’s almost a King Crimson kind of vibe to it. That bass line really does some amazing stuff as this carries onward. It keeps getting reworked, but overall this is the most dramatically rock oriented piece of the set. It drops down around the three and a half minute mark, though, to a much mellower and sparse arrangement. That section ends the piece.
Another that comes in slow and tentative, there’s a hard edged, almost heavy metal approach early on in the number. From there the ride manages to hit on a lot of different sounds from pure fusion to surf music and more RIO.
World music sounds start this, but then the bass brings in more of the kind of sound we’ve become accustomed to so far. As it continues, the arrangements gets more filled out and more of that fusion meets RIO approach is heard. It’s one of the most dynamic and freeform pieces of the whole set as it continues.
More of a pure jazz approach opens this, but it shifts pretty quickly to something harder rocking. There’s some more of that cool surf music later in the number. They shift that to some fairly mainstream progressive rock at times. Then a false ending gives way to just piano. The evolution is far from done, though as this just keeps getting shifted and rearranged.

[French] namoWoman review, Music Waves, Corto, Nov 2012 [permalink]

Les précédentes productions de Salim Ghazi Saeedi n'avaient pas laissé l'équipe de Music Waves indifférente. Il est vrai que cet artiste difficilement catégorisable bouillonne visiblement d'un feu intérieur qui se propage de manière imprédictible dans sa musique. "namoWoman" reste dans la lignée des productions précédentes et ce n'est pas avec elle que Salim essayera de canaliser sa créativité. Créativité qui s'exprime à tous les niveaux d'expression et pas seulement par la musique. A commencer par le titre dont la majuscule n'est pas au début mais au centre du mot. Et pour cause : en partant du W, on pourra lire "Woman" aussi bien à l'endroit qu'à l'envers. Un titre évocateur du concept de l'album qui envisage la sexualité humaine au-delà de sa dualité homme/femme (d'où l'effet miroir namoW/Woman). Vaste programme, surtout quand il est porté par un disque instrumental où aucun texte ne viendra éclairer la lanterne de l'auditeur téméraire.

Le livret n'est pas non plus d'une grande limpidité, écrit dans une langue inventée, "l3abEl" (prononcez Babel), probablement en référence à la fameuse tour du même nom. Enfin, on notera le découpage amusant des titres, le premier et le dernier, 'namoW' et 'Woman', reprenant les cinq premières et dernières lettres du titre de l'album, les 7 titres intermédiaires déclinant "namoWoman" de 3 lettres en 3 lettres en glissant d'une lettre vers la droite à chaque titre. Enfin, la pochette est une représentation par Carvaggio de Méduse qui, d'après Freud, est la figure suprême de la castration. Salim Ghazi Saeedi explique qu'il s'agit d'une représentation symbolique sur la nécessaire castration de son identité sexuelle permettant de s'en reconstruire une nouvelle. Brrr… Pas étonnant avec un tel concept que la musique semble si cataclysmique.

Celle-ci est en effet peu harmonieuse, agressive, heurtée. Chaque instrument semble jouer sa partition sans se soucier des autres, l'ensemble se confondant en une tonalité sombre, inquiétante, angoissante. Les climats sont souvent bien rendus mais le parti-pris d'utiliser abondamment une guitare saturée et l'emploi d'une percussion anarchique et manquant de relief noient parfois la musique dans une bouillie sonore agaçante. A côté des moments lumineux et évocateurs, même si la musique ne se livre jamais facilement, usant beaucoup d'improvisations, de dissonances et de schémas rythmiques complexes. Par moment, les mélodies orientales côtoient des airs western tout un cultivant un petit côté Frippien pour la déstructuration des titres et les discordances agressives, mais sans jamais offrir les repos mélodiques que King Crimson s'autorisait.

La musique est parfois descriptive (danseurs difformes et contrefaits interprétant une danse folklorique saccadée sur 'nam', enfant déambulant dans un monde dangereux, une maison hantée, une ville malveillante sur 'oWo', procession de pénitents marchant pieds nus et ensanglantés sur 'oma'), parfois absconse. On l'aura compris, "namoWoman" est une œuvre multidimensionnelle, complexe et torturée, à laquelle seul un auditeur aguerri finira par trouver du sens. Une musique plus faite pour le plaisir de l'âme que celui de l'oreille.

namoWoman Review, The Rocktologist, Rok Podgrajšek, Nov 2012 [permalink]

It didn’t take Salim Ghazi Saeedi long before he started working on another project, this time called namoWoman. Every song title on the album is made up of the letters in this title and is about the same length.

If you’ve heard his previous work, you’ll get quite a shock when you put this on. Salim showed a lot of promise with his previous releases, but the work was sometimes all over the place and the samples used for instruments weren’t all that convincing. All this has changed! The sound on the album is highly professional, while the music flows wonderfully and is a joy to hear. Salim again channels Robert Fripp’s work in many places (Red period), while at other times we hear him take on chamber rock with the utmost ease and confidence. His Eastern roots come to the fore throughout the album, as just about every piece is infused with the tradition of his country. He had done all of this before, but this is really the first time where it sounds totally convincing and musically flawless.

Salim has managed to harness his potential and find a focus and that was missing on the previous albums. The sound of the album is also miles ahead from everything he had done previously – the drums and strings in particularly sound very realistic. You have to give your hat off to Salim for sticking to his philosophy for so long and finally coming up with an album which is at the very highest level on all fronts. Very much recommended for RIO and avant fans!

8.5 out of 10.

[Dutch] Iconophobic Review, Peter van Haerenborgh, Progwereld, Dec 2012 [permalink]

En jawel, Salim Ghazi Saeedi, onze sympathieke Iraanse progger is er ook dit jaar weer met een nieuw album. Het begint zo langzamerhand wel een gewoonte te worden dat er naar het einde van het jaar een pakketje vanuit Iran richting Progwereld gaat. Tot hiertoe heeft de beste man mij nog niet teleurgesteld met zijn muziek, dus ik moet toegeven dat ik met bovengemiddelde interesse zat te wachten op deze nieuwe worp.

“namoWoman”, want zo heet die nieuwste worp, is best wel een bijzonder album geworden. Vanwege verschillende redenen. Een eerste is dat Salim Ghazi Saeedi op dit album experimenteert met microtonale muziek. Voor de lezers die (net als ik) nog nooit van deze soort muziek hebben gehoord, link ik even door naar het artikel op wikipedia. Nu mag ik dan wel muziekrecensent zijn, maar zelfs na het lezen van bovenvermeld artikel was het voor mij nog steeds niet echt duidelijk wat ik moest verwachten op dit album. Salim Ghazi Saeedi zelf probeerde mij gerust te stellen door te zeggen dat ie nog steeds RIO/Avant-Prog maakte op dit album. En ja, de beste man heeft natuurlijk volkomen gelijk: dit album past nog steeds volledig in het RIO/Avant-Prog genre waar Salim Ghazi Saeedi sinds 2010 in opereert. Maar ik moet ook opmerken dat het inderdaad iets anders klinkt dan op zijn vorige albums. Dit zal hoogstwaarschijnlijk dus te wijten zijn aan het gebruik van microtonen en lijkt wonderwel te passen bij het Avant-Prog genre. Leuk!

Muzikaal zit het dus nog steeds meer dan snor bij onze Iraniër en nog steeds lijkt hij zijn invloeden bij de grote bands uit dit genre te halen, zoals Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, Present of een Thinking Plague. De traditionele namen die je bij Avant-Prog recensies wel meer tegenkomt dus met andere woorden. Vaak wordt dat dan bij zulke bands vermengd met lokale invloeden en uiteraard is dat ook zo bij Salim Ghazi Saeedi met Perzische invloeden op zijn muziek. Ook net als de vorige keren speelt de Iraanse artiest ook weer elk instrument zelf in en doet dat ook hier weer met verve. Toch valt het wel op dat in zijn composities vaak de gitaar op de voorgrond zit. Het laat zich dus duidelijk merken dat de multi-instrumentalist in de eerste plaats gitarist is.

Wanneer we dan even gaan kijken naar de titel van het album, “namoWoman”, en van de verschillende tracks denk ik dat het snel duidelijk wordt wat het onderwerp van dit album zou kunnen zijn: de vrouw. Vermoedelijk zal dit wel te maken hebben met het feit dat Salim Ghazi Saeedi recent in het huwelijk is getreden. Zo refereert de hoes naar een schilderij van Caravaggio van Medusa, een figuur uit de Griekse mythologie. Toch is ons eerste gedacht over het onderwerp niet volledig correct; zo blijkt tenminste wanneer je zijn website raadpleegt. Het is eerder een album over de menselijke seksualiteit: dus naast de vrouw ook de man.

Hier komt nog bij dat speciaal voor dit album Salim Ghazi Saeedi een eigen taal, of alleszins een eigen schrift, heeft ontwikkeld. Daar het album instrumentaal is, wordt dit voorlopig enkel gebruikt in het boekje bij de cd. Hier vind je hier meer over, maar ik moet eerlijk zeggen dat ik er op dit moment niet echt de zin van inzie. Het duidt wel aan dat de Iraniër geen alledaagse artiest wil zijn.

Het is duidelijk dat ook dit album weer niet teleurstelt: het is een meer dan degelijk progalbum geworden dat in de lijn ligt van zijn vorige werk. Er zijn waarschijnlijk betere albums in dit genre te vinden, maar Salim Ghazi Saeedi heeft met “namoWoman” wel een album gemaakt dat absoluut een kans verdient van de avontuurlijk ingestelde progliefhebber.

namoWoman Review, Lucid Culture, Jan 2013 [permalink]

Intense Paradigm-Shifting Sounds from Salim Ghazi Saeedi

One important rising composer who’s doing genuinely visionary work in microtonal music, helping to integrate sounds from the Middle East into jazz and rock, is Tehran-based multi-instrumentalist Salim Ghazi Saeedi. His latest album namoWoman is an often otherworldly creation. It’s considerably more raw and roughhewn than, say, recent albums by David Fiuczynski and Hafez Modirzadeh, both artists to which he compares favorably. Aside from the fact that Saeedi plays all the instruments on the album – guitars, keys, basses and drums – what’s most amazing about it is how through-composed it is. Thematic variations recur frequently but always change shape, melodically and dynamically. It’s a dark, bracing, uneasy roller-coaster ride.

Saeedi’s main axe is the guitar, which he multitracks using two basic tones: a ringing, watery timbre that he typically uses to deliver plaintive, judiciously picked microtonal phrases and ringing sustained lines, along with a gritty, crunchy, distorted tone that often takes centerstage with a sneering, occasionally comedic flair. That tone, and its bombastic allusions and head-on assaults, poses the question of whether this is heavy metal, or jazz, or Persian art-rock. Ultimately, the answer is all of the above.

Saeedi’s unorthodox use of both piano and bass is also extremely clever. Like the guitars, the piano employs a non-western tuning; Saeedi leans heavily on the lowest keys, whether to anchor the music in a murky, overtone-spiced ambience, or for basslines. By contrast, Saeedi utilizes the bass’s entire sonic spectrum, frequently bowing eerily elegant viola melodies in the upper registers. A few of the tracks have trebly-toned, judiciously played electric bass along with the occasional electronic keyboard motif. All this contrasts with the savage, distorted guitar lines: whether or not that dichotomy is deliberate or not (two sides of the same coin, maybe, one profound and the other profane?), it’s inescapable.

Throughout the nine-part suite, Saeedi establishes individual voices within the arrangements, with all kinds of melodic interweaving and conversations: piano ripples respond to bass bubbles, cello-flavored lines hand off to the guitar, or to the drums. Without knowing it, you wouldn’t necessarily guess that guitar is Saeedi’s primary axe, considering how graceful, dexterous and propulsive his bass work is; his piano lines are terse, imaginative and serve an important part of the musical backbone. If there’s any criticism of this, it’s that Saeedi swings on the guitar and especially the bass but not the drums: a percussionist with a proficiency equal to Saeedi’s on those two instruments could have been useful here.

Bluesy allusions give way to suspenseful not-quite-minor, not-exactly major Persian intervals; rhythms tend to be straight-up but not always, one interlude bouncing along on tricky groove that would be perfectly at home in Macedonia or Greece. Pensive, moody guitar echoes until it’s bludgeoned out of the picture as the distorted roar takes over, and then recedes, a constant game of good cop vs. bad cop with an occasional exchange of roles. There’s simple, insistent staccato guitar riffage straight out of the Pantera playbook, and also spacious, distantly anguished David Gilmour-inflected phrasing. The High Romantic, the gothic, the gypsy and the jazz – think Cecil Taylor in extreme deep space mode – mingle and echo and at their most cohesive, haunt the hell out of you. Little flourishes like a jaunty melodica vamp, hints of surf rock and Mediterranean psychedelia lighten the darkness while enhancing the surrealism of it all. Who is the audience for this? Middle Eastern metalheads; fans of Persian music who need a jolt of energy, and any fan of loud, dark sounds laced with fearless humor. There is no one in the world who sounds anything like Salim Ghazi Saeedi: where he takes these ideas in the future promises to be a pretty wild place.

namoWoman Review, Rainlore's World, Feb 2013 [permalink]

Salim Ghazi Saeedi's namoWoman was privately released in October 2012 but fortunately has excellent international distribution through an US distributor. I say fortunately advisedly, because this is an album with real wow factor that should be heard widely. Ghazi Saeedi released three albums with well known Iranian band Arashk, and this is his third solo release as a 'one-man band.'

namoWoman is a striking album that essentially blends prog rock and metal, and underpins this blend with the use of the microtones of Persian classical music. Remarkably, even to the ear unaccustomed to microtonal music, this should not sound as strange as it may seem, the music always remains accessible.

The result of this blend is a fascinating and indeed beautiful album. The nearest you might come to in terms of previous music might perhaps be Robert Fripp and King Crimson. But Ghazi Saeedi's influences run deep and very varied, from Jeff Beck to Nirvana and more.

namoWoman is clearly also a concept album. This concept seems also well expressed by the deconstructionist use and sequence of the individual pieces' titles, running from namoW all the way through to Woman. The concept is that of duality, particularly that of the duality of gender. The cover, with Caravaggio's Medusa, further suggests castration, and thus, the music, titles and cover suggest a deconstruction of the duality, and then rebuilding of sexual or gender identity. An obvious concept, but one that seems to work well in the music.

The inside of the cover also features a short text in 'Babelish,' a 'conlang,' a language specially constructed for this album. Like all such linguistic constructs, this is rather thick to penetrate and does not seem to contribute substantially to the music. Let the music speak for itself. Which it does supremely eloquently.

Ghazim Saeedi serves up some of the most interesting, nay fascinating music in the prog rock / avant rock / prog metal fusion arena with namoWoman that it has been my pleasure to encounter in a very long time, and some of the most beautiful as well.

Wonderfully consistent throughout, namoWoman is as mesmerising as Medusa, except it won't turn you to stone. This album is truly addictive rather than merely compelling. It is one of those extremely rare prog rock type albums in recent years that I have found myself happy to listen to again and again.

Salim Ghazi Saeedi's namoWoman is a must have for any even vague aficionado of prog rock, avant rock, prog metal and anything vaguely related.

namoWoman Review, Monsieur Délire, François Couture, Feb 2013 [permalink]

Il est clair que le guitariste et multi-instrumentiste Salim Ghazi Saeedi met beaucoup de sérieux dans sa démarche artistique. Or, namoWoman (“woman” écrit à l’envers et à l’endroit), comme son disque précédent, n’arrive pas à me toucher. Pourtant, son rock instrumental aux teintes psychédélisées, aux tendances progressives et aux influences arabes (il est iranien) est bien écrit, et c’est un guitariste doué. Mais la production souffre du syndrome du one-man-band (combinaison de vision unliatérale et de rigidité dans les arrangements - programmation, son synthétique).

Clearly, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Salim Ghazi Saeedi puts a lot of thought in his artistic process. However, namoWoman (“woman” written backward and forward), like his previous record, fails to move me. And yet, his psychedelized instrumental rock with prog tendencies and Arabic influences (he is from Iran) is rather well written, and he is a gifted guitarist. But the production suffers from the one-man-band syndrome: part unilateral vision, part rigid arrangements (programming, stiff synthetic sound).

namoWoman Review, Elsewhere, Graham Reid, Feb 2013 [permalink]

Over nine tightly drawn and economic instrumentals (all under five minutes), mutliple-threat Saeedi who plays everything here locates himself in that edgy post-metal prog world where pictures in sound are painted by searing guitar, jazz-influenced piano, sombre cello (or is it arco bass?) and much more.

But, as his name suggests, Saeedi also has a point of difference. From Tehran, he incorporates subtle but distinctive and memorable melodic flourishes from Persian music which add not just exoticism for outsiders but have a genuinely dramatic quality.

So the pieces in the first half here could easily slide into that world between Nine Inch Nails, King Crimson, Steve Vai channeling Led Zepp's Kashmir and the soundtrack to some heavily CGI film like 300. (That thump which opens and closes moW could be Hannibal and his elephants crossing the Alps).

However things take a darker, considered and more film-noir quality from the midpoint -- starting with the seductively romantic opening passages of oWo -- as Saeedi leaves more space, gets away some beuatifully evocative (and seriously jazzy and/or elegant) piano playing, brings in strings, and lets that guitar sing as much as sting.

Someone should give this man -- now in his early 30s -- a soundtrack to score, especially if the film involves either large-scale destruction or menacing urban streets at 2am. The backdrop on the moody Wom brings to mind the instrumental tracks on Bowie's Low (albeit with sometimes lascerating guitar across the top).

The titles here -- mirrored words such as namoW, Woman and amo, oma -- suggest some over-arching concept but that is as hard to discern as the invented language-cum-typography which Saeedi employs on the sleeve. (For more on that go here.)

No matter, it is all in the aural pictures and as this one uncoils and reveals more layers and subtlety, you will conjure up your own visions. And rest asured, after the incendiary start, the fires die down to bright illuminations, showers of sparks and sometimes even warmth.

Straight otta Tehran.

For more information on Salim Ghazi Saeedi -- who has recorded a number of albums and writes poetry -- go to his website here. And stick around because very soon he is answering our Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire.

Human Encounter (2011)

Human Encounter Review, Vents Magazine, RJ Frometa, Apr 2014 [permalink] 

Salim Ghazi Saeedi, producer, composer, performer and rock artist from Iran, who accepted the challenge of making something different in the rock scene. “Human Encounter” is a concept album made of 12 tracks that tell a different story in each one of them, based on a series of mental images and dreams.
This album is divided in two sides: “dark side” relates all those bad experiences through the life and awful feelings that humans face daily; this is the first part of the album.
On the other hand, the “bright side” has this positive part that humans had created, Salim says that “The only immortal is what a man creates” and is true, sometimes we are our own enemies or friends, we decide how to confront what is in front of us. What a better way to express humanity through the music, the universal language no matter in which part of the world you are.
The sound is different but this difference, makes it unique! Because we can visualize in our mind the whole story he’s trying to spread. “You many one devils” “From Kurt, the king without crown” tracks you`ll find in this album, are both special and original, you can experiment different ideas in the same moment. No voice, just instrumental rock. This talented man will be going places one day.
Let the journey begins!

Human Encounter Review, iO Pages #105, Roberto Lambooy, Dec 2011 [permalink]

Ik geloof niet dat ik ooit muziek heb beluisterd van een lraniër, dus het album Human Encounter van meneer Salim Ghazi Saeedi is een aardige primeur. Het album bevat een instrumentaal en muzikaal verslag opgenomen tijdens zijn ontmoeting met mensen; daarmee plaatst hij zichzelf impliciet in een buitenaardse categorie. Tja, een album met een tamelijk hoog fruittuingehalte dus. Saeedi heeft alle muziek zelf gemaakt. Gelukkig speelt de man zowel gitaar als keyboards inclusief piano, zodat we in ieder geval enige verscheidenheid horen. Toch wreekt zijn solisme zich: het merendeel van de tracks heeft die navelstaarderige richtingsloosheid die je wel vaker hoort bij puur solowerk Daarnaast zorgt de neiging om te veel afwisseling aan te brengen voor rommelige composities. We horen de typisch protserige toetsenblazers, de experimentjes, de semi-improvisaties met jazzv inslag en allerlei andere dingen die ehh... nergens toe leiden, zeg maar. Met een speeltijd van 33 minuten is dit album bijna een ep en dat is in dit geval helemaal niet zo erg.

Human Encounter Review, The Rocktologist, Rok Podgrajšek, Oct 2011 [permalink]

Salim Ghazi Saeedi is an Iranian multi-instrumentalist with a love for avant-garde and progressive rock music. You don't really see many Iranian musicians playing progressive rock, so his music has definitely garnered a great deal of interest. Human Encounter is his second solo CD, released earlier this year hard on the heels of his debut, Iconophobic (2010).

His website is also something to behold. Salim has taken it upon himself to enlist the help of people from as many different countries as possible who would help him create a sort of Tower of Babel on his website. He already has quite a few languages done, so his mission already looks to be a great success.

Salim cooks up a real feast for us. He has been compared to Univers Zero and rightly so. His piano segments are particularly menacing, except he likes to get to the point a bit sooner than the likes of Univers Zero, the masters of foreboding atmospheres. His chamber rock tendencies sometimes take a back seat to his rock leanings, where there's definitely a Robert Fripp vibe going on, particularly from the Red period. Arabic music has really taken off in combination with progressive metal lately, but Salim has made it work with avant-garde music as well. It's especially effective when played on the electric guitar.

His instruments of choice appear to be the electric guitar and the piano (keyboards). Seeing as this is a one-man band, he tackles all the other duties as well and admirably so. The only thing that takes some getting used to are the programmed drums, but it's only a minor complaint.

Human Encounter is a well-crafted album that might have been even better with a bit more work. I feel that some themes are underdeveloped and the music needs to breathe a bit more at times. But yes, the potential for greatness is certainly there. It's also good to see that Salim has not abandoned the influences of his motherland, which make the album much richer and more distinct. I definitely look forward to hearing Salim's future endeavours.

7 out of 10.

[GERMAN] Iconophobic Review,, Marcel Peteroff, Nov 2011 [permalink]

Human Encounter ist ein Soloalbum des iranischen Musikers Salim Ghazi Saeedi. Wenn man so will, ist es sein zweites Soloalbum. Zuvor erschien 2010 das Album Iconophobic, davor nahm er drei Alben mit der Band Arashk auf.

Salim bewegt sich musikalisch im Bereich Avantgarde mit Anleihen an Jazz-Rock und etwas Prog, dazu lässt er immer wieder seine Wurzeln mit orientalisch klingenden Lines durchschimmern.

Diesem Stil bleibt er auf Human Encounter treu. Wieder spielt er alles selbst ein, schrieb die Songs selbst und produzierte und mixte das Album selbst. Hier legt er allerdings ein Konzeptalbum vor. Dabei beschreibt er Phasen aus seinem Leben, die Songs sind den Phasen bzw. Erlebnissen und/oder Personen zugeordnet.

Salim dazu in eigenen Worten:

Als ich 1981 auf die Erde kam, kam ich unfreiwillig in Kontakt mit der menschlichen Rasse. Abgesehen von ein paar schönen Begegnungen, fand ich den Rest dunkel und grässlich. Human Encounter ist das Tagebuch dieser Begegnungen. Das Album habe ich in zwei Kategorien aufgeteilt:

Die dunkle Seite - sie reflektiert die hässlichen Erlebnisse…

Die helle Seite - sie reflektiert die vergnüglichen Phasen…

Salim beschreibt die jeweiligen Erlebnisse in kurzen Songs. Auf Iconophobic waren mir die Songs manchmal zu kurz, hier hat Salim aber immer ein gutes Maß gewählt. Es gelingt ihm, mit den Songs die Phasen so kurz wie möglich und so ausführlich wie nötig zu beschreiben.

Mit dem "Human Encounter Prologue" wirft Salim musikalisch gleich zu Beginn alles in die Waagschale und serviert ein kurzes Menü mit allen erdenklichen Einflüssen von Avantgarde bis Prog. "Lustful Fest Of Flesh" klingt, mit hohem Pianoanteil und interessanten Drumparts, insgesamt stärker nach Jazz Fusion. "You Many One Devils" knüpft an den Vorgänger an, geht musikalisch und emotional mit abgedrehten fuzzy Gitarrenlinien jedoch weiter. "Lonesomeness" beschreibt in ruhigerer Form die Phasen der Einsamkeit, das wirkt sehr stimmig. Den "Sadistic Teacher" beschreibt Salim eindrücklich, das "City Bombardment" wirkt weniger eindringlich als man hätte erwarten können. Mit diesen Songs wäre die dunkle Seite auch schon abgehakt.

Die Bright Side wird orientalisch eröffnet. "For Eugene, Distilling the Delicacy" ist ein gitarrenlastiges Feature für den Maler Eugene De Blaas. "For Ali, Who Does Live Many Births Mercifully" ist eine kurze, aber schöne Hommage an Ali Moini. Sehr interessant klingt Salims Gunstbezeugung an den großen Kurt Cobain mit "For Kurt, The King Without Crown". Der große Jazzer Thelonious Monk wird mit "For Thelonious, and His 88 Holy Names" bedacht. In durchaus vergleichbarem Stil folgt eine Hommage an "Jeremy Brett", allerdings gibt es hier relativ rockige Gitarrenparts. Den Abschluss bildet die Ode an ein Mädchen im roten Kleid, welches 1995 vor Salims Augen verschwand. Musikalisch gießt Salim das Erlebte in eine leicht schrägen Jazz-Fusion.

Fazit Salim Ghazi Saeedi deutete schon auf Iconophobic seine Qualitäten an. Der Mann bewegt sich spielerisch zwischen Avantgarde und Jazz-Fusion mit subtilen orientalischen Motiven. Das Konzept von Human Encounter wirkt interessant und wird musikalisch schlüssig untermalt. Die Produktion klingt wieder gut, erstaunlich sind die recht lebendigen Bass- und Drumsounds. Wer keine Berührungsängste mit Künstlern aus dem Bereich Avantgarde hat, der sollte sich Salim's neues Album unbedingt anhören.

Human Encounter Review, ProgNaut webzine, Lee Henderson, Nov 2011 [permalink]

First of all I want to say that I’ve listened to (and reviewed some of) Salim’s recordings (both solo and under his band name Arashk) over the last year and have been impressed with each one. This new solo ‘Human Encounter’ breaks even more ground and I am still highly impressed by Salim’s multi-level talent. This new release is a concept based on Salim coming from another world and having various encounters with people on earth. Once again, I’ll let the ones who buy the CD read more and enjoy the story lines that Salim introduces with the music. It’s very interesting and not what you’d expect. There are dedications to people as varied as Kurt Cobain, Thelonious Monk, Iran-Iraq war bombs, and his 4th grade teacher. And it is all tied together with his twelve songs.

Salim stretches his canvas even more on ‘Human Encounters’ than ever. He brings in elements of much of his past works (classical, industrial, metal, progressive rock, eastern and fusion) but on this he expands with both traditional and modern jazz, RIO, and a more elaborate avant garde structure in some of his compositions. In fact, X-Legged Sally fans will like this one. There was only a place or two (track 7, 8 & 9) where it felt like it was improvised and rushed to complete. The music was far more simple than Salim could have made it and even sounds conventional at times. While not a perfect CD, it rates a strong 8 out of 10 in my book.

It’s clear that this time, Salim has produced something cerebral, sometimes intricate, and different than his other music. It’s truly a sign of growth and zeal which he continues his inventive style of music. I feel certain we will see more unfold in the music world of Salim.

As long as he is careful not to rush things, he is destined to create a series of recordings that will go down as some of the most unique in the progressive music genre. He has already created some great stuff over his last three releases. I don’t use the word ‘great’ lightly.

The jazz thing is hard to pull off in this field of RIO, which has already provided the music world with decades of masterpieces from dozens of bands. There is a lot of music on ‘Human Encounter’ that sits nicely with that world. I only have one other wish, I would have liked more than the 33 minutes of music and can only believe Salim felt strong about the songs as they were. Otherwise, I would have tried to talk him into spending more time and adding more music and possibly extending or reworking some extra parts into a couple of the songs.

So all in all, I was thrilled to get the new CD and will keep it with the other Salim Ghazi Saeedi recordings in my collection. I always love the way he works the main rhythms and counter rhythms, lays out a composition, and has such a strong storyline behind the music itself. I like the way he thinks. I look forward, once again, for the next project from this talented man.

[French] Human Encounter Review, Music Waves webzine, Realmean, Nov 2011 [permalink]

L’ésotérisme de Salim Ghazi Saeedi a quelque chose de fascinant. On aurait pu penser qu’après un parcours déjà étoffé en compagnie du groupe Arashk, ainsi qu’un premier essai en solo que nous avions chroniqué l’année dernière, l’artiste se déciderait enfin à civiliser quelque peu son propos musical, ou tout au moins nous livrerait une clé ou l’autre pour le rendre plus aisément universel.
Que Neni ! A l’occasion de cette rencontre avec l’espèce humaine, sa musique se fait plus expérimentale et plus déconstruite que jamais. Une façon de décrire la nébuleuse complexité de cette rencontre ?
En tout cas, l’énigmatique compositeur et multi-instrumentiste iranien est un artiste de parole : I never rationalize my music by melodic or harmonic theories, avait-il affirmé. "Human Encounter" en est une parfaite illustration.

Sur le fond, Salim définit son album comme un miroir du yin et du yang de l’humanité. Avec une amertume marquée pour le déséquilibre constaté, le côté sombre de l’homme, comme il le nomme lui-même, apparaissant comme beaucoup plus répandu que le côté lumineux. Il choisit de rendre hommage à ce dernier, essentiellement sur la seconde moitié de l’album, au travers de compositions dédiées à quelques artistes connus ou moins connus (les intitulés des morceaux pourront vous orienter, et Salim en dit davantage sur son site). Néanmoins, il n’y a pas de différence notable de tonalité musicale entre les deux axes; "Human Encounter" est un fluide uniformément étrange, mais aux propriétés successivement inquiétantes, mélancoliques, introspectives.
On retrouvera, ici et là, les parures d’un habillage électro-oriental ('For Eugene…', notamment), mais avec Salim, l’expressivité culturelle ne prend jamais le pas sur celle de son ressenti intérieur. Et lorsque celui-ci devient préhensible, les pensées les plus torturées et les plus refoulées se mettent soudain à remonter à la surface, aux travers de sonorités acoustiques et électro dotées de la même schizophrénie, et de phrasés aux allures improvisées de piano bar, mais dépossédés de l’insouciance qui leur est habituellement associée.
Les sons bondissent, se croisent, s’interrompent les uns et les autres. Le piano est tour à tour psychédélique et sentencieux ('You Many One Devils'), la contrebasse est d’une infinie tristesse ('Lonesomeness') ou insidieusement pernicieuse ('Sadistic Teacher'), la guitare punk-rock (bien que moins présente dans cet opus) affectionne l’embuscade, saute au visage, égratigne.
Tout cela, sans qu’aucun mécanisme émotionnel coutumier, ou presque, ne puisse être décodé. Et pourtant, la musique de Salim n’est jamais inaudible, elle a une cohérence cabalistique : tout se passe comme si l’artiste avait inventé ses propres règles rythmiques, ses propres arpèges, son propre langage musical. La perception, du côté de l’auditeur, va dépendre de sa faculté à décrypter ce langage.

Il n’est pas possible, évidemment, de recommander "Human Encounter" pour ce qu’il n’est pas : une création artistique accessible, aux formules accrocheuses, séductrices ou immédiates. A la lecture de cette chronique, vous devriez toutefois disposer de quelques indices pour savoir si vous êtes éligible à la tentative d'une expérience parmi les plus insolites… Notez bien la symbolique de l’imagerie : Salim semble s’éloigner vers des rivages inconnus. Certains y verront la confirmation qu’il a choisi de tourner le dos au plus grand nombre. Mais d’autres pourront comprendre qu’il nous invite à le suivre, au long de son parcours initiatique.

[DUTCH] Human Encounter Review, Digg*, Quincy Cloet, Nov 2011 [permalink]

Voor Digg*ers van: 'No One Knows About Persian Cats'.

Onze collega's van de filmredactie spreken er graag in lovende termen over: het alternatieve filmcircuit is een fel onderschatte, begerenswaardige grabbelton van verschillende stijlen en achtergronden. De waarheid is ongetwijfeld wat ambigu: de kwaliteit durft soms al eens sterk te wisselen. Nu en dan verschijnt er echter iets dat durft te verrassen en misschien zelfs jan met de pet naar de cinema kan lokken.

In 2009 draaide de Iraanse film 'No One Knows About Persian Cats' voor een korte tijd in de Belgische alternatieve cinema's. Net zoals soortgelijke films, werd het islamitische regime op indirecte wijze stevig op de korrel genomen. De film deed dat aan de hand van een aantal portretten uit de ondergrondse muziekwereld in Iran: twintigers verzot op Westerse muziek volgden in de voetsporen van hun grote voorbeelden door ook zelf te musiceren. 'No One Knows About Persian Cats' toont bovendien op treffend wijze hoe een autoritair regime altijd op gespannen voet met de kunstwereld leeft.

Muzikant Salim Ghazi Saeedi kwam niet in het geheel voor, maar zijn levensverhaal past in ieder geval perfect binnen het verhaal dat 'No One Knows About Persian Cats' vertelt. Als experimenteel rockartiest heeft hij al sinds jonge leeftijd ondervonden hoe moeilijk het is om (moderne) muziek te verspreiden in Iran: "the music scene was merely limited to 'permitted' materials that mostly embraced traditional and conservative music. Most of contemporary western music - especially rock music - was never published by domestic or foreign publishers and so never existed on the market." Het internet zorgde in de voorbije tien jaar echter voor een geleidelijke opening van de ondergrondse muziekwereld en gaf jonge artiesten de kans om via internationale sociale netwerken hun muziek aan de man te brengen.

'Human Encounter' is het meest recente album van Saeedi en wordt door hemzelf omschreven als een "jazz-rock concept album" dat uitvoerig inspiratie put uit zijn levensverhaal. Het album splitst zich op in twee delen, waarvan vooral het eerste een donkere, bijna sombere indruk geeft. Liefhebbers van progressieve rock (King Crimson) en experimentele jazz (John Zorn) zullen mogelijk hun gading vinden in zijn muziek. 'Human Encounter' scoort echter niet over de volledige lijn goede punten.

Saeedi is een multi-instrumentalist en dat heeft uiteraard gevolgen voor de wijze waarop zijn muziek geconstrueerd is. Een - overigens vrij makke - proloog illustreert hoe dat in zijn werk gaat: gefragmenteerde geluiden, waarvan heel wat door een synthesizer gehaald, creëren een chromatische spanning en schetsen het globale kader van het album. 'Lustful Feast of Flesh', het volgende nummer, wekt daarentegen al een totaal verschillend gevoel op. Saeedi brengt op zijn piano diepe bastonen tot leven, die geregeld overgaan in een zacht en prikkelend klankspel. Het geheel is sober ingevuld, met her en der percussieslagen en tevens wat begeleiding op een basgitaar. De Iraanse muzikant bevindt zich stilistisch alleszins in het vaarwater van experimentele jazzmuzikanten.

'Human Encounter' brengt een aantal leuke ideeën aan het licht. De wijze waarop hij een zacht, maar wervelend tempo in 'You Many One Devils' creëert, contrasteert mooi met de fragmentarische ingrepen op piano en gitaar. Zijn melodieuze interventies zijn telkens spitsvondig en brengen het uitgeklede karakter van de muziek niet in het gedrang. Ook 'Lonesomeness' is best aardig dankzij een fijne interactie tussen piano en bas. De eenzaamheid van de titel laat zich mooi in de uitwerking reflecteren.

Het is niettemin geen volmondige Persian dream. Na een aantal nummers krijg je als luisteraar redelijk snel een gevoel van herkenning en bijhorende verzadiging. Eenmaal het verhaal en de stijl van het album uitgeklaard zijn, reiken er zich nog maar weinig echt vernieuwende ideeën aan. Salim Ghazi Saeedi lijkt af en toe wat moeite te hebben om het monotone opzet van zijn verhaal gepast te doorbreken ('Sadistic Teacher'). Een stijlbreuk, compositorisch of op vlak van instrumenten, had misschien meer variatie gebracht. Ook de afwezigheid van lyrics, zorgt ervoor dat het moeilijk is om iets meer te weten te komen over Saaedi's levensverhaal en de effecten daarvan op zijn muziek.

De enige grote verandering die hij aanbrengt, is het vormelijke contrast tussen het eerste en tweede deel van het album. Bij‎ 'For Eugene, Distilling the Delicacy' begint dat met een vleugje Perzische folkrock, die gelijkenissen met Gábor Szabó en John Berberian oproept. Hetzelfde klankgeluid zet zich verder ‎'For Ali, Who Does Live Many Births Mercifully'. Hoewel Saaedi aardig van start gaat in het tweede deel, hervalt hij ook hier in dezelfde fout. Vooral '‎For Kurt, The King Without Crown' is een kleine misser, door de weinig originele imitatie van rockabilly (denk maar aan de arthouse film 'Roadracers' van Robert Rodriguez). '‎Unknown Red-Skirt Girl, Who Vanished Before My Eyes in 1995' herstelt enigszins het evenwicht met een geweldige pianomelodie die een aantal keer in de compositie terugkeert. Hoewel Saaedi hier met schoonheid afsluit, hebben we toch het gevoel dat er meer uit het originele idee valt te rapen.

Het beluisteren en beoordelen van 'Human Encounter' komt op het einde neer op de volgende vraag: is de waarde van een album gebaseerd op het aantal goede ideeën of het uiteindelijke resultaat? 'Human Encounter' bevat een karrenvracht aan kleine, gedenkwaardige elementen, maar slaagt er niet in om uit te groeien tot een begeesterend album. Het instrumentale opzet is onvoldoende om als brug te fungeren tussen zijn levensverhaal en zijn muziek. De grondstoffen zijn aanwezig, alleen is het resultaat niet helemaal wat we gehoopt hadden.

'Human Encounter' kan gekocht worden via de website van Salim Ghazi Saeedi.

Human Encounter Review, "Psyche Music", Gerald Van Waes, Nov 2011 [permalink]

The new album is made under the solo name of Salim’s own name. Except for the intro, which is like a dramatic introduction somewhat classically inspired in composition (gothic keyboards and electric guitars), most of the album is a bit more into jazz inspirations played by drums, piano and double bass only. The second track holds the middle between contemporary classical ideas and jazz with an interesting complexity, this thorough understanding of this kind of combinations shows itself more often, but it is especially on the 11th track where the contemporary vision meets jazz very well in a more complex control over the composition. Of course some of the Persian influences seep through, the grooves and progressions are mainly jazz inspired.

The foundation of themes reveal a hopeful but saddened, disappointed vision of the human race and its tendencies to name good and evil only to misunderstand it further and increase the amount of destruction. At the same time all that is to survive longer, the creative capacities are from a human nature as well. The album is divided in that way in a thematical dark and bright side.
The early tracks are inspired by some bad teacher in Iran, the Iran/Iraq bombing and all of the evil rulers (of course this includes the ones who are responsible for their vision on degrading all organisation in Iran now), who are standing for the negative side, and Eugene The Blaas, Ali Moini, Kurt Cobain, Thelonious Monk and Jeremy Brett for the positive part.

Human Encounter Review, Music Street Journal, Issue 85, Gary Hill, Dec 2011 [permalink]

In some ways Iranian Salim Ghazi Saeedi’s previous disc was more purely progressive rock oriented. Of course, that said, a lot of it fit in the chamber music territory. This one is far more jazz oriented. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to put this in as jazz rather than prog. But, for my money fusion and progressive rock are virtually the same and given his position in the prog section of MSJ, I’m including this one there, too. Of course, it doesn’t matter what you call it. This is a tasty instrumental disc.

Track by Track Review

Human Encounter Prologue
This is cool little bit. We get short snippets of various things from symphonic elements to hard rocking fusion to electronic effects driven music. Nothing stays around long and the entire song is around a minute and half in length.
Lustful Feast of Flesh
Saeedi brings this one in as a definite jazz jam and works it out from there. It’s got some RIO in terms of the freeform nature, but it’s not really dissonant.
You Many One Devils
There’s more energy in this and it’s more freeform jazz stylings, but there also bits of classical music laced in at points.
There’s a bit more of a groove to this, but overall it’s somewhat dissonant jazz that’s not that different from the stuff we’ve heard to this point. It’s definitely got a cool driving bass part later.
Sadistic Teacher
Here we get a powerhouse jazz jam with the bass really propelling this thing. Somehow later it seems to take on a bit of a rock element, making it more fully fusion.
City Bombardment
This comes in feeling like a jazzier King Crimson. More straightforward jazz sounds are added, but it still manages to invoke some of those Crimson images. I am particularly enamored with the killer first guitar solo on this, kind of a demented blues blended with world music. It calls to mind Crimson in some ways, too. The whole cut is more fully in the fusion zone.
For Eugene, Distilling the Delicacy
World music brings this in, but from there we get some almost surf guitar at times. The driving bass and other elements bring jazz to the table, but this one has a lot of rock built in, too. It’s a killer cut that’s among my favorites of the set. It’s dramatic and powerful and full of contrasts and excitement.
For Ali, Who Does Live Many Births Mercifully
There’s an ominous, almost symphonic soundtrack element running in the background as rock guitar spins tales in the front of this killer piece.
For Kurt, The King Without Crown
This alternates between more rock oriented and more jazz styled music in its roughly one minute length.
For Thelonious, and His 88 Holy Names
While a big chunk of this is jazz, there are sections where world music are a big part of the melody. There’s also a real rocking guitar solo.
For Jeremy, Embodying the Mastermind
This makes me think of the Vrooom era of King Crimson if there were more jazz added to the mix. It’s got some screaming guitar, too.
Unknown Red-Skirt Girl, Who Vanished Before My Eyes in 1995
This comes in with a tentative element to it. There’s an almost ominous air to the sounds heard here. It grows out towards more pure jazz as a driving bass line moves it forward. Some scorching guitar soloing comes in later, bringing more fusion with it.

[NORWEGIAN] Human Encounter Review, MerlinProg, Ulf Backstrøm, Dec 2011 [permalink]

Musikk fra Iran er ikke akkurat noe som det florer av på disse sidene, men multiinstrumentalisten Salim Ghazi Saeedi er unntaket. Bak seg har Saeedi tre skiver med bandet Arashk og et soloalbum som han kalte «Iconophobic» som behørig og positivt ble omtalt på disse sidene. På ” Human Envounter” står Saeedi for all instrumentering, komponering, arrangering, miksing, produsering osv. V kan selvsagt bare svakt ane hvilken ekstremt formidabel oppgave slikt må være, og best av alt er at alt slitet på et vis har betalt seg! Årsaken er at dette faktisk er et bra album med mye musikk som er høyst interessant og velspilt. Saeedi sound har blitt sammenliknet med musikere som Mike Oldfield, Enid, Univers Zero, Patrick O'Hearn Art Zoyd, John Zorn, , Sufjan Stevens og Harmonie Magazine #70 sammenlikner gitarspillina med Robert Fripp. Om denne skiva sier Saeedi at fra han gjorde sin entre på jorden i 1981 har han nødvendigvis ufrivillig kommet i kontakt med menneskeheten. Det har vært en blandet opplevelse og med ikke for mange lyspunkt og desto flere mørkladne og ekle opplevelser, og derfor er skiva delt i to deler. En del som reflekterer de mindre hyggelige og deprimerende opplevelsene, og en del som tar for seg de behaglige opplevelsene. Altså en ”Dark Side” som reflekterer vonde opplevelser, og en ”Bright Side” som reflekterer hyggelige opplevelser, og egentlig så speiler jo dette de fleste menneskers liv. I bunn av musikken ligger som oftest Saeedi sine Iranske røtter mens det er rimelig ofte en kledelig særpreget og progga avantgarde jazzrock som vi får ta del i på ”Human Encounter”. Skiva er på så lite som 33,19, men det føles ikke slik og låtene er jevnt over også korte, men det som skal utrykkes kommer frem uten unødvendig brodering. Som for eksempel på den fine låten ”Lonesomeness” som er en kort og konsis låt som er temmelig rolig men likevel uttrykksfull og med mye spennende på agendaen herunder nydelig bass- og pianolinjer hver for seg og i samklang. En fin samklang og vekting er det også mellom Saeedi sine preferanser for rock, avantgarde kammermusikk og fusion. En slik vinkling gir dynamikk og ok variasjon og når så også det hele som oftest farges med arabisk folklore så blir det et fyldig verk. Fullt så bra liker vi ikke de programmerte trommene, men desto bedre liker vi dette verkets varierte atmosfærer og ikke minst konsise og talende uttrykk. Hør bare på låten ” Sadistic Teacher” som forteller om en av de mindre hyggelige av undervisningpersonalets hærskare av mer eller mindre menneskelige utøvere. Fra den mørke siden av liv dukker også ” You Many One Devils” hvor det er mye rikelig med følelser, frådende galskap og fuzzdelikatesser! Mer harmoni er det fra den lyse siden av denne skiva, og rett så sneisen og med iransk folklore i starten er ”For Eugene Distilling The Delicacy” som er en hyllest til maleren Eugene De Blaas med gitaren som den mest aktive musikalske pensel! Kort men direkte vakker og lekker er ” For Ali, Who Does Live Many Births Mercifully ”, mens vår favoritt er nok hyllesten til Kurt Cobain, ” For Kurt, The King Without Crown”. I sum er dette ei skive som en får lyst til å høre på flere ganger, og som byr på mye spennende musikk som absolutt vil falle i smak hos alle som liker musikk med egenart. Rått innovativt er det ikke, men Saeedi evner å holde på lytteren skiva gjennom med sine mange fascinerende og fungerende ideer. Kanskje kunne skiva hatt godt av enda noe tid i Salim Ghazi Saeedi sitt musikalske snekkerverksted og eventuelt kunne det vært mer ”luft” i musikken og mulighet for refleksjoner under ferden, men det er på mange måter pirk på ei meget ok og vellykket skive.

Human Encounter Review, JazzWax, Marc Myer, Jan 2012 [permalink]

Increasingly, the rock and jazz that's coming from young musicians is intensively collagist, with single songs changing themes and genres multiple times, as though someone were slowly 618R7DMgPvL._SL500_AA280_turning an FM radio dial. I suspect that this new restless movement is to some extent influenced by the electronic multitasking and highly distractional desktop world in which young people grew up. One such artist who is breaking new ground is Salim Ghazi Saeedi, an Iranian avant-garde guitarist and composer. (Yes, it's hard to believe they let him play this stuff over there.) His fifth album, Human Encounter is divided into a "dark side" and "bright side." The music is as intense and complex as urban alleyways, and rich with Persian rhythms and brooding rock-Shostakovitch shadows. You'll find this one at iTunes and Amazon.

Human Encounter Review, Mały Leksykon Wielkich Zespołów, Artur Chachlowski, Jan 2012 [permalink]

Salim Ghazi Saeedi, irański muzyk wpisujący się w nurt rocka progresywnego, wydał swój piąty album zatytułowany "Human Encounter". Jest to album konceptualny z historią opartą na osobistych doświadczeniach z życia artysty. Większość utworów jest poświęcona wydarzeniom z jego życia lub postaciom, które nienawidzi lub też uwielbia.

Oto „słowo wstępne” autora:

„Gdy przybyłem na Ziemię w 1981 roku, niechcący wszedłem w kontakt z ludzką rasą. Z wyjątkiem kilku przyjemnych spotkań, pozostałe odebrałem jako ponure i gorzkie. "Human Encounter" jest moim pamiętnikiem z tych spotkań”.

Album został podzielony na dwie kategorie:

"Ciemna strona" odzwierciedla gorzkie doświadczenia. Salim: „Zauważyłem, że ludzie mają tendencję do nazywania wszystkiego po imieniu i później tego nie rozumieją. Zatem nie obchodzi mnie, co faktycznie mogą rozumieć przez słowo takie jak "zło", ale bez wątpienia ludzie sami są głównym źródłem terroru, bólu i zniszczenia na Ziemi.

"Jasna strona" odzwierciedla przyjemności, na które natknąłem się na tej planecie. Twierdzę, że nie ma żadnej przyjemności na Ziemi bez czynnika ludzkiego, więc odpowiednie utwory są dedykowane poszczególnym ludziom. Oczywiście na pierwszy rzut oka Ziemia wydaje się fizycznie pociągająca, ale są to tylko tymczasowe jej właściwości. Tylko to, co człowiek tworzy, jest nieśmiertelne.

Teraz, gdybym miał opuszczać tę planetę, brakowałoby mi kilku osób, takich jak ci, których wymieniłem w "Jasnej stronie"... Innych może pochłonąć otchłań czasu”.

Niedawno opisywaliśmy na naszych łamach poprzedni krążek Salima pt. „Iconophobic”. „Human Encounter” nie różni się od niego w znaczący sposób. Też składa się z krótkich, trwających zazwyczaj nie dłużej niż 4 minuty, instrumentalnych tematów z pogranicza rocka, jazzu i awangardowej muzyki eksperymentalnej. Nierzadko bardzo trudnych w odbiorze i bynajmniej nie nadających się do lekkiego, łatwego i przyjemnego słuchania. Nie polecam więc tego albumu tym, którzy chcieliby się przy „Human Encounter” zrelaksować. Ten mroczny album prowokuje raczej do myślenia, analizowania i skłania do próby podążenia za pokrętnymi pomysłami autora. W tych próbach można nieraz się pogubić. Salim każe odbierać wypełniającą go muzykę z dużą dozą cierpliwości. Tylko wielokrotne przesłuchanie tej płyty (skądinąd dość krótkiej – tylko 33 minuty) daje nadzieję na poznanie wszystkich wypełniających ją sekretów i niuansów. Ale i tak wcale nie ma gwarancji, że uda się je odkryć wszystkie. Lecz nie znaczy to wcale, że to złe czy nieudane wydawnictwo. Trudne – tak. Wymagające skupienia – tak. Ale i niebanalne. Ambitne i poruszające.

Human Encounter Review, Sea of Tranquility, Steven Reid, Nov 2011 [permalink]

Human Encounter is the quick fire follow up to last year's Iconophobic from Iranian multi-instrumentalist and avant-garde, art-rock composer Salim Ghazi Saeedi and much as its predecessor did, this album blends disparate sounds and ideas into uncomfortable and challenging music. The theme of Human Encounter is exactly that, with the first six songs reliving some of Saeedi's unfavourable encounters with our species, while the second six recount the more positive human experiences. That said the difference between both sections isn't actually strong enough to be felt musically, without actually referring to the track listing.

As before Saeedi handles all of the instruments himself and while that means all too obvious drum samples, it does give this stark, dark music a remarkably personal feel, almost as though the composer is baring his soul through his music. That said, the lack of collaboration also does mean that in places Human Encounter is an album which can at times lose its way, with some ideas not seen through to their conclusions and as mentioned the complete lack of light to contrast against the perpetual gloom. Saeedi does though have an innate ability to convey the emotions that are in his heart through the music he writes, with the impressive, if challenging arrangements also bring a wealth of atmosphere. Picking out individual tracks to illustrate this album is a tough task, as it undoubtedly works best as a continuous, if rather short, listening experience and I'd go as far as to suggest that taken in isolation the songs actually lose their ability to make sense.

Darkly uncompromising and intentionally unsettling, Human Encounter is a an album that needs many listens to unveil its inner secrets and while in places it does verge on being more impressive than it is enjoyable, the little intricacies and excellent musicianship do keep you coming back for more.

Human Encounter Review, Ragazzi Webzine, Volkmar Mantei, Dec 2011 [permalink]

Bot Salim Ghazi Saeedi seine letzten Alben unter dem Namen Arashk an, so steht nun passend und selbstbewusst sein Name auf dem Cover der CD. "Human Encounter" hat zwei Seiten, die dunkle und die helle Seite, beide jeweils 6 Songs lang, insgesamt beläuft sich das neue Album auf 33 Minuten.
Die zerfahrene, zerrissene Musik ist nun deutlich jazziger, Salim mixt Progressive Rock, Fusion und folkloristische Motive seiner musikalischen Heimat zu einem einzigartigen und kaum vergleichbaren Stil, der mal an Neue Musik erinnert, an Jazz, ungewöhnliche Wege in der Rockmusik geht und progressive Komplexe auffährt, wie sie sonst eher nicht geboten werden.
Die rein instrumentalen Themen haben Titel wie "You Many One Devils", "Sadistic Teacher", "City Bombardement", "Lonesomeness" oder "Lustful Feast of Flesh" auf der 'Dark Side' und verneigen sich auf der 'Bright Side' vor Vorbildern Salims, Eugene de Blaas, Ali Moini, Kurt Cobain, Thelonious Monk und Jeremy Brett.
Alle Songs, alle Instrumente hat Salim selbst komponiert und aufgenommen. Die Brüchigkeit der Themen und labile Konsistenz der Kompositionen bauen indes nicht darauf, sind gewiss gewollt und Ausdruck seiner Kreativität. Sobald eine Idee jazziger wird, fließt Dynamik ins Geschehen, doch die zerrissene Brüchigkeit kommt stets wieder, offenbart sich vor allem in den melodisch führenden Instrumenten des akustischen Flügels und der elektrischen Gitarre.
So ungewöhnlich "Human Encounter" ist, so interessant ist es auch. Es bedarf vielfacher Hördurchgänge, diese verschlungenen Songpfade nachvollziehen zu können und Hörübung in Salims Musiksprache zu bekommen.
Fast krimiartig durchlaufen die Songs laszive Höhen und düstere Tiefen, erleben faszinierende Dynamisierungen und wie aus dem Nichts fallen gelassene Energie, dass schon beim Zuhören das Gefühl aufkommt, im Traum vom Dach zu fallen.
Traum: so hört sich "Human Encounter" an. Wie der Soundtrack des Schlafes in allen Facetten.

English Translation of last paragraph:

Almost thriller-like the songs evolve through lascivious heights and dark depths, live through fascinating dynamics and through energy that seems to have dropped in from out of nowhere. When listening to "Human Encounter" you get the feeling of falling from a roof during a dream.
Human Encounter sounds like a dream. Like the soundtrack of sleep in every facet.

Human Encounter Review, Background Magazine, Pedro Bekkers, Jan 2012

Some musicians make it easy on me to review an album, but sometimes I receive a record about which it's rather difficult to write a decent review. That's certainly the case with Human Encounter, an album by the Iranian (!) musician Salim Ghazi Saeedi. First of all I have to say that I respect the fact that he sticks to his own style of music by creating a complicated kind of progressive music not very common in that area. On his website his music is compared to King Crimson and even Frank Zappa. To me the only resemblance with these artists is the improvisation and the use of odd rhythms in the songs, but he never meets the same high standards.

Reading the inside of the CD-cover almost gives me the creeps; I can imagine life in Iran is tough, but this reads like he was writing a suicide note. So much negativity towards life itself makes me feel a bit sorry for him. On the other hand this could be a political statement to bring back the focus of life in Iran. I hope for the latter option.

Human Encounter is an instrumental album on which all instruments are played by Saeedi. The emphasis is on the keyboards - mainly piano- and guitar with some percussion and drums underneath. The album has been divided in two parts: a dark side and a bright side. This would mean that the compositions on the bright side must be predominantly cheerful, but no, all tracks are dark, moody and very complex. Sometimes it seems as if parts of a song don't fit together. But maybe that's the experimental element in the music. Personally I think the atmosphere is far too negative; he even dedicates the song Sadistic Teacher to his fourth grade teacher; that may say enough. Highlight on the album is For Eugene, Distilling The Delicacy where hints of Arabic music go together with instrumental experimental fusion.

Human Encounter is an album that has been composed by putting a lot of ideas and parts of music into each song that sometimes don't fit together. If the basic ideas would have had the time to grow, the album would have been much more coherent. I guess there was no more time to develop the songs, as Salim Ghazi Saeedi stated on the cover: 'now as I am departing this planet, I will only miss a few people like those I named in the 'bright side. Let the others putrefy in the abyss of time..'

**+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Human Encounter Review, Strutter Magazine, Gabor Kleinbloesem, Feb 2012

Definitely not something one receives every day, because the CD ‘Human encounter’ by multi-instrumentalist SALIM GHAZI SAEEDI comes straight out of Tehran, Iran! Music has no borders and one can hear that on this album, because we can hear the highly gifted musicianship of one man, SALIM GHAZI SAEEDI. He delivers here a good instrumental complex Progressive Rockalbum that mixes influences from current modern day progrock of the PORCUPINE TREE kind with some Arabic traditional music, ending up sounding quite original. 12 songs are included and although the music is not going a very heavy direction and also the drum programming is a little bit hard to accept sometimes, for a musician from Iran playing this western based music (although combined with eastern influences) it is a very interesting album to check out. In fact, Salim managed to play and record everything on his own and as a big admirer of World Music as well, he could easily be featured in this Dutch TV Program called ‘Vrije geluiden’ at: but in the meantime, check out his music at:

Human Encounter Review, Luna Kafé, Tim Clarke, Feb 2012

For the most part dominated by the interplay between piano, upright bass and drums, punctuated by occasional ecstatic bursts of electric guitar, Human Encounter is a thorny jazz-rock release by Iranian musician and producer Salim Ghazi Saeedi. It is perhaps best compared to the more abstruse corners of King Crimson's discography, but without the fireworks and melodic beauty that make Fripp and Co's best work really come alive.

Saeedi's presentation of the 'dark' and 'bright' sides of human nature in the two distinct halves of the album stirs up some interesting themes - especially with vivid song titles such as "Sadistic Teacher" and "Lustful Feast Of Flesh" - but it unfortunately proves rather stilted in execution. Ultimately, I can't discern much of a difference between the two halves in terms of feel.

Not having other musicians to play off means that Saeedi's performances end up sounding rather robotic, each part interlocking without generating the sparks that can arise from the co-mingling of different musical personalities. Plus, there are some dubious sounds here, especially on sound-collage "Human Encounter Prologue", and the synth trumpet that pops up towards the end of "For Kurk" is unforgivable!

While I applaud Saeedi for the vision, instrumental skill and occasionally inspired songwriting required to assemble this challenging suite, ultimately it proves too much of an awkward prospect for me to continue attempting to unravel.

Human Encounter Review, Progressive Newsletter #74, Volkmar Mantei, Feb 2010 [permalink]

Bot Salim Ghazi Saeedi seine letzten Alben unter dem Namen Arashk an, so steht nun passend und selbstbewusst sein Name auf dem Cover der CD. "Human Encounter" hat zwei Seiten, die dunkle und die helle Seite, beide jeweils 6 Songs lang, insgesamt beläuft sich das neue Album auf 33 Minuten.
Die zerfahrene, zerrissene Musik ist nun deutlich jazziger, Salim mixt Progressive Rock, Fusion und folkloristische Motive seiner musikalischen Heimat zu einem einzigartigen und kaum vergleichbaren Stil, der mal an Neue Musik erinnert, an Jazz, ungewöhnliche Wege in der Rockmusik geht und progressive Komplexe auffährt, wie sie sonst eher nicht geboten werden.
Die rein instrumentalen Themen haben Titel wie "You Many One Devils", "Sadistic Teacher", "City Bombardement", "Lonesomeness" oder "Lustful Feast of Flesh" auf der 'Dark Side' und verneigen sich auf der 'Bright Side' vor Vorbildern Salims, Eugene de Blaas, Ali Moini, Kurt Cobain, Thelonious Monk und Jeremy Brett.
Alle Songs, alle Instrumente hat Salim selbst komponiert und aufgenommen. Die Brüchigkeit der Themen und labile Konsistenz der Kompositionen bauen indes nicht darauf, sind gewiss gewollt und Ausdruck seiner Kreativität. Sobald eine Idee jazziger wird, fließt Dynamik ins Geschehen, doch die zerrissene Brüchigkeit kommt stets wieder, offenbart sich vor allem in den melodisch führenden Instrumenten des akustischen Flügels und der elektrischen Gitarre.
So ungewöhnlich "Human Encounter" ist, so interessant ist es auch. Es bedarf vielfacher Hördurchgänge, diese verschlungenen Songpfade nachvollziehen zu können und Hörübung in Salims Musiksprache zu bekommen.
Fast krimiartig durchlaufen die Songs laszive Höhen und düstere Tiefen, erleben faszinierende Dynamisierungen und wie aus dem Nichts fallen gelassene Energie, dass schon beim Zuhören das Gefühl aufkommt, im Traum vom Dach zu fallen.
Traum: so hört sich "Human Encounter" an. Wie der Soundtrack des Schlafes in allen Facetten.

[ITALIAN] Human Encounter Review, Arlequins webzine, Francesco Inglima, Feb 2012 [permalink]

Si può suonare progressive anche nelle sue forme più avante senza esserne coscienti?
Si può suonare progressive ed avere come punto di riferimento Kurt Cobain?
Si può realizzare un album progressive con tutti gli strumenti suonati da un'unica persona?
Si può fare tutto ciò in Iran?...
Ebbene sì! Tutto ciò è possibile ed ha un nome ed un cognome: Salim Ghazi Saeedi.
Salim Ghazi Saeedi è un musicista iraniano estremamente talentuoso.
Salim Ghazi Saeedi nella sua biografia dichiara di aver iniziato a suonare solo dopo aver ascoltato i Nirvana.
Salim Ghazi Saeedi dice di non aver mai deciso coscientemente di suonare progressive e solo dopo aver realizzato il suo primo album “Iconophobic” ha notato che tutte le recensioni l'avevano inserito in quel genere musicale.
Salim Ghazi Saeedi, volente o nolente, alla fine incarna splendidamente la vera essenza del progressive: non avere nulla di premeditato, quale che sia il punto di partenza la filosofia prog è "non porsi limiti e andare li dove la creatività ti porta", o almeno dovrebbe essere questa.
Si è trovato a suonare questo genere seguendo solamente il suo istinto musicale, la sua attitudine: il suo percorso artistico è un continuo "progredire". Tutto ha inizio quando al liceo ha preso la chitarra in mano per la prima volta per emulare il suo idolo Kurt Cobain. Passa poi al gruppo prog metal degli Arashk, lasciandolo dopo tre album perché quel contesto artistico gli stava ormai stretto. Ha deciso così di avventurarsi nella folle idea di realizzare la sua musica, la musica che aveva nella sua testa. Non essendo molto facile trovare musicisti "prog" in Iran, decide di non avvalersi dell'aiuto di nessuno, di suonare tutti gli strumenti da solo e autoprodurre i suoi album.
“Human Encounter” continua il processo di evoluzione con un deciso passo in avanti rispetto all’interessante esordio “Iconophobic”. I netti miglioramenti si notano già dalla produzione che, visto il contesto fai-da-te in cui opera e in cui sono concepiti gli album, non può che soffrire di un approccio amatoriale. Ma il musicista iraniano, in un solo anno, mostra di essere cresciuto molto a tal proposito. Progressi che, per fortuna nostra, mostra sotto ogni aspetto.
Salim è diventato più conscio di quello che sta facendo e del percorso musicale intrapreso e a lui più congeniale. Ha fatto un po' d'ordine e la sua musica inizia ad avere una forma più definita. Si fanno sempre più presenti i riferimenti al RIO cameristico e al progressive più classico, in particolare ai King Crimson. Non mancano i richiami al folk persiano. “Human Encounter” è però un album di matrice principalmente jazz rock ed è un concept album, in cui Salim, con fanciullesco disincanto, come un bimbo delle elelementari, fa la lista dei buoni e dei cattivi.
Le prime tracce, che rappresentano il lato negativo del mondo, sono ispirate al suo insegnante di quarta elementare, ai bombardamenti della guerra Iran/Iraq e a tutti i tiranni malvagi (compresi coloro che hanno portato degrado in Iran).
Le tracce rappresentanti la parte positiva sono dedicate a Eugene The Blaas, Ali Moini, Kurt Cobain, Thelonious Monk, Jeremy Brett e ad una ragazza con la gonna rossa incontrata per strada. Per ognuno di loro disegna il suo affresco arrivando a citare i Nirvana nel pezzo dedicato a Cobain.
Le canzoni continuano ad essere tutte di breve durata (dai 2 ai 4 minuti) e dal tratto quasi "espressionistico". Salim vuole dipingere affreschi con la sua musica e lo fa utilizzando pochi colori, ma con tratti forti e decisi, riuscendo a caricare la sua musica di enfasi e di drammaticità, tratti di cui alle volte se ne denota l'eccesso. Spinge molto sul contrasto, quasi portato all’estremo, tra sonorità scure, ad impersonare il Male, e chiare a rappresentare il Bene.
Come strumentazione si limita all’utilizzo di un double bass, una chitarra elettrica, una batteria e tastiere, quasi sempre le stesse, caratterizzate da un sound oscuro che possono ricordare quelle di Trigaux (Present, Univers zero).
La sua musica, pur essendo più ragionata e cerebrale rispetto ad “Iconophobic”, conserva una purezza tale da renderla unica. Il disco è caratterizzato da quel candore bambinesco di chi si affaccia la prima volta e con estrema curiosità alle varie esperienze della vita, e si trova di fronte ad un mondo di possibilità da esplorare.
Salim di curiosità e voglia di esplorare ne ha tantissima, così come tantissime sono le sue idee. Idee che alle volte sono sviluppate in maniera un po’ troppo frettolosa oppure in maniera confusionaria, ma sono tutte ingenuità che possono essere perdonate in tranquillità, perché figlie appunto della sua immensa voglia di fare o alle volte di strafare. Ingenuità figlie di chi improvvisamente trova davanti a sé infinite strade da esplorare e vorrebbe esplorarle tutte.
Impossibile non voler bene ad album come questi.
Ad ogni modo, sarebbe davvero ingeneroso trattare quest'album solo come l'esotica stravaganza di un giovane Iraniano. Al di là dell'aspetto folkloristico, quest'album è molto di più: è pregno di una

ità e voglia di far musica che lo rendono unico ed appassionante.
Saeedi è un musicista dalle potenzialità notevoli e ancora inesplorate che, con un album dopo l'altro, continua a sorprenderci e forse anche a sorprendere sè stesso proprio per la sua crescita artistica. Dove possa arrivare non è lecito saperlo e noi non possiamo che seguirlo con estremo interesse e simpatia nella sua continua evoluzione musicale.

Human Encounter Review, Vital Weekly #821, Dolf Mulder, Feb 2012 [permalink]

Fromm the beginning it is evident that Iranian multi-talent Salim Ghazi Saeedi has a love for progressive rock and avant rock produced by bands like Univers Zero. No idea if progressive rock is of any importance in countries like in Iran. In that case Saeedi may be an outspoken exception. ‘Human Encounter’ is his second solo album. ‘Iconophoci’ his first solo album dates from 2010. Earlier he released albums with his band Arashk. The pieces on this new album are divided into two sections: a dark side and a bright side. He reflects on encounters in his personal life with fellow human beings. On the bright side he dedicated his compositions to persons. On the dark side pieces carry titles as ‘Lonesomeness’ and ‘City Bombardment’. A concept album so to speak, on which Saeedi again proves himself to be a very capable composer in Rock in Opposition vein. Everything is played by himself: guitars, keyboards, samplers (drums), etc. Because of this the music does not breath as it would when played by a band. It is the same experience I had with his first solo album. Nonetheless I had a good time with this album. Although 12 pieces are on this album, it works as one giant composition in different parts. His pieces are thoroughly composed and arranged. Saeedi understands his craft. Musically his work fits perfectly in the tradition of Henry Cow, Univers Zero, 5uu’s or X-Legged Sally. No doubt Saeedi has access to this kind of music. I can’t say Saeedi opens a new chapter in this line. But for sure does not simply repeat the past, but he is able to construct some very tight and well-thought compositions in this line. His music has potential and it is well-crafted. Can’t wait to hear more of this guy. (DM)

[DUTCH] Human Encounter Review, Peter van Haerenborgh, Progwereld, Mar 2012 [permalink]–-human-encounter/

Het is nog niet zo heel lang geleden dat ik de Iraanse muzikant Salim Ghazi Saeedi leerde kennen via mijn recensie van “Iconophobic” hier op onze eigenste Progwereld. Toen was het voor mij nog erg verbazend om überhaupt een progmuzikant te vinden in Iran, en al zeker geen avant-prog muzikant. Maar toch was hij er en heeft hij met het vorige album enorm weten te verrassen. Bijgevolg heeft hij met zijn muziek toch een plaats in mijn proghart weten te veroveren.

Met dit nieuwe album gaat onze sympathieke Iraniër persoonlijker dan ooit te voren, want zoals de titel, “Human Encounter” al zelf zegt, gaat dit album inderdaad over zijn ervaring met mensen. En zoals vaak in het echte leven waren er voor hem positieve en negatieve ervaringen. Daarom is ook dit album in twee delen verdeeld: de ‘duistere’ en de ‘lichte’ kant. Een alleraardigst idee om een heel album rond te maken. Ook is het leuk om te zien hoe de kijk van een niet-westerling kan zijn en hoe hij dit in instrumentale nummers vertaalt.

Door deze tweedeling in thema’s zien we ook in de muzikale uitwerking dezelfde tweespalt terug. De ‘dark side’ zoals Salim Ghazi Saeedi dit zelf noemt, heeft een iets zwaardere, donkere ondertoon terwijl we dan natuurlijk net het omgekeerde zien bij de andere kant, de ‘bright side’. En ondanks mijn voorkeur voor de vaak donkerdere bands in dit genre moet ik zeggen dat het net dat tweede gedeelte is dat mij het meest boeide.

Doch is die donkerdere kant qua onderwerpen ook best boeiend, zeker wanneer we de onderwerpenkeuze bekijken. Zo is You Many One Devils een nummer opgedragen aan heersers van het verleden, heden en de toekomst: erg interessant wanneer we even aan de politieke situatie van Iran denken. In die context kan ook City Bombardment, een nummer over de bombardementen in de oorlog tussen Iran en Irak in 1980, gezien worden.

Terwijl in het tweede gedeelte Salim Ghazi Saeedi eerder een eerbetoon brengt aan zijn helden en voorbeelden. Muzikale voorbeelden zoals Ali Moini, Thelonious Monk en natuurlijk Kurt Cobain. Maar ook acteur Jeremy Brett en kunstenaar Eugene de Blaas krijgen een nummer aan hen opgedragen. Vooral bij Eugene de Blaas vond ik dat toch eerder verrassend, want ik heb nooit geweten dat hij ook in Iran bekend is geweest.

Wanneer we dan weer dieper in de muziek zelf gaan kijken, zien we dat de Iraanse multi-instrumentalist teruggrijpt naar diezelfde muzikale invloeden die we al in zijn vorige album zagen (en die hij toen ook al niet zelf kende). Art Zoyd, Univers Zero, King Crimson, Aranis… Het zijn de usual suspects in dit hoekje van de prog zeg maar. Toch blijf ik het bijzonder vinden, en dat wil ik absoluut nogmaals benadrukken, dat Salim Ghazi Saeedi eigenlijk tot voor de vergelijkingen van de critici nog nooit van deze bands had gehoord. En dat terwijl zijn muziek hier helemaal in thuishoort. Natuurlijk vergeet hij, net als op de voorganger, nergens zijn Perzische roots te benadrukken.

In zijn geheel is “Human Encounter” een vrij kort album geworden en dat is voor mij meteen het grootste punt van kritiek op dit album. We zien erg leuke en sterke nummers hier op basis van boeiende ideeën die ook goed uitgewerkt zijn, maar die misschien iets te kort zijn uitgewerkt. Voordeel is natuurlijk wel dat de muzikale ideeën nergens te lang zijn uitgebreid, maar ik denk dat ze toch vaak wat langer kunnen, of zelfs mogen zijn.

Ondanks dat kleine puntje van kritiek moet ik gewoon toegeven dat dit een erg goed album is. Salim Ghazi Saeedi blijft verrassen met boeiende, authentieke chamber-rock / avant-prog en dat met een boeiend verhaal achter het album. Aanrader!

[JAPANESE] Human Encounter, Too Much Music Stuff, Kazuhiko Shibuya, Mar 2012 [permalink]

☆Salim Ghazi Saeedi / Human Encounter (A "Salim Ghazi Saeedi" Production UPC : 885767807099) '11
 再びSalim Ghazi Saeedi氏より戴いてしまったCD。半年くらい前に貰ったにもかかわらず、今頃Reviewしていることにまずはお詫び致します。
 基本的には前作の流れを汲む作風のインストであり、Dark SideとBright Sideと2つのテーマを持って作品の陰陽をつけており、所々ハッとするフレーズが散りばめられている。"You Many One Devils"のアヴァンギャルドな展開は最大の聴き所。しかし、完成形と言うよりも、まだ制作過程の途中のような曲の印象もアリ、この辺が非常に勿体ないような気がする。曲を絞ってもっと練り上げたモノを聴きたい。前にも書いたが、自国で育んできた民俗音楽を最大限に押し出した楽曲を聴いてみたい。
 今回もこの場を借りてCDを提供してくれましたSalim Ghazi Saeedi氏とNY在住のSalimさんの友人に感謝致します。

Human Encounter Review,, Windhawk, Apr 2012 [permalink]

Iranian composer and multi-instrumentalist Salim Ghazi SAEEDI first appeared a few years back as one of the core members of Arashk, a unit that issued four productions prior to entering a state of hiatus. Since then Salim has opted to go solo, and "Human Encounters" is his second production as a standalone artist, released one year after his debut "Iconophobic". Salim Ghazi Saeedi's second solo production "Human Encounter" appears to be something of a paradigm shift for this artist, taking a sharp left turn away from art rock and progressive metal into the jazz universe. And documents how intriguing compositions can be when acoustic bass, piano and percussion are used in an efficient and fairly innovative manner, and how well suited eastern oriented acoustic guitar motifs are in supplementing this core foundation too I might add. A highly intriguing disc to my ears, but I suspect that one needs a prior interest in jazz or this artist to be swayed by its charms.

Human Encounter Review,, Olav Martin Bjørnsen, May 2012 [permalink]

Prolusion. Iranian composer and multi-instrumentalist Salim Ghazi SAEEDI first appeared a few years back as one of the core members of Arashk, a unit that issued four productions prior to entering a state of hiatus. Since then Salim has opted to go solo, and "Human Encounters" is his second production as a standalone artist, released one year after his debut "Iconophobic".

Analysis. Salim is an artist I've followed more or less closely in the last few years. Both as an artist and as a person, we've had a fair amount of communication going at various points in time. It's always intriguing to come across people with a depth in spirit and personality, and whose outlook on life is colored by a rather different background than your own. I've followed his artistic excursions with interest, from the initial days of Arashk as an instrumental progressive metal band, through the growing inclusion of folk music elements to his creations and now with his most recent disc "Human Encounter" his journey taking him into a rather different musical landscape. The metal part of his repertoire is toned down and out on this occasion, with just brief fleeting flirtations remaining, Salim opting for jazz as his style of choice this time around, taking on a relatively simplistic variety of jazz art, one where the acoustic bass and piano make out the core elements, with percussion catering for momentum and inserts of acoustic and electric guitar to flavor the proceedings, with occasional additions of digital strings for effect. But while the instrumentation is kind of basic the songs themselves are anything but effectively utilizing instrumental nuances and effects to color his journeys in subtly but distinctly different colors, providing time and space for occasional free form tinged and atonal effects adding a further dimension of interest to his creations. As this is a disc exploring emotional associations to memories and experiences, some of these pieces are bound to be of limited interest to outsiders. They are personal experiences given a personal musical guise after all, and some of them are bound to be cemented in a deeply personal understanding due to that. As is the case with the fragmented, haunting and desperate prolog and the brief, chaotic piece crafted in memory of Kurt Cobain, at least to this mind and this set of ears. But apart from those two instances I found myself both intrigued and occasionally mesmerized by Salim's jazz-oriented journeys and musical recollections. From the seedy cinematic jazz of Lustful Forest of Flesh to the ominous frantic pace of You Many One Devils and the more subtle, subdued terror I associated with Sadistic Teacher. As far as track names go, City Bombardment was the most puzzling for me, this composition one that made me think about an abandoned city and a state of desolation and fright as one might find just prior to the event that has given the composition its name. This disc has been divided into to halves, where the first 6 pieces make out the dark side and the following six the bright side. And while the former mostly stay put within a basic bass, piano and percussion jazz construction, the second half sports compositions with a wider variety of additional effects added to the proceedings. More often than not this is in the shape of wandering acoustic guitar, light in tone and with what I tend to describe as an eastern sound, a timbre and tonality I tend to associate with folk music from the Middle East and Asia, or, as I guess is the case here, Persia. And while the guitar, also on the few occasions where Salim opts to use electric guitar for soloing and riffs, adds a lighter and generally more positive sheen to the bright side of the disc, the songs themselves also tend to include darker undercurrents. And in the brief compositions dedicated to Ali Moini, these brooding elements actually dominate to such an extent that I'm left wondering under what circumstances Salim and Ali got to know each other, and how well (or not) life is with the latter. I could most likely elaborate further on each of the twelve pieces Salim has assembled into this disc. But I'll leave further associations and reflections to future listeners of this production. And this is an album that invites reflection and association, if that hasn't been established already. And while clocking in at just over thirty minutes only, I suspect most listeners will find that there's room for a great many thoughts and notions to appear within that time-span, and that a longer album perhaps might have been just a bit too much.

Conclusion. Salim Ghazi Saeedi's second solo production "Human Encounter" appears to be something of a paradigm shift for this artist, taking a sharp left turn away from art rock and progressive metal into the jazz universe. And documents how intriguing compositions can be when acoustic bass, piano and percussion are used in an efficient and fairly innovative manner, and how well suited eastern oriented acoustic guitar motifs are in supplementing this core foundation too I might add. A highly intriguing disc to my ears, but I suspect that one needs a prior interest in jazz or this artist to be swayed by its charms.

[FRENCH] Human Encounter Review, Highlands Magazine #57, Axel Scheyder, Aug 2012 [permalink]

Avec ICONOPHOBIC (chroniqué dans notre magazine), SALIM GHAZI SAEEDI nous proposait un 1er album prometteur, sombre et très personnel. Si ce dernier n’était pas dénué de qualité, son intérêt fut limité par un repli sur soi qui fermait au fil des titres la porte à l’auditeur. Mais loin d’être inintéressant pour autant. C’est avec une réelle curiosité que HUMAN ENCOUNTER nous parvient avec son concept ambitieux : relater, parler de l’être humain à travers ses différentes facettes, à l’image du Ying et du yang, en montrant autant le côté brillant que le coté obscur de celui-ci.

C’est d’autant plus ambitieux que cet album est purement instrumental, entièrement composé, joué et interprété par SALIM GHAZI SAAEDI (Piano, guitare, batterie et contrebasse). Divisé logiquement en 2 parties, Dark Side & Bright Side, la musique et l’ensemble de cet album seront-ils plus accessibles que ceux de son prédécesseur ? Notons que sa durée très courte, 33 minutes, est assez rare pour le signaler ! Le prologue, Human Encounter Prologue, nous plonge dans l’univers de SAAEDI de plein pied : harmonies dissonantes et mélanges d’ambiances, de sons et d’instruments. Nous sommes dans la lignée directe du précédent opus. Difficile de se faire un avis car on a plus la sensation d’écouter un collage de divers bribes de morceaux qu’un réel titre à part entière. Lustful Feast Of Flesh se révèle ainsi le premier « vrai » titre et il est plutôt réussi : Mené par un piano aussi jazzy qu’improvisé, Lustful nous embarque dans le cerveau torturé de SALIM pour notre plus grand plaisir, regrettant sa durée limitée qui nous coupe de cet bel élan créatif. Néanmoins, You Many One Devils poursuit cette voie de jazzrock free, avec l’apparition de la guitare électrique pour enrichir cet univers. Tout aussi réussi, se terminant toujours aussi brusquement, nous comprenons alors que nous sommes devant des fulgurances de l’esprit, sans réel début ni de fin. Evidemment et à l’instar de ICONOPHOBIC, la musique reste difficile d’accès mais cette fois-ci, une unité de son s’en dégage pour nous offrir une plus grande cohérence musicale ainsi qu’une portée vers l’auditeur plus grande. Les amateurs de RIO (rock in opposition) par exemple y trouveront assurément leur bonheur !

Lonesomeness, Sadistic Teacher et City Bombardment complètent cette première partie Dark Side sans fausse note. Encore une fois, il est dommage que les titres ne soient pas plus développés mais l’assemblage de ces 5 morceaux forment un grand titre aussi réussi qu’intriguant. La Bright Side peut commencer, en rendant cette fois-ci un hommage à plusieurs personnalités connues ou non. For Eugene, Distilling The Delicacy change un peu d’ambiance, pour une plus grande prédominance de la guitare à la sonorité arabique et une musique plus rock que jazz.

Encore une réussite ! For Ali… Est plus complexe, moins mélodique que son prédécesseur, et tend davantage vers l’univers d’ICONOPHOBIC. Difficile d’accès et plus anecdotique, il se révèle un brin décevant, comme For Kurt.., le titre le plus court et aussi le plus faible de cet album. Heureusement, For Thelonious revient vers ce Jazz-rock RIO plaisant et agréable, pour une musique toujours autant hypnotique que surprenante. For Jeremy… et Unknown Red-Skirt Girl terminent parfaitement ce HUMAN ENCOUNTER. Avec ce deuxième opus, SALIM GHAZI SAEEDI a fait un pas de géant pour nous offrir une musique détonante, complexe mais très réussie. Sa courte durée est à double tranchant : elle permet d’un côté de ne pas lasser, de resserrer le propos et d’accrocher davantage l’auditoire mais d’un autre, elle frustre par un manque de développement qui aurait pu enrichir l’oeuvre. Amis de mélodies marquées et fortes, passez votre chemin car ici, le cérébral, la fulgurance prennent le pas sur la facilité et l’émotion directe. Mais pour peu qu’on veuille faire un petit effort, ce voyage vaut le coup et nous laisse espérer que du bon pour la suite. Le genre de petites perles qu’on aime découvrir. 15,5/20 Axel SCHEYDER

Iconophobic (2010)

Iconophobic Review, Vents Magazine, RJ Frometa, Apr 2014 [permalink]

Salim Ghazi Saeedi comes with another álbum released a while back ago, but is so good that we need to talk about it. Music is about this, to tell stories, personal experiences, etc and share them with people that need to be understand what surround them.
It´s true that in his hometown rock music is not common, but this rebel and adventure man decided to make the difference, take risks and create something personal and new, we could noticed it in the last review I wrote for his other record, actually it reallyworth to discover what is behind his music.
The álbum “Iconophobic” released in 2010 is made of  13 tracks, a fresh album with strong and full of electric guitar, bass, etc. Much better than his previous record, in my opinion. It depends in your own interest.
As we know is instrumental rock music, it´s necessary to take the time and enjoy the sound.
So hope you like it and don´t forget to tell me what do you think?
And let the jouney begins!

Iconophobic and Human Encounter review, Exposé Online, Henry Schneider, Apr 2013 [permalink]

When you think of Iran, all kinds of thoughts and images related to current events may be conjured up, but not progressive music. Apparently there is a small musical community there, as evidenced by these two recent releases by Iranian guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Salim Ghazi Saeedi. To tell you the truth, I did not know what to expect when I received these two discs to review. But I was not prepared for the sounds I heard coming out of my speakers. Each disc is a unique suite of intelligent, superbly orchestrated, and well-executed instrumentals. Iconophobic is Salim's fourth release and is neo-classical. There are lots of strings, electric guitars, synths, and minimal piano. Salim is an excellent guitarist and you can easily detect influences of Fripp and others. There are 13 songs on Iconophobic, each about three minutes in length, that tend to form one long suite. In contrast, Human Encounter contains 12 songs of similar length, but this time the music is progressive jazz. There are similarities between the two in Salim's minimal use of piano arrangements. Sometimes the music is aggressive, but mostly it is contemplative. There is a subtle middle-eastern influence that permeates his compositions, but for the most part you would be hard pressed to identify its origins. Overall these are two quite listenable and enjoyable discs that will appeal to most of the readership.

Iconophobic Review, Terrascope Online, Phil McMullen, Dec 2010 [permalink]

It is a rare occurence to receive parcels from Iran, but it happens and i'm glad, especially when the music is as inventive and creative as the tracks to be found on “Iconophobic”, the latest album from Salim Ghazi Saeedi. Working in the Prog/experimental arena, the album contains 13 tracks, all of which are beatifully constructed, shades of Zappa, Crimson and Ian Carr, cropping up along the way. With its middle eastern sheen, “And My Heart Aches...” is a haunting piece that is composed with style, whilst the electronic pulse of “Transcend Ecstasy with Ecstasy” relies more on feel than technique, although it is still arranged with great skill. Unusually for this type of music, nearly every track is under 4 minutes in length, meaning there is a great deal of variation in the sounds and textures contained within the excellent disc. (

Iconophobic Review, Vital Weekly, #767, Dolf Mulder, Jan 2011 [permalink]

This is the first time ever I review a release from Iran. Autodidact Salim Ghazi Saeedi comes from Teheran where he started playing guitar in 1999 growing up in an environment where any new, western music was hardly available. Nevertheless Saeedi found his way in embracing rock music, as his new record exemplifies. Kurt Cobain was far a long time his musical hero. But in nothing his music now reminds of Nirvana or Cobain. He released three albums up till now albums "Abrahadabra" (2006), "Sovereign" (2007) and "Ustuqus-al-Uss" (2008) under the name of Arashk. For his new one, "Iconophobic", he is composer, guitarist, keyboard player, drums arranger, mixing engineer and producer all at once. So in all respects a true solo effort. And probably for this reason he released this one under his own name. Saeedi has a very intuitive way of composing music, and if you want to put a label on it, progressive music is the most suitable one, according to Saeedi himself. Personally I prefer terms as avant rock or chamber rock music. Anyway, this records woke up many memories of R.I.O.-oriented music. His compositions often have a classical influence that make this music related to the music of Art Zoyd and Univers Zero. The music has from time to time the same darkness as we know from Univers Zero. But in many aspects it is also very different. I think it is hard to pin this one down. Making this instrumental album even more exceptional. No wonder this music also has qualities that make it eastern like in 'Ásiyen'. I think we have an original talent here. His neo-classical compositions are well-structured and original. He is an interesting and skilled guitar player with a very own sound. The balance between guitar and computer generated drums, etc is okay. Well crafted I must say. Alas he has no band around him, as that would make his music more physical. One could not imagine this one comes from Teheran. But probably I have to correct my limited view on what is happening there.

Iconophobic Review,, Olav Martin Bjørnsen, Feb 2011 [permalink]

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.

Iconophobic Review, Roman Midnight Music, Aaron Joy, Mar 2011 [permalink]

I won't lie & say that when Salim Ghazi Saeedi's music came to me I was immediately intrigued because I never get any submissions from Iran & I'm like many others in the world who have heard about the influence that rock music has on people, in an almost mystical way, in the Middle East who suffer under musical & cultural censorship. Luckily SGS's music held up to my microscrope being interesting & unique & I was happy to request a promo copy of Iconophobic, his debut solo release following three albums with his prog-rock band Arashk. This collection of thirteen original instrumentals, combining only guitar, keyboards & some occasional sound effects, has been compared to King Crimson guitarist/frontman Robert Fripp & the comparison is not for nothing ... though John Zorn's movie soundtracks works as a better comparison to my ears. SGS largely aims not for the standard approach to melodic guitar instrumental songs with riffs, layers & distorted solos, though they do make an appearence (for example "Asiyeh" & "Give My Childhood Back") but more for a meandering journey of guitar-focused instrumental landscapes that are anything but riffs & include symphonic violin-sounding keyboards, acoustic piano, light percussion & hand clapping. It's as if he walked through his town in Iran & make songs up based on what he was seeing, which might not be so far from reality. There's overly dark songs such as "The Songful Song Of The Songbirds" which is a representation of iconophobia itself or the hatred and/or fear of religious art that are digging into the uncensored alleys of the city, while the opening "Composer's Laughter" with its synthesized orchestra background is indeed an autobiographical meeting of personal demons with loving laughter, to the whimsical "Don't You See The Cheerful Rainbow" that's reminiscient of kids playing in a park with no worries. There's a level of improvisational feeling here as though SGS is allowing the city to take him where it musically will. Though, this is a concept album eliciting a pyschological story of alienation so the city is a muse not a controlling entity. To this end SGS doesn't limit himself to songs that feature a repeating steady drumbeat in 2/4, verse/chorus/verse/chorus format or even a typical rhythm-melody-harmony relationship. He lets the soundscape travel where it will to go with delightful originality as the scenes in his iconophobic movie progress ... as if this really is a soundtrack. Movies don't have characters repeating the same lines & actions over & over so why should the music do that?

Iconophobic Review, Harmonic Lizard, Todders (Adrian Jones), Nov 2010 [permalink]

Iconophobic is an instrumental concept album on “fear of the world of imagery”, composed and performed for electric guitar, bass and synthesizers by Salim, hiring various elements of classical, electronic and progressive rock music to communicate artist's extreme feelings: Satire, bizarre phobias, ecstatic joy and embryonic love are themes of this daydream...

“Pictorial rock”, Salim says “is a term I use for my music that is usually based on series of mental images, a nightmare or maybe dreams of a sound sleep..." In this regard the album is accompanied by visualizations. “... However that as a listener, you have to wait for the pictures to materialize in your mind!” Salim adds.

I have included the above paragraphs from the official press release just to give a flavour of the albums content and help you digest the review in a bite size piece.

The albums running length in total is just over 37 minutes and contains 13 tracks with none of them extending over 3 ½ minutes. When reviewing instrumental albums it can also be very difficult to convey the atmosphere present during a recording as it is a vital ingredient but I will attempt to do that as best as I can.

We begin with “Composer`s Laughter” and we are immediately taken into what seems a rather dark place with a menacing piano and orchestral sound bites. It is a very dramatic opening and as the track progresses you are taken off into a strange world with some hope given right at the end of this piece.

A quirky opening few bars and we are invited once again into the world of “A Satire On Hell” it contains a short burst of guitar before it continues it almost military beat with more orchestral fills and effective keyboard and bass lines. The guitar dominates the unusual sound bites and complex patterns of this piece. It is strangely addictive but I can`t explain why.

“And My Heart Aches Like 100 Aching Hearts” erupts with some sound fx and a huge guitar sound which then moves into a pulsating hypnotic rhythm before more keyboards and very effective ambient sounds begin to dominate. The track then goes full circle before it close with more questions than real answers.

A very crisp bass line opens up the next track “Asiyeh” which is complimented by a very distorted guitar and atmospheric keyboards and a low percussion backing which lays very low in the mix. Clapping hands direct the rhythm of this piece along with dramatic swathes of piano bring it to a finish.

Another sinister opening to “The Songful Song Of Songbirds” before it gallops off with very light but quickly played percussion into a more melodic but still very quirky and eccentric time signatures. Some excellent guitar playing with some hard hitting riffs and greatly to the structure of the composition before the doom laden piano returns for a very quick appearance. The bass guitar finishes the track with another fine performance.

“Transcend Ecstasy With Ecstasy” opens up with a lot of electronic percussion and a heavy bass driven synth, this continues the length of the track and is very effective in providing the track with its identity. There are numerous sound effects which you will have to listen for in the background and as with all of the tracks so far repeated listens will reward you with a greater understanding of the sonic landscape that has been unfolding.

The excellently named “Don`t You See The Cheerful Rainbow” begins with a very cheerful few opening bars before it is calmed with additional instruments added to the mix. There are some superb orchestrated moments peppered throughout the song with a number of different time changes and even a telephone. The bass guitar and percussion really work as one on this track and are the highlight for me.

“Music Is Haram” sees Salim at his best I feel, it contains all the best parts of his song writing skill and playing really conveys the ambience and subtleties that the track titles hint at. Dramatic stabs of piano a haunting guitar sound all combine and provide a real feeling of him being at one with his music.

Another haunting beginning with very moody orchestrated keyboards opens “ Dance In Solitude” and yet again we have numerous time changes within this song, you seem to at points understand where you think the music will take you but just as you do it goes off on a musical journey with you trying to catch up.

With such a dramatic title of “Eternal Melancholy Of Loving Women” you would expect maybe a slow ballad or a tale of lost love forever forgotten. We have violin and piano used very effectively to portray this very short but highly atmospheric cameo I will leave you to decide which one.

“Give My Childhood Back” this is probably something we all have said at some point,I am unsure of Salim`s upbringing but I don`t think I would like to be in his world sometimes. It has a very dark undercurrent throughout with a very moody bass line and keyboard fills along with a very crisp sounding guitar, it evokes memories of a far off place. One part mystical, but completely intriguing.

A more upbeat opening salvo with a glorious piano section and even more keyboard strings, open up the next track “Breast Milk”. I love the orchestration on this piece. As it opens up you are invited into the more instantly accessible world that this melodic pieces represents. It probably is the most instantly accessible track that you will hear on the album to my ears anyway.

We move finally on to the last track on the album “I am Beautiful, Are You Beautiful” it has a beautiful bass line with more foot tapping percussion at its heart initially with some really heartfelt guitar playing adding to the composition without ever sounding overbearing or out of place. It has numerous trademark time changes and some beautiful orchestration yet again with a real hypnotic beat driving it home to the finish.

This album really surprised me in its content and the way the quirky time signatures and effects combine to provide a real unique progressive instrumental album.

It requires an investment in musical listening time to gain the full effect of this album but for those of you who can manage that you will be rewarded with a rich listening experience.


Iconophobic Review, Music Street Journal, Issue 85, Gary Hill, Dec 2010 [permalink]

Iran might not be the first place you’d think of as a hot bed of progressive rock. It is the home of Salim Ghazi Saeedi, though. This release finds him wandering an intriguing path between traditional progressive rock, chamber music and the sounds of both Djam Karet and Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. In many ways it would be more natural to hear this kind of music coming from a French performer than an Iranian one. Where ever Saeedi calls home, though, the music is intriguing and never fails to entertain.
Track by Track Review
Composer's Laughter

This cut is very classical in nature. It’s based heavily on piano and quite chamber music oriented. The latter portions of this short piece have more rock music built into them.
A Satire on Hell
I can make out a lot of Red era King Crimson on this, but there are other sounds, as well. It has bits of electronic music and classical. It’s more dynamic, working through several variants and alterations. It turns more towards pure classical near the end.
And My Heart Aches Like 100 Aching Hearts
Many of the same musical leanings are present here as on the last piece. There are definitely some Middle-Eastern sounds, too, but this focuses more on the electronica kind of atmospheric music. There is a detour into crowd sounds and other things at the end.
There’s almost a bluesy rock meets Middle Eastern sound to this. It works towards more pure progressive rock at times, too. It moves out into some seriously crunchy territory later, too. We also get an excursion that’s more like RIO later.
The Songful Song of Songbirds
While in many ways the general musical concepts here are unchanged, this piece has some space rock and even a little surf music built into it. It’s one of the most intriguing pieces on show and at times makes me think of Djam Karet.
Transcend Ecstasy with Ecstasy
More electronic oriented than anything we’ve heard to this point, this number is quite experimental and rather intriguing. It’s not all that strong compared to some of the others, but the variety that it lends adds some definite positive marks. It does get a more rock oriented reworking later with the more prominent appearance of crunchy guitar.
Don't You See the Cheerful Rainbow?
There’s a bouncy little movement that’s kind of weird and yet fun on this. It’s alternated with (and later blended with) some more rock oriented music. This one has some definite RIO-like sounds, but is also rather like Djam Karet.
Music is Haram
Mix a cool rock like progression with jazz and classical stylings and some surf music and you’ve got a good idea of what this piece sounds like. There is an ominous element to some of it. There is a noisy burst at the end.
Dance in Solitude
Starting quite sedate and somehow a little spooky, this gets quite powerful and involved later. There is, I believe, some theremin on this piece. It’s got a definite classically oriented arrangement. This tune is one of the tastiest on show and reminds one at times of Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. There is a rocking section with a smoking hot guitar solo built into the middle of this thing.
Eternal Melancholy of Loving Women
In keeping with the title, this is appropriately melancholic. It is mellow and much more classical in nature, but there is some more experimental music built in to it. Again, comparisons to Birdsongs of the Mesozoic wouldn’t be entirely inappropriate. This is a short track.
Give My Childhood Back
The early portions of this have a lot of electronic music. As it builds, though, other things join and this again, at times, feels a little like Birdsongs. There are some middle Eastern elements to be found here, but there is also a bit of a weird old school rock to some of the guitar soloing.
There are no major changes in terms of the musical styles, but this track is certainly its own unique being. It’s another tasty track. There’s a cool fast paced melodic movement later that’s piano driven.
I Am Beautiful, Are You Beautiful?
This has a lot of real rock and roll built into it. It’s quite a cool tune that makes me think of Djam Karet quite a bit.

Iconophobic Review, DPRP, 2010, Volume 67, John O’Boyle, Dec 2010 [permalink]

Album number four Iconophobic by Salim Ghazi Saeedi, someone whom I have never come across before. What’s even more unique is that he is from Iran, which again is not the first place you automatically think of for prog. His other three albums are for the completists out there ’06 Abrahadabra, ’07 Sovereign, and ’08 Ustuqus-al-Uss in the band Arashk.

Saeedi has been compared to the likes of Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, John Zorn, Patrick O’Hearn, Mike Oldfield and The Enid; although with this release I certainly don’t hear any of the last two.

The literal meaning of Iconophobic is to have an extreme hatred, dread or fear of images, so as an album title it was something that really caught my attention and intrigued me. Iconophobic is a concept album about fearing the world of imagery. Has that grabbed your imagination yet? Saeedi quotes that

"I don't know if it is really a psychological problem but I liked the idea of morbid alienation toward images, icons and in general, reality."

Has he grabbed your imagination yet? If the answer is no now, then you are probably not going to be interested in this album; but at least go to his MySpace page and give him a listen, you just never know. On further investigation, Saeedi presents a mix of avant garde, electronic, experimentation, jazz fusion and Middle Eastern sounds mixed into most of the instrumentals presented, being an album that really does require some work. This is not an immediate album by any stretch of the imagination, in fact after many listens; you still have to work with it, but it still makes this such an intriguing album. I am not too sure as to whether Saeedi is being clever for the sake of being clever, because at times this does sound too clever for its own good.

From the instrumental titles, you can certainly see that this is going to make you think, especially when you read the subtext to the title, which is what makes me think that this at times is too clever for its own good. A few good examples of this would be Breast-Milk (When you feel insecure and naked) or Composer’s Laughter (A rival between million hopes and one guffaw)?

One thing for sure though is that I do like what has been recorded musically, but is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. There are some very interesting approaches, punctuations of electronics mixed in with some interesting sounding guitar work, some stunning bass and drum interaction which never really takes centre stage; in fact this is true about all of the instrumentation work. The tracks don’t flow as such, what they have been though is meticulously put together, as Saeedi is not afraid of experimenting, creating a proficient use of soundstages. The standout tracks for my money are Don’t You See The Cheerful Rainbow?, Music Is Haram, Eternal Melancholy Of Loving Women and I Am Beautiful, Are you Beautiful?. All which feature some nice time changes, being peppered with some nice orchestration.

You need to tread carefully if you are entering the Iconophobic world of Salim Ghazi Saeedi. You have been warned.

Conclusion: 5 out of 10

Iconophobic Review, ProgNaut , Lee Henderson, Oct 2010 [permalink]

These 13 compositions by Salim Ghazi Saeedi are a nice collection of very interesting mix of progressive electronic rock and avant garde classical chamber on keyboards, guitar, and strings with some effects and rhythm machine ( which at times sounds very much like real percussion ). The first thing I noticed is there is not a dull moment on the disc. With just under 38 minutes to do 13 songs, you might imagine the ingredients are very rich and plentiful. I was kept surprised throughout my first listen and more intrigued and very much at attention by my third listen to ‘Iconophobic’. I am curious to know who all Salim has listened to in his life. As I hear so many sounds ranging over the likes of Art Zoyd, Univers Zero, David Bedford, Richard Pinhas, ZNR and Mecano ( a lesser known Dutch band from the 1980's that began more new wave but then evolved to a brilliant semi industrial neo classical pop unit ).

Salim was born in Iran in 1981 and at age 29, he sounds much more adapt to the French/Belgium electronic progressive rock school of the 70's that stand up so well to this day. This is actually his 4th release, as he played in a band called Arashk on the previous three releases. This CD sounds like a complete band and Salim plays all the instruments, records, mixes and produces it himself. You do hear the definite eastern sound mixed in with most of his songs. At times the guitar comes off a bit trippy while bringing in that Iranian mode but never ever takes center stage. He also uses the lead guitar with the more glissando fuzz ( like Steve Hillage ) in a couple of pieces. His classical influence is very strong on the majority of ‘Iconophobic’, however there is even a strong jazz fusion cut that comes in the middle of one of those classical dominated compositions. The listener is really served quite a variety of textures and finely crafted songs throughout. I was both surprised and pleased with this entire recording.

Iconophobic Review, Sea of Tranquility, Steven Reid, Sep 2010 [permalink]

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.

Iconophobic Review, Aural Innovations #42, Carlton Crutcher, Jun 2011 [permalink]

Instrumental progressive rock from Iran, Salim Ghazi Saeedi is an Iranian composer who also plays the instruments, records and mixes them, designs the artwork, publishes and promotes the CD's and designs/handles the website. COMPOSER'S LAUGHTER: So far so good, odd symphonic music, now a clock ticking. A SATIRE ON HELL: Circus music with drums, yes, what does it all mean? In the liner notes Salim explains "Philosophy... refers to incessant posing of questions that have no answers."... but there is some wacky Zappa-esque guitar. AND MY HEART ACHES LIKE 100 ACHING HEARTS: Funky pop soundtrack music, pleasant and interesting so far. ASIYEH: Guitar song, some nice playing and production, it's hard to categorize this music, it sounds somewhat dated like from the late 80's/early 90's but also sounds kind of original. THE SONGFUL SONG OF SONGBIRDS: It's obvious Salim has a good sense of humour with these titles... cool murky sound... how can I say anything bad about Iranian rock?!?! Actually this is my favorite track so far!! TRANSCEND ECSTASY WITH ECSTASY: Some funky techno muzik, kind of a cool track, not the Zappa guitar so much! DON'T YOU SEE THE CHEERFUL RAINBOW: Back to the nutty zany Zappa sound, not really my thing... now the phone ring, this is soooo Kraazzyy!! MUSIC IS HARAM: Doomy techno rock, not bad, kinda cool. DANCE IN SOLITUDE: More pleasantness, this is probably very different for Iran?!? GIVE MY CHILDREN BACK: Now there's someone knocking at the door, pretty crazy or pretty scary!!!??! BREAST-MILK: Yeah, breast milk music, about time! Groovy keys and drum machine! Promising, if Salim keeps developing along these lines he could really do something. I AM BEAUTIFUL, ARE YOU BEAUTIFUL?: Why yes I am Salim and thanks for asking.

Iconophobic Review, Leicester Bangs, Rob F., Jun 2011 [permalink]

I don’t get to hear much Iranian prog rock, and I can hardly state that the situation’s been rectified simply because I’ve obtained a copy of Salim Ghazi Saeedi’s “Iconophobic” CD - but I do feel like I’ve made a solid start.

I don’t know too much about Saeedi, or the Iranian prog ‘scene’, or even if one exists, but if this excellent collection is somehow representative, there’s a whole Western World missing out on something quite captivating. Saeedi has fused symphonic rock with something foreign and unfamiliar, and the only record I can think to compare it with is Anne Dudley and Jaz Coleman’s “Songs From The Victorious City”, in the same way it so successfully merges two traditions.

Of course, like all proper prog records, “Iconophobic” has a concept. The album, which is wholly instrumental, has been written from an infant's point of view. The result is complex and riveting rather than childish, with mostly just guitars and sweeps of electronica providing resonance. It does include some beautifully evocative titles with sounds to match. “A Satire On Hell” relies on stuttered percussion, Eastern groove and almost metal strings. “Asiyeh” wouldn’t sound out of place on an Ethiopiques compilation – until the rock guitar kicks in, and “Breast-Milk”, about nakedness and insecurity, is paranoid and fearful, with dark piano chords scattering trepidation and dread.

Iconophobic Review, ProgSnobs, Aaron Weiss, 13 Dec 2010 [permalink]

Iconophobic is an instrumental album that is far more focused than most releases by self-produced individual artists, yet each of its compositions offer unfocused melodies that appear to be controlled chaos to your ears’ benefit. The album never gives you cheap thrills that you would expect and the short songs often have a feel of jamming to them, despite their construction being that of one person, Iranian musician Salim Ghazi Saeedi.

The first two songs offer the listener a clean and simple way to enter into Saeedi‘s musical world, particularly with the ultra short “Composer’s Laughter”, which features moments that captures the song’s namesake. “The Songful Song of Songbirds” has the jam feel to it, praise for a one-man operation. “Don’t You See the Cheerful Rainbow” has a playful and slightly humorous quality to it.

Iconophobic could be a solid creative force if a live group of musicians performed the song, live shows could prove to be very powerful given these songs’ missing dynamics that often leave the tracks flat against the speaker. The ambient soundscapes have cinematic melodies that have this psychological thriller ideal to them.

Tracks, so brief, most of the time they run right into each other. Each track changes melodies and focus so often, that without looking at your player’s display, you’d think that one song could go on forever. Each song changes keys, time signatures, and melodies so often, it is as if the composer founds hundreds of small moments of eureka, and could never stick with just one riff at a time—supporting my opinion that Iconophobic is a collection of thoughts and musings of a talent practicing musician.

Has an early Porcupine Tree (On The Sunday Life, Up The Downstair) feel to them, but as if the composer bi-polar tendencies. Iconophobic‘s offerings make so many abrupt changes that often the moments worthy of celebration, pass and leave the musical narrative, more often than not, never to return again, as if they never existed at all. The mix is adequate, cleverly laying tracks down to create a jam-feel as stated before but missing the dynamic space necessary to power the heaviest and most intense moments—the moments that create urgency and a propensity to grab you as the music insinuates.

Iconophobic, beyond a collection of thoughts and musings by a sole composer, is an album with moderate replay value, a great disc to be played to clear and challenge the mind.

Iconophobic Review, Spiritual Prog, Oct 2010 [permalink]

If you are looking for some truly exotic instrumental progressive rock, then look no further than the new release by Iranian guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Salim Ghazi Saeedi, Iconophobic. Equal parts fusion, classical, heavy rock, and Persian -- orchestral, whimsical, and intricate come to mind when describing this new CD. The self-taught Saeedi from Tehran, Iran, is equally adept on the keyboard or guitar, and is reminiscent of a Middle Eastern Mike Oldfield. Iconophobic is his first solo album. He previously composed and released three other albums with his band Arashk: Abrahadabra (2006), Sovereign (2007), and Ustuqus-al-Uss (2008).

Using sampled strings, hand claps, bass, keyboards, programmed drums, and electric guitar, and sound effects, Saeedi has woven an intricate and colorful musical Persian tapestry. Highlight tracks on Iconophobic include the upbeat Asiyeh (watch his really cool video of the song here:, the driving Songful Song of Songbirds, the discordant Music is Haram (some Muslims believe music is a sin (haram), and in fact Iran’s president banned Western Music), the lovely Dance in Solitude. Iconophobic is vibrant and refreshing, making a fine soundtrack to whatever you are doing.

Sound samples and other information are available on Salim’s website:

Iconophobic Review, The Progressive Rock Files, Jerry Lucky, Mar 2011 [permalink]

Short Take Review: Salim Ghazi Saeedi – Iconophobic (2010 Independent Recording) There’s not much Progressive Rock coming out of the Middle East which is why this CD is going to stand out. Iconophobic is an instrumental concept album created by multi-instrumentalist Saeedi who’s based in Tehran, Iran. This is his fourth CD in a career that dates back to 2006. There are 13 tracks, most of which are in the three-minute mark, Each track comes off a little quirky, with many minor notes and chords cascading over keyboard strings or a flurry of distorted guitar notes is interrupted by some ethnic styled percussion or clean surf styled electric guitar layered over jazzy piano runs. One moment the music is upbeat and playful and the next it’s haunting and dissonant. It’s a fascinating and accomplished set of music that goes from being slightly symphonic, to trance, to ambient and then to something more jazzy and improvised. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. This is a very adventurous and experimental recording that will have instant appeal to fans of electric chamber rock. Check out more at

Stave Magazine's Review on Iconophobic, 2010 by Christy Claxton [permalink]

It's been awhile since I heard from Salim. We fell out of touch like internet friends and associates will do. But falling out of touch with Salim is different than falling out of touch with a musician who lives in L.A. or Paris. Salim lives in Tehran. I was introduced to his music and his budding insight four years ago when he contacted me on MySpace. At that time, I thought he was a brave soul to play such raw, progressive rock music in a country known for its rigid moral laws. He was a young man who had come by some tapes of Nirvana and other western music, fallen in love with it, and along with a couple other guys, created his own rock expression. As we exchanged emails, I came to understand that the American view of Iran is not representative all Iranians' reality. Salim is an intelligent, thoughtful, middle of the road guy just digging some good rock music. What made him so endearing to me was his love of the story of Babel. He wrote to me that after the destruction of Babel, there was only one common word left among the people: Abrahadabra. Music.

So we don't live in similar cultures, but we share music. In fact, all peoples of the world share understanding through music.

Now, fast forward to today. Salim has released fourth body of work. Instead of a collaborative effort that includes his band, Arashk, on album number 4, it's all Salim. He's taken it into the studio to create and release a one-man piece of art. And let me tell you! It is ART. It is a musical dialogue from the front lines of one of the most enigmatic countries in the world as told through the creative spirit of a young Iranian man trapped in oppression he can't freely overcome. It is the psychological fear, rage and pain of a manufactured culture that has crushed the beauty of one of the loveliest, most significant cultures in the history of the world. Salim brings it to the rest of the world with “Iconophobic.”

I love the title of the album because my visuals of Iran are that of posters and paintings of clerics and leaders and anti-American murals. But the title also stirs my own distaste for iconography. ...bumper stickers that push skewed politics, religious statues of the tortured Jesus that are meant to make me feel like shit, flags, flags, flags, billboards of impossibly beautiful and perfectly manufactured men and women pushing the consumer public to buy whatever it takes to be perfect. So like music, the human race holds iconography in common. We let it lead us and crush us. I think this is what Salim's body of work means to me. It is a concept album in the highest order. It mixes classical, rock, jazz and Persian music to create a mish mash of pain, longing and anger. You have to turn it on and listen to the whole thing to really get it.

The music swirls with the suggestions of cartoons, circuses and total multi-media sensory overload. This is a stream of conscious story without words. An agitated desire for truth played against the sounds of combat and world culture. It's as if Salim tuned into some world satellite and channel surfed the entire planet in search of an escape from the smoke and mirrors of religious and political control. The audiophile will call this “experimental” rock, but there is something much more profound at work here because the artist doesn't have the open freedom to explore his rich psyche out in the open. There are no words to taunt the establishment, but a seasoned listener will hear the message loud and clear, sit back and smile at Salim's triumph.

Only serious audiophiles need to go here. “Iconophobic” will inspire the listener the way Kurt Cobain inspired Salim. Without information freely given, the visceral heart of the creator will serendipitously change you.

[GERMAN] Iconophobic Album Review, Babyblaue Prog, Siggy Zielinskim, Oct 2010 [permalink]

"Iconophobic" ist die erste unter dem eigenen Namen veröffentlichte CD des Iraners. Davor hat er drei Alben unter dem Bandnamen Arashk veröffentlicht, die er auch im Alleingang komponierte. "Iconophobic" ist eine interessante Tüftler-CD für alle Freunde des variatonsreichen Kammerprog geworden. Das zwischen sehr authentisch und mechanisch agierende Schlagzeug wurde nicht gespielt sondern programmiert, deshalb gehören abgehende Grooves nicht zu den stärken dieser Veröffentlichung.

Dafür erwartet den Hörer durchdachtes und reges Zusammenspiel zwischen elektronischen Keyboards, Piano, Gitarre und diversen virtuellen Instrumenten, darunter Geigen, Cello und Oboe. Die zuletzt genannten setzt der Musiker wiederholt zu einem virtuellen Ensemble zusammen. Mit seiner Ein-Mann-Band führt der Künstler auch Abstecher in Bereiche wie Fusion/Jazz-Rock und orientalische Musik aus. Aus der Not eine Tugend machend, bedient sich Salim Ghazi Saeedi in einigen Stücken rein elektronischer Rhythmen. Ziemlich originell wirken auf mich Momente, in denen das Kammerrock-Ensemble von dezenten elektronischen Rhythmen begleitet wird. Die Stimmung der Stücke bleibt meist düster, von einigen eher romantischen Kammerrock-Passagen und vergleichsweise lockeren Fusion-Ausflügen mal abgesehen.

Wer gerne Formationen wie Univers Zero, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic und Art Zoyd hört, wird von "Iconophobic" nicht enttäuscht sein.

[GERMAN] Iconophobic Album Review, Progressive Newsletter #70, Volkmar Mantei, Nov 2010 [permalink]

Der 1981 im iranischen Teheran geborene Salim Ghazi Saeedi legt mit "Iconophobic" sein in 5 Jahren bereits viertes Album vor, die ersten drei, 2006 bis 2008 veröffentlicht, spielte er mit seiner Band Arashk, deren Songs er überwiegend komponierte, ein. "Iconophobic" enthält auf der einen Seite typische progressive Motive und Klangmuster, auf der anderen Seite sind folkloristische Typica zu hören, wie sie ihm ins Blut und die Sozialisation gegeben sind, alsdann elektronische Sounds, die im (programmierten) Rhythmus und in der Klangtapete der Songs zu finden, die das Schmiermitteln sind, die Kupplung, die asiatisch-iranische Folkloremuster mit westlicher Rockmusik vereint. Salim ist ein geübter Gitarrist mit einiger ausgefallener Handfertigkeit, der sein Instrument eindrucksvoll zu spielen weiß und dabei eine interessante Prägung hat. Seine Kompositionen beweisen Kenntnis orientalischer wie populärer Musik. Obwohl alle Songs eher wie Produktionsmuster wirken, die ein Vertreter einem Verkäufer vorlegt, um zu beweisen, wie gut seine Werkstatt diesen Werkstoff anzufertigen in der Lage ist, sind es doch die fertigen Songs, deren instrumentaler Aufbau in ihrer Verspieltheit unfertig und wie ein Traumbild wirkt. Beeindruckend, wie der sich alle musikalische Kunst im Selbststudium beibringende Salim Komposition und Arrangement flicht und Songs bastelt.
"Iconophobic" ist ein Konzeptalbum ohne Text, unter den 13 Songs sind Gedanken eingebracht, die einmal die düsteren Noten, die hier und da fast Univers Zero-typisch sein können, das aber nur fragmentarisch, ein anderes Mal philosophische Motive und Hoffnungen bezeichnen. Sämtliche Arbeiten am Album hat Salim selbständig getan, ohne Unterstützung von außen, in seinem eigenen Studio. Im Iran gibt es praktisch keine Erwähnung von Rockmusik, welcher Art auch immer, was es Salim wie Arashk nicht leicht machen, sich zu entwickeln, zudem wird alle Rockmusik politisch unterdrückt und verfolgt. Und doch gibt es diese CDs, die bei CD-Baby erhältlich sind und einen überraschenden Eindruck davon vermitteln, wie es unter schlimmen politischen und sozialen Zuständen möglich ist, eigene musikalische Entwicklung zu beschreiten, die fern von Staatsvorschriften ist und gefährlich für den Musiker. Doch nicht nur unter diesem Gesichtspunkt ist "Iconophobic", dieses merkwürdige düstere lethargische Album symphonisch progressiver, jazziger wie elektronischer Musik zu empfehlen.

[GERMAN] Iconophobic Album Review,, Marcel Peteroff, Nov 2010 [permalink]

Iconophobic ist das vierte Album des iranischen Musikers Salim Ghazi Saeedi. Das Album erschien im Jahr 2010. Genau genommen ist es das erste Soloalbum von Salim, denn zuvor erschienen drei Alben als Bandprojekt unter dem Namen Arashk.

Iconophobic ist ein rein instrumentales Album. Nach Aussagen des Künstlers handelt es sich um ein Konzeptalbum, welches sich um die Ängste der imaginären Welt dreht. Der Titel bezieht sich auf die Angst vor Bildern - im übertragenen Sinn meint Salim hier wohl mentale Bilder bzw. Bilder, welche in Träumen und Albträumen entstehen. Salim ist Jahrgang 1981 und stammt aus Teheran. Rockmusik stellt im konservativen Iran auch heute noch keine Selbstverständlichkeit dar, eigentlich wurde Rockmusik lange auch als etwas kulturfeindliches (oder sollte man sagen regimekritisches?) angesehen. Auch heute hat man es als Rockmusiker nach Aussagen von Salim im Iran schwer. Der Markt für Rockmusik ist praktisch kaum entwickelt, man erhält als Rockmusiker kaum Unterstützung. Seine Musik wird im Iran wohl auch kaum angehört.

Die Frage des Vertriebs iranischer Rockmusik scheint dabei lt. Salim im Onlinezeitalter kein ganz großes Problem darzustellen. Nach seiner Meinung stellt die Promotion das größere Problem dar. Salim muss sich wohl um alles selbst kümmern

In einem Interview sagte Salim einmal, dass Musik in seinem Elternhaus keine Rolle spielte. So begann er erst mit 18 Jahren Gitarre zu spielen. Salim ist, nach eigenen Aussagen, in jeder Hinsicht Autodidakt. Die Frage nach Einflüssen ist bei so einem Künstler schon interessant. Man geht immer davon aus, dass diese aus dem Prog- oder Avantgarde Bereich stammen muss. Saeedi bezeichnete in einem Interview aber Sinead O'Connor, Kraftwerk und Thelonious Monk als große Einflüsse. Außerdem nennt er den Oud Spieler Munir Bashir aus dem Irak als wichtigen Einfluss. Das überrascht schon, zumal man bei Saeedi eine gewisse Nähe zu Progacts der 1970er aus dem französischsprachigen Raum vermuten könnte.

Saeedi spielt auf dem Album vor allem die Gitarren und Keyboards selbst ein. Der Rest scheint mehr oder weniger programmiert bzw. gesampelt zu sein. Dabei klingen die Drumsamples relativ organisch, aber der Drive natürlicher Drums fehlt logischerweise. Die Streichersamples klingen gut.

Saeedi legt eine Sammlung recht kurzer Kompositionen vor. Die sind, bemessen an dem Genre, sehr kurz gehalten. Salim bezeichnet seine Musik als bildhafte Musik. Sie basiert nach seinen Aussagen auf einer Serie von mentalen Bildern, manchmal aus Erfahrungen nach Albträumen oder normalen Träumen. Von daher macht diese Serie an kurzen Eindrücken natürlich Sinn.

Über die gesamte Länge wirkt das Album nie langweilig, ganz im Gegenteil. Die Songs wirken sehr kurzweilig - manchmal dürften die Ideen gerne länger und ausführlicher dargestellt werden. In den Songs spannt Salim den Bogen von der Klassik über nansoRock und Jazz-Fusion bis hin zu avantgardistischen Motiven. Natürlich kommen auch Motive aus seinem Kulturkreis nicht zu kurz. Die Gitarre klingt oft fuzzy und hat einen Ansatz, wie man ihn auch von modernen heavy-orientierten Gitarristen kennt.

Iconophobic ist ein interessantes und vor allem vielschichtiges Album. Saeedi hat sich einige recht interessante Drumsamples zusammenprogrammiert, welche die Songs rhythmisch meist sehr pulsierend wirken lassen. Er scheut keine Dissonanzen und setzt so immer wieder scharfe Kontraste zu eingängigen Parts. Langweilig wird das eigentlich nie. Wie gesagt, hätte ich mir bei manchen Songs etwas längere Ausführungen der Ideen gewünscht. Aber insgesamt liefert Salim Ghazi Saeedi mit Iconophobic ein gutes Album ab. Sehr empfehlenswert.

[GERMAN] Iconophobic Album Review, Ragazzi Webzine, Volkmar Mantei, Oct 2010 [permalink]

Der 1981 im iranischen Teheran geborene Salim Ghazi Saeedi legt mit "Iconophobic" sein in 5 Jahren bereits viertes Album vor, die ersten drei, 2006 bis 2008 veröffentlicht, spielte er mit seiner Band Arashk, deren Songs er überwiegend komponierte, ein. "Iconophobic" enthält auf der einen Seite typische progressive Motive und Klangmuster, auf der anderen Seite sind folkloristische Typica zu hören, wie sie ihm ins Blut und die Sozialisation gegeben sind, alsdann elektronische Sounds, die im (programmierten) Rhythmus und in der Klangtapete der Songs zu finden, die das Schmiermitteln sind, die Kupplung, die asiatisch-iranische Folkloremuster mit westlicher Rockmusik vereint. Salim ist ein geübter Gitarrist mit einiger ausgefallener Handfertigkeit, der sein Instrument eindrucksvoll zu spielen weiß und dabei eine interessante Prägung hat. Seine Kompositionen beweisen Kenntnis orientalischer wie populärer Musik. Obwohl alle Songs eher wie Produktionsmuster wirken, die ein Vertreter einem Verkäufer vorlegt, um zu beweisen, wie gut seine Werkstatt diesen Werkstoff anzufertigen in der Lage ist, sind es doch die fertigen Songs, deren instrumentaler Aufbau in ihrer Verspieltheit unfertig und wie ein Traumbild wirkt. Beeindruckend, wie der sich alle musikalische Kunst im Selbststudium beibringende Salim Komposition und Arrangement flicht und Songs bastelt.
"Iconophobic" ist ein Konzeptalbum ohne Text, unter den 13 Songs sind Gedanken eingebracht, die einmal die düsteren Noten, die hier und da fast Univers Zero-typisch sein können, das aber nur fragmentarisch, ein anderes Mal philosophische Motive und Hoffnungen bezeichnen. Sämtliche Arbeiten am Album hat Salim selbständig getan, ohne Unterstützung von außen, in seinem eigenen Studio. Im Iran gibt es praktisch keine Erwähnung von Rockmusik, welcher Art auch immer, was es Salim wie Arashk nicht leicht machen, sich zu entwickeln, zudem wird alle Rockmusik politisch unterdrückt und verfolgt. Und doch gibt es diese CDs, die bei CD-Baby erhältlich sind und einen überraschenden Eindruck davon vermitteln, wie es unter schlimmen politischen und sozialen Zuständen möglich ist, eigene musikalische Entwicklung zu beschreiten, die fern von Staatsvorschriften ist und gefährlich für den Musiker. Doch nicht nur unter diesem Gesichtspunkt ist "Iconophobic", dieses merkwürdige düstere lethargische Album symphonisch progressiver, jazziger wie elektronischer Musik zu empfehlen.

[GERMAN] Iconophobic Review, CrossOver Network, Bürgerlich Roland Ludwig, Feb 2011 [permalink]

Aus Ländern außereuropäischer Kulturkreise erwartet man in der Musikwelt heutzutage in der Regel Kopien afroeuropäischer Musikstilistik oder aber das Entwickeln völlig eigener Systeme bzw. das Erschaffen von originellen Mischungen dieser originären Systeme mit afroeuropäischen Elementen. Salim Ghazi Saeedi nun bringt auf seinem vierten Album das Kunststück fertig, vordergründig keine Elemente seines heimatlichen, nämlich des persischen Kulturkreises zu verwenden, aber trotzdem den gängigen afroeuropäischen Erwartungshaltungen nicht zu entsprechen. Gängigen Songwritingformeln gehorcht keines der 13 Instrumentalstücke, die nichtsdetotrotz aber mit klassischer Rockinstrumentierung, also E-Gitarre (häufig auch unverzerrt), E-Baß, Drums (hier computergeneriert) und Keyboards mannigfacher Klangfarbe, umgesetzt werden. Das Ganze muß man sich, nicht zuletzt aufgrund des fehlenden Gesanges, dann eher so vorstellen wie den Soundtrack zu einem imaginären Film, und der kämpft mehr oder weniger gegen sein eigenes Problem an, wie der Albumtitel verdeutlicht: Ikonophobie heißt bekanntlich soviel wie Bilderfurcht, und die kann neben realen Kunstwerken (dann hätte der Begriff beispielsweise eine religiöse Komponente und wäre im Iran angesichts des geltenden Bilderverbots im Islam wahlweise als stromlinienförmig oder, was aufgrund der quälenden Auseinandersetzung wahrscheinlicher ist, als subversiv zu deuten) auch die Bilder im Kopf betreffen. Die jeweils ein- bis zweizeiligen Kommentare zu den Stücken im Booklet lassen die letztgenannte Variante als die wohl eher zutreffende erscheinen, auch wenn sich "Music Is Haram" in seinem Kommentar deutlich äußert: "Some people believe that creating and listening to music is sin." Um die Tragweite und Sprengkraft dieses simplen Satzes in ihrer ganzen Ausdehnung zu verstehen, muß man um die Situation der iranischen Musikszene, besonders der stilistisch eher westlich orientierten, wissen, aber auch mit nur einer Ahnung davon zieht man schon den Hut vor Salim, der sich allerdings auch scheinbar unverfänglicheren Themen widmet. Auch hier lauern allerdings bisweilen doppelte Böden, beispielsweise in "Transcend Ecstasy With Ecstasy" oder gleich dem Intro "Composer's Laughter", das mit tiefen Klavierakkorden und einem Streicherüberbau noch alles offenläßt, was musikalisch dann in den knapp 38 Minuten zu erwarten ist. Und in der Tat wird's bisweilen neoklassisch, bisweilen jazzig, ab und zu ansatzweise rockig ("The Songful Song Of Songbirds") und im erwähnten "Music Is Haram" dann richtig subversiv: Etwas Neoklassik, ein paar Countryanklänge (!), ein größerer Haufen Jazz und ein fast industrialrockiges Zwischenspiel mixen so ziemlich alles, was die Obrigkeit im Iran nicht so gerne hört, und so endet der Song dann auch in der Katastrophe, nämlich einer Tonstörung. Freilich: So richtig zum Genießen ist das größtenteils nicht, was Salim hier so von sich gibt, aber es schadet ja durchaus nichts, wenn man beim Musikhören auch mal seinen Denkapparat einschaltet. Musikalisch werden sich wohl am ehesten Freunde Frank Zappas angesprochen fühlen, zumal auch Salim von Haus aus Gitarrist ist und zumindest hier und da spürbar von diesem Instrument aus denkt, wenngleich er es nicht in jedem Song einsetzt. Ob seine ersten drei Alben, die unter dem Banner der Band Arashk erschienen sind, auch schon so klangen, ist dem Rezensenten nicht bekannt; jedenfalls ist Salim momentan gerade dabei, eine neue Band zusammenzustellen, um das Material von "Iconophobic" auch live umsetzen zu können. Da mit Auftritten außerhalb des Iran aufgrund der gegebenen Strukturlage kaum zu rechnen sein dürfte, muß man sich, wenn man das als Nicht-Iraner miterleben will, also selber nach Teheran begeben oder aber darauf hoffen, daß Salim eine Möglichkeit findet, das Konzert per Livestream auch ins Netz zu stellen - eine gängige Praxis im iranischen Musikuntergrund, wenn die Ordnungsmacht mal wieder geruht hat, ein Konzert zu unterbinden: Die Musiker spielen kurzerhand in ihrem Proberaum oder einer anderen geeigneten Räumlichkeit, und die Fans hocken zu Hause vor ihren Rechnern und sehen sich den Livestream an. Keine ideale Variante natürlich, aber immer noch besser als gar nichts. Seien wir also gespannt, wie sich die Lage um Salim weiterentwickelt, und derweil kann man sich ja schon mal "Iconophobic" und ggf. die drei Arashk-Vorgänger "Abrahadabra", "Sovereign" und "Ustuqzus-al-Uss" besorgen und seine eigenen Kopfbilder zu der Musik entwerfen. Nicht gleich kapitulieren, wenn's beim ersten Durchlauf noch nicht klappt - "Iconophobic" braucht Reife- und Eingewöhnungszeit, lohnt diese investierte Mühe aber.

[POLISH] Iconophobic Album Review,, Wojciech Kapała, May 2011 [permalink]

Kolejna biała plama na artrockowej mapie świata wypełniona. Niedawno pisałem o gitarzyście z Indonezji grającym całkiem zgrabne fusion, tym razem mamy multiinstrumentalistę (głównie gitarzystę) z Iranu, który całkiem nieźle radzi sobie w karmazynowych klimatach. Perskie King Crimson? Nie tak bardzo. Wpływ Boba Frippa słychać, nie da się tego ukryć, ale jednak Saeedi jest zbyt inteligentnym artystą, żeby tak beznamiętnie kopiować swojego idola. Słychać też, że to nie powstało w Europie, mimo oczywistych odniesień do muzyki z naszej części świata - zbyt dużo tu elementów z tamtej części świata, co oczywiście wszystko to wzbogaca i urozmaica.

"Iconophobic" to zbiór kilkunastu miniatur muzycznych trwających od minuty do nieco ponad trzech. Jest to i zaletą i wadą płyty - z jednaj strony nie sposób się tą płytą znudzić, a z drugiej strony pozostawia pewien niedosyt, bo chciałoby się, żeby niektóre tematy potrwały przynajmniej dwie, trzy minuty dłużej - cholera, zaczął się i nie skończył, urwał się w połowie.

Mamy trzynaście utworów. Każdy jest inny, na każdy jest osobny pomysł, każdy jest o czymś innym (przy tytułach zostawiłem krótkie komentarze artysty do każdego utworu), całość trwa nieco ponad trzydzieści dziewięć minut. Mimo zastosowania dość skromnych środków, wcale nie brzmi to biednie, a raczej najwyżej ascetycznie, czy kameralnie – ale wyraźnie jest to działanie zamierzone.

Lojalnie i bez bicia przyznam się, że to muzyka z zupełnie nie mojej półki, ale "Iconophobic" jest płytą oryginalną i intrygującą. Sam pomysł, wykonanie - pewien minimalizm muzyczny i jeśli chodzi o rozmiar utworów, jak i też o aranżacje. Nie jestem w stanie tak dokładnie określić na ile mi się podoba, ale mam świadomość, że jest to album wartościowy.

Mój gust podpowiada mi siedem gwiazdek, ale moje doświadczenie osiem.

PS. Mam wrażenie, że artysta chce więcej powiedzieć, niż może. Może kiedyś się to zmieni. Keep rockin'!

[DUTCH] Iconophobic Album Review, iO Pages Magazine #96, René Yedema, Oct 2010 [permalink]

Na drie albums plus een compilatie met zijn band Arashk vervolgt de Iranese multi-instrumentalist Salim Ghazi Saeedi zijn carrière met het onder zijn eigen naam uitgebrachte Iconophobic. Lieten zijn vorige platen een ontwikkeling van prog- en shredmetal naar progressieve jazzrock horen, op zijn nieuwste wapenfeit combineert hij grommende gitaren met klassiek aandoende instrumentaties. Gebleven zijn daarin de folkloristische invloeden uit zijn geboorteland. Opvallend is verder het originele gebruik van natuurlijk klinkende samples van drums, percussie en zelf gecreëerde geluiden. Denk daarbij aan de voor Peter Gabriel IV met allerhande intrigerende, zelf opgewekte klanken volgestopte Fairlight. De symfoni symfonische arrangementen vormen de basis voor melodieuze, modern klassiek aandoende composities, waarin snerpende gitaren, opvallende baskronkels en apart elektronisch slagwerk voor de inkleuring zorgen.De dertien tracks met een gemiddelde lengte van drie minuten laten door de improvisatorische werkwijze echter steeds nieuwe invalshoeken horen. Zo fabriceert hij regelmatig een ‘wanky’, country-achtig snarengeluid en hebben uit de synthesizer afkomstige instrumenten als fluit, viool, cello en piano natuurgetrouwe akoestische klanken. Deze staan weer in sterk contrast met de bewust kil klinkende drumcomputerpatronen, die zo van een oud album van Anne Clark afkomstig hadden kunnen zijn. Saeedi beschouwt Iconophobic als een conceptalbum over de angst voor de wereld van beelden, symbolen en iconen. Hiervoor heeft hij over het algemeen originele, rijk aan verbeelding zijnde stukken geschapen. Dat je daarbij een veelgebruikt effect als de telefoonbreak in Don’t You See The Cheerful Rainbow? kunt horen, is dan ook vooral een gevolg van zijn voortdurend zoeken naar onverwachte sprongen. Deze onverwachte elementen zijn dan ook veruit in de meerderheid.

[DUTCH] Iconophobic Review, Peter van Haerenborgh, Progwereld, Mar 2011 [permalink]

Stel je voor, je bent Matthijs van Nieuwkerk en je wordt uitgenodigd om bij ons in België deel te nemen aan het immens populaire programma ‘De Slimste Mens ter Wereld’ op één. Op een bepaald moment tijdens de geestige quiz stelt presentator Erik Van Looy de vraag ‘Wat weet je over Iran?’. Waarschijnlijk zullen de trefwoorden die deelnemer Matthijs van Nieuwkerk geeft iets zijn als Perzië, ayatollah Khomeini, islamrepubliek of Ahmadinejad. Eventueel zal dit door de tegenkandidaten Marcel Vanthilt en Wouter Deprez nog aangevuld worden met antwoorden als ayatollah Khamenei, verkiezingsfraude of sjah Reza Pahlavi. Geen van de drie kandidaten, zelfs niet de muzikant onder de drie, zal het in zijn hoofd halen om hier ook maar muziek bij te vermelden, laat staan prog (ervan uitgegaan dat onze kandidaten überhaupt bekend zijn met ons genre). Een juist antwoord in onze quiz zou dit natuurlijk niet zijn, maar toch kan ik na het beluisteren van het album dat nu voor me ligt Iran wél associëren met prog.
Uiteraard refereer ik hiermee naar Salim Ghazi Saeedi (u zag de naam al boven de recensie staan), een zeer beloftevolle progmuzikant die na zijn sporen te hebben verdiend bij de band Arashk nu zijn eerste solowerk uitbrengt. Zijn muzikale ontdekkingstocht was er een die totaal niet vergeleken kan worden met onze situatie. Opgegroeid in volle oorlogsperiode (de oorlog tussen Iran en Irak, waarbij overigens de Verenigde Staten Irak steunden) en na de Islamrevolutie, was het voor hem zeer moeilijk om aan westerse muziek te komen. Deze ‘moderne’ muziek was namelijk door het regime verboden, enkel traditionele islammuziek was toegelaten. Doch op de zwarte markt kon Salim Ghazi Saeedi wél westerse muziek bemachtigen. Op die manier leerde hij Nirvana kennen en werd, zoals voor velen uit de Grunge-generatie, Kurt Cobain voor hem de grote held.
Voor iedereen afhaakt, wil ik toch even snel vermelden dat de muziek op “Iconphobic” absoluut niets met Nirvana of Grunge te maken heeft. Maar het was wel Kurt Cobain die onze jonge Iraniër ertoe aangezet heeft om zelf een gitaar vast te nemen en muzikant te worden. Zijn eerste ‘professionele’ stappen zette hij in 2004 wanneer hij lid werd van de Iranese undergroundband Arashk. In 2010 bracht hij dan voornoemde eerste solo-album uit.
Normaalgezien zou ik nu vervolgen met het opnoemen van de bands die Salim Ghazi Saeedi beïnvloed hebben bij het maken van “Iconophobic.” Daarbij zou ik dan bands noemen als Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, Present, King Crimson, Aranis, de hele Belgische chamberrock-scene of de Russiche componist Igor Stravinsky. Maar dat kan ik hier niet doen: vanwege de politieke situatie in Iran heeft Salim Ghazi Saeedi een hele hoop van die bands gewoonweg nooit gehoord. Doch is het gepast om aan te geven dat de sound van “Iconophobic” wel degelijk de sound is van voornoemde bands. Al bij al toch best een vreemde situatie!
Nu heeft hij via de zwarte markt toch wel best wat muziek leren kennen en zo een gevarieerde smaak ontwikkeld. En dit, zo geeft hij zelf aan, heeft bijgedragen tot zijn progressieve benadering van muziek op dit album. Vandaar ook dat we zijn muziek kunnen vergelijken met voornoemde bands en dan vooral met de Belgische progscene. Ook wordt wel eens multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield genoemd als vergelijkingsmateriaal. Ik moet eerlijk zeggen dat op het eerste gehoor dit me vergezocht leek en dat er een vermoeden rees bij ondergetekende dat het enige vergelijkingspunt was dat beiden meer dan een instrument bespelen. Doch nadere beluistering leerde dat eigenlijk dit toch niet zo ver gezocht bleek te zijn. Knap!
Ook vergeet hij bij zijn composities nergens zijn achtergrond en doorspekt Salim Ghazi Saeedi zijn muziek met een Perzische invloed. Op die manier komt hij tot een zeer boeiende sound die absoluut niet zou misstaan tussen de huidige grote namen van de RIO/Avant-Prog.
Toch is dit geen ontoegankelijk album geworden, integendeel eigenlijk, voor het Avant-Prog genre valt dit zelfs reuze mee. Op die manier kan deze Iranese muzikant misschien wel een instap betekenen in muziek waar hij eigenlijk zelf niet zo thuis in was, maar die voor ons westerlingen overal makkelijk verkrijgbaar is. Er zou dus absoluut geen twijfel over mogen bestaan, dit album is een aanrader voor vele progliefhebbers. In de eerste plaats de avontuurlijk aangelegde progger, maar eigenlijk gezien de toegankelijkheid en de verscheidenheid in zijn muziek is “Iconophobic” best wel een aanrader voor iedereen.

[DUTCH] Iconophobic Album Review, Prog Opinion, Harry 'JoJo' de Vries, Nov 2010 [permalink]

Salim Ghazi Saeedi is een progressief muzikant uit Teheran (Iran). Het is opvallend dat de laatste tijd steeds meer albums van bands en artiesten vanuit dit afgesloten land doorsijpelen. Zo besprak ProgLog AFTERglow recent een album van Mehran, ook al uit Iran. Wellicht dat het ruimer beschikbaar komen van internet en van sociale media als Facebook en Twitter meehelpen het bastion te doorbreken. Laten we het hopen. Niet alleen omdat een open wereld de voorkeur verdient maar ook omdat de werkstukken van die artiesten zeer de moeite waard zijn. Zo ook het album 'Iconophobic' van Saeedi.
Dit album is opgebouwd uit dertien instrumentale stukken die niet langer duren dan een minuut of drie. Alles is gecomponeerd, gespeeld en geproduceerd door Saeedi zelf en wordt gedomineerd door gitaar en keyboards. En daarop staat hij zijn mannetje en ook het geluid is prima verzorgd. De korte muzikale statements doen mij denken aan wat John Zorn deed tijdens zijn 'Film Works'-cyclus. De muziek van Saeedi zou dan ook heel goed dienst kunnen doen als filmmuziek. Ook referenties aan Patrick O'Hearn, Sufjan Stevens en Mike Oldfield doen opgeld en in de relatief wat forsere, door klassieke muziek, beinvloedde stukken komt zelfs The Enid voorbij. 'A Satire on Hell' is daarvan een goed voorbeeld en een van mijn favoriete tracks. Maar wellicht is er in Iran nooit iets doorgedron- gen van The Enid, dat sluit ik niet uit, dus dit 'hineininterpretieren' is geheel voor mijn rekening.
'Iconophobic' is een heerlijk album om op weg te dromen, mijmerend over vrijheid, openheid en de mooie dingen van het leven. Al gaat het concept- album ook over zijn angst voor 'imagery' dat ik vertaal als 'verbeelding', de angst voor de beelden die opdoemen bij het lezen van boeken en luisteren naar muziek. Dat lijkt mij nogal lastig voor een muzikant.
Ik dacht eerst dat Saeedi niet direct als doel heeft een vuist te maken naar het regime in Iran. Een statement maken met instrumentale muziek is bovendien lastig. Of is misschien het benaderen van de Westerse markt als muzikant al een 'overtreding'? Tot ik in verband met de track 'Music is Haram' het woord 'haram' opzocht. Dat is een term uit de islam om goede- ren aan te duiden die niet door moslims gebruikt mogen worden. Muziek mag dus niet gebruikt worden. Dan weten we genoeg. Maar los van die impliciete betekenissen laat 'Iconophobic' prima muziek horen die meer dan voldoende aanleiding geeft Salim Ghazi Saeedi te blijven volgen.

[FRENCH] Iconophobic Album Review, Harmonie Magazine #70, Philippe Gnana, Nov 2010 [permalink]

Qui aurait imaginé, un jour, pouvoir découvrir pareille musique en provenance d’Iran. On imagine bien que du fait de la situation politique et économique, du fait d’un rejet complet des autorités iraniennes vis-à-vis de ce qui a trait à la culture occidentale, ce genre de musique s’y trouve proscrit. Pourtant, il y a des gens pour s’approprier une partie de la musique rock et essayer d’en créer. Le parcours de Salim Ghazi Saeedi est à ce titre singulier et exemplaire. Ce jeune garçon de trente ans, issu d’une famille sans formation musicale particulière, né dans un pays en guerre, sous régime dictatorial avec un black out complet à l’égard de la culture occidentale, réussit pourtant à se procurer quelques cassettes de groupes occidentaux (Queen, Michael Jackson et Nirvana), se découvrir une passion pour la musique, se mettre à apprendre la guitare en autodidacte, monter un studio d’enregistrement (il a une formation d’informaticien) et enregistrer des CD, les trois premiers sous le nom de groupe Arashk et ce quatrième en son nom propre. La biographie indique que comme chacun de ces autres albums, Iconophobic est conceptuel, autour de l’idée de peur de la représentation par l’image. Mais c’est une traduction purement musicale puisque l’album est entièrement instrumental.

La musique de Salim Ghazi Saeedi n’est pas à proprement parler du rock progressif dans le sens où on n’y trouve pas les clichés traditionnels et les références aux ténors du genre. Cette musique est beaucoup plus expérimentale avec des volutes de guitares à la Robert Fripp, des expérimentations sonores et électroniques, des ambiances de claviers mystérieuses. Il n’y a rien de conventionnel par rapport à ce que l’on entend habituellement par rock progressif. C’est un voyage au milieu de chimères musicales qui risquent de séduire les oreilles musicales les plus aventureuses.

C’est remarquablement produit et mérite l’attention de tous ceux qui se délectent de sensations musicale nouvelles

[FRENCH] Iconophobic, Prog-résiste Magazine #64, Pierre Nanson, Apr 2011 [permalink]

Style: Electro Prog Instrumental
Continuons notre exploration du rock progressif venant de pays peu familiers, voire hostiles à ce genre de musique. Posons-nous (toi et moi, ami progrésistant) la question de savoir comment accueillir un album de rock réalisé dans un pays tel que l’Iran. Des imperfections de ’oeuvre, sachons ensemble distinguer ce qui relève, d’un côté de la véritable critique artistique et, de l’autre côté, des difficultés matérielles de la réalisation du disque. Salim GHAZI SAEEDI est un jeune musicien iranien né en 1981, guitariste à la base, qui a déjà une certaine carrière derrière lui. Autodidacte en musique, cet informaticien monte son propre studio d’enregistrement, s’inspire des grands standards de la musique occidentale et réalise trois albums avec Arashk, son propre groupe de rock progressif. Il s’engage ici dans une voie personnelle, voire conceptuelle avec cet album Iconophobic où son intention est clairement de se lancer dans l’art-rock iranien ancien d’avant garde ! Ouf ! Rien que ça ! Les compositions s’engagent ici dans une logique à trois voies, l’une rock, l’autre empruntant des éléments tirés des mélodies iraniennes, et enfin Salim se trace résolument sur un chemin beaucoup plus électronique, conceptuel et expérimental. Bref, ici, l’on n’est pas loin de la démarche à la Robert Fripp, sauce orientale, entre jazz, electro-jazz et rock expérimental.

Le titre d’abord. Iconophobic renvoie d’emblée à la religion islamique qui proscrit l’utilisation d’images. On devine qu’il s’agit d’une critique à peine voilée de sa condition. Parallèlement à cela, la pochette me plaît particulièrement. Sorte d’iris écarquillé dont le noir donnerait sur une vide spatial, il est superposé à une bande rouge contenant des textes bizarres évoquant peut-être ces bandes de versets coraniques. Le début de l’album surprend d’emblée: sur Composer’s Laughter, on perçoit à peine un petit rire sardonique. Le ton est donné. Les titres et leurs commentaires sont de toute évidence à double sens, voire sarcastiques. Citons The Songful Song of Songbirds commenté par un « aussi connue comme la représentation phobique de l’iconophobie ».

Sur cet album assez court et comprenant beaucoup de plages, on passe rapidement d’une expérience à l’autre. On saute du rock à l’électro avec boîte à rythmes sur base de triturations de sons de violons orientaux. On entend bien ces sons graves et dramatiques sur Breast-Milk. Dans l’ensemble, cela sent quand très fort l’oeuvre solitaire ! Bref, il s’agit là d’une plaquette intrigante et déroutante. Même si on parfois du mal à suivre l’auteur dans ses pérégrinations musicales, l’oeuvre reste agréable à écouter. Salim est un enfant du web. Oui! Ceux là qui ont déjà renversé deux dictatures ! Il est paradoxalement bien plus facile de communiquer électroniquement avec lui qu’avec certains groupes. Alors, n’hésitez pas, écoutez-le, parlez-lui, critiquez-le, conseillez-le!

[FRENCH] Iconophobic, Music Waves webzine, Realmean, Dec 2010 [permalink]

Note : 6.0/10 | Salim Ghazi Saeedi fête ses 30 ans en 2011, et il n’en est pas à son coup d’essai. En 2004, il rejoignait le groupe Arashk - ayant à ce jour 4 albums à son actif - aux côtés de Pouyan Khajavi au chant, basse et guitare, et de Shahram Khosraviani, à la batterie. Il y compose déjà. La musique résultante est à la croisée d’un rock progressif teinté d’accents orientaux (iraniens, plus précisément), de tendances électroniques et d’influences hard et métal. Il serait donc faux de penser que l’essai en solo de Salim s’épanche sur une voie expérimentale, au sens d’une recherche identitaire hasardeuse - comme il sied parfois aux autoproductions basées sur les travaux d’un unique homme orchestre. Oui, la musique d’Iconophobic s’apparente largement au registre (jazz) rock expérimental, mais il est question ici du fondement même des convictions artistiques de ce compositeur, qui échappe à toute classification intrinsèque.

L’ouverture de l’album annonce la couleur : Salim est un amoureux des sons. Leur démultiplication et leurs collisions sont à l’honneur. La ligne mélodique, tout simplement inexistante. Ce premier morceau, même s’il est très court, semble prévenir l’auditeur : l’émotion n’est pas à rechercher en son territoire habituel. Et puis, tout doucement, la logique de cette musique devient perceptible. Une écoute attentive va témoigner d’une méthode de création beaucoup plus structurée qu'elle en aurait l'air : un support rythmique et/ou mélodique en filigrane, laissant respirer les expressions d’instruments excessivement libres dans leurs tonalités, leur façon d’être complémentaires ou au contraire antinomiques. Avec Salim, ce ne sont pas les notes qui chantent, mais bien les sons, à leur manière de se répondre les uns aux autres. Tous les instruments ou presque sont présents: la batterie, les cordes, le piano, la flûte, toutes formes de claviers nativement synthétiques, les cuivres d’orchestre, la basse, la (vraie) guitare, pour sa part alternativement rageuse ou poétiquement orientale.

Mais n’attendez pas de l’étrangeté de cette atmosphère qu’elle vous révèle trop rapidement l’intégralité de ses secrets : il vous faudra du temps pour descendre un peu plus bas sous la surface. Pour découvrir la jovialité des mystérieux cuivres de "Satire On Hell" (cors ou trombones ?), ou les croisements improbables, et pourtant productifs, de nappes synthétiques glacées et d’accents sonores traditionnels de l’univers oriental, portés par "Transcend Ecstasy With Ecstasy", ou encore, la terreur contenue qui se cache derrière "Give My Childhood Back".

Alors bien sûr, il est toujours possible, ici et là, de se demander objectivement ce que l’artiste attend de son auditeur. La réaction émotionnelle directe n’est pas l’objectif à atteindre pour Salim : le credo d’Iconophobic, c’est d’abord d’interpeller, d’intriguer. Une fois cette prise assurée, l’escalade de sa paroi peut révéler d’étonnantes sensations… mais qui n’auront sans doute pas d’homologation universellement reconnue. Pour satisfaire au constat, la notation de l'ovni Iconophobic prendra une demi-teinte.

[FRENCH] Iconophobic,, Fanny Layani, Jan 2011 [permalink]

Ce guitariste iranien, connu pour être l'auteur de plusieurs albums avec Arashk (groupe dont il détient les commandes), propose avec Iconophobic un disque solo assez personnel, plein d'idées et somme toute relativement différent de ses autres activités : moins rock, plus orchestré, plus réfléchi aussi.

Les orchestrations d'influence classique, bien que soignées, auraient sonné plus authentiques avec de vrais instruments (sur « Asiyeh » par exemple). Les rythmiques, peu originales souvent, gagnent en intérêt lorsqu'elles se tournent vers des tendances électro (« And My Heart Aches Like 100 Aching Hearts », « Give Me My Childhood Back »). Enfin, les origines de Salim Ghazi Saeedi percent au milieu de cette musique pourtant très occidentale : dans les mélodies ou les intervalles de « And My Heart... » notamment, les traditions persanes viennent s'immiscer timidement, et l'on aurait apprécié qu'elles y prennent plus de place.

Les morceaux relativement courts manquent cependant de continuité, juxtaposant de multiples sections courtes et sans réel rapport les unes avec les autres. Dommage, car lorsque le guitariste développe son propos, le résultat est intéressant (« Give My Childhood Back » et « Breast-Milk » par exemple).

Ainsi, si Iconophobic souffre d'un manque de moyens certain, avec de nombreux instrument virtuels au son médiocre contrastant avec une guitare très incarnée, et une boîte à rythmes qui aurait pu avoir davantage d'impact, la démarche d'enregistrer un tel disque de rock dans son pays natal reste à saluer quand on connaît le contexte particulier qui y règne, malgré quelques fragilités qui portent une petite ombre au tableau.

[FRENCH] Iconophobic, Zicazine, Fred Delforge, Jun 2011 [permalink]

Jeune multi-instrumentiste iranien, Salim Ghazi Saeedi n’en est pas à son coup d’essai puisque c’est en s’appuyant sur des influences très larges allant de Jeff Beck à Nine Inch Nails en passant par Nirvana mais aussi Thelonious Monk et Chet Atkins qu’il a déjà produit quatre albums sous son propre nom, ce dernier en date ayant la particularité d’avoir été intégralement composé, interprété et enregistré par ses soins. Devenu guitariste il y a une douzaine d’années après avoir découvert l’histoire de Kurt Cobain, Salim qui venait à peine d’atteindre la majorité a rapidement progressé en intégrant au passage le groupe Arashk avant de commencer en parallèle à voler de ses propres ailes en 2006 avec un premier opus solo, « Abrahadabra », très tôt suivi par « Sovereign » un an plus tard puis par « Ustuqus-al-Uss » en 2008. Les difficultés de l’industrie musicale iranienne en général et du rock en particulier contraindront très vite Salim Ghazi Saeedi et son groupe à mettre un terme à leur projet de studio professionnel et c’est seul et à la maison que l’artiste se fendra donc de cette quatrième œuvre, « Iconophobic », dans laquelle il a su très intelligemment mélanger les racines les plus lointaines du rock progressif avec des sonorités typiquement orientales mais aussi avec une part délicatement mesurée de musiques électroniques, histoire sans doute de s’ouvrir à d’autres publics tout en s’attachant à faire évoluer les traditions. On se retrouve ainsi plongé en plein ethno-prog avec à la clef un très fort bagage rock mais aussi et surtout avec de grandes parties de piano et avec moult arrangements qui permettent d’espérer que les auditeurs les plus ouverts s’intéressent un jour à la culture de l’autre sans la moindre arrière pensée grâce à des titres de la trempe d’un « Asiyeh », d’un « Music Is Haram » ou d’un « Give My Childhood Back ». Pas encore forcément prête pour se lancer tête baissée dans la grande aventure du rock, Téhéran nous dévoile là un artiste progressif des plus prometteurs. Qu’on se le dise !

[ITALIAN] Iconophobic Review, Emanuele Brizzante, Good Times Bad Times Blog, Jan 2010 [permalink]

Prima di ascoltarlo ero pregiudizievole, pensavo alla solita incasinatissima musica mediorientale.Però, dopo pochi istanti dall’inizio, una risata demoniaca mi fa quasi fare capolino dalla seggiola; incalzare d’archi, accompagnati da un pianoforte semplice quanto efficace; entro subito nella sua
I primi tre brani scorrono via velocemente con maestosi arrangiamenti orchestrali sempre guidati da un ensemble d’archi morbido e dinamico che resterà sempre costante fino alla fine. E proprio quando credevo già di aver capito l’impronta stilistica, una chitarra orientalfunky cancella di nuovo le mie conclusioni troppo affrettate. Dalla quarta traccia infatti, tutto si sconvolge. Arrangiamenti ritmici d’n’b, chitarre psichedeliche e chi più ne ha più ne metta.

Gli ultimi quattro brani ritornano dolcemente all’origine con dolci e melanconici inserti di pianoforte sulla solita coinvolgente orchestrazione.

Un buon disco, arrangiato magistralmente, forse anche troppo; spesso infatti i contenuti globali effettivi si perdono. Minimalista e psichedelico con influenze classiche. Pecca solamente di un insufficiente originalità; infatti se l’avessi ascoltato senza sapere l’autore, probabilmente avrei detto: carino il nuovo disco di Clint Mansell!

Voto: 6/7

[ITALIAN] Iconophobic Album Review, Arlequins webzine, Jessica Attene, Oct 2010 [permalink]

Spesso cogliamo del mondo che ci circonda solo gli aspetti negativi, sempre pronti a criticare ciò che non capiamo o è lontano dalla nostra quotidianità, affidando il nostro giudizio superficiale a quanto emerge dalle pagine della cronaca ma ci dimentichiamo che quanto vi è più bello e profondo nell’animo umano riesce a superare ogni confine e riesce a raggiungere i cuori delle persone distanti al di là di ogni preconcetto culturale o ideologico. E’ così che il seme del progressive rock raggiunge i luoghi più remoti del pianeta e quando si parla il linguaggio della musica tutto riesce più facile e siamo in grado di comprenderci senza bisogno di usare le parole, annientando all’istante ogni differenza o ogni barriera che ci separa dall’altro. Salim Ghazi Saeedi è un ragazzo di Teheran, di quella Teheran che vediamo solo attraverso i film di Jafar Panahi o Bahman Ghobadi, leggiamo attraverso la cronaca nera delle rivoluzioni studentesche o attraverso varie altre storie di intolleranza, una terra troppo isolata per essere compresa da noi ma che è fatta da persone che hanno i nostri stessi sentimenti ed i nostri stessi ideali di libertà e bellezza. Questo album è stato realizzato con mezzi poveri, fra quattro mura domestiche. Tutta la musica è stata composta, interpretata e registrata da Salim che suona chitarra elettrica e tastiere e in più cura tutti gli effetti elettronici e anche le trame ritmiche. In realtà non si tratta della sua prima esperienza discografica, visto che questo ragazzo ha alle spalle ben tre album, usciti a nome della sua prima band, gli Arashk, anche se gli ultimi due sono in pratica dei veri e propri dischi solisti. Salim ama definire la propria musica “progressive” perché il suo modo di ascoltare e comporre musica è libero e coniuga stili molto distanti fra loro: “lascia la tua mente libera ed essa diverrà progressive”, scrive egli stesso sul suo sito internet. E direi che questo modo di pensare mi piace molto e si riflette perfettamente nella sua musica che non conosce barriere né ostacoli di alcun tipo. “Iconophobic” è un concept album che parla della paura morbosa verso le immagini e di conseguenza verso la realtà. Il concept si sviluppa attraverso tredici brevi visioni musicali, senza parti cantate. Ma per entrare meglio in sintonia con questo concetto l’autore ha inserito all’interno della copertina del CD un cerchio di parole che recita: "Alas that man was free... When there was no image. Alas that image became a means... for altering the reality. Alas that reality... is itself, an imagery by man." Salim vuole così creare una serie di immagini mentali e bisogna dire che, nonostante l’approccio non sempre lineare, la musica riesce a dipingere perfettamente degli stati d’animo, a volte inquietanti, a volte drammatici, altre volte struggenti. La musica, nonostante la povertà della strumentazione impiegata, ha un approccio molto cameristico ma con delle incursioni sofisticate ed elettroniche. Ascoltate ad esempio “Give My Childhood Back”, un bolero enigmatico e tetro, in cui sembra di sentire dei veri e propri strumenti d’orchestra, con gli archi e strumenti a fiato, il tutto con una base tecnologica e qualche vago accenno orientaleggiante. Ditemi se “Eternal Melancholy of Loving Woman” non è struggente e seducente, con il piano minimale che si intreccia agli archi. In generale tutta la musica ha un approccio minimale e low-fi ma possiamo comunque apprezzare le doti di scrittura di Salim e la sua grande fantasia nel creare immagini sonore e nel fondere stili distanti che si collocano a metà strada fra oriente ed occidente. Vi sono poi pezzi in cui la chitarra elettrica ha un ruolo preponderante ma questa viene comunque sempre inserita in un certo contesto musicale ed utilizzata soprattutto per elaborare frasi melodiche all’interno del tessuto sonoro. L’opera di Salim è decisamente originale e meritevole di essere presa in considerazione al di là dei suoi limiti tecnici e non posso fare a meno di domandarmi cosa mai ne verrebbe fuori se fosse affidata ad una orchestra vera e propria, con l’ausilio di mezzi superiori. Promuovo appieno questo album, nonostante la sua realizzazione decisamente casalinga, e mi auguro che la musica di Salim possa un giorno volare alta, in una versione professionale, grazie magari a qualche collaborazione internazionale.

[SPANISH] Iconophobic Album Review, Manticornio, Alfredo TAPIA-CARRETO, Jun 2011 [permalink]

Una vez alguien me dijo que si la música no te movía fibras emocionales, cualquiera que fuera su tipo, entonces era música que carecía de valor y que se hacía sólo para ser popular. Me da gusto decir que el álbum oficial de estudio #1 (ˆ) de Salim GHAZI SAEEDI como solista me movió algunas de las fibras más recónditas de mis emociones musicales, motivo por el cual le concedo un gran valor, aunque para serte franco no es el tipo de sonidos que pondría en mi iPod™… ¿o sí? Vamos a ver.

Dice Salim: “en el momento en que salí del vientre de mi madre, lloré. Ahora, después de terminar “Iconophobic” sé por qué. Ese vacío profundo era una realidad que he perdido.” (1), y esa pérdida la quiso recuperar por medio de su música, en cuyo estilo se permite la influencia de los músicos contemporáneos más audaces como UNIVERS ZERO, ART ZOYD, BIRDSONGS OF THE MESOZOIC, PRESENT, ARANIS y COS, por referenciar a los que identifico con mayor claridad. Lo que hace más valioso su sonido son las influencias musicales sufi, el sabor medioriental provocador de danzas y de trances mentales a la AHURA. “Guitarras estridentes, instrumentos clásicos, compases electrónicos y hasta efectos sonoros para refunfuñar, llorar las penas, lamentarse y regocigarse muchas, muchas veces” (2) es lo que define al disco, uno que se entiende como álbum conceptual que trata sobre el miedo al mundo de las imágenes. No hay cantos sino sólo música, a veces sintética, a veces orgánica, progresiva en expresión aunque mayormente de vanguardia.

En definitiva, «Iconofóbico» no es un disco para mentes alineadas al proyecto comercial. Por ser un disco de vanguardia, casi opositor y con tapiz autóctono y hasta neo clásico, se trata más de un disco para intelectuales aventurados en la música rock culta. Enhorabuena, Salim, gracias por la música y que tengas el reconocimiento merecido. El mío lo tienes.

Apreciación personal del álbum, 9/10 (excelente adquisición en géneros determinados).

[JAPANESE] Iconophobic, DiskUnion's Progressive Rock Online, Feb 2011 [permalink]

Iranのテクニカル/Metal FusionトリオARASHKのメンバーとしても活動するギタリスト、'10年ソロ・デビュー作が登場!ARASHKのテクニカル路線から一転、 g/key/electronicsを全編で駆使し、出自であるArab/Orinetal色と、近年のART ZOYD/PRESENT等の影響化にあるSymphonic色も漂わせたDarkかつHeavyなChamber色を融合した、ジャケットの印象そのままのWorld/Ethinic Electro Chamber Rockを展開。programmingによるTraivalなリズムにkey orchetrationやアブストラクトでNoisyかつMetalicなgフレーズが絡みつく中近東/Arab圏ならではのエキゾティシズムに満ちた楽曲/展開が刺激的な秀作。近年の同系バンドに多い重厚さよりも、Solidかつスッキリと洗練された構成/arr.に仕上げられたサウンドも音楽性/作品の魅力を引き出しており、ARASHKとは異なりますが内容的には優れものの一策です!!

[FRENCH] Iconophobic, Monsieur Délire, François Couture, Jul 2011 [permalink]

Salim Ghazi Saeedi est un guitariste-claviériste iranien. Iconophobic, une auto-production en mode homme-orchestre, propose 13 courtes pièces instrumentales démontrant une influence du rock progressif, filtrée par les musiques classique et populaire du Proche-Orient. Les programmations de batterie sont carrées et artificielles, mais le reste fait preuve d’un talent de mélodiste et d’une belle musicalité. Cela dit, ça me rappelle certaines productions indépendantes des années 90 dans le milieu du rock progressif, et qui ont mal vieilli. Je ne suis pas épaté, mais je reconnais qu’avec de meilleurs moyens, Saeedi pourrait faire mieux.

[JAPANESE] Iconophobic, Too Much Music Stuff, Kazuhiko Shibuya, Jul 2011 [permalink]

☆Salim Ghazi Saeedi / Iconophobic (A "Salim Ghazi Saeedi" Production 番号無し) '10
 テヘランのSalim Ghazi Saeedi氏より突然のメールが舞い込み、戴いたCD。バイオによると4作目にあたる作品。
 この場を借りてCDを提供してくれましたSalim Ghazi Saeedi氏とNY在住のSalimさんの友人に感謝致します。

[POLISH] Iconophobic, Hard Rock Service, Vincent, Jul 2011 [permalink]

Rzadko zabieram się za recenzowanie wydawnictw z rejonu progresywnego rocka. Jakoś niespecjalnie leży mi ten gatunek. Jeszcze rzadziej docierają do mnie takie płyty jak ta. Dziś prawdziwa bomba: rock progresywny z Iranu.

Tak, mnie też zamurowało, że w tamtych rejonach świata gra się całkiem niezłą muzykę. Po kilkunastokrotnym wysłuchaniu zawartości krążka w zasadzie mam tylko jedną uwagę: gdyby tu było jeszcze więcej rocka, a już nie mówiąc metalu, to byłoby naprawdę coś. Bo zapoznając się z płytą odnoszę przemożne wrażenie, że Salim Ghazi Saeedi, czyli szef całego zamieszania, sam do końca nie wie lub może nie umie określić tego, czego on tak właściwie od odbiorcy chce, czego wymaga. Mam też wrażenie, że on chce swoją muzyką wyrazić jak najwięcej tylko... jakoś nie zawsze mu się to udaje. Zapoznając się z Iconophobic byłem pełen podziwu, jak autorowi udaje się mieszać różne gatunki muzyczne w jedną całość. Nie zawsze może spójną, ale mimo to, zawsze interesującą. Jedno rzuciło mi się na uszy: mieszanie bluesowego stylu gry Jeffa Becka ze sposobem wyrażania emocji Roberta Frippa, zapewne znanego niektórym z udzielania się w King Crimson. Do tego śmiałe mieszanie tego z elementami muzyki klasycznej i elektronicznej. Wszystko to zaprawione barwami muzyki z Dalekiego Wschodu. Czasami brzmi to bardzo lekko, jasno i naprawdę bardzo interesująco. Z drugiej strony pełno tu ciemnych brzmień, by nie powiedzieć - mrocznych. By było ciekawiej, dużo tu elementów przypominających to, co robił na swoich płytach Mike Oldfield. Salim Ghazi Saeedi urodził się w 1981 roku w Teheranie. W 1999 roku rozpoczął samodzielną naukę gry na gitarze i komponowanie muzyki. Z zespołem Arashk skomponował trzy albumy: Abrahadabra (2006), Sovereign (2007) i Ustuqus-al-Uss (2008). W 2010 roku wydał swój czwarty album Iconophobic jako jednoosobowy zespół, w którym pełnił rolę kompozytora, gitarzysty, klawiszowca, perkusisty, muzyka miksującego i producenta. Utwory na tym LP są w większości krótkie, choć bardzo nasycone i zróżnicowane. Szkoda, że Salim tak mały nacisk kładzie na brzmienia stricte rockowe. Byłoby miło posłuchać od czasu do czasu mocniejszego uderzenia, te w większości, elektroniczne fragmenty płyty dość szybko się nudzą. Ba, gdyby tu było coś z rejonów metalu, oooo, taka mieszanka byłaby prawdziwym zaskoczeniem. Dać tu proste, ciężkie riffy i żywą perkusję. Reszta niech jest taka jaka jest. Mi to absolutnie nie przeszkadza. Ciekawe, czy Salim w swoich skromnych partiach gitarowych umyślnie czy też może przypadkowo naśladuje tu i ówdzie Jeffa Watersa. Przyznam, że ta lekkość gry na gitarze bardzo mi się podoba. Jednak będąc na miejscu Salima postawiłbym na więcej prostszych brzmień niż na kombinowanie. Nie podobają mi się też te wstawki, zarezerwowane dla Gilmoura i spółki. Te dzwonki czy też brzmienie budzika jak kto woli, wywołały mój niesmak. Muzyka Salima to nie pastelowe brzmienia Floydów i na przyszłość powinien on unikać tego typu zabiegów. Tak samo jak wiecznego improwizowania. Stąd bierze się te wieczne zastanawiania "co autor miał na myśli" grając to czy owo. Ja nie mówię, że to źle. Ale podążając za przysłowiem "co za dużo to niezdrowo". Na następnej płycie, która mam nadzieję jest w przygotowaniu, życzyłbym sobie więcej przestrzeni, namysłu i jakiegoś takiego, hmmmm, "uspokojenia nastroju". Słowem przemyślanej całości. Czegoś, co da się powtórzyć na koncercie, bo ten facet zdecydowanie powinien wyjść ze swoją muzyką do świata. Bo grać potrafi zdecydowanie, a i pomysłów mu nie brakuje. Słuchając tej płyty zastanawiałem się, dla kogo została stworzona. Dla fanów progresji, muzyki klasycznej, muzyki elektronicznej? Nie wiem, chyba dla każdego po trochu. Saeedi umie to łączyć w całość, choć może nie zawsze mu się to udaje. Ja zalecałbym więc postawienie na większą ilość rocka i dopiero to zabarwiać brzmieniami klasycznymi i syntezatorowymi. Gdyby w takim Give My Childhood Back naprawdę się postarać i stworzyć nastrój na miarę szwedzkich mistrzów doom/death/gothic, to byłby prawdziwy hit. Ten utwór jest moim ulubionym, dlatego wymieniam go jako jedynego.

Ciekawa płyta, choć zapewne niektórych porządnie zmęczy. Mi jednak podoba się to malowanie dźwiękiem, mieszanie różnych stylów muzycznych i miejscami znakomite pomysły. Jeśli kogoś nie zniechęciłem, to zachęcam do zapoznania się z zawartością tego LP.

Iconophobic Review, GEPR, Fred Trafton, Jun 2011 [permalink]

Iconophobic is just your plain old dime-a-dozen Iranian RIO music. Say whaaat? Somebody's actually making progressive rock music in Iran? And it's RIO? Well, maybe. I've seen Salim Ghazi Saeedi's solo album compared stylistically to many other bands, and all comparisons fall short. Comparisons to Fripp or Zappa completely miss the mark. Comparisons to Univers Zero or Birdsongs of the Mesozoic are way closer, but still don't give the right flavor. I'd say, "If members of Hamster Theater captured a wandering band of Bible-era Iranian circus performers and forced them to play RIO, then they might sound like this. After about twenty years of practice."

A bit too contrived? Yeah, I agree. How about Saeedi's own description? "Avant-garde ancient art rock from Iran"? Right on! What this doesn't tell you is how excellent this album is! The music is instrumental, and Saeedi plays mostly guitar, but also does well on drums, bass, keyboards and violin (unless that's a really well-played violin keyboard sample!). If your tastes run more to Cuneiform, AltrOck or ReR labels than the Sympho or Neo end of the spectrum, then you should be a prime candidate for Iconophobic. But don't be surprised when you also get some Persian-flavored blues or heavy metal passages as well. No need to make any excuses for this album just because it comes from Iran ... the quality of the compositions, the playing and the recording is right up there with anything being made anywhere else in the world. Excellent and highly recommended!

Though Iconophobic is the first album for which Saeedi used his own name, he also created three albums under the "band name" Arashk that are essentially all his own work as well. He does have a couple of guest musicians playing on a few cuts, but mostly it's all him. Saeedi sent me a few examples of music from these albums as well. Though they're certainly not bad, they lean more towards the "Persian-flavored blues or heavy metal" end of his spectrum. These, to me, sound like mere rehearsals for the main event, which is Iconophobic. The Arashk material is less experimental and more "guitar hero" oriented. Nevertheless, they are interesting in their own right. But my advice is get Iconophobic first and then the Arashk albums only if you like the samples on Saeedi's web site.

[POLISH] Iconophobic Review, Mały Leksykon Wielkich Zespołów, Artur Chachlowski , Aug 2011 [permalink]

Albumem „Iconophobic” przekraczamy kolejne granice kultur, krajów i kontynentów. Gdyby kogoś spytać o muzykę Iranu, pewnie odpowiedź byłaby jedna: muzyka perska. Bardziej lub mniej sprecyzowana, ale na pewno pełna orientalizmów i niezbyt kojarzona przez wyznawców prog rocka, a na pewno pełna niekoniecznie łatwych do przyswojenia dźwięków.

W osobie Salima Ghazi Saeediego spotykamy pierwszego w historii MLWZ „rockmana”, którego płyta „Iconophobic”, acz także pełna trudnych dźwięków, wybiega zdecydowanie poza utarte stereotypy związane z muzyką z okolic Teheranu.

Saeedi łączy w swoim instrumentalnym graniu jazz, rock, muzykę elektroniczną i… - siłą rzeczy – muzykę Wschodu. „Iconophobic” to typowa produkcja „self-made mana”, gdyż muzyk ten zagrał na wszystkich instrumentach (głównie na gitarach i syntezatorach, wspomagając się automatem perkusyjnym), a także osobiście zajął się produkcją, miksem i aranżem 13 tematów wypełniających to wydawnictwo.

Są to bardzo krótkie utwory, w przeważającej mierze trwające od jednej do trzech minut i układają się one w instrumentalną wiązankę, którą  można śmiało określić, jako „orientalne fusion”. Nie jest to rzecz łatwa w odbiorze. Często zahacza o jazz, niekiedy przypomina też postmodernistyczną muzykę klasyczną, która bardziej pasowałaby na Warszawską Jesień niźli do audycji/portalu specjalizującego się w progresywnym rocku. Proponuję zatem odwiedzić profil MySpace artysty i samemu przekonać się o stylu i możliwościach przez niego reprezentowanych.

Ale, że warto burzyć bariery, a ambitne produkcje muzyczne – jak widać na załączonym przykładzie – nie znają granic, dlatego też niniejszą płytę Wam opisuję i oficjalnie informuję: witamy Iran na mapie prog rocka!

PS. Na koniec niespodzianka z ostatniej chwili!!! Właśnie dowiedziałem się, że Salim uruchomił swoją stronę internetową w języku... polskim!!! Można ją znaleźć pod tym likiem.

[NORWEGIAN] Iconophobic Review, MerlinProg, Ulf Backstrøm, Oct 2010 [permalink]

Salim Ghazi Saeedi har komponert tre album før “Iconophobic”. Alle disse verkene var under bandnavnet Arashk og først ut var “Abrahadabra” som kom i 2006. I 2007 kom så “Sovereign" og “Ustuqus-al-Uss” fra 2008. På denne skiva bruker Saeedi sitt eget navn, og har en rekke roller herunder cover art tegner, komponist, gitarist, miksing, produsering, bassist, keyboardist, trommearrangør, produsent osv . Saeedi sine tre tidligere album har vært konseptalbum, og sorterer stilistisk under progressive rock. Virkemidlene som brukes for å skape soundet er varierte og inkluderer klassisk rock instrumentering, men også elektroniske lyder brukes nennsomt og kløktig. I sum så skaper det et sound som vi knapt har hørt maken til, og så lenge det er både velspilt, flott arranger og med nerve logrer vi villig vekk i pur glede. Seg selv beskriver Saeedi som en evig improvisator som enten opptrer eller komponerer. Vi kan trygt fastslå att denne musikeren er mer en vanelig dedikert til det å skape ny og spenstig musikk da han åpenbart lever og ånder for sin kunst. En kjapp lytt til “Iconophobic” vil fort sementerer akkurat den oppfatningen, å tilkjennegi en artist med integritet og med særpreg i bøtter og spann! Musikken som skiva gestalter er definitivt skrevet med følelse og viser en musiker som har mye å tilby lytterne. Så vidt vi vet bor Saeedi i Teheran i Iran, og fikk som ung smaken på vestlig musikk som blant annet Nirvana. ”Iconophobic” er definitivt av konseptuel støpning, og tilkjennegir en ung mann som har tanker om mangt og meget, blant annet om dette flotte og kulturhistorisk innflytelsesrike landet han bor i. Skiva sitt gjennomgangstema er fobien eller frykten for ikoner, og som Saeedi selv sier er dette muligens ikke en psykologisk lidelse men et glimrende tema å reflektere over! Så vidt vi kan skjønne er lyrikken full av dulgte henvisninger og betydningen finnes best om en leser mellom linjene! Uansett så tar dette verket oss med på en fascinerende musikalsk reise som er mer enn vel verdt å få med seg. Spenningsfeltet som oppstår mellom proglegert musikk og lokal folklore er formidabel å lytte til, og blant annet toppet med Saeedi sin utsøkte traktering av gitaren. De elektroniske stuntene som Saeedi bruker fungerer også meget bra i denne konteksten. Programmert rytmikk er heller ikke her er noe vi synes trekker opp da det motsatte jo heller er tilfelle. Vi velger likevel å se stort på akkurat det i denne sammenhengen og å fokusere på alt som er bra, som for eksempel de velskrevene og ofte subtile låtene. Låter som er melankolsk og filosofisk legert, men som tidvis bærer bud om sol bak skyen og en viss optimisme. Alt på ”Iconophobic” er laget av Saeedi i hans hjemmestudio, og det er en formidabel og imponerende anstrengelse som ligger bak dette verket. Vi er storlig imponert av resultatet, og anbefaler alle å sjekke opp denne dyktige artisten som har så mye å by på. Hør bare på “Music Is Harem” som tar for seg det at enkelte mener at å lage og lytte til musikk er synd! Eller lytt til ”A Satire On Hell” som er en filosofisk betraktning om spørsmål som egentlig ikke har noen svar. Vårt svar er derimot at å lytte til Salim Ghazi Saeedi og hans ”Iconophobic” meget vel kan gjøre noe med deg og er så absolutt et musikalsk verk å anbefale!

[ITALIAN] Iconophobic Review, Lo Scrittore Progressivo, Riccardo Storti, Aug 2011 [permalink]

© Riccardo Storti

Sciolta la sigla Arashk, Salim Ghazi Saeedi prosegue per la propria strada assecondando le intuizioni di Ustuqus-al-Uss verso il suo primo album solistico, Iconophobic. E la strada procede in chiave squisitamente autarchica, visto che il nostro è compositore, arrangiatore, interprete e tecnico del suono. Sempre nello studio domestico a Teheran. Maggiore elettronica, ma più per necessità che non per scelta stilistica. Salim ormai pensa per orchestra ed i suoi brani cominciano a vivere di strutture armoniche e ritmiche più elaborate e attente a sfumature timbriche non limitabili ad indefiniti patch di synth. Ma non può andare oltre. Salim resta isolato, benché Internet sia sempre una bella mano. Qui da noi, il ragazzo avrebbe tanti bei compagnucci di gioco – prima di tutto, un batterista - per realizzare sogni che, comunque, già su CD lascerebbero intravedere pregevoli sviluppi. Lo stesso tratto chitarristico è più meditato, meno affrettato, calcolato e foriero, addirittura, di frammentazioni ritmiche progressive: prendiamo A Satire on Hell (in 5/4), The Songful Song of Songbird, Don’t You See the Cheerful Rainbow? dalle profonde linee frippiane. Linguaggio da colonna sonora in Dance in Solitude, Breast Milk, nella cameristica Eternal Melancholy of Loving Women e nell’etnottronica Give My Childhood Back.

Giunti alla conclusione di questa retrospettiva dedicata all’artista iraniano Salim Ghazi Saeedi, è giusto sottolineare come simili compositori meritino sostegno, se non altro per la forza di volontà. E il talento: è in questo caso che dovrebbero subentrare quelle produzioni preposte a valorizzare un musicista. Perché non si può fare tutto da soli.

Iconophobic Review, Fireworks Magazine #47, Ian Johnson, Sep 2011 [permalink]

An intriguing listening experience.

Whilst reading through some posts on a music forum I frequent, I noticed a message from a guy that posted a topic that said "Music has no boundaries". Intrigued I read his post a couple of times then contacted him. It turned out the man Salim Ghazi Saeedi was a musician from Iran of all places, who had recorded an album of instrumental prog rock music, that he was keen to tell the world all about. After some back and forth correspondence between us, Salim kindly sent me his CD to review, and I'm here to tell you that on what I would imagine was a very limited budget, he has made something very interesting indeed. What Salim has come up with is an album that reminded me of a weird combination of light prog rock mixed with ambient guitar sounds, that put me in mind of that wonderful guitar player/musician Scott Mosher and his music. And although the songs are a little on the short side (for true prog heads, that is) they do tell you about the interesting story of this man's musical journey and what he was feeling at the time he recorded the tracks.

So where to start ? Well with the songs 'Composers Laughter', 'A Satire On Hell' the intriguing 'The Songful Song Of Songbirds', 'Music In A Harem' and the clever 'Give My Childhood Back', multi instrumentalist Salim Ghazi Saeedi shows that music really doesn't or maybe that should read "should not", have any boundaries because he has put out an album that is very different, quirky, odd at times, yet very accessible. Of course being where he is from (Iran) and all that entails in today's troubled world, it probably isn't easy to be a musician, but with the Internet and good luck Salim will, I'm sure, get his music out to an appreciative world. 'Iconophobic' isn't your usual prog album, filled as it is with it's ambient sounds and strange ideas, yet that is what makes this album such an intriguing listening experience. If you like to give different types of music and musiciansa chance then do please give Mr Salim Ghazi Saeedi and his album a listen.

[ITALIAN] Iconophobic Review, Rock Impressions, Giancarlo Bolther, Sep 2011 [permalink]

Noi italiani sappiamo bene quanto sia difficile emergere nel panorama internazionale, ma pensate a quanta fatica deve fare un artista che viene da un paese islamico, non parlo delle resistenze interne, che non conosco anche se posso immaginare ci siano, ma parlo della difficoltà di far conoscere il proprio lavoro fuori dal paese di origine, senza un canale distributivo, senza nessuna forma di pubblicità, ma soprattutto verso un pubblico che storce il naso se il gruppo non è almeno anglosassone. Salim Ghazi Saeedi viene da un posto che abbiamo imparato a conoscere tramite i telegiornali e qualche documentario: Theran, la capitale dell’Iran, l’antica Persia. Per me è una grande soddisfazione che Salim ci abbia onorato del suo cd da recensire e sono molto felice di presentarvelo. Questo artista ha inciso tre album fra il 2006 e il 2008 con il gruppo Arashk (deve essere uscito il quarto album proprio quest’anno), mentre in questo caso presenta il suo primo album solista dove si occupa di tutto il lavoro.

Iconophobic è un album di musica prog interamente strumentale, composto da tredici brani tutti abbastanza brevi, quasi un’eccezione nel prog, ma questo non deve trarre in inganno, perché la musica di Salim è molto interessante. Intanto in un contesto propriamente prog rock inserisce elementi di musica araba, dando vita ad un sound molto originale, ma troviamo anche spunti jazz, neoclassici, elettronica, il tutto assemblato in modo personale e fantasioso. Tutti questi elementi rendono il disco di Salim fresco e intrigante, piacevole da ascoltare anche nelle sue parti più sperimentali e complesse, che non mancano di certo. La sensibilità di questo artista emerge con chiarezza e ci fa gustare la sua voglia di ricerca, il suo gusto per le soluzioni inedite, il suo amore per la musica.

Se Salim Ghazi non può competere con le ricche produzioni occidentali, questo mi rende ancora più caro il suo disco, che batte molte di queste produzioni sul piano dell’inventiva e della fantasia. Non dico che Iconophobic sia un capolavoro da avere, uno di quei dischi che non deve assolutamente mancare nella vostra discografia, ma di certo è un bel disco che merita attenzione e supporto. GB

[Portuguese] Iconophobic Review, Progshine, Rodrigo “Rroio” Carvalho, Nov 2011 [permalink]

Salim Ghazi Saeedi é um guitarrista/compositor iraniano especialista em compor músicas sem fronteiras, desligado de qualquer rótulo. Ou seja, prepare-se para encontrar uma miscelânea de estilos e elementos juntos, até então de forma inusitada.

Após lançar três álbuns com a banda Arashk entre 2006 e 2008, Saeedi lançou em 2010 este álbum Iconophobic (2010) (já tem outro, inclusive, Human Encounter, agora de 2011) como um projeto solo, aonde trabalhou como compositor, guitarrista, tecladista, arranjador, produtor e engenheiro de mixagem. Interessante notar também, que o site oficial do músico tem versões nos mais variados idiomas, inclusive em português!

Mas vamos ao disco. Sugiro que apaguem as luzes, coloquem o fone de ouvido e deixem apenas a música fluir.
Uma conveniente risada abre a belíssima instrumental ‘Composer’s Laughter’, transportando o ouvinte de maneira que é praticamente impossível não se imaginar no palco de um velho teatro, sozinho, com um holofote fraco iluminando um pianista. As luzes se acendem quando ‘A Satire On Hell’ começa a ser tocada, caótica ao seu modo, serviria perfeitamente para passagens teatrais de correria enquanto ‘And My Heart Aches Like 100 Aching Hearts’ traz passagens bem construídas, com variações sobre uma mesma base. O mesmo acontece com a pesada ‘Asiyeh’, que além de elementos de música oriental consegue encaixar ótimos riffs de guitarra em meio a predominância orquestral, e a redundante ‘The Songful Song Of Songbirds’, facilmente associada a um jazz tocando de fundo em um filme de gangsters. E indo totalmente na contramão, a eletrônica (com um toque leve de rap – mas MUITO leve) ‘Transcend Ecstasy With Ecstasy’ sai facilmente da curva e, mesmo a principio parecendo deslocada no álbum, a forma como as músicas anteriores deixam o ouvinte em imersão torna compreensível cada experimento do disco, com um clima muito bem pensado.

‘Don’t You See The Cheerful Rainbow?’ continua a viagem, com diversas mudanças de andamento nos seus curtos 3 minutos, carregando lentamente para o fundo, até a ótima ‘Music Is Haram’. ‘Dance In Solitude’, novamente teatral, tem uma veia tão forte nesse lado da música que instantaneamente pensamos que ela poderia estar na trilha sonora de filmes como ‘Black Swan’ (mesmo esse já tendo a sua trilha própria), assim como a curta e bela ‘Eternal Melancholy Of Loving Women’ e a sombria ‘Give My Childhood Back’, essa puxando um pouco mais para o lado Rock e eletrônico da coisa. Se considerarmos “Iconophobic” como uma obra única, contando uma “história”, ‘Breast-Milk’ seria o clímax final do filme/teatro, aonde algumas coisas se resolvem (ou encaminham pra isso), encerrando toda a obra em ‘I Am Beautiful, Are You Beautiful?’, quando tudo já está bem, as pessoas sorriem, fecham-se as cortinas e as luzes vão se acendendo por completas e resgatando você do float ao qual foi submetido de volta para a realidade.

Salim Ghazi Saeedi cumpre com Iconophobic (2010) uma missão nem sempre bem sucedida por outros músicos: construir um álbum instrumental variado, que hipnotiza quem ouve aos poucos, que ao mesmo tempo consegue transportar para um outro plano de concentração quanto servir de trilha sonora para qualquer coisa que se esteja fazendo. O segredo talvez esteja na facilidade com que os arranjos são absorvidos, por serem simples e com notável feeling, ou seja, sem tentar soar extremamente exibicionismo técnico, mas sim como algo que vem direto do cerne do sentimento.

Realmente, é uma belíssima viagem.

Iconophobic Review, The Rocktologist, Rok Podgrajšek, Dec 2011 [permalink]

Salim Ghazi Saeedi had been a member of Arashk before embarking on a solo career. His first solo album is called Iconophobic and will also be the subject of analysis here. You can read the review of his latest album, Human Encounter, HERE.

Seeing as it is his first solo album, you might expect a young musician still trying to find his bearings. And that's exactly what we get. I think it's commendable that Salim tackles such diverse genres as jazz, rock, metal, avant-garde, electronic, classical and Oriental music and often combines them as well. But that's also part of his undoing (perhaps a bit too strong of a word).
I'm not saying that Salim lacks musical ideas – quite the contrary. If anything, he has too many ideas and the album actually occasionally sounds disjointed. One moment we're greeted by a warm bluesy solo, the next moment he goes into full blown avant-garde and then suddenly the atmosphere changes again to a laid-back chamber rock affair. Well, you get the idea. You definitely get a sense that Salim has an almost too active brain and has so many ideas he wants to present that he doesn't really develop any of them to their fullest potential.

If we were to compare Iconophobic to his latest effort, Human Encounter, Iconophobic definitely falls short in pretty much every area. There's definitely a do-it-yourself vibe throughout the record, which I didn't notice on Human Encounter. The keyboards used for the classical instruments sound, well, like keyboards and the percussion (by that I mean drum programming) isn't up to scratch as well. Salim is an excellent guitarist and I often long he would pay more attention to the guitar (and perhaps just piano). As it is, the album sounds a tad naive.

Iconophobic is rough around the edges, but just like with any diamond, you have to polish it before it shines. With such an abundance of musical ideas at his disposal, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before he unleashes an album that will knock our socks off.

6 out of 10.

[ITALIAN] Iconophobic Review, Wonderous Stories #19, Lorenzo Barbagli, Aug 2011 [permalink]

In pochi forse si aspetterebbero che in una regione remota e autoritaria come l'Iran possa proliferare il progressive rock. Invece non si deve mai sottovalutare la potenza della musica, neanche se si tratta di un genere non proprio popolare nell'epoca contemporanea. Salim Ghazi Saeedi prima come membro della band progresive metal Arashk e ora come solista, ci fa sapere che il prog vive e raggiunge anche i luoghi Inciso prevedibili. Dopo aver realizzato tre album con i già citati Arashk, Salim firma questo esordio a proprio nome prendendosi carico di tutto il processo creativo: composizione, produzione, mixaggio, artwork. Iconophobie é un concept album che ha come soggetto la paura nei confronti delle immagini, come si può intuire dal titolo, e Salim si grava del non facile compito di trasmettere queste sensazioni attraverso una musica strumentale che trova nel R.I.O. più avanguardista un immediato termine di paragone. Certo le ristrettezze della produzione possono aver imposto dei limiti, ma Salim compensa tali mancanze con una buona dose di emotività ed empatia trasmessa all'interpretazione. Ci si chiede come avrebbero reso alcune composizioni con l'ausilio di un'orchestra (le tastiere spesso usano il registro dei violini), ma Salim ovvia anche a ciò seguendo la lezione degli esperimenti multimediali di Art Zoyd (Transcend Ecstasy with Ecstasy, Give my Childhood Back) o delle sinfonie avantgarde degli Univers Zero (A Satire on Hell, Asiyeh, The Songful Song of Songbirds). Quelli di Iconophobic sono dei quadri sonori che trasmettono di volta in volta angoscia, smarrimento e forza in perenne bilico tra Medio Oriente e occidente che Salim ha la capacità di trasporre anche con i mezzi esigui a disposizione. (L.B.)

[FRENCH] Iconophobic Review, Highlands Magazine #54, Axel Scheyder, Jan 2012 [permalink]

Pour commencer, rendons déjà hommage à SALIM GHAZI SAEEDI pour proposer une oeuvre issu d’un pays où les libertés sont un peu étriqués (Iran) .Si cette production est un album solo, n’oublions pas que ce dernier a oeuvré au sein du groupe ARASHK, auteur de 4 albums mélangeant allégrement le rock progressif, la musique iranienne, l’électronique et le métal. Pour ses 30 ans, il s’offre donc une escapade solitaire, jouant de tous les instruments (guitare et claviers). Ce besoin d’expression est-elle l’envie d’exprimer une autre musique ? Dès l’ouverture Composer’s Laughter, la sensation d’écouter une musique hors-norme (au sens premier du mot) se fait sentir : instrumentale, sa musique ne se veut pas mélodique ou séduisante : elle est âpre, arythmique mais tout de même intrigante, suffisamment pour qu’on veuille écouter la suite et A Satire On Hell poursuit dans cette voie tortueuse et inquiétante. Les claviers se font cordes ou vents, la guitare accentue le trouble, la mélodie syncopée. Il est certain que SALIM GHAZI SAEEDI s’intéresse d’abord au collage sonore, au modelage du son pour un résultat plutôt exigeant mais assez hypnotique pour être séduisant. And My Heart Aches Like 100 Aching Hearts démarre par une courte introduction glauque pour un développement commun à son prédécesseur, avec ses influences arabiques et ce magma sonore tout en bruitages et en ambiance aussi nvoutante qu’inquiétante. Il faut reconnaitre une originalité dans la musique proposée, mais elle est malheureusement ternie par des sons de claviers trop amateurs, trop synthétiques, pour apporter un réel souffle à l’ensemble. Mais avec Asiyeh, un léger changement s’opère avec moins de claviers pour plus de guitare, ce qui est salutaire pour ne pas tourner en rond, recentrant plus son propos pour une écoute optimum. Sûrement l’un des meilleurs de cet album. The Songful Song Of Songbirds se fait un peu la synthèse de tout cela, avec une rythmique plus présente et plus appuyée. Transcend Ecstasy with Ecstasy nous plonge dans un univers plus électro, avec toujours son lot de cordes synthétiques. Intéressant mais un peu ennuyeux. Don’t You See The Cheerful Rainbow ? Poursuit tranquillement l’album et fait apparaitre par la même occasion le plus gros défaut de ce dernier, la répétition. Si l’originalité est présente, elle est de moins en moins surprenante et la musique tendance à se répéter. Music Is Haram n’en est que le reflet : pas inintéressant mais finalement trop linéaire pour nous embarquer dans son monde. Dance In Solitude va dans la même direction, en un peu plus électrique pour notre plus grand plaisir ! Eternal Melancholy Of Loving Women est un intermède passable pour en venir à Give My Childhood Back, comme une suite du morceau précédant, agréable mais pas percutant. Et il en est de même pour les 2 derniers titres.

Au final, avec ICONOPHOBIC, SALIM GHAZI SAEEDI nous propose un album très personnel, à l’ambiance angoissante mixant le rock expérimental, la musique arabe et la musique électro. Si l’initiative est bonne, le résultat est décevant. Si les premiers morceaux sont séduisants et originaux, la suite se fait plus laborieuse et surtout répétitive. A force de miser sur le son ou l’ambiance, il en oublie la séduction et l’album se referme sur lui-même, laissant petit à petit l’auditeur de coté. Pas inintéressant, mais pas assez séduisant. Dommage ! 11,5/20 Axel SCHEYDER

[FRENCH] Iconophobic Review, Progressive Area, CHFAB, Apr 2012 [permalink]

« Music is resistance ? »
Voici un cd qui ne s’est certainement pas développé sans une certaine difficulté, d’ordre pratique comme politique (voire religieuse), puisqu’il nous vient tout droit d’Iran… Deuxième incursion (à ma connaissance) de notre musique de prédilection en terre mésopotamienne (Tigre et Euphrate, touchant Iran et Irak)…
Aux  vues des péripéties éprouvées par MAVARA, autre formation venue de ce pays, invitée au Crescendo pour l’édition 2010, on imagine (à peine) les complications en terme de clandestinité (la musique libre est un péché en territoire intégriste, quel qu’il soit) ; difficulté de se procurer des instruments modernes (qui les vent là-bas ?), d’écouter de la musique européenne (classique, jazz, rock, etc…) ou autre, quasi impossibilité de dénicher un studio de répétition (la musique électrique, ça fait du bruit, et l’on est jamais à l’abri d’une dénonciation de voisinage), impossibilité de promotion (mais ça, avec le prog, on connait déjà !), bref, le travail de l’artiste, dans ces conditions, relève d’une certaine part d’héroïsme. Je conseille d’ailleurs à tout le monde de découvrir ce film documentaire très réussi intitulé « Les Chats Persans », relatant tout ce qui vient d’être évoqué, où comment faire du rock garage au pays des lapidations… Ce n’est pourtant pas le premier effort de ce musicien d’avant-garde, mais plutôt le quatrième (un autre est sorti depuis, en 2011).
Si je parle de tout ça, ce n’est pas tant pour plomber nos préoccupations dérisoires, mais plutôt pour évoquer le cœur même de ce disque, entièrement produit, contrôlé, composé et interprété par SALIM GHAZI SAEEDI, et témoignant de son ressenti, de sa vigilance intellectuelle et émotive, bref, son témoignage intime sur la vie, son regard affuté sur la médiocrité des humains en général, à l’image de ce gros plan rétinien figurant sur la pochette du disque. Mais venons en au fait, et parlons musique, maintenant !
A l’écoute des premières mesures de « Iconophobic » (titre particulièrement pertinent pour le contexte),  mes impressions ont été tout d’abord un peu mitigées… Des instruments classiques synthétiques, une basse de même, et une rythmique programmée, des bruitages réalistes parsemant tout l’album, pour une sorte de rock in opposition d’obédience très symphonique, des séquences narquoises, turbulentes, saucissonnées, se succédant sans cohérence apparente, pour un disque entièrement  instrumental…
Tout ceci semble dérouter, mais c’est sans compter sur le travail du garçon, dévoilant au fur à mesure des arabesques (pas pu m’empêcher !) de guitares au son tantôt acide et saturé, tantôt clair et dépouillé, entre les méandres des claviers orchestraux.
On assiste au fond à un mélange tout à fait réjouissant et personnel d’influences classiques, atonales (KING CRIMSON en tête, évidemment), et orientales (toujours les guitares) dans un esprit très rock de chambre belge (PRESENT, ART ZOYD, ARANIS etc…). THE ENID version RIO ? Oui, on peut dire ça, la grandiloquence en moins. Ce qui ne veut pas dire que c’est inaudible, non non, intellectuel sans doute (le travail a été essentiellement effectué dans un esprit impressionniste, jusqu’aux titres des morceaux), mais pas abscons. Les séquences sont variées, envoutantes (une certaine langueur plane), alternant passages troubles et plages harmonieuses, finalement évocatrices d’une œuvre sonore très cinématographique, prolongeant un passé musical (les polyrythmies iraniennes !) et poétique plus que séculaire.
Bon, pour être honnête, je vous avouerai que ce cd était destiné d’emblée à ne pas faire partie de mes incontournables de l’année, mais qu’il a fini par m’avoir au tournant, et je tenais à saluer cette musique, son créateur, et le style qu’il met en place : une sorte de kitchen prog  plutôt classieux…faut déjà le faire ! On pourrait reprocher à GHAZI SAEEDI d’avoir tout fait tout seul, au détriment d’une puissance d’exécution dont un véritable groupe et orchestre aurait fait preuve, mais on imagine aussi les difficultés pratiques et politiques que cela aurait auguré que de réunir tout ce monde en Iran…
 Certes, cette musique ne se dévoile pas avec l’évidence que l’on serait en droit d’attendre d’elle, mais quoiqu’il en soit, les plus ouverts  (et patients) d’entre nous serons certainement récompensés par ces mélopées et contrepieds insaisissables, ponctués ça et là par de sacrées saillies de guitares frippiennes !
Singulier et vraiment intéressant.

Iconophobic Review, Rotter's Club, Peppe, Oct 2012 [permalink]

Prog anche dall'Iran? Ebbene sì! Ed anche di una certa originalità e personalità. Sarà il fatto che questo artista, Salim Ghazi Saeedi, è cresciuto con tutt'altri tipi di musica, Nirvana in primis e solo ora che prova a fare qualcosa di più ricercato, in maniera forse quasi inconsapevole, si è ritrovato a proporre composizioni di natura progressive. Una natura che resta però particolare, vuoi per la struttura dei brani, tutti molto brevi (nessuno raggiunge i quattro minuti), vuoi per una strumentazione essenziale e moderna. Salim, infatti, fa tutto da solo con chitarra e tastiere e programmando ritmi elettronici. Ne vien fuori un disco che parte con un brano un po' d'atmosfera e dai timbri cameristici (Composer's laughter) e che prosegue, giusto per ricordare qualche momento particolarmente significativo, con tracce d'avanguardia non spinta (A satire on hell), atmosfere oscure vicine al chamber-rock di Univers Zero e Art Zoyd (The songful song of songbirds e Dance in solitude), con vertici notevoli toccati grazie alle mini-sinfonie dark Give my childhood back e I am beautifu, are you beautiful?, che mescolano timbri di strumenti rock e di archi, nonché tradizioni diverse tra atmosfere mitteleuropee e melodie che disegnano squarci d'Oriente. Meno convincenti, invece, quei pezzi dove viene maggiormente a galla l'elettronica (tipo Transcend ecstasy with ecstasy). I suoni magari risentono un po' dell'amatorialità del prodotto e sembrano un po' algidi, ma ciò non toglie che Saeedi ci propone un lavoro sincero e pieno di inventiva, attraverso una serie di miniature riuscitissime, che fanno ben sperare per il futuro, che si ascoltano con estremo piacere e che insieme vanno a formare anche un interessante concept sulla paura delle immagini.

Ustuqus-al-Uss (2008)

Ustuqus-al-Uss and Sovereign review, Vents Magazine, RJ Frometa, Aug 2014 [permalink]

The album starts, you can hear this creepy intro and at this point you have no idea what to expect. “Ustuqus-al-Uss-al-Avvalin-val-Akharin” follows next with this awesome jazzy guitar riffs replacing the violin of the first song; however this doesn’t last too long as Salim start playing both instruments creating a more macabre, apocalyptic vibe that you will love though I highly recommend not to listen alone in a dark room as you might have nightmares that night. The strings arrangements are simply awesome and there’s no doubt Salim archived his goal with this record blending avant-garde and jazz fusion without leaving those Eastern music elements that makes his music so incredible. Reminiscent of acts like Serj Tankian to King Crimson, Progressive music fans will love this record that’s for sure.

Ustuqus-al-Uss Album Review, Gnosis2000, Richard Poulin, Jun 2011

Ustuqus-al-Uss is the third instalment by Arashk, a group from Iran whose mastermind is guitarist extraordinary Salim Ghazi Saeedi. I had been completely enthralled, exhilarated, no, plain dumbfounded by their first album, Abrahadabra, which is still to me the Ultima Thule of instrumental progressive metal. Abrahadabra not only revealed to the world the incredible resourcefulness, creativity and originality of Saeedi, but presented a truly novel blend of Near Eastern folk music and the best that progressive metal has to offer. The result was an incredibly exciting collection of thermonuclear explosions of totally unreal guitar shredding with all the delights of the 1001 nights woven into the tiny spaces of silence left by the formidable wall of sound erected by Mr. Saeedi. Nothing less, and run to get it if not done already. Your heart will only function better after :-)

I was expecting Arashk to have pushed further in the direction of that Western metal/Persian fusion with Ustuqus-al-Uss, which means something like “Pour the alchemy of soul into cauldron”, and presents itself as a mini-suite completely written and (almost) played by Salim Ghazi Saeedi, who is Arashk now, really. As with all man-orchestra suites that I know (think Tubular Bells (Mike Oldfield), Solitarily Speaking Of Theoretical Confinement (Ron Jarzombek), etc.), the end result suffers from the fact that most, if not all musicians, may shine on brightly with one instrument (Saeedi’s forte being of course the axe), but manage to exhibit more or less important shortcomings when playing instruments with which they are less proficient. Such shortcomings translate most of the time by obvious limits in the orchestration, even though the execution is clean and flawless per se. And that’s what I think makes Ustuqus-al-Uss a worthy, but less consistent effort. Let’s see in more detail what the final result turned out to be.

The album can be envisioned as a poem in music consisting of 9 strophes. Now, one has to be aware that Persian poetry (written in Farsi) is exceptionally rich and beautiful, and this one makes no exception. It starts with a most classical symphonic prelude, “Out Of Silence The One Ran And Returned”, starting on a martial speed evoking Holst’s Mars (of Planets and In the Wake of Poseidon’s fame), that then washes away on a quieter shore with grave piano, in the same solemn vein, and concludes with a masterful use of keyboards to simulate solo and symphonic violin sounds that work very well. Immediately, we know we are in for something very different from Arashk’s first. Abrahadabra was really an exquisite program of Persian Gulf shredding from hell with a clear sonic unity centered on Saeedi’s mind-bogglingly hyperkinetic guitar and his incredible creativity at infusing the very basis of Near-Eastern music into the structures of speed metal, together with an amazingly keen ear for highly melodic riffs. The title piece, “Ustuqus-al-Uss al Avvalin val Akharin”, is a totally maniacal, super-high-octane nuclear shredding bomb that leaves the solemn, majestic, symphonic intro, and takes off without warning, almost reaching the speed of light in a fraction of a second, leaving the listener listless and in total awe at Saeedi, the Master of Speed Axe. Later on, the dialog between the fiddle parts (played quite convincingly with synthesizers) and the electric guitar reproduces surprisingly well the exchanges between the kamancheh (a sort of violin) and the tar, so typical of Persian folk dance music. “Ustuqus-al-Uss...” is truly the piece de resistance, together with its splendidly Univers Zero-ish intro. In fact, “Ustuqus-al-Uss...” equals anything on Abrahadabra in terms of diabolical energy and fireworks, and I would almost say it even surpasses it. Salim Ghazi Saeedi is simply, in my view, the nimblest and most inventive speed freak guitarist of our times, and by far. What distinguishes Saeedi from his colleagues in that highly select club of demonstrative lunatics that regroups the Chris Impelliteri’s, Michael Angelo Batio’s, Buckethead’s and Steve Vai’s of this world (and many others) is not only the perfect timing and delivery that he maintains even at insane rocket speeds, but also the highly original blend of Eastern and Western scales that he manages to create with this style which in the hands of the above-named (except perhaps Buckethead), rapidly tends to a robotic, redundant routine. As I had mentioned about Abrahadabra, a good comparison might be Pino Marrone of Crucis fame. Think Marrone with a Persian musical background who would play Los Delirios del Mariscal after gulping twenty espressos in a cinch, and you have a rough idea of what Salim Ghazi Saeedi may sound like, but all of this is mere dancing on architecture: you really have to listen to get Abrahadabra and enjoy this masterpiece. But back to Ustuqus now...

Starting with slow arpeggios in the same ominous tone as the overture, the suite moves on with “Outer Aeonic Descend”, which slowly builds up with percussion, crashing heavy chords, followed by a piano fugue in an ELP/RIO sort of way. The whole thing is very original and interesting, especially with its frequent use of sudden breaks to create movement and action. A small chamber RIO piece that once again points to whole new directions.

And from now on, the suite starts to display signs of weakening. Maybe “Ustuqus-al-Uss al Avvalin val Akharin” left Saeedi out of breath and washed out, but all I know is that erosion is taking its toll on the imagination heard in the following strophes... The “suite” seems to lack inspiration at this stage, and the compositions, rather than showing a sense of direction as at the beginning, seem to wander ever more aimlessly, one track after another. But the downhill trend is not steep, only slowly but surely descending.... unfortunately, however.

It starts with “My Inner Sun”, an amazing recreation of a small chamber orchestra without strings, and extends the same vein as in the previous track. The only annoying thing here, really, is the drum machine, which sounds much cheaper than the other electronic devices that simulate an orchestra, but much more successfully so. Saeedi, who is responsible for keyboards, uses these sections as a showcase for his orchestral ambitions. He is the poet behind these aural strophes that want to tell a story. And ...whoa! Arashk/Saeedi is showing its teeth to the mullahs and the ayatollahs with “Government”, and I wonder how he gets away with it, as the music speaks for itself. Heavy pounding guitar, accentuated by the piano, it clearly shoots flames of anger, and no need to read Le Courrier Diplomatique to figure out how and why. Of course, instrumental pieces make the safest political resistance, and I doubt that the bearded morons, with all their duplicity (as the poem goes), decipher that language, which has more to borrow from Present and Univers Zero than Persian folk dances...

As for the remainder of the album, it descends and descends, slowly... There is more annoying drum machine with “Naught Been I Thou”, although in this case it might be used more to simulate snare drums and a vaguely warrior-like spirit. Fortunately, with toned down electric guitars and the same ominous, UZ-ish atmosphere prevailing since the beginning, the piece still holds its water well. One might describe it as a sort of crossover between Near Eastern folk and Downtown-Zorn-inspired music. Not bad, but one senses deeper and deeper breathing. As in the next track, “My Third Eye”, the now increasingly familiar combination of piano, synthesizers, and soaring, very heavy layers of guitar, yet and again counterweighted with simple piano chords, leaves an impression of prog metal defying gravity, but sounds same-ish and same-ish after what we have heard so far. Not bad, but not especially exciting either. One might sure use a Fourth Eye with a Third Eye like this...

What one does not need at this stage, is a bluesy slow played by a sort of Persian Santana, with bursts of speedkraut-like riffing a la Älgarnas Trädgård or Humus: “Artemis The Huntress”. Fortunately, the piece has a more interesting middle development, with less predictable counterpoint, but then it’s ... quickly back to the juicy, languorous kissing on the dance floor, with more heavy hiccups, etc. Artemis is indeed a very tricky huntress, but she uses rather old tricks...

What could possibly conclude this very disjointed sort-of-suite? Yep, you guessed right: a Persian reggae (or rug-gae?) that has no ending, because it abruptly terminates in midair like Bach’s XIVth counterpoint in his Art of Fugue. If that recording was made to end like this on purpose, well, I’m Napoleon’s grand-grand-grandson (or am I?). It does seem to have been left uncompleted for some unknown reason (maybe a mullah heard Track 5, “Government”, and seized the only good recording of the final strophe? An enquiry is needed here. In any case, after having been treated with flamboyant guitar such as on Abrahadabra or on the title piece here, this ruggae is really nothing more original than your average Forever Einstein: a simple, quiet and somewhat bland chamber guitar trio exercise illustrating a rare time signature, but without consequence and leaving one’s memory as quickly as it has entered it.

Let’s get this right: Ustuqus-al-Uss is overall an excellent effort, but its uneven vein of inspiration leaves mixed feelings. Fortunately, the good parts of it are extremely good, which buys off the lack of originality felt especially in the last third of the album. The doctor prescribes the return of Saeedi to a real trio formation and forgetting about the man-orchestra solution. Arashk bursts with so much talent and creativity and opens such unlimited possibilities, with its unique flamboyant Persian speed prog metal creations that struck me as incredibly brilliant and exciting, that I would hate its loss to oblivion. Here is such a rare event: an outstanding progressive musical force and once again, the most complete speed freak guitarist in this spot of the Milky Way, but from a place as improbable (for the style) as present Iran.

Ustuqus-al-Uss Album Review,, Windhawk, Sep 2010

This third effort from Persian band Arashk is really something else.

Progressive metal is the name of the game here, but in a manner I suspect few have ever heard before - if any. From the opening classical symphonic number you just know that you're in for something special here; and as the compositions come one after the other, blending Arask' pretty distinct guitar sound and quirky drum and riff patterns with violin soloing and dark synths, this band really takes it's listener on a ride.

The compositions are short, but explore several themes, and also have the time to revisit quite a few of them. Without ever becoming predictable, and taking care to add in the odd dissonant or arhytmic segment, the gritty guitars and swirling violins create stunning contrasts - and quite often exotic sounding flurries adds some sice to the proceedings as well.

It's an instrumental album though, which will limit it's audience a bit. Still, cleary an album to get if innovative and creative music in a prog metal style sounds intriguing.

[GERMAN] Ustuqus-al-Uss and Sovereign Album Review, Ragazzi Webzine, Volkmar Mantei, Jun 2011

Arashk ist das Bandprojekt des iranischen Musikers Salim Ghazi Saeedi. In den Booklets zu den beiden Alben ist zu lesen, dass sämtliche Musik von ihm selbst gespielt worden sei, bis auf einige wenige Parts, dennoch ist seine Band, die Arashk Band personell aufgelistet, ob Salim die Alben im Alleingang mit ein wenig Zuarbeit geleistet hat und mit Band auf der Bühne steht, oder wie der Konflikt zwischen Bandangabe und Soloperformance zu erklären ist, geht aus dem Booklet nicht hervor. Beide Alben, "Sovereign" (2007) und "Ustuqus-al-Uss" (2008), sind jeweils sehr kurz. Bieten aber einen interessanten Blick in die Sicht des iranischen Musikers, der progressive Rockmusik spielt. Salim Ghazi Saeedi hat iranische, persische Musik nach eigenen Angaben nie studiert, doch sein Aufwachsen in Teheran inmitten der Landeskultur hat ihn geprägt. So sind seine Songs ungewöhnlich aufgebaut, von besonderer Schwermut und rasanter Attacke. Manches Thema fließt dämmernd dahin, mit wolkigem, nicht sofort greifbarem Thema, außergewöhnlicher Melodieführung, bis auf die schneidend-scharfe elektrische Gitarre, die als Kontrast zum keyboardbetonten Arrangement kratzig-hart eingebaut ist. Manches neben der elektrischen Gitarre wirkt wie Computermusik, wechselt stetig zwischen kraftvollem, und doch ungewöhnlich aufgebauten Rock und asiatisch anmutender Backgroundharmonik.
"Sovereign" ist wenig nur über 26 Minuten lang. 8 Songs sind enthalten, rein instrumental aufgebaut, spannend und kraftvoll, verblüffend von sanftem Beginn in donnernden Rock übergehend. Einige Schlagzeugpartien wirken computeranimiert, andere sind handgespielt, und Salim beweist sich hier als Metal-geschult. Es gibt erstaunliche Parallelen zu "Ustuqus-al-Uss", das mit 35 Minuten Länge fast schon als komplettes Album durchgehen kann. Die 2008er CD wirkt wie die Musik zu Tausendundeiner Nacht im Rockformat. Mystisch-märchenhafte Themen, oftmals elektronisch oder als Keyboardkomposition aufgebaut, macht sich eine reiche fremde Welt auf. Bis die Rockband einsteigt und den schönen fremden Arrangements seine knackharte Rockdramatik aufsetzt. Der Titelsong klingt fast Eins-zu-Eins wie der zweite Track auf "Sovereign" - und ist fast komplett identisch aufgebaut. Im Rahmen der persischen Melodiesprache geht der Song aber ganz anders auf und wirkt kraftvoller, eindrucksvoller, näher und begreifbarer, nicht so mystisch und ungreifbar wie die Version auf dem älteren Album.
Insgesamt ist "Ustuqus-al-Uss" lebhafter, ausdrucksstärker, mutiger und selbstbewusster. Die persischen Einflüsse stehen nicht im Off, sondern gleichberechtigt neben der Rockband und die Verzahnung beider Welten ist straffer, wirksamer und echter. Dennoch immer noch ungewöhnlich und das Echo einer fernen Welt sind beide Alben nur unbedingt - auch trotz einiger qualitativer Einbußen in Sound und Arrangement - nur zu empfehlen. Progressive Rock lebt auch im Iran.

[FRENCH] Ustuqus-al-Uss, Music Waves webzine, Mr. Blue, Jun 2011

Note : 7.5/10 | Voilà un bien curieux nom pour un bien curieux groupe. Cette formation de Metal Progressif vient de Teheran, en Iran. Se présentant sous la forme d'un power trio (guitare, basse, batterie), il propose deux premiers albums intéressants et majoritairement instrumentaux et nous pond en 2008 cet "Ustuqus-Al-Us" pour le moins original. Ce dernier se démarque de la discographie du groupe en combinant des éléments de Rock Progressif avec un feeling très personnel et oriental, offrant même des soli de violon et piano.

Cette symbiose donne naissance à une musique assez particulière et singulière. On y trouve beaucoup de violon, de guitare saturée, de rythmiques percussives et très sèches et des sons bizarres échappant aux instruments torturés. Cet ensemble qui se veut très cohérent certes, délivre également des titres parfois difficiles d'accès. C'est le cas d'un "Naught Been I Thou" trop curieux pour être apprécié sur la longueur, ou d'un "My Third Eye" bruyant. Les mélodies et lignes directrices sont parfois bien cachées et décelables qu'au bout de plusieurs écoutes dans ces titres très déstructurés (cette impression est surtout due à une rythmique changeante, véloce et syncopée, comme sur "My Inner Sun" riche en cithare et distorsions en tout genres). Mais le groupe semble assumer totalement cette singularité et en fait un point fort de son album. Seule l'attention et le temps permettront de découvrir, de dompter puis d'apprécier ce réel effort de progression musicale.

Ainsi le groupe nous régale avec l'acoustique "Outer Aeonic Descend" riche en percussions, piano et guitare Folk et son ambiance opaque, à couper au couteau, très cinématographique. Il nous donne à taper du pied durant les échanges furieux de guitare et violon sur l'énergique "Ustuqus Al Uss Avvalin Val Akharin". Toute la force de ce titre réside dans l'antagonisme de l'échange de la guitare saturée et la pureté d'un violon acoustique. Plus loin, c'est le Metal qui reprend ses marques sous la guitare incisive et sale de Salim Ghazi Saeedi avec "Government", une envolée très Hard Rock des origines et gavée de guitare grinçante.

Après une partie centrale plus difficile à digérer (nous l'évoquions plus haut), "Artemis The Huntress" permet de souffler de nouveau avec ses mélodies plus inspirées et tout en bend et le final acoustique assez Folk apaise par sa simplicité et sa fraicheur. Ainsi, le groupe prend-il soin d'effectuer un atterrissage en douceur après un voyage fort intéressant mais parfois mouvementé.

Voilà donc un album recommandable pour tout fan d'un Rock Progressif dans le sens premier du terme.

[JAPANESE] Ustuqus-al-Uss, DiskUnion's Progressive Rock Online

Pouyan Khajavi(b/g/vo)とShahram Khosraviani(dr)を中心に'01年結成されたIran産テクニカルgトリオ、'08年作が登場。従来のArabic Musicを反映させたMetal Fusion志向はそのままに、programmingやorchestra/string arr.等新機軸を導入。荘厳なorchestra arr.の'Out Of Silence The One Ran And Returened'、Thrashyなgリフ/ソロとstring synthのスリリングな応酬が味わえる'Ustuqus-al-Uss Al Awalin Val Akharin'、無機質なprogrammingリズムにgのArabic旋律が展開する'My Third Eye'等々、若手ならではの意気込みを強く反映しながらもオリジナリティにあふれたプレイ/楽曲が詰まった、更なる進化を聴かせる秀作です!!

[DUTCH] Ustuqus-al-Uss Review, Prog Opinion, Harry 'JoJo' de Vries, Aug 2011

"Wat je ver haalt is lekker" ... zei mijn vader zaliger altijd. En dat geldt zeker ook voor de muziek van de Iraanse band Arashk die onder de bezielende leiding staat van Salim Ghazi Saeedi, aan wiens uitstekende solowerk 'Iconophobic' ProgLog AFTERglow ook al eens aandacht besteedde.
'Ustuqus-all-Uss' handelt over de ontwikkeling van de mens met al zijn kwaliteiten en onhebbelijkheden. Het album bestaat uit negen tracks van gemiddeld een minuut of vier die mij vooral doen denken aan The Enid. Klassiek getinte, volle, symfonische enigszins avant-gardistische composities waarin de keyboards en Salim's gitaar domineren, en waar in dit geval logischerwijze invloeden uit het Midden-Oosten in zijn terug te vinden. Het is filmische muziek dus het roept niet alleen beelden op maar zou ook zeker niet misstaan als soundtrack van een film of als achter- grond bij een documentaire, misschien wel over de situatie in Iran. John Zorn of Sufjan Stevens zouden dit soort muziek ook hebben kunnen maken.
Het is jammer dat iemand als Salim Ghazi Saeedi verborgen zit achter het dikke, zwarte gordijn van Iran. Zijn muziek dringt af en toe door het velours heen en stelt ons in staat door een kier naar binnen te gluren. Omdat het instrumentaal is moeten we ons echter zelf een voorstelling maken van wat we daar zien. De Iraanse lente?

Ustuqus-al-Uss Review, ProgNaut, Lee Henderson, Aug 2011

This band has Salim Ghazi Saeedi at the helm and as some of you have read my review on his solo “Iconophobic”, this is a bit similar but not quite. This takes on a broad fusion of classical, electronic, metal, prog rock and avant garde that I like just as much as I liked his solo. I can truly say I own nothing just like this in my huge collection of music from everywhere. I love the combinations and pure creativity Salim seems to easily produce. This is Arashk’s 3rd release.

The CD has a short story in the notes about each song and I’ll let the folks who buy this enjoy that part. The music begins like Stravinsky with haunting classical music. The piano leads it out to a more Carl Orff atmosphere. It’s the beginning of great things. You’ll be shocked by the next song as it begins as a highly charged speed metal composition that rapidly brings in strings and various motifs that would have fans of Pierre Vervloesem happy. Each song just keeps moving to other places and surprises the listener. Try and imagine equal parts speed metal, classical, jazz, progressive rock, and the great RIO of X-Legged Sally. Add some Fripp inspired guitar in places, and you have at least an idea of the genre this gets into. It’s pretty close to having it’s own genre. At times you have beautiful string and wind synthesizer in the sound track mode, giving way to shred and speed metal prog, then off to neo classical music. This compares to the bands The Flue and Mecano ( the same bands I compared Salim’s solo CD to ) in many places as well. That industrial classical gothic prog that sounds so good to these ears.

On first listen, you will never guess where the band is going from minute to minute. It certainly does not belong in the heavy metal category, but only uses some ingredients of the metal I have described in places. Those who know X-Legged Sally and the members work, will know exactly what I am referring to with this fusion of styles. And the great thing that Arashk have going for them are the odd time signatures that they are more familiar with than most Western folks are exposed to on any large basis. It makes for some highly technical sounding music. A good deal of this music is hyper and might be great for running music (but sure would be a shame to listen to this on Ipod with crappy MP3 sound quality, so nix that idea *l*). I especially love song six (“Naught been I Thou”) as it brings in the folk dance styles with hand claps, great percussion, violin samples, and moves all over the place. Once again, I am super pleased to have this CD in my collection. For only 35 minutes, this recording packs a punch and makes you feel like you got an hours worth of magical music. You will be impressed. So to wrap it up, lets try and describe this CD in one sentence. It’s a combination of Peter Vervloesem/X-Legged Sally/Sleepytime Gorilla Museum gone instrumental/Stravinsky/Mecano in their neo classical industrial era/ a brush stroke of middle eastern and Univers Zero backing them all up. That should do it *s* HIGHLY RECOMMENDED !!

Reviewed by Lee Henderson on August 20th, 2011

[ITALIAN] Ustuqus-al-Uss Review, Lo Scrittore Progressivo, Riccardo Storti, Aug 2011

© Riccardo Storti

Più che lo stacco, il segno concreto dell’ambizione. Salim ovviamente non rinuncia alle amate schitarrate da virtuoso, ma il compositore si apre a forme più complesse. Fermo il riferimento – ma qui più articolato – alla grammatica heavy nella tradizione musicale autoctona, Salim dà più spazio ai suoni orchestrali regalando composizioni presaghe di un futuro da sountracker (Out of Silence The One Run and Return e Outer Eonic Descend). Sì, in Ustuqus-al-Uss comincia a vivere lo spirito della colonna sonora, per ora limitata al suono di campionature e tastiere, ma lo sguardo musicale di Salim mira lontano. C’è un violino “sintetico” che sarebbe bello risentire, prima o poi, nelle timbriche originali, acustiche, perché la scrittura pensata è convincente (My Inner Sun, Naught been I thou). Non mancano complicità ritmiche con singolari episodi di un acid-jazz crossover orientaleggiante (My Third Eye) o di speziata psichedelia blues (Artemis The Huntress e Supreme Grades). In questo quadro cangiante e assai promettente, alla fine, le pagine meno interessanti risultano proprio quelle legate a certe dipendenze chitarristiche (Government e la title track); eppure, nonostante ciò, Salim dimostra crescita espressiva e mestiere, grazie all’inserimento di felici artifici regalati da “gustose” parti armoniche. Niente di trascendentale, ma avete presente la nota giusta al momento giusto? Di rilievo anche il plot del concept, in cui si mischiano elementi esoterici legati a temi gnostici (la fonte è quel Corpus Geberiano dell’alchimista persiano Jabir ibn Hayyan). Da notare che non tutti i brani sono firmati da Salim, ma vedono l’intervento del secondo chitarrista Pouyan e del batterista Shraram. © Riccardo Storti

[ITALIAN] Ustuqus-al-Uss Review, Lo Scrittore Progressivo, Riccardo Storti, Aug 2011

Gli Arashk sono la band (sciolta al momento in cui scrivo) del giovane compositore e multi-strumentista iraniano Salim Ghazi Saeedi che abbiamo conosciuto in occasione della pubblicazione della sua prima prova solista, l’interessante “Iconophobic” (2010). E’ bene precisare che Salim (che qui suona chitarra e tastiere) faceva nella band (completata da Pouyan Khajavi al basso e da Shahram Khosraviani alla batteria) la maggior parte del lavoro. Questo album, il terzo della discografia, è infatti quasi completamente opera sua e l’intervento dei due compagni si limita a due sole tracce. Un discorso un po’ diverso è riservato invece all’album “Yell”, uscito sempre nel 2008, in cui sono raccolti pezzi scritti da Pouyan e da Shahram a partire dal 2001 e in cui Salim ha contribuito solo con la chitarra ritmica e in termini di registrazione e mastering. Quest’ultimo disco fa in realtà un po’ storia a sé, visto che si distacca dai precedenti anche per quel che riguarda il genere proposto: un ruvido hard rock cantato. Allo stato attuale tutti i CD degli Arashk, soprattutto dopo l’interesse scaturito con l’uscita di “Iconophobic”, sono stati ristampati e si possono trovare facilmente in vendita online. Ascoltare gli album degli Arashk permette di apprezzare la crescita artistica di Salim: lo stile gradualmente si trasforma, le idee si arricchiscono e pian piano si fa sempre più forte l’interesse verso il progressive rock, la musica elettronica e la passione verso forme musicali via via più stimolanti per l’immaginazione. Questo “Ustuqus-al-Uss” è difatti l’anello di congiunzione fra il rock duro e dai riflessi metallici degli esordi e la musica figurativa di “Iconophobic”. Lo percepiamo subito in apertura, con le lugubri ed imponenti orchestrazioni di “Out of Silence One Ran and Returned” che ci portano nel cuore di un disco in cui si perfeziona quel concetto di fusione fra oriente e occidente iniziato con gli album precedenti e che allo stesso tempo si apre verso quelle soluzioni cameristiche ed elettroniche che Salim svilupperà da solista. Se “Ustuqus-Al-Uss Avvalin Val Akhrin” è un graffiante Prog metal impreziosito da elementi di musica araba tradizionale, elettrificati, la successiva “Outer Aeonic Descend”, cupa e stridente, sembra quasi avere a che fare con qualcosa degli Univers Zero. “My Inner Sun” ci stupisce con una apertura che possiede un lirismo intenso e che mi ricorda di fatto Rimskij-Korsakov e la sua “Sheherazade”. Il brano acquista però subito una carica elettrica potente e diventa turbolento ed inquietante, con sciabolate di chitarra elettrica che si mescolano ad elementi orientali, elettronici e cameristici a formare un insieme eclettico ma che incredibilmente appare unitario. Altre tracce sono più classicamente orientate verso un “Prog Metal” più “canonico”, seppure arricchito dalle più disparate contaminazioni, come la successiva e potente “Government”. I campionamenti danno a volte un alone moderno ed elettronico turbato dalle interferenze di una chitarra elettrica molto sporca e che in “My Third Eye” sembra quasi rumore bianco. A sorpresa “Artemis the Huntress” si rivela un caldo blues dagli strani accenti arabi, mentre la traccia di chiusura “Supreme Grades” ha persino qualcosa di psichedelico. E’ come se Salim avesse ascoltato in una volta sola tutto il patrimonio musicale europeo, scegliendo alcuni elementi, quelli che maggiormente hanno solleticato la sua fantasia, e vi avesse riversato infine alcuni frammenti musicali della sua terra. Ascoltare questo album è un po’ come guardare il mondo con occhi diversi, pieni di stupore, ammirazione e voglia di vivere. Purtroppo la produzione lascia un po’ a desiderare perché, a fronte delle indiscusse capacità di questo artista, i mezzi a sua disposizione sono molto scarsi ed il potenziale di Salim non può pertanto svilupparsi a dovere. Possiamo solo sperare che Salim possa un giorno mettere le ali alle sue idee… un po’ lo ha fatto, riuscendo a proiettare le sue opere al di fuori dei confini del proprio paese ma a questo punto auguro a questo giovane di poter usufruire di mezzi professionali e dell’ausilio di musicisti preparati. Per il resto, questo disco, con tutti i suoi difetti e le tante approssimazioni, è davvero unico ed affascinante.

Ustuqus-al-Uss Review, "Psyche Music", Gerald Van Waes, Nov 2011

This next album by Arashkh shows an enormous variety while the main core remains the guitar and partly sort of classical symphonic ideas in some tracks. The album starts immediately with a fully classically arranged composition with keyboard driven string imitations, with a minor rhythm inside leading to a next track that has metal guitar, violin synths and programmed drumming. Some smaller string elements will return here and there. The programmed drumming is done with clever complexity. The sensibility in rhythm changes more often, almost thematically with some surprising and even more up-tempo changes too. Different pedalled guitars are used, with a returning heavier fuzz guitar. Many musical themes follow with their own driven grooves in each track. The album succeeds to keep the attention and the compositions are well worked out with a progressive (music) vision. Although it is a full album it sounds short with a wish for a longer continuation.

[GERMAN] Ustuqus-al-Uss Review, Babyblaue, Jochen Rindfrey, Apr 2012 [permalink]

Das dritte Album der Teheraner Formation Arashk ist faktisch ein Soloalbum von Salim Ghazi Saeedi, lediglich auf zwei Stücken sind seine früheren Mitmusiker noch dabei. Damit einher geht eine weitere Verschiebung der musikalischen Schwerpunkte, die sich bereits auf Sovereign bemerkbar machte. Es dürfte kaum überraschen, dass Ustuqus-al-Uss stilistisch mehr mit den in den Folgejahren entstandenen Soloalben Salim Ghazi Saeedis vergleichbar ist als mit den ersten beiden Arashk-Alben.

Salim Ghazi Saeedi spielt hauptsächlich verschiedene Keyboards, mit denen er den Klang echter Instrumente, meist Streicher, imitiert. Auch das Schlagwerk ist elektronisch erzeugt (nur einmal hat Arashk-Schlagzeuger Shahram Khosraviani einen Auftritt), klingt aber recht natürlich. Salim Ghazi Saeedi erzeugt einen kammermusikalischen Sound, der über weite Strecken in Ethno-Klängen schwelgt, dabei immer wieder von Avant-Prog-Einflüssen durchsetzt ist, etwa im hauptsächlich mit Klavier instrumentierten Outer Aeonic Descend.

Neben den Tasten spielt er auch Bass und Gitarre. Letztere klingt bei ihm zwar nicht so aggressiv wie bei seinem Ex-Kollegen Pooyan Khajavi, aber in Stücken wie Government und Naught Been I Thou lässt er die Gitarre schon ganz ordentlich krachen und sägen. Da klingt es dann noch einmal nach den alten Arashk. Noch mehr ist dies der Fall in Ustuqus-al-Uss al Avallin val Akharin, dem einzigen Stück, wo Pooyan Khajavi einen Gastauftritt hat und seine charakteristischen metallischen Riffs beisteuert. In Kombination mit den elektronisch nachempfundenen Klängen einer Violine ergibt die ein faszinierendes Stück Ethno-Metal, das an manche Stücke der Secret Chiefs 3 erinnert.

Die Musik auf Ustuqus-al-Uss ist deutlich weniger rockend als auf den beiden vorherigen Arashk-Alben, aber nicht weniger komplex und abwechslungsreich. Ein Ein-Mann-Ethno-Kammerensemble mit gelegentlichen avantgardistischen und metallischen Einschüben, so könnte man beschreiben, was den Hörer auf Ustuqus-al-Uss erwartet. Schöne, originelle Musik! Wie die beiden anderen Alben von Arashk ist auch dieses über die Homepage von Salim Ghazi Saeedi zu beziehen.

Sovereign (2007)

Ustuqus-al-Uss and Sovereign review, Vents Magazine, RJ Frometa, Aug 2014 [permalink]

While the first record was about make you shit your pants and experimentation, this new record is Salim Ghazi Saeedi at his finest and you don’t have to listen to the whole album to know this. “Kingly Godmanship” kicks off this record with this amazing guitar riffs that sets the tone of the whole album. Before listen to this record you probably were not a fan of Progressive music but once you listen to this record you will immediately love this genre and the performer. Ghazi is an amazing storytelling, every riff and chord he plays on his guitar is like one thousand words. This is honest music performed by an amazing and original talent, he takes this old genre and make it his own.

[JAPANESE] Sovereign, DiskUnion's Progressive Rock Online

Pouyan Khajavi(b/g/vo)とShahram Khosraviani(dr)を中心に'01年結成されたIran産テクニカルgトリオ、'07年作が登場。前作の流れを汲むMetal FusionとArabic Musicを融合させたサウンドをベースに、より攻撃的かつアブストラクトな内容に仕上がった一枚。DarkなArabicメロディーとエッジのある攻撃的なリフが交互に展開/疾走する'Kingly Godmanship'から'Feral Thunderbolt'の流れ等、絶妙な楽曲構成が光る秀作です!

[ITALIAN] Sovereign Review, Lo Scrittore Progressivo, Riccardo Storti, Aug 2011

© Riccardo Storti

Un po’ più di spessore narrativo, almeno sulla carta. Sovereign dovrebbe essere molto più di un concept album. Salim considera questo album come una rappresentazione strumentale dello Shahnameh, ovvero Il Libro dei Re, poema mitologico persiano scritto da Ferdowsi (letterato vissuto tra il 935 e il 1020). A differenza del precedente album, Sovereign, se non altro, va un po’ oltre al mix di metal occidentale e scrittura orientale. La maniera spesso ci mette lo zampino, per cui qualche scoria di prevedibilità armonico-ritmica resta: la chitarra di Salim si affida tanto alla magia del riff, quanto al fascino delle scale mediorientali (ideale sintesi nel turbinio di Harem). Certo, per lui sarebbe naturale fare ballare una danzatrice del ventre al suono di una Stratocaster distorta. E va bene. Indubbiamente la tecnica cresce, compresa quella compositiva (efficace l’inizio in sordina di Kingly Godmanship). Ce ne accorgiamo in quelle tracce che vedono l’ingresso – pur ancora timido – delle tastiere, come strumento solista, sempre suonate da Salim. C’è un pianoforte quasi jazz in Feral Thunderbolt; il synth rasenta atmosfere space in Serpent Shoulder, Throne Accension e in Harem. Registrazione tra mura domestiche e si sente, almeno per quanto riguarda i suoni ancora troppo freddi della batteria.

[ITALIAN] Sovereign Review, Arlequins webzine, Jessica Attene, Oct 2011

Se avete visto il film “I gatti persiani” di Bahman Ghobadi forse potete immaginare cosa significhi fare musica rock o addirittura incidere un album in Iran. L’uscita di un album simile, certamente imperfetto e limitato sotto molti punti di vista, vi sembrerebbe una specie di miracolo, anche perché, attraverso la matrice grezza di suoni non brillanti di questa opera realizzata in maniera a dir poco casalinga, si intravedono l’estro creativo e la bravura di questa band, un terzetto di ragazzi composto da Salim Ghazi Saeedi (chitarra, basso, tastiere), Pouyan Kahajavi (chitarra, basso e voce) e da Shahram Khosraviani (batteria). Il gruppo è assieme dal 2001 e questo è il suo secondo album, giunto a distanza di un anno dal debutto “Abrahadabra”. Registrazione e masterizzazione sono a cura dello stesso Salim che, considerando gli scarsi mezzi e le limitazioni imposte dal paese di origine, ha fatto un lavoro più che dignitoso. Le idee di base piacciono molto: il gruppo si propone infatti di creare una specie di ponte fra oriente ed occidente, inglobando nella propria musica, un robusto hard rock con venature sinfoniche, elementi appartenenti a culture diverse. Il rock di base, ovviamente appartenente alla cultura occidentale, viene contaminato da intriganti arabeschi, intessuti principalmente da una chitarra ruvida e vivace, che ci portano invece verso oriente. Le colorazioni elettroniche delle tastiere completano il quadro, molto grezzo, ma comunque ben ideato, sicuramente coraggioso, e carente principalmente a causa dei poveri mezzi tecnici con cui è stato realizzato. Ad ispirare le otto tracce strumentali che compongono questo breve album (26 minuti in totale) è il “Libro dei re” (“Shahnameh”) del sommo poeta Ferdowsi che narra la storia di sovrani e cavalieri dell’antica Persia. Questo retroterra fatto di leggende antiche si respira chiaramente attraverso la musica che assume colorazioni fantastiche nonostante tutte le limitazioni di cui abbiamo parlato. In particolare l’aspetto più deficitario è rappresentato, come accennato, dalla registrazione e in generale dal suono degli strumenti, con una chitarra molto sporca e una batteria dalle timbriche poco convincenti. Considerato comunque il contesto in cui nasce quest’opera, direi che si tratta di un prodotto apprezzabile e per molti aspetti interessante, pur con tutti i suoi limiti. Se questi ragazzi avessero la possibilità di fare sul serio, con mezzi professionali, sono certa che il risultato sarebbe nettamente superiore se non entusiasmante.

Sovereign Review, "Psyche Music", Gerald Van Waes, Nov 2011

This new album by Arashk continues from the musical foundations of a private studio based metal music inspiration, still it expands this to a bigger concept, musically and intellectually and perhaps with a much deeper interest in connections. There’s a description in the liner notes it is as if this is the story of a jester inside an epic of Persian kings, taken as a metaphor, about finding excuse to find its own way in life and society, in expression. The use of the instruments like the metal guitar interests is like the aggressive surroundings of the fundamentalist state of control, which Iran represents today. The studio environment, the use of a rhythm box as drums (well done as the drumming part) all represents the closed environment, the studio from which all free inspirations cannot escape. It is a shame because here we hear a composer’s vision with an open mind, and with an open progressive sound and compositional evolution, the elements are free within its limitations, as if getting a professional vision trapped within an amateurish situation, the position of a joker amongst kings showing a different way, not able to lose its own small position.

Sovereign Review,, Olav Martin Bjørnsen, Feb 2012 [permalink]

Prolusion. Hailing from what was once known as Persia, the Iranian band ARASHK was active for a good handful of years in the 2000's, releasing a total of 4 albums prior to hitting a stage of hiatus. "Sovereign" was the second of these, and was issued back in 2007.

Analysis. Iran isn't the first country you would pull up when talking about nations producing progressive rock artists noteworthy to check out that reside outside of the typical Anglo-American territories. Sadly, I might add, as this old nation, rich in history, myths and legends, could and probably should inspire many a fine work of music based on their cultural heritage alone. Instead the ruling powers have seriously discussed law propositions that outright bans any use of music not created and performed within a strict religious framework. But such hostile waters have never managed to eliminate the creative arts, Arashk an example of that, although this CD appears to be a solo vehicle of the band leader Salim Ghazi Saeedi more than a band creation as such. And on the eight short compositions explored he takes inspirations from Ferdowsi's “Shahnameh”, a vast 60.000 verse-long poem that probably could fuel an entire musical career if explored in depth. In this case just over a handful of instrumentals are pulled out of this enormous context, many of them creations with an emphasis on moods and atmospheres over melodies and harmonies, the dynamics of the interwoven sounds of acoustic and electric guitars in particular. Slow, resonating notes from the former and dark, gnarly riffs from the latter are the main expressions utilized. Dampened bass guitar and light-intensity drums form the framework in the instances when rhythms are applied. Infrequent use of digital strings is the last common element, sparingly applied on this CD. My main impression throughout was that most of these tracks are sketches rather than the finished compositions however. Good ideas that were recorded, but perhaps not properly developed. The sad, majestic melancholy of opening effort Kingly Godmanship, pairing off light toned acoustic guitar with darker toned, reverberating riffs is an effective opener, but the following tracks don't quite manage to engage. Many fine ideas and intriguing atmospheres, the distant atmosphere of Interstellar Blessings and the otherworldly mood of Serpent Shoulder for instance, but overall there's just a feeling of being unfinished about them. This does change towards the end however: the otherworldly moods of Harem are more properly developed to my ears, and stronger feeling of a story being told on this piece too. The opening fluctuating electronic textures, breathing like noise inserts and galloping guitar riffs revisited towards the end in a more sparse arrangement mostly devoid of the initial otherworldly feeling in itself intriguing. And final number Sovereign with light toned instrumental details in its opening phase, incorporating child-like voice effects and textures with a slight psychedelic touch, effectively combined with dark-toned gnarly electric guitar riffs that gradually get the dominating spot, the initial lighter-toned motifs being reduced to an underscoring detail by way of plucked acoustic guitar. There's a distinct development there, and a strong feeling of a story explored and told. Loss of innocence perhaps the most obvious one, the invasion of real world issues into a closed in environment another possibility that comes to mind. But while being familiar with the inspirational poem will probably be an advantage, these last tracks on the CD are intriguing conceptions in their own right too, and also more or less coincidentally the ones I feel have been best developed. In terms of stylistic expression, this is an album that blends progressive metal with eastern sounding musical details, with associations towards both folk music and, at least to some extent, religious music. And while my personal opinion is that "Ustuqus-al-Uss" from 2008 explores this blend in a more interesting manner, "Sovereign" comes across as a transitional production that does have its own merits.

Conclusion. "Sovereign" from 2007 comes across as an album filled with ideas still in their initial phase, planned and recorded perhaps before the ideas had been investigated in detail. Many fine ideas and sketches explore a blend of eastern sounding traditional music and dark-toned progressive metal with roots more firmly based on Anglo-American traditions. But on the occasions where the compositions appear to be more thoroughly assembled the end result is intriguing, if instrumental progressive metal of this variety sounds enticing to you. As such this is a disc that comes with a partial recommendation.

[GERMAN] Sovereign Review, Babyblaue, Jochen Rindfrey, Apr 2012 [permalink]

Auf gerade einmal 26 Minuten bringt es Sovereign, das zweite Album des iranischen Trios Arashk. Da muss man wohl eher von einer EP sprechen. Inspiriert wurde das Ganze von einem persischen Königsepos.

Musikalisch hat die Band ihr Repertoire erweitert und bringt nun verstärkt Ethno-Elemente ein. Mal dezent, wie die orientalisch anmutende Basslinie in Serpent Shoulder, mal sind die - wieder durchweg instrumentalen - Stücke auch komplett in heimischer Musiktradition verwurzelt. Auch werden auf Sovereign häufiger mal Tempo und Dynamik der Musik zurückgenommen und machen Platz für leisere Passagen. Nach wie vor überwiegen aber die komplex-aggressiv rockenden Gitarren in allen Schattierungen von sägenden Soli bis rockenden Riffs, die mehr als einmal die Grenze zum Metal überschreiten. Die Keyboards spielen nach wie vor keine bedeutende Rolle.

Sovereign zeigt sich bei gleichbleibender musikalischer Qualität stilistisch vielfältiger als sein Vorgänger und ist ebenso wie dieser Liebhabern der härteren Spielart des Progressive Rock sehr zu empfehlen. Nur bissl kurz ist es leider! Da braucht's auch keine längere Rezension dazu. Die CD ist, wie auch die beiden anderen CDs von Arashk, über die Homepage von Salim Ghazi Saeedi zu beziehen.

Abrahadabra (2006)

[German] Abrahadabra Review, Progressive Newsletter #78, Volkmar Mantei, Aug 2013 [permalink]

Stil: Heavy Prog
Arashk – Abrahadabra
(42:03, Privatpressung, 2006)
Mittlerweile ist Salim Ghazi Saeedi durch etliche Veröffentlichungen bekannt geworden.
Der in Teheran, Iran lebende Gitarrist spielt sehr ungewöhnlichen, folkloristisch geprägten, rein instrumentalen Progressive Rock, dessen riffharte Gitarrenrauheit zwischen Hard Rock und Metal lanciert, und dessen immerwährend lebhafte Rhythmusarbeit überwiegend von ihm selbst eingespielt wurde, während mitarbeitende Gastmusiker ungenannt blieben (bleiben wollten?).
Den Ausgang seiner Veröffentlichungen nahm Salim Ghazi Saeedi, der teils unter seinem eigenen Namen, teils unter dem Bandnamen Arashk arbeitet, mit dem Album „Abrahadabra“ im Jahr 2006. Schon hier war die Orientierung auf Rock sehr deutlich, unterdrückten Salim (g, b, keys) wie seine Mitstreiter Pouyan Khajavi (g) und Shahram Khosraviani (dr) jeden ethnischen Eindruck - der sich doch erkennen lässt, in Gitarrensoli, in manchem Arrangement, dem seltsamen Songaufbau, dessen wie verrückt brüchige Energie ins Drastische prügelt, einbricht und jam-artig weitermacht, um zu Hard Rock, dann Jazzrock zu wechseln. Der Höreindruck ist durch die krassen Wechsel einerseits herausgefordert, auf der anderen Seite erfrischt die Ungewöhnlichkeit der Spielweise - es gibt keinen Allerweltsstandard, wie er im Okzident häufig langweilig zu finden ist. 9 Songs sind auf der CD, die damit 42:03 Minuten lang ist. Salims Gitarrenspiel ist riffgeprägt, seine Soli wie Bluessoli ohne Blues, ohne Ziehen der Saiten, indes im klagenden Ton, scharf und schneidend, rasant und schnell. Sein Pianospiel indes beweist klassische, folkloristische und nüchterne Rockprägung. Wenig indes sind Tastensounds zu hören, im Off, in manchem Track partiell ausgearbeitet, hinreißend in der Ungewöhnlichkeit, der stilistischen Sortierung, die der Hörer will, um zu kapieren, worum es geht.
„Abrahdabra“ ist als Debüt erstaunlich ausgereift und wirkt in seiner kraftvollen Frische sehr gut, und in Allem bleibt stets diese Unbegreifbarkeit, die fesselt und die Songs erneut abspielen lässt. Krass! VM (VM 10, KS 10)

[Italian] Abrahadabra Review, Arlequins webzine, Francesco Inglima, Apr 2013 [permalink]

Per chi ci segue il nome di Salim Ghazi Saeedi, poliedrico musicista iraniano e autore di tre album, non dovrebbe risultare nuovo. Gli Arashk sono il gruppo nel quale ha militato prima di iniziare la sua interessante avventura solistica. Ad accompagnare Salim, che nel disco suona la chitarra, tastiere e basso, sono Pouyan Khajavi alla chitarra e Shahram Khosraviani alla batteria. Prima di iniziare la disanima dell’album bisogna evidenziare quelle che sono le effettive difficoltà nel suonare musica, ed in particolare l’occidentale rock, in Iran, da sempre osteggiata dal regime Islamico. Non a caso una che una delle prime cose fatta dalla Rivoluzione Islamica capitanata da Khomeyni fu quella di distruggere il conservatorio di Teheran. Tutto questo preambolo è necessario per capire il contesto in cui hanno lavorato gli Arashk ed avere un giudizio più morbido nel giudicare le varie imperfezioni dell’album. Prima fra tutte la produzione del disco, ad opera dello stesso Salim è molto amatoriale; ad ulteriore scusante del musicista iraniano c’è da dire che questa è stata la sua prima esperienza in assoluto come produttore e che, col passare degli anni, nei dischi successivi, migliorerà sensibilmente. Per quanto riguarda la musica, essa gira tutto attorno alla chitarra facendo riferimento principalmente all’universo hard rock e heavy metal; generi che in alcuni brani (“Horizon”, “Route”) sono proposti in maniera abbastanza standardizzata, mentre altri pezzi sono contaminati da sprazzi dei generi più disparati: dal jazz al progressive, dall’avanguardia alla musica persiana. Caratteristica, quella di spaziare fra più generi, che verrà raffinata da Salim nel corso degli anni e diverrà un suo marchio di fabbrica e che in “Abrahadabra” troviamo sviluppata ancora in stato embrionale. Ciò di cui certamente non difettano gli Arashk sono l’energia e la vitalità, la loro musica sprigiona voglia di fare e di esprimersi. Tuttavia questa vivacità sconfina spesso in ingenuità, la band spesso si perde in universo musicale che non riesce a governare. Ad esempio gli elementi di musica mediorientale (vedi “Dance of Gods”, “Joker” e “Abrahadabra”) sono usati in maniera abbastanza stereotipata e invece di insaporire gli intrecci sonori della band li rendono un po’ banali e scontati.
Il gruppo, è inutile girarci attorno, è principalmente Salim Ghazi Saeedi e la sua chitarra. La batteria è quasi sempre scontata che assieme al basso, suonato dallo stesso Salim, creano schemi ritmici elementari, mentre le tastiere sono usate al minimo e come mero riempitivo del sound. Onestamente non si può distinguere con certezza la chitarra di Khajavi da quella di Saeedi, ma conoscendo i lavori successivi di quest’ultimo e plausibile credere che il lavoro chitarristico principale sia il suo. Un lavoro, che al netto di tutti i difetti/ingenuità già riscontrati, in quest’album è comunque notevole e difficilmente si è sopraffatti dalla noia.
Il musicista iraniano ha un vulcano dentro e il problema maggiore è proprio quello di riuscire ad indirizzare tutta la sua voglia di fare ed esplorare. “Abrahadabra” è solo il primo passo, ne seguiranno molti altri, in cui pian piano tutta la sua energia verrà convogliata sempre in maniera più intelligente e consapevole.
Ad ogni modo quello che abbiamo tra le mani è un disco vivo, verace che esplode passione per la musica e frutto di una dedizione certosina verso la musica. E’ una testimonianza interessante e imprescindibile del percorso artistico di Salim Ghazi Saeedi.

[German] Abrahadabra Review, Ragazzi Webzine, Volkmar Mantei, Apr 2013 [permalink]

Mittlerweile ist Salim Ghazi Saeedi durch etliche Veröffentlichungen bekannt geworden. Der in Teheran, Iran lebende Gitarrist spielt sehr ungewöhnlichen, folkloristisch geprägten, rein instrumentalen Progressive Rock, dessen riffharte Gitarrenrauheit zwischen Hardrock und Metal lanciert, und dessen immerwährend lebhafte Rhythmusarbeit überwiegend von ihm selbst eingespielt wurde, während mitarbeitende Gastmusiker ungenannt blieben (bleiben wollten?).
Den Ausgang seiner Veröffentlichungen nahm Salim Ghazi Saeedi, der teils unter seinem eigenen Namen, teils unter dem Bandnamen Arashk arbeitet, mit dem Album "Abrahdabra" im Jahr 2006. Schon hier war die Orientierung auf Rock sehr deutlich, unterdrückten Salim (g, b, keys) wie seine Mitstreiter Pouyan Khajavi (g) und Shahram Khosraviani (dr) jeden ethnischen Eindruck - der sich doch erkennen lässt, in Gitarrensoli, in manchem Arrangement, dem seltsamen Songaufbau, dessen wie verrückt brüchige Energie ins Drastische prügelt, einbricht und jam-artig weitermacht, um zu Hardrock, dann Jazzrock zu wechseln. Der Höreindruck ist durch die krassen Wechsel einerseits herausgefordert, auf der anderen Seite erfrischt die Ungewöhnlichkeit der Spielweise - es gibt keinen Allerweltsstandard, wie er im Okzident häufig langweilig zu finden ist. 9 Songs sind auf der CD, die damit 42:03 Minuten lang ist. Salims Gitarrenspiel ist riffgeprägt, seine Soli wie Bluessoli ohne Blues, ohne Ziehen der Saiten, indes im klagenden Ton, scharf und schneidend, rasant und schnell. Sein Pianospiel indes beweist klassische, folkloristische und nüchterne Rockprägung. Wenig indes sind Tastensounds zu hören, im Off, in manchem Track partiell ausgearbeitet, hinreißend in der Ungewöhnlichkeit, der stilistischen Sortierung, die der Hörer will, um zu kapieren, worum es geht.
"Abrahdabra" ist als Debüt erstaunlich ausgereift und wirkt in seiner kraftvollen Frische sehr gut, und in Allem bleibt stets diese Unbegreifbarkeit, die fesselt und die Songs erneut abspielen lässt. Krass!

Abrahadabra Album Review,, Olav M Bjornson

Prolusion. Iran is not a country best known for its rock music, but is indeed the home country of ARASHK, a band formed in 2001. "Abrahadabra" is their debut album, released in December 2006 in Iran and made available to the rest of the world in January 2007.

Analysis. Arashk explore the universe of instrumental rock on their debut. After careful listening I really wasn't able to find any particular artists that have influenced them more than others, or indeed pinpoint any specific influences at all. All compositions here are basically set up in the same manner: bass and drums are set up as the foundation of a tune. In most cases there's a further foundation by guitar, sometimes acoustic, sometimes electric and undistorted, but most of the time the fuzz guitar provides riffs. On top of this basis a second guitar is added, exploring an adventurous mixture of melodic riff pattern and good old-fashioned guitar soloing. To create variation, synths are added to the soundscapes of some tunes, while a few others have also some fascinating percussion work added. Arashk's basic style is hard rock with distinct progressive tendencies. Songs flow nicely, with changes of pace and style variations coming and going in a very natural way. Some nice examples of asynchronous guitar riffs and disharmonic themes will be found, as well as a few instances of fusion-tinged themes explored. The most noticeable element of the music offered here isn't in style though, but in sound. The guitars are at times extremely distorted, creating a grimy, dirty sound that often makes the music sound more like metal than hard rock. The compositions here, although basically much alike in style and structure, have a degree of variation in pace and style broad enough to make the individual compositions interesting; there are at all times new elements or slight differences in style and structure that give each individual tune an identity of their own. This results in an intriguing and fascinating album overall.

Conclusion. "Abrahadabra" is a strong debut album with high quality of compositions and performance alike. Fans of instrumental hard rock as well as instrumental metal should find this highly interesting, especially those who like heavy music with a high degree of progressive tendencies.

Abrahadabra Album Review, Gnosis2000, Richard Poulin, Jun 2011

One thing that all prog aficionados know very well is that the most extraordinary musical productions in the genre have often come from the most improbable places. After all, try to name other markets where music is classified by countries. Progressive music lovers know their geography and where to look for in order to find the cream. So during the baptismal journey that many of us make to get acquainted with the hallmarks of progressive rock, we inevitably realize that astonishing, often extremely defiant albums were born in countries we could barely locate on a map before we had heard of such prodigies. Who else than amateurs of prog can proudly associate top notch music to countries such as Armenia (e.g. Oaksenham, Artsruni) or Turkmenistan (Gunesh Ensemble), just to name these two? The desire to transcend the boundaries of endemic music into something universal has led to the ever richer melting pot into which progressive or modern music is transforming itself. When the Beatles and other creators of art rock realized that rock music can easily conjugate itself to most other musical genres to generate interesting hybrids, experiments of ever increasing complexity were conducted, first in Great Britain, and rapidly all across the world.

But to describe the surprise one might have after listening to Abrahadabra, the first effort by Arashk, is rather difficult. First, Arashk (Salim Ghazi Saeedi, guitars, bass and keyboards/ Poojan Khajavi, guitars/Shahram Khosraviani, drums) hails from the Axis of Evil itself, and more exactly from Iran. And Abrahadabra is anything but world music. It contains in fact some of the juiciest, fuzziest and wildest guitar shredding album you will find anywhere. Simply for being so unashamedly heavy and metallic in a country where such things are not supposed to happen in the first place, these musicians could deserve our greatest admiration. But we tend to forget that Iran was one of the most modern Islamic nations before Ayatollah Khomeini seized power there in 1979. So a long tradition of rock music has existed and continues to do so in that large country, although it understandably had to operate in an underground fashion to survive. In fact, the Iranian government, through its Ministry of Islamic Guidance, which protects Iranian people from Western cultural demons, has officially approved a few rock bands, like Meera, for example. Thus, one has to realize that the Iran of the mullahs is fairly liberal in this 21st century, as compared with its Afghanistan neighbor, or even Saudi Arabia. And I know it for a fact, having Iranian relatives.

Tolerance and underground operations have thus contributed to allow a band such as Arashk, to emerge and manage to exist and make its music available on the web. Not only is Arashk admirable for its audacity, but Abrahadabra is simply a very imaginative and extremely energetic metal progressive album. Entirely instrumental, it features two absolutely astonishing guitarists, Salim Ghazi Saeedi and Poojan Khajavi, who rock the hell out of the Kasbah on the 9 tracks of that album. I mean, these two guys, and especially Saeedi, have plugged their guitars on the contained frustration of a whole generation of angry but astute young Iranians, and the electricity that it has produced will rip apart your most stubborn prejudices. From ‘Told to the Bird’ to the final track (‘Abrahadabra’), these two guitarists deploy awe-inspiring virtuosity and an inventiveness rarely seen in a genre (talking about metal prog here) that tends to repeat itself. The secret of these musicians is apparently the sum of a total lack of inhibition in their solos, the translation of Iranian folk accents into the most violent emotions that amplified guitars can express, and an absolute mastery of all harmonic scales. The intrinsic candor of these musicians, who have nothing and everything to prove at the same time, makes possible quite a number of little rock miracles on that album.

Most of the tunes are extremely furious, rapid and high-octane progressive metal shredfests that can leave no one indifferent. Of course, Persian scales and progressions are easily noted, but definite Spanish and Moresque flavors are clearly heard here and there. Another dominant stylistic influence on many tracks is progressive surf, a genre of which I am especially fond. On ‘Route’ (track 5), one can even hear Dick Dale’s blueprint for ‘Miserlou’, which makes plenty of sense knowing the predilection that Dale has for Oriental scales. The use of synthesizers to mimic Persian dance onomatopoeias on ‘Dance of Gods’ is also very clever and adds colors to the instrumental paintings.

Speaking of painting, one of the numerous beauties of Abrahadabra is the capacity of Arashk to surprise and sustain our interest throughout the album. Although the ebullient, pyrotechnical guitar shredding is ubiquitous, the album never gets repetitious nor boring, a pitfall that undermines too many instrumental metal albums. A testimony to the genius of the band’s leader and main inspiration, Salim Ghazi Saeedi, who composes what he calls ‘pictorial rock’: the trick is to guess what these painting canvases are. In Saeedi’s own words: ‘...I like exaggerated details and very subtle techniques of instrument and when I come across for composing a catchy part in one song I see no reason for repeating it. If someone liked that part, can rewind the song (sic).’ I love his candor.....

Although Steve Vai and similar shredders are obvious comparisons here, the reference that most quickly comes to mind is Pino Marrone, Crucis’ guitarist whose incredible guitar solos make ‘Los Delirios del Mariscal’ such a memorable experience. Abrahadabra is like the famous Crucis track ‘Abismo Terrenal’ on ‘Delirios...’ multiplied by five and extended over nine tracks of total manic fury but of a very exotic and refined type. Hendrix and Santana have also obviously instructed the phenomenal axe genius that Salim Ghazi Saeedi truly is.

Highly recommended for a hefty dose of extremely heavy yet highly melodic metal of a VERY special kind.

Abrahadabra Album Review, "Psyche Music", Gerald Van Waes, 2006

This is an impressive debut of instrumental, compositionally strong, electric guitar driven progressive rock music. We hear great fuzz guitars, and a very intelligent use of melody with rhythmical changes, with compositions in Persian ? & other scales. There are various mood changes and different evolutions, and is built up by rich subtleties. Very good.

[JAPANESE] Abrahadabra Review, DiskUnion's Progressive Rock Online

Pouyan Khajavi(b/g/vo)とShahram Khosraviani(dr)を中心に'01年結成されたIran産テクニカルgトリオ、'06年デビュー作が登場。STEVE MORSE BANDやALEX SKOLNIC TRIO/B.L.S./OHM等の流れを汲むMetal Fusion志向をベースに、出自であるArabic Musicを加えた一枚。スピーディーかつエッジのあるテクニカルなアンサンブルといった演奏力の高さは元より、テクニカル志向とメンバーの背景である Arab志向がよりナチュラルな形で融合されており、同系統の欧米勢やJazz系とは一味異なる印象/味わいに満ちた快作です!

Abrahadabra Review, Stave Magazine's featured artist, Christy Claxton, Feb 2007

Arashk: A world away, but really right here with us.

I was at the gym the other night, and I could see, but not hear one of the many televisions airing some kind of modern day war movie. Although I couldn’t hear it, I could tell that the storyline had to do with a small group of American soldiers in some kind of distress. I tried to read the closed caption dialogue, but was too far away to see it clearly. However, I knew this group of soldiers was intercepting the “enemy’s” radio transmit because the closed caption would say: (somebody speaking Farsi.)

Ooohhhh those Iranian bad guys! Isn’t that just all-American of us? Popularize the vilification of a nation we really don’t understand except in simplistic, fundamentalist, self-censored terms. For you history neophytes, that’s a wordy way of describing “nationalism.” And that’s not a good thing. It’s just around the corner from fascism. So let me set some folks straight on Iran. Just like all Americans aren’t Bush-like idiots in boots, not all Iranians are scurrying around looking for low-tech ways to bring about Jihad. Actually, it’s a country of mostly nice people. And just as some “radical” Americans embrace Middle Eastern culture (if you haven’t tried the food, you’re really missing out), some “radical” Iranians embrace Western culture; including something as universally “sinister” as Hard Rock. A music both countries’ fundamentalists would consider evil, but don’t anybody tell them they actually agree on something, or the world might suddenly stop turning.

A few weeks ago, Salim Ghazi Saeedi of the rock band, Arashk, contacted me. He invited me to sample his band’s music. It is a mixture of Western metal and Middle Eastern/Oriental melodies and scales that give Arashk a heavy gritty sound with this beautiful overlay of music most Westerners are hardly familiar with. Needless to say, I was fascinated, so I explored their website and myspace site. Arashk is based in Tehran, Iran, and they make it no secret that they are hoping to break artificial bounds and bindings. Sounds psychedelic, doesn’t it? And truthfully, the music feels a little trippy. But in a good way. A way that opens our minds to possibility; to universal oneness and peace through music. When I replied to Salim’s email that I would definitely write about Arashk because it was a positive statement from two nationalities that need to find peace through understanding and common ground, his response was, “the boundaries are broken!”


Arashk’s latest release is “Abrahadabra.” It is an instrumental album composed and performed by Salim, and it reflects the hopes, agitations and quests of the composer. Something tells me that Salim’s music represents many people of his country. Regardless of where rock music is composed, it is always about breaking bounds and breaking rules and exploring freedoms within many conscious states. And it always speaks for many; not just a few. Future Arashk albums will explore the functional faculties of “being,” and carry on the message of breaking though boundaries and bindings. This is music about freedom; however each of us defines it. Whether we need to break free of personal oppression, relationship oppression, or religious or political oppression, Arashk explores a universal theme and reaches around the world to share it. In Iran, Arashk may be considered radical and even dangerous, and in America, Arashk would be considered radical and dangerous, too. Once again, rock music breaches a taboo. And this one needs to be broken and embraced, so check out Arashk, and buy yourself a CD and experience the oneness and the vastness that is Arashk.

[ITALIAN] Abrahadabra Review, Lo Scrittore Progressivo, Riccardo Storti, Aug 2011

© Riccardo Storti

Centralità chitarristica di Salim Ghazi Saeedi: da qui tutto nasce e tutto finisce. Una tecnica che va già al di là del tentativo di un dilettante. Cosa manca ancora, invece, una prospettiva compositiva autonoma rispetto ai troppi retaggi di generi. Questo Abrahadabra, registrato nello studio domestico di Salim con il gruppo Arashk, è soprattutto il prodotto di un’indigestione di generi musicali, vissuto con entusiasmo e passione, ma senza ancora un disegno preciso. Prevale il metal un po’ malmsteeniano (Told to the Bird, Horizon, Route, più cinetico in Autumnal Nightmare e in Splendour of Death), equilibrato da un pizzico di orientalismo di maniera (Excuse, Dance of Gods, Joker e Abrahadabra). Non c’è ancora la scelta di una via espressiva personale. Eppure questa varietà eclettica di stili viene denominata dal musicista come “pictorial rock”, una sorta di rappresentazione figurativa in musica, attraverso cui stati d’animo e colori sonori troverebbero l’adeguata sintesi in una sorta di concept album sui casi della vita. La polarità chitarristica è, sì, il punto di forza del disco ma, al tempo stesso, deve sopperire ad una debolezza ritmica, fatta di pattern piuttosto poco elaborati ed ad arrangiamenti tastieristici limitati al solo comparto armonico. Il tentativo resta encomiabile in quanto ad impegno, ma rimane solo un avvio di buone intenzioni.

[GERMAN] Abrahadabra review, Babyblaue, Jochen Rindfrey, Apr 2012

Progressive Rock aus dem Iran - da fallen mir nicht allzu viele Bands ein. Eigentlich gar keine. Aber auch im Iran entsteht Progressive Rock, der sich vor den Hervorbringungen westlicher Bands nicht verstecken muss. Hierfür steht etwa das Trio Arashk, das in der zweiten Hälfte der 00er Jahre drei Alben aufnahm, deren erstes Abrakadabra aus dem Jahre 2006 ist. Kreativer Kopf der Band ist (oder war) Salim Ghazi Saeedi. Dieser ist mittlerweile solistisch aktiv, während von Arashk seit 2008 kein Album mehr erschienen ist.

Obwohl alle Stücke aus der Feder von Salim Ghazi Saeedi stammen, klingt die (komplett instrumentale) Musik völlig anders als seine Soloalben. Während er dort mittels elektronischen Instrumentariums allerlei Instrumente imitiert und damit quasi ein virtuelles Kammerensemble kreiert, ist auf Abrahadabra eine traditionelle Rockbesetzung am Werk. Salim Ghazi Saeedi selbst spielt überwiegend Gitarre und Bass, während er die Tasteninstrumente nur gelegentlich und auch nur zur atmosphärischen Untermalung einsetzt. Dazu kommt mit Pooyan Khajavi ein weiterer Gitarrist, außerdem Shahram Kosraviani am Schlagzeug.

Aus der Besetzung lässt sich messerscharf schließen, dass Gitarren hier den Ton angeben, und damit liegt man absolut richtig. Ebenso mit dem Begriff "messerscharf". Was das Trio hier fabriziert, hat mit dem jazzigen RIO-Kammerrock von Saeedis Soloalben nichts zu tun, hier wird ordentlich gerockt. Die Gitarren fetzen und bratzen um die Ohren, dass es eine wahre Freude ist! Schrieb ich nicht bei Human Encounter, die Musik könnte mehr Schmackes vertragen? Hier ist er! In allen Variationen von sägend über kreischend bis metallisch riffend fräsen sich die Gitarren ins Hirn, dazu trommelt sich Herr Kosraviani die Seele aus dem Leib. Voller Power, Dynamik und Komplexität ist die Musik, lässt kaum einmal im Tempo nach, verkommt dabei aber nie zu seelenlosem Gefrickel.

Anklänge an heimische Musiktraditionen gibt es, abgesehen vom Titelstück, keine, die Musik könnte genau so gut von einer westlichen Band stammen. Trotzdem klingen Arashk ziemlich eigenständig. Als groben Vergleich könnte man eine instrumentale Version der progressivsten Phase von Rush bemühen, wenn man sich vorstellt, Alex Lifeson würde mehr Solos spielen. Auf jeden Fall ist Abrahadabra eine Empfehlung für Liebhaber instrumentalen Progressive Rocks der härteren Gangart. Zu beziehen ist die CD über die Homepage von Salim Ghazi Saeedi.

When There is More Beauty in the Contraty (2011 Single)

When There is More Beauty in the Contrary (Single) Review, Matthew Forss,, Jan 2011

Negar Bouban’s PhD in art studies and Persian musical theory provides an academic understanding of classical and modern music. Negar is a talented leader of improvisation of Iranian music and a gifted oud player. Negar’s partner, Salim Ghazi Saeedi, is an Iranian guitarist and composer primarily into instrumental rock, jazz, and fusion styles. When There Is More Beauty In The Contrary is also the title of the one and only track on the release.

“When There is More Beauty In The Contrary” might sound like a song that attempts to discuss the philosophy of aesthetics or phenomenology. However, the nearly four-minute track is an instrumental song that connotes sounds of higher thinking that border on magnificent. The song opens with a few moments of classical strings used sparingly in much the same way as in contemporary Western rock ballads. Also, a drum kit provides the percussion. Salim’s electric guitar playing moves to the central melody of the song before it fades into Negar’s oud playing. The classical strings remain silent through Negar’s first oud playing display. However, the sounds of the electric guitar make another appearance near the end of the song with some strings. The last few moments of the song end with the electric guitar and oud being played without additional instrumentation.

The song title proposes that beauty can be found in dissimilar situations or conditions. In this case, the sounds of the oud and electric guitar attempt to combine traditionally dissimilar forces into one cohesive composition. In the same manner, the historical significance of the oud and the electric guitar as a modern instrument of choice for most contemporary music worldwide does not create such a disturbing product. Still, the electric guitar parts may be too wildly played for most listeners particularly interested in oud music. Also, the song length may be a bit short to fully appreciate the unique interplay between the oud and guitar. On the whole, anyone seeking a song with fusion elements representing modernity as it applies to the Middle East will find something to admire on “When There is More Beauty In The Contrary.”

Review by Matthew Forss
Rating: 3 Stars (out of 5)

When There is More Beauty in the Contrary (Single) Review, Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck,, Jan 2011

I normally do not like to review a single track but for some reason I had to say yes this time as I was intrigued with this worldly collaboration and curiosity got the best of me, I just had to hear this song.
What you get here is classical Persian musician Negar Bouban melding her talents with rock musician Salim Ghazi Saeedi. So are you intrigued yet? If so click on the Buy Link that we provide and have a listen on their Band Camp page. If not, move on to the next review.
The track is titled "When There is More Beauty in the Contrary" and it starts off like a soundtrack to the beginning of an epic movie then a sharp-as-a-knife electric six string speaks up eventually giving way to a peaceful countryside in Europe scenario with soft tones and textures from acoustic instruments that readily soothe the savage beast within, only to give way to the ferocious growl of the electric guitar again. This is a cycle that is repeated in the piece and what you get for the final product is an instrumental jewel that would have corpses dancing in the graveyard. I know that sounds a bit morose however take it only in jest and believe that what you will hear is beautiful music performed by two excellent musicians worthy of further exploration.
There is always more beauty in the contrary and this world/rock music track proves it.


[ITALIAN] A Retrospective, Lo Scrittore Progressivo, Riccardo Storti, Aug 2011

© Riccardo Storti

Ricevo dall’Iran la discografia completa di un artista emergente, Salim Ghazi Saeedi, e comincio ad interessarmi a lui. La sua è una storia di altri tempi, legata a componenti socio-esistenziali lontane rispetto a quelle di chi vive – prima di tutto – in un Paese libero. In Iran, anzi, nella Repubblica Islamica dell’Iran non è così. Salim nasce nel 1981, due anni dopo la rivoluzione islamica e in piena guerra. È il tragico periodo in cui molti giovani iraniani sono costretti partire per il fronte in un terribile conflitto contro i vicini iracheni. Il bimbo cresce e affronta l’adolescenza in una nazione che permette solo divagazioni ben allineate con i diktat teocratici di Stato. Musica compresa. Sottobanco arrivano tra le mani di un Salim ragazzino un paio di nastri con canzoni occidentali. Li divora. Solo molto più tardi apprenderà che quelle song erano hit dei Queen e di Michael Jackson. Nel frattempo Selim cresce, si interessa all’Informatica ed intorno ai 17 anni sta per entrare in università – in gamba, il ragazzo! – quando giunge la prima vera e propria folgorazione musicale, quella che ti cambia la vita. Kurt Cobain e i Nirvana. Da lì il primo passo verso l’acquisto di uno strumento musicale. Anzi “lo” strumento musicale: la chitarra. Selim è il primo della sua famiglia a manifestare un desiderio “pratico” verso le sette note. Inizia tardi, ma impara anche presto. Per di più come autodidatta. Ascolta tutti e di tutto: dai Nine Inch Nails a Jeff Beck, dai Prodigy a Chet Atkins, dai Megadeth a Chopin. Una spugna affamata. Nel 2001 è fondatore di una band, gli Arashk, ed è sotto questa sigla che si muovono le sue prima 3 uscite discografiche: Abrahadabra (2006), Sovereign (2007) e Ustuqus-al-Uss (2008). Il primo album solista, invece, è assai recente, Iconophobic (2010). Grande soddisfazione critica lo scorso novembre, quando Philippe Gnana di “Harmonie Magazine” paragona il suo stile chitarristico a quello di Robert Fripp. Ora immagino che sarete curiosi, no? Bene, partiamo con una retrospettiva di tutti i suoi album. Domenai vi parlerò del primo lavoro di Salim con gli Arashk, Abrahadabra.

A retrospective, Indie Bands Blog, Tim Whales, Nov 2011

Salim Ghazi Saeedi, is a Solo artist from Tehran in Iran. He plays all the instruments, produces his material and self-releases the finished article. Having taught himself to learn to play music, he decided in about 2006 to start taking things more seriously. Although he spent little time listening to Eastern Music, the influences of the environment are apparent.

Well it is good to head off from the mainstream countries and I find myself having an opportunity to write about my first artist from Iran. Whilst Salim plays predominately alone, he does on occasion team up and has appeared as, the Negar Bouban and Salim Ghazi Saeedi Project and in the band Arashk.

It is all well and good wandering to locations where you may not necessarily expect to find a depth of indie music, but unless it adds value, then no matter how obscure the location, it adds not a jot. Salim Ghazi Saeedi, I am delighted to say has considerable value.

The music takes the listener on an interesting path, as the Guitars, Bass and synth are pivoted to different spaces. Tempo and rhythm are a montage of conceptual rock and far older Persian constructs, infused with 21st century relevance.

The lack of vocal causes not a drop of disturbance as the audience is led off on a hidden path, unconfined by subsumed expectation. The level of dedication required by this solo artist to create the sounds and atmosphere is astounding.

Due to the complete unexpected constructions, there is a hugely refreshing originality to Salim Ghazi Saeedi, which is compounded by the powerful imagery generated by the tracks.

Rock riffs on electric guitar will suddenly meet sounds of violin and Ghopuz, with accompanied percussion on traditional drums, creating a depth of narrative to the highly expressive pieces.

I really enjoyed listening to Salim Ghazi Saeedi, who now sits on my ever expanding play-list and I am delighted to have broken the Iranian duck.

[FRENCH] Retrospective, Daniel Bonin, Musicali Blog, Mar 2012 [permalink]

salim ghazi saeedi entend une chanson à 17 ans diffusée sur un radio-cassette, cela semble être " something in the way", ses intérêts musicaux sont liés à ce qu' il peut découvrir et entendre, michael jackson, nirvana, à cet égard il découvre l' histoire de kurt cobain, il s' achète une guitare acoustique et se procure des copies de " nevermind" et " in utero".

a cette écoute maintes fois prolongée, sa vie va changer alors qu' il vit en iran, son histoire est édifiante, un premier ordinateur à 10 ans, la découverte de " bootlegs" dans les rues de téhéran, il fut rapidement conquis par la musique occidentale qui est en grande partie interdite en iran. la guerre iran-irak qui s' ensuivit lui fit découvrir le bruit des bombes défini par lui -même comme des mélodies dissonnantes, il a commencé ensuite à enseigner la guitare et la théorie.

c' est un motif de fierté pour lui de n' avoir jamais eu de professeur de musique, un témoignage d' une rare persévérance et l' ouverture à des sonorités insoupçonnées, il fréquenta l' université pour des études d' ingénieur sans jamais perdre le sens de la musique qui le hantait continuellement, il continuait d' écrire des chansons et de jammer avec des amitiés musicales de passage.

une étape importante survient en 2004 car il rejoint le groupe " arashk" comme guitariste solo, 3 albums suivront ainsi " abrahadabra" ( 2006), " sovereign" ( 2007) , " ustuqus-al-us" ( 2008), il décide pour l' année 2010 de se lancer dans une carrière solo et nous gratifie en 2010 de l' ébouriffant opus " iconophobic", il y' est à la fois compositeur, guitariste, claviériste, percussioniste, ingénieur du son et producteur, excusez du peu ce grand artiste.

il qualifie sa musique à l' instar d' un rock pictural, salim nous décrit un monde où les images ont déformé la réalité dans une large mesure pathologique d' ou ce titre " iconophobic", le concet est que chaque image perçue par l' oeil humain induit des pensées qui forment notre conception de la réalité, il a ainsi créé une bande son parfaite pour la vie actuelle.

comme programmateur informatique, il maitrise au mieux les technologies actuelles, comme un bouddhiste, il se méfie du plaisir en soi, car il y' a tant d' illusions utilisées pour le créer. il continue imperturbablement d' être musicien et cite ovide: " un musicien, à mon humble avis est un homme qui par sa musique séduitles arbres, les animaux sauvages, et même les montagnes inatteignables de le suivre".

ses albums solo sont des projets conceptuels dans un genre rock progressif saupoudré de world music, une utilisation diversifiée des instruments allant des instruments classiques à une instrumentation rock et électro, il n' hésite pas à se décire comme un " constant improvisateur que ce soit en jouant ou en composant".

ayant la chance d' être en relation avec ce grand artiste, n' hésitez pas à confier vos sentiments sur cette musique et je transfèrerai vos messages pour que votre perception soit entendue et qu' une réponse vous soit ainsi apportée, à bientôt pour des nouvelles de cet artiste iranien .


Interview with Salim Ghazi Saeedi by Peter Thelen, Exposé Online, Elsewhere, Jan 2014 [permalink]

"Expect the unexpected" is a common phrase in English, a joke on some levels, sage advice on others. The music created by Iranian composer Salim Ghazi Saeedi is a case in point. What do you expect an electric guitarist from Iran to sound like? Do you expect that there are electric guitarists in Iran? He makes the music he hears in his head, and we call it progressive, RIO, chamber rock, and so on, but to him it is what's inside.
by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-01-25
What is the situation in Iran for rock musicians, and how has that changed over the years?
Before the Islamic revolution in 1979 rock music was growing fast and finding its own place and blend in Iranian music scene — as in some works of Kourosh Yaghmaee and Shahram Shabpareh. After the revolution, Iranian government has undergone dramatic changes in terms of approach toward rock music — an approach that I regard more chaotic. For the first years even carrying musical instruments was banned and many musicians migrated from Iran. It was not before Mohammad Khatami presidency in 1999 that rock concerts became widespread especially in Tehran. From Joe Satriani and Pink Floyd cover gigs, to Mississippi blues (that I remember the Iranian guitarist introduced the genre at first) to original Iranian doom metal songs sung in English and original Iranian rock albums of the band O-Hum. But this scene only lasted for two or three years. After that the Ministry of Intelligence and Judiciary System treated rock musicians as devil-worshipers, junkies, and people spreading the Western culture (Western culture is regarded a taboo in views of fundamentalists). After that time limited rock concerts have been held in Tehran (the cultural activities in other parts of Iran are more limited and state-controlled) including one or two formal and big pop/rock concerts a year, a few small concerts in universities or music classes and underground concerts in closed-doors cafes and personal residencies. These days you still find pamphlets in teenager, full of cigarette-smoke cafes about underground concerts covering Tool songs or even original songs in styles of Pink Floyd and Eloy (the latter is extremely popular in Iran); underground concerts that you have to make a phone call to ask for the address. I find an interesting point about music listeners in Iran that because of Iran's cultural scene being frozen in time and space due religious state control, the listeners' taste does not necessarily follow the world's music scene that is publicized by mass media. You will be surprised how many Iranian teenagers still follow 70s and 80s prog rock for example!
Does the government take a similar negative view of other Western music, like jazz, folk music, blues, classical?
In 2005 Ahmadinejad banned broadcasting of Western music from state TV and radio where no independent media is allowed to operate. Of course every now and then foreign bands (including jazz, classical, etc.) play in Tehran, and some local magazines cover them but it does not go beyond that. Mass media still do not show musical instruments (as being sinful in the religious government's view) or cover aspects of Western culture, including music. All I know about western music comes from listening to copied old-time cassettes, vinyl my family used to listen in pre-revolution era (among them I remember The Doors and Bee Gees) and now audio CDs and MP3s. But as I guess all musicians have strong introspective fanciful minds, I have reconstructed western musical scene by studying music encyclopedias and magazines... "Clapton is God" is written on street walls of my fantasy strolls in 70s London. I have dreamed nights of New York jazz clubs through Thelonious Monk's fingers and deep eyes of Stevie Ray Vaughn's face have pierced my heart like many wayfarers of the cult of music.
How did your own involvement with music begin? Were others members of your family musicians?
Until the age 18 I was merely a fanatic music listener. No one in my family or even relatives was a musician and because I was not in touch with the music scene I adored, I never even thought about becoming a musician. It all began when I listened to Nirvana's "Something in the Way" song on BBC Persian radio. At that time I used to record the radio programs on tape cassettes since access to new music was not easy (Western music publishers do not distribute in Iran). Listening to this song, something deep inside me changed and I felt that there will be something important in my way. To me it was a message of madness, anarchy and freedom and I found guitar, the window to such ideas. Then I involuntarily began my way in music composition and guitar playing up to this day. Of course I am not sure where this cause may lead me to, but I guess more revolutionary things may yet to be in the way...
Did you get some formal music training in composition, or are you self-taught?
I am completely self-taught in guitar playing, music composition and DAW music production. Based on personal research I also established and ran a commercial recording studio along with Arashk's drummer, Shahram Khosraviani for a year. I adopt the DIY approach in many aspects of my life. Even my day job is now Systems and Methods Analyst that in a nutshell means "studying how to do things!"
Was Arashk your first band or were there others prior to that? Arashk already existed before you joined, correct?
Arashk was my first band and I published three albums of my compositions there: Abrahadabra (2006), Sovereign (2007), Ustuqus-al-Uss (2008). [Before I Joined] Arashk band members, Pouyan Khajavi and Shahram Khosraviani, had already composed a few hard rock songs with Persian vocals and had performed them at universities in Tehran. We finally recorded those songs in our personal studio as the album YELL (2008). Amir Jahanshahlou was the band's bassist for a time and accompanied us at concerts but the bass recordings in all Arashk albums was done either by me or Pouyan.
You are an engineer by training, but a recording artist by choice. Math and science versus expression and creativity. How did (and do) you manage to balance those two seemingly opposing disciplines, and how do they inform and support each other in your life in both endeavors?
From age 10 I had been into computers... Commodore 64, IBM 8086 and so on. I even worked as a part-time C programmer during high school. This background made me fast and efficient on working with computers that helps me at engineering and creative jobs both. I am literally involved in all aspects of my music business myself. So being fast at setting up the DAW software so that the creative idea does not go away is important and so is maintaining the Access database recording the history of all the publicity work I do. Meanwhile in accordance to your opinion and in contrary to many engineers I believe that science and art are separate disciplines. I separate them because I see reason and intuition levels of consciousness different in nature. When you create as an artist, you are intuitively an omniscient God while reason has no place in determining what creative idea should come next or what suits best. But immediately after you want to record the idea on a real medium you will have to consider reasoning parts too. To sum it up, my science self helps to manifest and publish the inner creative artist into real world. I guess the secret to balancing intuitive and reasoning faculties is to always be ready to grasp and value what these faculties are suggesting. I always try to value the intuitive voice in my head regardless of how irrational it may seem and also value the doubt questioning my decisions. Each of these voices intends a meaning and needs an action (that may be a self-corrective one in cases) but I do not avoid them until I have deciphered them.
With Arashk, on the three albums that you composed for the band (Abrahadabra, 2006, Sovereign, 2007, and Ustuqus-al-Uss, 2008), if I’m reading the credits correctly, you composed all the material, and played all the instruments on those as well, with only a few exceptions. So effectively those were solo albums anyway, correct?
That's right. The story is at the time I joined the band (2004) they were working on songs that we finally recorded in our studio as YELL (2008) album. During these years I was continually composing and the band rehearsed some of them too. In that time band members had more daily life obligations than mine and so my music composition pace overtook theirs!
How did your bandmates feel about that arrangement during that time? Were you able to play their instruments better than they did?
Pouyan Khajavi is a great guitarist and I have always admired him for his guitar playing and hard rock composition skills, but the style I was composing and experimenting was different and as I said I had more time to put it in music. In order to listen to Pouyan's furious guitar playing you should listen to the second guitar solo of Ustuqus-al-Uss-al-Avvalin-val-Akharin that is available for full streaming on my website. Shahram Khosrviani is also a very inspiring musician but our limitation at the time was recording drums parts. Apart from financial limitation, the like-minded studio engineers were hard to find in a rock/metal-deprived music scene of Iran. At last the complete band collaboration happened in hard rock album YELL (2008) that features Pouyan’s voice singing in Persian.
In 2008, you started your own studio with Shahram Khosraviani, but closed the studio only one year later (following Ustuqus-al-Uss and YELL). How many other artists recorded there during that time, and in the end, was the studio not profitable enough to keep open?
We recorded a few pop and traditional music artists. There were also many rap clients that I was escaping from! Maintaining a business in Iran, you have to put energy in many off-the-topic problems. To let you have a clearer picture, I mention Ease of Doing Business Index published by World Bank for which Iran is ranked 152nd vs. US being 4th among all countries. Plus there are Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance complications regarding permissions for registering the company and publication. So at the end many such businesses end up being underground in Iran and consequently limited... There is also Corruption Perceptions Index (from Transparency International): Iran 133rd vs. US 19th meaning corrupt bureaucracy and unjust business competency.
Since that time, for the three albums bearing your own name (Iconophobic from 2010, Human Encounter from 2011 and namoWoman in 2012), you have recorded these in a home studio. Does your home studio have comparable equipment, and do you find any further advantages in working from home?
My main instrument is electric guitar for which a good guitar amp and high-end audio interface (mine is RME Fireface 800) deliver very good results — however micing the guitar amplifier would be my next quality option that I do not have now. Now there exist new unbelievably high quality software guitar effects (like Native Instruments Guitar Rig) that cut the unlimited expenditures on effects. For other instruments like drums, bass, strings, etc. I use real samples produced by Spectrasonics and Native Instruments and others. Regarding my current style, I need no more, however I am so interested to re-record many of my tracks with real artists in future. No doubt a professional drummer or strings player knows the articulations of the instrument better than a guitarist!
Let's talk about your last three releases. Iconophobic seemed to be informed more by chamber rock, while Human Encounter had a more evident jazz influence to it. Was this due to changing interests as your compositional interests evolved, or more of an effort to compartmentalize the wide variety of musical interests that you have had all along?
During the years of my music career, critics have taught me many things including the music genre I compose in! My music listening habit is absolutely diverse. If you examine my car music player right now you will find Vivaldi, Megadeth, Shajarian (Iranian traditional music), The Derek Trucks Band, and of course (drums rolling...) Thelonious Monk! Music is a self-expression outlet to me and since 2006 when I started composing, I have entered a special mind-set every year that I have sought to materialize in course of composition (This is the reason why I have published an album each year). I involuntarily choose the style based on the type of expression I have in my mind. So wild and self-centric emotions materialize as metal and my philosophical uncertainties as complex jazz lines.
You may also find it interesting that I have become aware of the whole Rock in Opposition genre through critics analyzing my works; the genre that I immediately felt an affinity with. 70s European bands felt the opposition stance due mainstream music industries while in Iran, religion limits music activities, dance and even showing instruments on TV. The exciting happening is that the only thing that made my music sound RIO was the similarity in mind-set while I was unaware of the genre or related bands. I have discussed this matter in length in an article: “Digging RIO: Rock in Opposition Resurgence in Iran?
On your latest, namoWoman, the focus seems to be more in a rock influenced guitar direction, but still informed by the chamber and jazz elements of the two previous efforts. To my ears it recalled some of the instrumental work by Belgian band Present, or even that of mid-1970s King Crimson. But I'm sure there are other ideas and methods at work that I am unaware of. Could you elaborate on namoWoman?
A unique and important musical feature in namoWoman is quarter tones; more accurately Persian music quarter tones. An additive that I guess has added a special dimension to the work. And because it is mingled with chromatic jazz phrases it is even indiscernible to Persian music masters' ears — as I have inquired the opinion of such experts. You may find the lesson I have published on my website regarding the subject: "Performing Persian Music Microtones on Electric Guitar." Another feature that I intentionally added to namoWoman realm is what I call "active silence." In some places at the zenith of the music’s passion, the complementary instruments stop and it is only a solo distorted guitar raging on an up-beat bass and drums. I am thrilled by this approach a lot and may use it again in my upcoming album.
Can you shed some light on what you are working on as a follow-up to namoWoman? What is guiding your interests at the moment, and what direction will you be going next?
I am working on another album that adds another unique feature to all of my previous works and that is the super dynamic pickings used in traditional Persian music on tar and setar instruments (Iranian setar not Indian sitar!). In comparison to namoWoman you can expect more sparse parts and stronger "active silences" like I explained above and in the meantime more explosive outbursts of the instruments contrasting them. Conceptually speaking it is related to a blog post I posted recently entitled "Asking your permission to walk" addressing "presidents, leaders, prime ministers, kings and queens and governments of the world" that as a naked and innocent boy, I recently have "heard in the news that they own some parts of the world." Let me say it adopts a Parzival approach.
Will there be a time when you bring additional musicians into your projects, or are you comfortable continuing to do everything yourself?
I would love to have additional musicians on my projects! Working alone has been an obligation of being in Iran, far from my genre’s professional musicians. I do believe that co-composing and practicing in traditional rock band style greatly augments the outcome quality!
By the way in 2010 I had collaboration with Negar Bouban as an electric guitar vs. oud instrument experiment. You may watch the video here:
I read in your bio that Kurt Cobain was a big influence on you while you were getting into music and learning to play, yet I don’t hear much of his influence remaining in the six albums you have produced, other than the obvious fact that you are playing the same instrument.
That’s right. The extraordinary load of madness and anarchy in Kurt Cobain’s character and music made me to identify him as an expression of myself. Living in restricted and suffocated environment of Iran, I really needed such medium to set myself free.
Are there any other things you would like to share with our readers?
Being covered in Exposé magazine has been my wish since 2006 when I started composing music. I would like to thank you for your efforts on keeping the lighthouse of prog alive while unfortunately its glorious years have passed... I hope that such deep and elite entertaining genre sees its glory once again and apart from composing its genre I am personally ready to contribute in any other aspects of Prog Industry possible.

Interview with Salim Ghazi Saeedi by Rafael Jovine,Vents Magazine #28,Oct 2013 [permalink]

So why don’t you introduce yourself?
I am Salim Ghazi Saeedi, a composer and guitarist from Iran, Tehran. I composed 3 albums in Iranian band named Arashk and 3 albums as a one-man-band that are mostly known in avant-prog and rock in opposition genres. I am also an experimental poet and short-story writer.

How did you get started in the music scene?
The music scene in Iran is mostly consisted of Persian traditional music and the music industry is very limited in social scale. This is mostly due government’s religious view on music that is seen to promote “sinful acts” for most of music types including rock and metal. In 1999, at age 18 after entering university and encountering people sharing my music interests, I started self-teaching guitar playing and digital music production. In 2004 I joined the rock band Arashk and started self-publishing my music. In Arashk band we had a few concerts in Tehran universities, but since then my activities have been mostly limited to internet promotion – as I said the chance for expanding rock music in Iran is very limited.

What are your music influences?
Among guitarists, Jeff Beck and Marty Friedman.
Among composers, Thelonious Monk.
And among digital music producers, Charlie Closure.

So I understand due to your location it’s hard to find success as a rocker?
That is right. Of course my music style is recognized as being mainly western with eastern tinges. But there is no professionalism in rock and metal musician communities in Iran. I find it natural due lack of domestic performances and journalism. I especially have high regard for the position of constructive journalism– as it helps the artist to gain maturity in his way. For me, most of press coverage and consequently motivation I have received for my work have come from magazines and e-zines all over the world except Iran! You may find this coverage in my press page at:

Are they all CONs or you have some PROs too?
There are many CONS for being a rock musician in Iran but the PRO is being a unique phenomenon in terms of publicity.

What’s your songwriting method?
I compose my instrumental music in a story-telling format. Sometimes purely in abstract musical terms and sometimes as a real story. Composing in abstract musical terms, I develop a motive and start to think and express musically. In this method all the components are musical and I am unable to communicate in by words at all. But when I use a real story as building block of a composition it is different. It is like composing a mental sequence of pictures or scenes in my mind. I try to musically express those scenes and try to keep the cohesion by the relativity of the story itself. I used to hire the latter more often in the past and this is the reason I previously emphasized on the term “pictorial rock” to describe my music. But my recent compositions are more built by inexplicable abstract concepts.

namoWoman. How was the recording and writing process?
Through an about 7 months period, I had composed and recorded motives I had for this album in mind. So when I decided to start the album recording process, I had a picture of the whole album. I record as I write; so when the actual writing process started, I developed the compositions and instrumentations in a way that each song plays its part in the concept album.

How did you come up with the title?
namoWoman is Woman written backward and forward. With 9 songs, naming nam, amo, moW, etc, the idea was to demonstrate a world with 9 possibilities of sexualities rather than just 2 – as an effort to transcend the earthly limitations in its most fundamental sense. So the songs man and Woman are describing the normal sexualities and the rest are names of others.

So tell us about this new language you come up with?
By hiring the I3abEl language, a writer tries to demonstrate a viewpoint beyond dualistic nature of our earthly world. Every word (brick in terms of I3abElish) is a juxtaposition of opposites. e.g. there is no way to say pain. But you can say pain/pleasure. Or instead of love you have love/fear. For typographical aspect of language, I incorporated various characters to fuse the opposites into one in a way that both words become readable at the same time. Artistically, the constructed language, I3abEl, is a method to climb back the Tower of Babel – the mythical story of people with a unique language who tried to build a tower to reach heavens, but God confused their language and dispersed them in dual world to restrain them to succeed. Visit for more info.

What’s next in SG’s world?
Currently I am working on special guitar playing skills to use in my upcoming album. The techniques are related to fundamental tar and setar Persian instruments playing. My music has always been recognized with western structure with eastern flavor. So now I am working to “localize” some major techniques of Persian music instrument into my playing style. That The techniques include single note tremolo and use of extensive dynamics… The point is eastern instruments like tar and setar are limited in sound registers and so playing techniques becomes more prominent. And this is especially true about right hand techniques. So my upcoming album will be more delicate in translating human feelings to these techniques… Even more extreme in approach in comparison to what I pursued in composing my first album back in 2006, Abrahadara. As I used to say “… I like exaggerated details and very subtle techniques of the instrument and when I come across to composing a catchy part in one song, I see no reason for repeating it.”

Where can we find more about your music?
Samples of more than 60 original songs of mine are available at my website:

Interview with Salim Ghazi Saeedi by Pens Eye View, as feature artist, Feb 2013 [permalink]

Producer, composer and performer Salim Ghazi Saeedi is crafting a genre of his own through thorough instrumental mastery – a style he calls “Pictorial Rock”. Saeedi plays every instrument on his recordings; a clearly impressive feat, made all the more impressive based on his upbringing in Iran. As Salim says, “The social and cultural situation in today’s Iran does not embrace artists as independent creators. Moreover due to religious limitations, there are still people among official authorities discussing whether music is Haram (forbidden) or not.”

Saljm has smashed through these obstacles, creating six albums over the last seven years, music that is minimalist in conveying his message. He says “I try to keep away from wordiness; Hiring undercover dance elements in semi-Middle Eastern atmospheres; and Incorporating accentuated silences to color my melodies.” You can sample this for yourself on Saeedi’s latest collection titled nanoWoman, a big step in this musical journey. He describes the effort as “silences filled with wild guitars fluctuating. namoWoman music tries to communicate clear-cut and uncensored in terms of the feelings involved…In course of its composition I was thinking how it might be possible if our life was based on a different basis…something different from dual sexuality or Carbon based life.”

Get into nanoWoman and click to for more on Salim’s side poetry project. He’s developing some wonderful material that shouldn’t be missed, so get to it…after reading the answers to the following XXQ’s.

XXQs: Salim Ghazi Saeedi (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what makes you different from others your genre?

Salim Ghazi Saeedi (SS): Within about 6 years of music composition I have approached different genres from standard prog metal to jazz-fusion and chamber rock. But I can summarize my sound as: Being minimalist in conveying my message – as I try to keep away from wordiness; Hiring undercover dance elements in semi-Middle Eastern atmospheres; and Incorporating accentuated silences to color my melodies.

In my recent works, my genre has mainly identified as Avant Prog and Rock In Opposition. However in my 2012 album, namoWoman, I have also incorporated quarter tones that makes my style a little different from my previous works.

PEV: Born in 1981 in Iran, Tehran, what kind of music were you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?

SS: At age 4-5 I remember constantly listening toLarry Groce’s children songs that my uncle sent me from US and I guess it made my ears apt for listening to western music. At age 18 I constantly listened to Nirvana’s Nevermind and In Utero for one year. I was completely obsessed by Cobain… Of course about 20 years ago there were no internet or satellite in Iran and so the information on international entertainment scene was scarcely available; so I did not know the name of many records I listened to… But among them were Queen, Pink Floyd, George Michael. They were mostly mainstream music.

About the first concert I’m not sure but it should’ve been in Persian traditional genre with instruments like Tar and Tonbak.

PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene when you first started? What was your first show like?

SS: Living in Iran, I’ve actually always lived outside rock music scene. In recent years even the music industry in Persian traditional music genre has never been powerful enough to be able to have artistic influence on my works. I have always followed my artistic path alone – including composition, recording, mixing, production and promotion. This is also mostly true about my first 3 albums with Arashk band.

My first show was in a university in Tehran. I should say I was even cooler than I expected myself! Maybe that is because of my introspective nature. Even on stage I can easily concentrate and go deep into myself.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Salim Ghazi Saeedi show?

SS: I think they can expect the true “I”… A bare soul with unrestrained feelings.

PEV: What is the music scene like in the Middle East and how does that differ from the US?

SS: Of course I’m not eligible to comment on the whole Middle East music scene. But in Iran – as a very conservative country on its art scene – performing arts like music and dance are severely suppressed due religious and socio-political restrictions. Of course some sporadic performances happen but with the least publicity possible. Some of them – especially small ones – are even banned from street promotion. After 1979 revolution, Iranian National TVs has never showed a music instrument. Moreover after recent economic crisis in Iran due international sanctions, I’ve heard many concerts cancelled due not being economically feasible at all…

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?

SS: I’m usually empty minded when I go on stage! I don’t know and I cannot remember!

PEV: What is the best part about being on stage in front of an audience?

SS: Presenting yourself as who you really are. I think performing instrumental music and bypassing the barrier of words enables me to present myself more truly.

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music?

SS: I may say iconoclasm. That could be a reaction toward dark social atmosphere I have felt while growing up in Iran.

PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out do you ever look back at your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?

SS: I think my whole music composition style has developed based on improvisation. From early days of experimenting on music composition, I’ve always believed that human mind is magically capable of producing great music from its silenced void within. So I’ve always endeavored to introspect the melodies already available in my mind’s structure – as a reflection of who am I.

About development in my mindset, of course it all depends on my living condition and real life happenings around me. Loves, hopes, bitterness and ugliness. I should say, living in Iran, one encounters all of these qualities in extreme amounts every day!

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?

SS: The social and cultural situation in today Iran does not embrace artists as independent creators. Moreover due religious limitations there are still people among official authorities discussing whether music is Haram (forbidden) or not… Despite all of these obstacles, within past 7 years I have composed 6 albums and contributed in some more albums/singles. I can say I have been obliged to discover and create my entire artistic path all by myself… in a land with no access to other professional artists, especially in my western genre of music.

PEV: How do you think the industry has changed over the years, since you started out or got involved in just enjoying your music?

SS: The bottom line is it has become harder for artists to generate income from music activities. I think the expansion of multimedia products has made pure music products (especially instrumental music) more as a side product in minds of general public. Today, most of the music people know or discover is from movies, ads, shows, etc. and not by the actual listening to a music album.

PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release? What was the writing process like for this album?

SS: I may describe namoWoman (2012) as silences filled with wild guitars fluctuating. namoWoman music tries to communicate clear-cut and uncensored in terms of the feelings involved… In course of its composition I was thinking how it is possible if our life was based on a different basis… something different from dual sexuality or Carbon based life. The chemical formulas in background of album’s tray cover are actual formulations of Silicon-based life – that is a subject in “alternative biochemistry” considerable in extraterrestrial life or science fiction… You know; artists enjoy dreaming about future… and from such dreams, realities slip into our world every now and then!

PEV: With all your traveling is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

SS: More than any part of the world, my music has been compared by critics to 70s avant-prog Belgian bands. Sure I am excited to visit and play in Belgium one day!

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?

SS: Very positively. My family members have always supported me in my career specially by tolerating endless sounds of my rehearsals! One of my friends tells me he is always interested to wait for my new album and likes to play my music while the lights are out and his eyes closed. He says he likes to wait and see what images come to his mind by listening to my music in the dark…

PEV: What do you do in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

SS: I write poetry. That is available in my website at Of course my poetry is originally in Farsi but I have translated some of them into English.

PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?

SS: Present, Jeff Beck. Past, Janis Joplin. Visiting unique people are like meeting Gods. They remind us how profound and limitless human being could be.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

SS:I recently discovered jazz saxophonist, Hafez Modirzadeh. His style is very unique and especially he incorporates Persian quarter tones in jazz phrases in a way that I cannot tell if it is jazz or Persian music. He is totally a master of these both worlds.

PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal) what would be your career?

SS: In a point of my life – during composing my debut album, Abrahadabra (2006) with Arashk – I seriously decided between being an artist or occultist. Creating has always been my obsession. I had to choose between being a normal creator, as an artist who composes music or words in comparison to being a peculiar creator as an occultist!

PEV: So, what is next for Salim Ghazi Saeedi?

SS: I am working on a second single with Negar Bouban. Heavy metal music, with Shamlou poetry sang by powerful and brilliant voice of Negar Bouban. Of course the lyrics are in Farsi.


Guide sul Web: Rock Progressive interview by Gaetano Menna, Jan 2012

Italian version: here

1) Iran today It 'linked to my questions. We think  that yours is a conservative country, closed to the news, in opposition to  the West of the world. You are the side of a new and amazing Tehran, who listens and produces a different music, which uses the Internet to enhance it, which communicate in English. You are aware of an international dimension, Is this the other side of Iran? It is really possible in your country express themselves fully free?
I have been raised in the east but from early childhood started listening to western music, learning English and have been a technology fanatic. So I think it is natural for my artistic works to be mainly western oriented, of course - as some critics call them - with Persian tinge. Easier global communication makes cultures to evolve in new ways and I guess you would agree that progressive rock is very apt to be a conveyor of such evolutions – as it is all about pushing borders further and encouraging artists and listeners to think creatively.

As you say, Iran is a conservative country and one cannot expect open-mindedness in such an environment. As far as I have understood, Iranians are “fascinated with the past” kind of people and in general do not embrace modern artistic currents easily... So I think even if the music scene in Iran was more open to western music, nor domestic critics or listeners were ready for digesting and analyzing it – as they would confront creative works not rooted in their culture and regard it merely as something new.

In the meantime the new media enables people to peek their head out of their time-place continuum and I think it is the artist’s job to transcend his time and place and takes people with himself. Of course this job is not easily practical for all kinds of artistic creations, but music being an easily transferable medium and instrumental music, an abstract and universal language, have helped me to go beyond territorial limitations.

3) You started a band with “Arashk “ and recorded three albums, then you have continued as a solo with two records in which you play many instruments. On the way the musical project with Negar Boubana. Can you explain us yours activities and yours musical collaborations?
In my solo works, Human Encounter (2011), Iconophobic (2010) I preferred to work alone because these albums’ music genres i.e. avant-garde, jazz-rock and prog rock have very few followers among musicians in Iran and very fewer of them are professional performers. So I felt working alone could be more efficient. I credit for composition, performances for all instruments along with recording and mixing the albums.

Three albums I composed in Arashk band, i.e .Ustuqus-al-Uss (2008), Sovereign (2007) and Abrahadabra (2006) were mostly arranged for standard rock instrumentation (except Ustuqus-al-Uss album to a degree). But Arashk stopped its practice sessions after 2008 since concert opportunities in Iran were very limited. Arashk has also a fourth album, Yell (2008) that is composed by other Arashk members and I have contributed as rhythm guitarist and recorded and mixed it.

I have also co-composed and recorded a single with oud player, Negar Bouban released on 1/1/11. There is one specific characteristic in Persian traditional music that I like a lot and that is huge emphasis on solo instrument performance. I think there exist lots of potentials for electric guitar if played in the same manner and I may experiment in this area in future.

4) Your new album, Human Encounter, is a concept album divided into two parts, the dark side and light side of the Earth. Do you think that the world has two sides?

I don’t see the world as black and white. But in terms of musicality I prefer the extremes... I like to stir exaggerated feelings in the listener by my work – maybe that is how I enjoy a music message myself: sharp and right at the heart... So I like to communicate in the same way!

5) No doubt, abroad your musical proposal strikes, Your musical references are very different, from the jazz of Thelonoius Monk to the rock of the Nirvana, you have dedicated two songs of your new album ... but there is also the mood of the music of your country ... It is a mixture of a great suggestion, can you let us feel your emotions?
My music listening habit is very diverse and embraces almost all music genres. I search for certain tastes relating to my own inner emotions and feelings and I’ve found out that they are genre independent. Musicians like Cobain and Monk have ripped my heart apart in different ways. One with rage and iconoclasm and the other with mastery of subtle harmonic innovations.

It is interesting to note that I never decidedly chose to compose in avant-garde, jazz or prog rock and as I blogged about Persian music influences in my work as “Music is Bloody! A True Story”, I have never even been a serious Persian or traditional music listener. I have just let my mind free to prey from our musical collective unconsciousness and then found out myself being compared to bands I had never listened to like RIO and surf rock. I think interesting works happen unintentionally!

6) Human Encounter, is a record which shows how you've grown as a  mature artist. You dedicated your work to the artists that impressed you,
including the actor Jeremy Brett, can you explain your path?

I adore human beings expressing themselves at their full potentials. Watching the perfectionist Jeremy Brett acting reminds me how limitless the possibilities of self-expression are.
In the artistic path I am like the narrator in Human Encounter’s booklet story. I encounter beauties and uglinesses and reflect them back to the world. Exempting no ecstatic beauty or dreadful ugliness, I try to distill the essence of every little life experience... Then I sit among them and orchestrate their animation!

7) "City Bombardment" is dedicated to the war between Iran and Iraq in 1980. Is the year of your birth. Can you let us feel the emotions of this song? ...
When I was 6, we moved out of Tehran because the war was intensifying. So my memories of war date back before being 6 years old and interestingly I have no “conscious” fearful memory of the war. I only have a recurring memory of a scene (maybe when I was 4) in which I was watching cartoons on TV and the sirens went on and the cartoons stopped, showing “go to air raid shelter” message... I remember feeling sad for not being able to watch cartoons.

I think this specific memory had a major impact on my mood when composing “City Bombardment”. When you live in a city and see bombs destroying your neighbor’s homes, you feel a threat to “life” in its most general meaning of term. And I guess when I was 4, cartoons were my life.

8) Are yours cd  in sales, what about the distribution? How can ours readers get them?
All of my compositions are available for sale in physical CD and digital format at my website, The physical CDs are distributed by CDBaby and downloads are available on iTunes, Amazon and others.

[ITALIAN] Guide sul Web: Rock Progressive interview by Gaetano Menna, Jan 2012 (In Italian)

part #1:
part #2:

L’estate scorsa avevo letto con interesse l’approfondimento di Riccardo Storti (coordinatore del Centro Studi sul Progressive italiano) sul suo blog “Scrittore Progressivo” della discografia del musicista iraniano Salim Ghazi Saeedi fino all’album “Iconophobic”.

Mi aveva profondamente colpito il fatto che un’artista a Teheran, suonasse il prog, comunicasse su Internet e vendesse la sua musica online.

Certo quella di Salim è una voce isolata, ma è bello scoprire che non tutto è come appare. Per una volta si parla dell’Iran non per la bomba atomica, per gli ayatollah, per le minacce belliche ma per la musica, la stessa che gira sul nostro stereo…

Recentemente è uscito il nuovo disco di Salim Ghazi Saeedi, “Human Encounter” (2011), allora ho voluto approfondire. Via web sono entrato in contatto con il polistrumentista, ho quindi ascoltato il suo nuovo disco, un concept diviso in due parti, il lato oscuro e il lato chiaro della Terra.

Il mondo ha due facce? Ed una delle due è giusto che sia oscurata? Queste le domande che mi sono fatto ascoltando un suono senza barriere che mescola avant-garde, Thelonious Monk, Nirvana e musica persiana…

“Human Encounter” è un disco davvero interessante, maturo che ci riempie il cuore di speranze. Ed è sintomatico il nome del suo sito SalimWorld: Salim e la sua musica si aprono al mondo…

A Salim Ghazi Saeedi abbiamo chiesto di rispondere ad alcune nostre domande. Questa è l’intervista alla voce libera di Teheran.

E’ inevitabile la domanda sull’Iran oggi. Abbiamo un’idea che sia un Paese conservatore, chiuso alle novità, in contrapposizione all’occidente. Tu sei il volto di una Teheran nuova e stupefacente, che ascolta e produce una musica differente, che usa Internet per valorizzarla, che comunica in inglese, che sa avere una dimensione internazionale. C’è davvero un’altra Iran? E’ possibile davvero esprimersi pienamente liberi?

Sono cresciuto in Oriente, ma dalla prima infanzia ho iniziato ad ascoltare musica occidentale, ad imparare l’inglese e sono stato un fanatico della tecnologia. Quindi penso che sia naturale che i miei lavori artistici siano orientati prevalentemente verso l’Occidente, naturalmente mantenendo – come alcuni critici li chiamano - riflessi persiani. La comunicazione globale rende più facile alle culture di evolversi in modi nuovi e credo che sarete d’accordo che il rock progressivo è molto adatto ad essere un trasportatore di tali evoluzioni, in quanto permette di oltrepassare i confini artistici ed incoraggia gli ascoltatori a pensare in modo creativo.

Come dici tu, l’Iran è un paese conservatore e non ci si può aspettare l’apertura mentale in un ambiente del genere. Per quanto ho capito, gli iraniani sono “affascinati dal passato”, sono persone che in generale non abbracciano moderne correnti artistiche facilmente… Quindi penso che anche se la scena musicale in Iran fosse stata più aperta alla musica occidentale, né i critici interni né gli ascoltatori sarebbero stati pronti per la comprensione e l’analisi; il confronto con i lavori creativi non è radicato nella loro cultura e considerato semplicemente come qualcosa di nuovo.
Nel frattempo i nuovi media consentono alle persone di sporgere la testa fuori del loro tempo-luogo continuo e penso che è compito dell’artista di trascendere il tempo, il luogo e la gente. Naturalmente questa operazione non è facilmente attuabile per tutti i tipi di creazioni artistiche, ma la musica è un mezzo facilmente trasferibile; la musica strumentale, è un linguaggio astratto e universale che mi ha aiutato a superare i limiti territoriali.

Tu hai cominciato con una band Arashk con cui hai inciso tre album, hai quindi proseguito come solista con due dischi in cui sei polistrumentista. C’è poi un progetto musicale in duo con Negar Bouban. Ci parli brevemente delle tue attività e collaborazioni musicali?

Nei miei lavori da solista, Human Encounter (2011), Iconophobic (2010) ho preferito lavorare da solo, perché i generi musicali di questi album – cioè avant-garde, jazz-rock e prog-rock – hanno scarso seguito tra i musicisti in Iran e ben pochi di loro sono artisti professionisti. Così ho pensato che lavorare da solo sarebbe strato più efficace. Mi sono occupato da solo di composizioni, performance, strumenti, registrazione e mixaggio dell’ album.

Ho realizzato tre album con la band degli Arashk, cioè. Ustuqus-al-Uss (2008), Sovereign (2007) e Abrahadabra (2006); erano per lo più puntati ad una strumentazione standard rock (tranne Ustuqus-al-Uss). Ma il progetto Arashk è stato bloccato dopo le sessioni di prova del 2008 dato che le opportunità di concerti in Iran erano molto limitate. La band Arashk ha anche un quarto album, Yell (2008) che è stato composto dagli altri suoi membri; io ho contribuito alla chitarra ritmica e l’ho registrato e mixato.

Ho anche co-composto e registrato un singolo con Negar Bouban all’oud pubblicato il 1° gennaio2011. C’è una caratteristica particolare nella musica tradizionale persiana che mi piace molto, che è la grande enfasi dello strumento solista. Credo che esistano grandi potenzialità per la chitarra elettrica se suonata nello stesso modo e penso di sperimentarlo in futuro.

Il tuo nuovo album, Human Encounter, è un concept album diviso in due parti, il lato oscuro e il lato chiaro della Terra. Pensi che il mondo abbia due facce?
Non vedo il mondo in bianco e nero. Ma in termini di musicalità preferisco gli estremi… Mi piace mescolare generi e sensazioni nei miei lavori; è così che mi piace realizzare il messaggio musicale di me stesso: che sia forte e vada dritto al cuore …

Senza dubbio, all’estero, colpisce la tua proposta musicale. I tuoi riferimenti musicali sono molto vari, dal jazz di Thelonoius Monk al rock dei Nirvana, a cui hai dedicato due brani del tuo nuovo disco… ma ci sono anche gli umori della musica del tuo Paese… una miscela di grandi suggestioni.
E’ mia abitudine ascoltare musica molto varia e abbracciare quasi tutti i generi musicali. Cerco i sapori relativi ai miei sentimenti, alle emozioni interiori e ho scoperto che sono indipendente dalle etichette. Musicisti come Cobain e Monk mi hanno strappato il cuore a pezzi in modi diversi. Uno con la rabbia e l’iconoclastia e l’altro con la maestria delle sottili innovazioni armoniche. E ‘interessante notare che non ho mai decisamente scelto di comporre in avant-garde, jazz o prog rock e che non mancano influenze della musica persiana nel mio lavoro, come si può ascoltare nel brano “Music is Bloody! A True Story”; non sono mai stato un serio ascoltatore di musica persiana o tradizionale. Ho lasciato la mia mente libera preda del proprio inconscio collettivo musicale e poi ho scoperto di essere paragonato a band egeneri che non avevo mai ascoltato prima come Rio e surf rock. Penso che interessanti accostamenti possano accadere involontariamente!

Human Encounter, è un disco maturo che dimostra che come artista sei cresciuto. Al suo interno le dediche ad artisti che ti hanno segnato. Tra cui una sorprendente per l’attore Jeremy Brett ci puoi spiegare il tuo percorso?
Adoro gli esseri umani che si esprimono al loro massimo rendimento. Guardando il perfezionista Jeremy Brett nella recitazione mi ricorda come siano senza limiti le possibilità di auto-espressione. Nel mio percorso artistico sono come il narratore della storia scritta nel booklet di Human Encounter. Incontro bellezze e brutture e rifletto sul mondo; uno sguardo non estatico su bellezza o bruttezza spaventosa, cerco di distillare l’essenza di ogni esperienza di vita… poi mi siedo in mezzo a esse ad orchestrare la loro animazione!

“City Bombardment” è dedicato alla guerra tra Iran e Iraq del 1980. Tu sei nato sotto le bombe… Puoi raccontarci le emozioni di questa canzone?
Quando avevo sei anni, ci siamo trasferiti fuori Teheran, perché la guerra si stava intensificando. Così i miei ricordi di guerra, sono datati prima dei sei anni e curiosamente non ho memoria “cosciente” e paura della guerra. Ho solo un ricordo ricorrente di una scena (forse quando avevo quattro anni) in cui stavo guardando i cartoni animati in televisione, i suoni delle sirene ed i cartoon stoppati, dal messaggio “andare al rifugio antiaereo”… Ricordo che ero rammaricato per non poter guardare i cartoni animati. Penso che questo ricordo specifico ha avuto un impatto importante sul mio stato d’animo durante la composizione di “City Bombardament”. Quando si vive in una città e si vedono le bombe distruggere le case dei vicini, si avverte una minaccia alla “vita” nel suo significato più generale del termine. E credo che quando avevo quattro anni, i cartoon erano la mia vita.

I tuoi dischi sono in vendita, in distribuzione? Come possono fare i lettori a entrarne in possesso?
Tutte le mie composizioni sono in vendita sia come CD fisico che in formato digitale al mio sito web, I CD fisici sono distribuiti da CDBaby ed i download sono disponibili su iTunes, Amazon e altri.

Music Street Journal Interview with Salim Ghazi Saeedi, Dec 2010

Interview with Salim Ghazi Saeedi from 2010

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music?

Until the age 18, I was merely a music fanatic and had never played any instrument. During my childhood, Iran was at war and so the art scene was generally deprived. So all the music realm that I had been into during my childhood solely relied on my own discovery - which of course in a sense was beneficial; because I never became exposed to any advertised mainstream music!

In 1999 I bought a guitar and started self-teaching music. In 2004 I joined the band Arashk and composed three albums there (Abrahadabra, Sovereign, Ustuqus-al-Uss), ranging from progressive rock/metal to jazz fusion. Arashk had a few concerts in universities and since western music is not supported in Iran, the band's activities did not go further than that. Meanwhile I self studied music production and built up a home studio that later developed into a commercial sound recording studio.

In 2010, I started a solo project and composed Iconophobic album. Among various reviews this album has received wide range of titles including progressive rock, avant-garde classical chamber, progressive electronic rock, art rock, experimental and RIO...

If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?

Poetry. Once I wrote in an unpublished poetry book of mine: "Man's utmost endeavor is to be a poet. Indeed it is!"

What is the music scene like in Iran?

Iran's music scene is mostly centered around Iranian traditional music. And like the music, the music industry is also traditional. TV and radio mostly play traditional music and national TV does not display musical instruments due to complications around religious stuff. Besides the concerts are limited. Internet and satellite TV are the main resources for people's access to contemporary music scene.

Are there social or legal constraints on your music based on being in Iran?

Western music is not generally welcomed in Iran. Maybe because traditional culture and beliefs still dominate among many people... Just imagine the degree of bias in this old Iranian expression that at least has existed for 1000 years: "The art belongs to Persians and nothing else!”

Who would you see as your musical influences?

First of all, Kurt Cobain. When I was a teenager, in an inexpressible way I deeply felt an affinity with the teen spirit he recognized in my generation. Of course I have no idea why an Iranian teenager, whose social environment has been so different from American youth generation of the ‘90s, should assimilate with words and music of a Seattle based band... Well... Music works in mysterious ways!

Other important influences include Jeff beck and Thelonious Monk. They are both masters of innovation and both constantly push my limits of imagination further and further. I think Monk was truly the unity of a man and his instrument.

What's ahead for you?

I compose non-stop. There will be another solo album in 2011 in which I am composing and playing all instruments. Besides I have started a collaboration with an established Oud player, Negar Bouban. We will have a few collaborative compositions released in the upcoming year. Meanwhile I'm preparing my 2010 album, Iconophobic for performance by middle-sized band outside Iran.

I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?

Actually I have invented a term for my music, that is "pictorial rock.” I chose this term because it seems that my music is capable of evoking a mental show in listener's mind. Besides, I always try to condense my music ideas in a minimalist way. For example when it comes to "catchy parts" I usually do not prefer to repeat them and instead try to exaggerate them in one place.

Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?

I like to work with masters of improvisation regardless of the instrument they play.

Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

I think no musician can blame a listener because of listening to his music. Finding illegal copies of a specific work has no straight-forward process; so I think if a listener puts himself into trouble of finding and downloading a copy, he is more than an ordinary fan. So, however financially hard for musicians, I think they are obliged to accept the fact that a noticeable part of their fans is consisted of "pirates" and at least as fans, they are valuable. So musicians should seek alternative sources of income.

In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

The point is, by trading music, fans are spreading artist's name and it is usually done very enthusiastically. When a listener is excited about a show or tune, he likes to immediately share his excitement with people he loves. By performing shows, musicians essentially try to excite and entertain people. So it would be against their own purpose, if musicians try to attenuate this excitement...

If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Edwin Howard Armstrong, FM radio inventor, has a saying that is directed toward some people in broadcasting industry. He says: "Men substitute words for reality and then argue about the words." These "men" were those who fought against FM radio for years, because it would revolutionize and destroy their businesses. As a superhero, such men would be my arch nemesis!

If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

That would be Jeff Beck on guitar, Thelonious Monk on piano and Stanley Clark on double bass! Because that is wild!

If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?

It is a really hard question. I like a lot of bands from far apart styles... To name only a few: Marty Friedman, Chet Atkins, Sinéad O'connor, Karftwerk, Tool, Derek Sherinian, Al Di Meola, The Prodigy, The Ark, and at least 50 others!

What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

I have recently started listening to microtonal music. Among them, I have enjoyed the album Electric by Churzkia Jrakavla.

Have you read any good books lately?

I'm constantly studying books on music industry that are essential for working as an indie musician. Among literature I am reading Nietzsche's collected poetry.

What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

Kayhan Kalhor, an Iranian Kamancheh instrument virtuoso.

Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

My guilty pleasure is that I admire beauty in music absolutely regardless of the genre. This way, for example among world music lovers, I cannot discuss about the profundity of Kraftwerk.

What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Since I have had a few concerts, I have not had the chance to experience real Spinal Tap moments! Hopefully in the future!

If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Janis Joplin, Omar Khayyam and King Solomon... LOL!

What would be on the menu?

Fesenjan, my favorite Iranian dish!

Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Close your eyes, shut your brain down and listen to the sounds emerging in the void. That is music composing.

Having this approach in mind, I say a "progressive" musician knows no border... Not geographically, not earth-wise... Since the rapture within music cannot be confined by anything concerning "reality.”

Stave Magazine's Interview with Salim Ghazi Saeedi, By Christy Claxton, August 2010

Nothing is Everything
An interview with Salim Ghazi Saeedi

Any serious artist is always searching for a new insight and a new avenue towards the creative process. Unfortunately, most of us get trapped in the atmosphere of our own cultural surroundings. Whether it's laziness or distraction, even the best independent artists can fall into the look and sound of the moment. A particular graphic will dominate the album covers of a particular sub-genre in a particular year. A particular producer will work on one particular project, and that artist's peers will seek out that producer and get a very similar sound.

We think that sells. And the major label industry has proven it to be somewhat correct, but when it comes to blasting through the creative barrier, Salim Ghazi Saeedi seems to have found a way to do it over and over and over. When I first listened to Salim's latest release, “Iconophobic,” I let the trappings of my culture tell me that he was decrying the religious and political imagery, and therefore culture, of his home country, Iran.

Boy was I wrong. Iconoclasm takes on a much more liberating meaning in Salim's studio. It is his ability to tap into his own innocent creative beginnings and clear his mind of all construct to create that make “Iconophobic” such a triump.

The following is a recent interview exchange I had with Salim.

 In your bio you talk about growing up in a home where musical instruments were not available to you, so you were 18 before you picked up a guitar.  Did you take any music instruction at that time, or are you completely self taught?

From early childhood I have always been a kind of person who have self taught everything: From English language to music composition and guitar playing. I think self teaching, however that is generally a more difficult approach, enables one to find his unique way of "creation".

American musicians will want to know this:  How hard is it for you to distribute your music since you are an artist living in Iran?

Today there are great online business models available for music distribution that everyone in any part of the world including Iran can benefit from. Today my main concern - like any other indie artist around the world - is not distribution. It is promotion. Till now, beside composing and recording albums, I have also acted as my own producer, manager, agent, promoter, etc! A man with a thousand hats! Music industry is very weak and unsupported in Iran and I hope that I can expand my music activities outside Iran soon.

I think some of this music is pretty bold in terms of what is permitted in Iran.  How prevalent is this type of expression in Tehran?

Actually I don't know. Because artistic communities here are mostly concentrated around traditional music and art.

Where do you find your biggest audience?  Is it Iranians or other cultures and countries?

To my experience, progressive rock audiences are very scattered throughout the world. Excluding Africa, I have had audiences from all other four continents. Very few people in Iran listen to progressive rock and even fewer to its instrumental form.

You're certainly not afraid to mix styles and influences when you compose.  What inspires you to do that?

Firstly because I never have had a music teacher, I've "discovered" the method I use for music composing. And that is searching for sounds in my head which do not always represent a specific instrument. This way sometimes I have to synthesize a sound to be able to reproduce its closest approximation and even sometimes the only way is to simulate it with my voice! Secondly my criterion in choosing a music to listen - which of course influences my style - is beauty and not necessarily the style. 

Sinead O'Connor rips my heart apart, Kraftwerk heightens my imagination in musical creativity and Thelonious Monk shows me a perfect unity of a man and his instrument. And how can I not mention the supreme master of Oud instrument, the messenger of Iraqi music, Munir Bashir?

How much do politics and religion influence your music? 

I think music does not come from "beliefs". Beliefs whether traditional or post-post-modern are not capable of producing the unspeakable joy that is music. This way, when composing music, I try to clear my mind from belief systems. You have to produce enough silence in your mind before a "note" can be planted.

I see you use Creative Commons.  Can you give some insight and advice to artists who are not familiar with it? 

Creative Commons has various licenses for various purposes. But they all share one condition: They allow users to distribute your work. In some of its licenses you can even let other people to use your work for commercial purposes but not all of them (neither mine). This way, an artist can declare that copying his music is not illegal as far as specific conditions are met. I think most of listeners copy the music they like anyway and they do not feel guilty about it. Moreover I think naturally an artist does not regard a listener as "pirate" only because he has copied the music for his friend to enjoy. Lawrence Lessig, the lawyer who founded Creative Commons Licenses has written various really great "free" books. I think everyone interested in the subject should read them.

Do you use any samples from Creative Commons in this recording?


The whole idea of Iconoclasm is pretty intellectual and may not be as profound to American listeners.  Can you explain why you've created an album around this concept? 

By using the word "Iconophobic" I have intended its literal meaning as "fear of images". So the concept is toward any icon and not merely "religious icons".
As a musician I recreate my perceived world the way I please; just like an infant who in its mother's womb dreams about the world. The infant has no idea about the rights or wrongs; but the outside world is overwhelmed with representations of ideas and symbols claiming labyrinths of meanings. The infant's answer is just a short pause and closing its eyes.

How often do you get to travel outside of Iran to perform and promote your music?

After releasing Iconophobic, now I have more free time to travel. I am eager to improvise with musicians who play in world music genre. As an electric guitarist I have improvised with instruments like barbat, tanbur, tabla, tonbak and I like to experience more... I also hope that I can arrange my current albums for performance soon.

Have any thoughts or plans for bringing it to the United States?  (I don't even know if that would be possible, but I think it's worth asking.)

Of course. It will be a great opportunity.

If you could work with any living American artist, who would it be?

It would be Charlie Clouser.

At last I would like to thank you dear Christy, an open-minded friend and a musician with a compassionate voice .... and I hope that we can gig together one day... interview with Arashk, May 2010

ARASHK are a progressive metal band from Tehran, Iran consisting of Pouyan Khajavi (guitars, vocals, bass), Salim Ghazi Saeedi (guitars, keyboards) and Shahram Khosraviani (drums). ARASHK members are eastern minded guys who enjoy western music and bring their own unique interpretation of progressive rock. The band is mostly instrumental but does include some vocals.

(Anonymous biography writer, ProgArchives)

Excellent. Bands like Arashk have an interesting story to tell and I was delighted when I was able to do an interview with them. Both Salim and Pouyan answered my questions.



Your band is a band with even it's own cultural position and is important enough to merit a Wikipedia article. I refer to that one for the biography.

But what is your musical philosophy and what does Arashk mean ?

Pouyan: Arashk is the name of the founder of Ashkanian Empire (Arsacid Empire). Although Arashk’s reign as a king was not long (250 BC to 247 BC) but the empire he established, ruled Iran for about 600 years. He was the one who regained Iran’s freedom from the dominance of Seleucid Empire which was a Greek Empire ruling Iran. His name stands for standing against the unpleasant situation and trying to change. We have tried to blow the spirit of moving in our songs, we have also tried to emphasize on the fact that living beings should break the surrounding boundaries to survive and this is not merely limited to our lyrics but most importantly exists in our music.

The book Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam By Mark LeVine describe an own Islamic scene with it's own music. Please tell us more about your scene and the life and censorship situation in Iran.

Salim: Iranian music industry is administered in a very old fashioned way and is isolated from outside world. So we’ve preferred to focus on customers outside Iran specifically to adapt to ever growing demand of digital music. Censorship exists but I believe a healthy and up to date business environment is more critical. There are technological limitations for ebanking in Iran - which are mostly due international embargos. Meanwhile Iran is not bound to international copyright laws.

Pouyan: A serious problem in Iran is that events that lead to gathering of youths are being prevented and this policy becomes more serious when it comes to Hard Rock … So in Iran we cannot have live performances which is vital for a rock band, as a result Iranian rock bands tend to immigrate to foreign countries so they can at least play for people and have their connection with people which is the main point in any kind of art.

What is the difference between pop/rock music in the west and the Iranian scene?

Salim: In my opinion, however that there are growing trends for pop/rock music among Iranians, the dominant music scene in Iran - even among many younger generations - is still traditional music. Most of Iranian people enjoy their ancestor’s heritage… You know sometimes even in a weird way! Iranians have a kind of mythological impression on everything… e.g. we have sayings like “The Art does belong to Iranians”. Of course these are merely reflections of traditional and outdated views that still dominate. I think it makes Iranian artists pretentious and outmoded not even in form but in idea.

Pouyan: As Salim and I mentioned above, in Iran, rock music is not permitted to be communicated to people and its fans. As a result, the only kind of music that is widely available to public is Iranian traditional music (although even traditional music is not completely free from censorship!); so maybe people still listen to traditional music because they don’t have quite a choice among Iranian artists.
Rock music in general (English rock bands and Iranian ones) is being listened by a small portion of today’s young generation in Iran. But Iranian Pop music which is quite different from American and European Pop music has always been popular among people, but they face limitations for selling on the market. In the past, people used to copy music from each other’s tapes. But after MP3 came in, copying has become even easier. So songs are shared in the internet and people download them and give them to each other. In recent years, American Hip-Hop music has been growing more popular among the youth, and so, came the Iranian Hip-Hop. Iranian musicians who work in this genre are growing in number, but again all the music is shared through the internet and songs are not allowed to be sold on the market.

Please give me your (long or brief) thoughts and lowdowns on your albums.......

Salim: Arashk has released four albums from which I have composed Abrahadabra, Sovereign and Ustuqus-al-Uss that are all instrumental progressive rock. The fourth album, Yell, is a hard/progressive rock album, mainly composed by Pouyan. In Yell, I have had contributions for rhythm guitars and some secondary guitar solos.


Abrahadabra from 2007

Salim: Abrahadabra is a reflection of my exaggerated personal feelings. It is the first endeavor to my idea of “pictorial rock” - i.e. the composition of sounds that recite sequence of mental pictures. Actually all of those instrumental tracks have a real-life story behind them. There are very vague allusions to these stories in CD booklet. e.g. “Route” is a story of a death ceremony and reflects the mourning over dead in way that is done in eastern culture. Or “Told to the Bird” is story of me confessing to a bunch of flying birds in a ritualistic way… In one word I was very lovesick, idealist and outraged while composing them.

Sovereign from 2007

Salim: Sovereign is an instrumental recitation of Shahnameh (The Epic of Kings) i.e. an extensive Persian epic poems written by Ferdowsi (935–1020) as a collection of Persian mythologies. You will find western rock instrumentation with eastern flavor. Some songs I think are apt to be adapted for traditional Iranian dance; especially “Sovereign” and “Harem” tracks. I am looking forward choreographic performance adaptation for this work whenever possible. Imagine Iranian “Coffee-house” paintings and belly dance with distorted guitars performing cheerful rhythms… Unusual combination? No, to me that sounds all natural!
In this album Pouyan contributed to generating some theme ideas for some songs.

Ustuqus-al-Uss from 2008

Salim: In this album I somehow inclined to jazz fusion and classic instrumentation. I think the eastern “blend” still dominates e.g. in “Ustuqus-al-Uss-al-Avvalin-val-Akharin” which I think is the most progressive tune I have ever made (The second catchy guitar solo is performed by Pouyan). Some songs are extremely personal e.g. “Naught been I thou” which is a off-beat jazzy with unusual dance elements… These songs are my utmost fears and hopes - to a degree that made me mute from communicating by words. And thus they become instrumental sounds…

Yell from 2008

Pouyan: The composition of the songs in this album started from the very beginning of our band, and most of the songs were made before Salim joined the band; but the recording and mastering of this album took so long! This album is a true Persian rock album, where the lyrics are in Farsi and some are chosen from Iranian classic poems. But the soul of each song is very avant-garde; not old fashioned and dusty! Each of the songs has its own spirit, mostly they draw you a scene. For example the song “Yell” (lyrics by Ferdowsi) is the conversation between a rebel and the king, (which is an Iranian ancient myth, Kaveh and Zahhak). One can consider it as a theater. “Falcons of the Sky” is also an epic music which describes a scene about jet fighter pilots fighting in the sky and the feelings one would have in that situation.

What is the latest update from your band ?

Salim: Arashk has been inactive recently. I am now focused on composing a solo project which will be released within a few months. It is mostly combination of screaming electric guitars, electronic rhythms and classical orchestra… Beside the standard Audio CD edition, I am mixing a dolby surround DVD (Quadra or 5.1 mix) that can be listened in home theaters.

Pouyan: Actually I have lost my appetite in music recently and that’s because we are not able to do anything public in Iran! (I guess I’ve said it so many times in this interview!) But I’m trying to change my way and think about other types of music, recently I’ve composed 6 Turkish folk songs with electric guitar, piano and daf (an Iranian musical instrument) and I had a great feedback from the listeners, however that the performance was very private for some of our friends. So I’m trying to free my mind to discover new possibilities in music.

How is the distribution of your albums and what is your experiences with the music industry ?

Salim: We have been indie artist and maintained the distribution ourselves and limited to outside Iran. Of course we look forward future possibilities.

Pouyan: Well, It’s a very hard thing to sell your music through the internet without serious advertisement, concert and without having anyone to know you! But we still had the chance to be able to sell our albums, even in small numbers.

I guess this is a pretty difficult question to answer, but how would you describe your music and who would you compare yourself with ?

Salim : I have an extremely versatile taste for listening music. I listen to electronic music, classic and heavy metal in a row. Actually it was that for the first time used the term “progressive metal” for the band. Actually Arashk consists of composers that gather from time to time to contribute.

Pouyan: We don’t have commitment to a specific kind of music; we play whatever which feels right. I don’t think it would be a right thing to compare different music bands with each other, but if I want to describe the music we play - especially the album Yell, it would be some kind of hard rock music with kinds of eastern taste. This album may sound like several hard rock and heavy metal bands such as Rainbow, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Megadeth and so many other bands. Yell album may sound like the rock music played during 70’s but heavier and more rhythmic than them. It happened to me once that a friend told me there’s a song by some band that sounds like one of ours, but that’s just coincidence and it’s not a strange thing as long as we all play some kind of rock.

Do you have any regrets in your career ?

Salim: Making music makes me to suffer more... So if there should be any regret, it is the selection of this path itself... But it has been long time ago I stopped concerning about its ‘philosophy’. Now I am just doing the work...

How do you see the future of Arashk as a band ?

Salim: It mainly depends on the geographical location that each of us reside in future.

What is the daytime jobs of the Arashk members ?

Salim: I have part-time job to have something on the table. The rest of time I am busy composing.

Pouyan: I’m still studying! … Master of science in electrical power engineering! Which has nothing to do with art and music! So I still don’t have a job.

What is your five all-time favourite albums ?


[1] Nevermind (1991) by Nirvana
[2] You Had It Coming (2001) by Jeff Beck
[3] Thelonious Monk Plays the Music of Duke Ellington (1955) by Thelonious Monk
[4] Electronic (1991) by Electronic
[5] Youthanasia (1994) by Megadeth


[1] Brave New World (2000) by Iron Maiden

[2] Floating (1974) by Eloy

[3] Emerson Lake & Palmer (1970) by Emerson Lake & Palmer

[4] Seasons in the Abyss (1990) by Slayer

[5] I Can See Your House From Here (1979) by Camel


Interview with Salim Ghazi Saeedi, Arlequins, Francesco Inglima, Mar 2012 [permalink]

Salim Ghazi Saeedi, former guitarist of the prog metal band Arashk and author of two solo albums (“Iconophobic” and “Human Encounter”) in the same year, is an interesting and unusual guy indeed. He lives in Iran, not a place for progressive music. However, despite all the obstacles, he managed to create his music, playing by himself all the instruments and publishing as private release his albums. Thanks to Salim’s great kindness, this interview gives us a glance into his World.

Here in Europe, when people read about you for the first time, the first reaction may be: "Oh, they play progressive rock also in Iran". Surely this astonishment derives from a stereotypical image about your country over here. Now, can you tell us something more about Persian rock scene?

Today, Persian rock scene is not active inside Iran, but like any other geographical coordination, minds of artists like me are capable of travelling through their imagination to any realm, including musical genre of progressive rock. Of course due to cultural recession resulting from domestic conservative policies, the artistic community in such music genres is very weak. During my music career I have mostly either acted alone or worked with my previous band, Arashk.
Of course as media is becoming more accessible every day, I think we are shrinking the world maybe to a degree that national importance within cultures fade and everyone picks his preferences from any accessible source. In this way, personally, I do not feel belonging to any specific culture and so I do not become surprised by finding various art forms being performed in any part of the world.
The point is - as I’m now reviewing the atmosphere I have grown in - my cultural/artistic experiences have had very little specific Iranian significance. Maybe that’s because the political revolution and eight years of war that prevented Iran to become a fertile place for artists to promote themselves. Even today, domestic media merely promotes art forms or cultural incidents either related to religious advertisements or revolution values... Interestingly, as I started producing the music my heart and soul felt an affinity with, I found myself a musician being compared by some critics to musical currents of rock in opposition and chamber rock scene in French and Belgium in the 70s! Who knows? Maybe that is my real home...

Your country has an important history and it has always been a land of great artists, even though, from here, life seems quite complicated for artists over there. Maybe you can explain us better what being an artist in Iran is like?

Often I have heard from Iranian artists that there is abundance of inspirational ideas useful for artistic creation, in Iran. Maybe that is because of the diversity among cultures in different parts of the country, unrestrained chaos in struggles between traditional and modern values or maybe just limitations that persuades artists to become more creative by seeking new forms of expression... Actually I agree with this notion. I guess I felt the need of finding a medium like music to express my sensory and mental overload resulting from extreme fears of war or other damages within the society I’ve grown in.
I don’t find artistic life in Iran pleasant at all. In our time the means of expression are controlled by the rulers and in order to publish, perform or exhibit “anything” including creative arts you have to ask for permission from Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. So in a sense, from the moment you create something in your head till it finds its permission, your thought is illegal. Besides there exist religious debates about music, dance and some other forms of artistic expression as being Haram (sinful by the law). I guess that is too much complex for an artist to understand – as the process of creation originates from beyond good and evil considerations. So maybe it would be more thoughtful or satiric to just accept the sin of the Fall and mention the poem once I wrote originally in Farsi: “Why psychosages do not abandon performance... visual arts, dance and silver screen? Aren’t these illusions? Doesn’t incomplete manifestation of illusion result in obsession? Are psychosages dead?”

Is there any Persian musician or other artist who has had a significant influence on you?

Not directly, I have mostly pursued western music world. However, the general style of solo instrument playing in Persian traditional music genre has inspired me to experiment the same with electric guitar. I guess this is very dramatic and a novel gesture in world of electric guitar... You may check out an example in “Artemis the Huntress” song from “Ustuqus-al-Uss” 2008 album. However, regarding Persian artists, my second album in Arashk band, “Sovereign” (2007) has themes inspired from Shahnameh, an epic by Ferdowsi, Iranian classical poet.

In your biography you wrote that listening to Nirvana for the first time was a turning point of your life and music career and, thanks to Kurt Cobain, you started to play guitar. Starting from Nirvana, how did you manage to arrive to avant prog which is on the opposite side of the rock universe?

I think that the process of music composition is like walking backwards. You realize your intention after it is done. You cannot decide what sounds to compose. The sounds decide.
I don’t know where the music inspiration comes to my head and moreover I had never listened to most of bands I have been compared to (like Univers Zero, John Zorn, etc). I just tried to find the musical culture to which I belong by listening to my inner ear and I arrived to avant-prog. Of course, by continuing this approach, I will not be surprised if I will land on different genres in the future!

I don't like to stereotype music, but you said that you started to play progressive rock and RIO spontaneously, without knowing much about this genre. Once you reached this point, did you start to "study" more this music? Who are your favourite artists in this genre?

After receiving criticism about “Iconophobic” I read about Rock In Opposition, experimental rock, Canterbury scene and art rock a little more seriously and each time I were compared to an artist I didn’t know (which includes most of the artists I have listed in the "Sound Like" page at my website) I tried to listen to their works... Among them I especially enjoyed Univers Zero and X-Legged Sally a lot.

You started your music career with a prog metal band called "Arashk". Is this project still alive? Why didn't other Arashk members follow you in your musical evolution towards progressive, experimental rock and jazz rock?

When I joined Arashk band in 2004, Pouyan Khajavi and Shahram Khosraviani were working on a hard rock project that included Persian vocals. Until 2008 when that project finished in form of Arashk album’s “YELL”, I composed three instrumental progressive metal albums in Arashk (“Abrahadabra” 2006, “Sovereign” 2007 and “Ustuqus-al-Uss” 2008) which found more jazz-rock/fusion tendencies in the latter.
At Arashk we always had regular practicing sessions but limitations on rock scene in Iran prevented the members to stick together after 4 years of practice (2004-2008) with only having 3 concerts at the universities... We also tried to manage applying for a few festivals aboard but due to costs and severe traveling limitations on Iranian passport we did not succeed. So after 2008 Arashk stopped its practice sessions and I went my way for a solo career. I guess Arashk is in a coma! If members see a serious opportunity, there still may be chances of getting back together.

In your solo albums you played all the instruments. Was it by choice or a need?

It has been out of need. I have no access to professional and performing jazz or rock musicians in Iran. I should add that besides my solo album I have also played all the instruments in 3 Arashk albums, “Abrahadabra” (2006), “Sovereign” (2007) and “Ustuqus-al-Uss” (2008) with few exceptions denoted in albums’ credit notes.

Can we say that one of the main differences between “Iconophobic” and “Human Encounter” is that you became more self-conscious of the music you are playing?

I guess that from “Iconophobic” to “Human Encounter” there is a transition from “phobia of icons” to “encountering the icons”. “Iconophobic” is composed from an infant’s viewpoint. As an example, in the song “Give my Childhood Back”, I try to depict the sounds I could have heard while floating in my mother’s womb from outside World (i.e. the reality or the world of icons).
In “Human Encounter” I visited the earth and tried to show the World, at the fullest form possible, its beauties and ugliness that I have encountered. I think by keen observation and reflecting about the world, the artist helps the reality to find its actual meaning in people’s minds. I think people naturally do not draw precise lines between their subjective and objective worlds until they realize it through a tangible medium (including an art form) and of course this also happens for the artist himself. Now after composing “Human Encounter” I have somehow transcend the obsessive nature for many of my pains and pleasures and now I am able to go on with my life to new realms!

Your songs are always quite short, why?

In 2006 after composing my first album, “Abrahadabra” in Arashk band, I wrote: “I like exaggerated details and very subtle techniques of the instrument and when I come across composing a catchy part in a song, I see no reason for repeating it. If someone liked that part, he can rewind the song!”
Beside this approach, I always spent a lot of time making melodies vertically rich. Especially in “Iconophobic” (2010) and “Human Encounter” (2011) all the instruments are playing almost always independent melodies and they do not merely maintain the atmosphere for others... I think such rich counterpoint/harmonic textures add many inner layers to the song and may interest listeners (including myself) in finding new sonic ideas after each time of listening. Of course I have adopted a little different approach in my upcoming album that I am currently working on.

Have you ever thought to insert vocal parts in your music?

I despise the words, as being source of misunderstanding and confusion. Maybe this is the reason why I have preferred instrumental music as an artistic medium of expression. Of course sometimes I write poetry, which I have called “the inferno of words” for the same reason, but not songs (The poems are available at my website).
Of course it is possible that I incorporate expressive human sounds in the future. Like I did in very few occasions in “Supreme Grades” track in “Ustuqus-al-Uss” (2008) album or “The Songful Song of Songbirds” in “Iconophobic” (2010).

In the last album you divided the world into evil and good persons. Why this sharp division?

Maybe that is the reflection of where I grew up. In the East you encounter these dualistic good and bad aspects a lot in daily life, religious beliefs or even ancient mythological ideas... People are judged being either devoted to God or devil; either religious or outsider; going either to hell or heaven, etc... Besides in Iran you find tons of “aphorisms” on street walls or highway billboards starting with phrases like “The worst sin is...” or “The best man is who...” etc.
Personally I do not hold such absolute views. But in “Human Encounter” I am illustrating the world as I have encountered and the living environment has indeed had an important effect. In the meantime in terms of artistic expression I have always preferred the extremities... Deep love, bitter pain, unusual phobias... Maybe that is because I try to draw striking sonic paintings... The way I have experienced them by my heart and soul...

You did a great work to promote your music. A well done website with lot of informations and translated in many languages. It's possible to find infos about you also on Wikipedia in several languages. Was all this work worth?

The reason why I translated my website content into 14 languages (and still growing) is that – like by adopting instrumental kind of music - I am trying to transcend the words. I am eager to eliminate every obstacle in the way of communicating my wordless instrumental music... As David Cronenberg puts it in Naked Lunch movie, “Exterminate all rational thought. That is the conclusion I have come to.
About the online information and content in general, I should say it is very disappointing to me when I find out about many great old bands having no or insufficient data accessible on the net... Online information and of course multimedia content are generally the easiest and fastest medium of information. I’m sure that querying online information, maybe when people will be able to carry their computers more easily in daily life, will soon even become a part of daily conversations...
Recently I have even set up a mini blog called “Salimworld live” describing it as my “live mind interactions, zero-paradigmatic”. It is available at and I post almost everything my mind “concludes”. I think it as a physical tie from my consciousness to our collective unconsciousness.

You wrote that your "fans" translated for you the website in many languages. How did you create such a trusted fanbase?

My fan base is scattered throughout the world but I always try to communicate personally to everyone getting in touch with me... When someone likes your art and cares enough to talk about it with you, it is the most precious conversation an artist could have. I have always made dear (yet unseen) friends around the world this way.
About website translations, beside fans some parts of my website are also translated by an online collaborative translation community called Cucumis (I am a part of it as well). I have also found many good friends there!

Which feedbacks did your music get in Iran?

I have not found Iranians serious listeners to avant-prog or jazz-rock generally. So most of feedbacks I have received had been merely out of curiosity about confronting something different. Of course I have never expected more anyway. Iranians in general pursue traditional music and culture or at least expect a considerable presence of it.

Nowadays, with internet, there are limitless possibilities. Have you ever thought about a collaboration with foreigner artists? Is there artists you would like to collaborate with?

Recently I participated to The Tangent’s solo competition and I also considered collaborating in creative commons based environments like ccMixter or Kompoz, but I haven’t put serious time for that... Once I also started working on remixing (actually recomposing) one of the songs from NIN’s “The Slip” as they have made this album’s samples available in creative commons.
I like to collaborate with record producers that technically produce music like myself... To name a few I can say Charlie Clouser and Liam Howlett.

Your music evolution is always in progress, what should we expect next from you?

Arlequins is the first place I am announcing it. I have started working on another album for about a month. It will be a concept album as a sequel to “Iconophobic” and “Human Encounter” albums. At the end of “Human Encounter” story (as outlined in its booklet) after I encountered the pleasures and ugliness, I depart from Earth... So now I should be in the nowhere land concentrating on this next album!! I expect it to be my reaction to “encountering the icons” (in “Human Encounter” 2011) after “phobia of icons” (in “Iconophobic” 2010).

Interview with Salim Ghazi Saeedi, Arlequins, Francesco Inglima, Mar 2012 [permalink]


Salim Ghazi Saeedi, ex chitarrista del gruppo prog metal Arashk e autore di due album solisti (“Iconophobic” e “Human Encounter”) nel giro di un anno, è un personaggio indubbiamente interessante e inusuale. L’Iran, nazione dove vive, non è certo un posto che facilita coloro i quali vogliano suonare Progressive, tuttavia, a dispetto delle difficoltà che l’hanno costretto a suonare da solo tutti gli strumenti e ad autoprodursi i suoi album, è riuscito a realizzare la sua musica. Grazie all’estrema gentilezza e disponibilità di Salim, questa intervista ci fornisce una visione del suo mondo.

Qui in Europa quando le persone che leggono di te per la prima volta, queste possono avere come prima reazione: “Oh, fanno progressive rock anche in Iran!”. Sicuramente questo stupore deriva da un’immagine stereotipata della tua nazione. Puoi dirci qualcosa in più riguardo alla scena rock persiana?

Oggigiorno la scena rock persiana non è molto attiva in Iran, ma come avviene in qualsiasi latitudine, le menti degli artisti come me sono capaci di viaggiare con la loro immaginazione in ogni regno, incluso il genere musicale del rock progressive. Sicuramente per via della recessione culturale derivante dalle politiche conservative iraniane, la comunità artistica in questo tipo di generi musicali è molto debole. Durante la mia carriera musicale ho principalmente agito da solo o lavorato con la mia precedente band, Arashk.
Certamente ora che i media stanno diventando sempre più accessibili, penso che stiamo forse restringendo il mondo a un livello tale che l’importanza nazionale all’interno delle culture svanisce e ognuno sceglie le sue preferenze da ogni fonte possibile. Così, secondo me, non mi sento di appartenere ad una specifica cultura e quindi non mi sorprende trovare diverse forme artistiche eseguite in ogni parte del mondo.
Pur rivalutando il contesto dove sono cresciuto, le mie esperienze artistiche/culturali hanno avuto poco a che fare con l’Iran. Forse ciò è dovuto alla rivoluzione politica e agli otto anni di guerra che hanno impedito all’Iran di diventare un terreno fertile per gli artisti per promuovere loro stessi. Anche oggi i media nazionali raramente promuovono forme artistiche o culturali non legate alla religione o ai valori della rivoluzione. E’ interessante notare che, non appena ho iniziato a produrre la musica che veniva dal mio cuore e la mia anima, sia stato paragonato da alcuni critici alla corrente musicale del RIO e Chamber Rock belga e francese degli anni ’70! Chi lo sa? Forse è quella la mia vera casa…

La tua nazione ha sempre avuto una storia importante ed è stata terra di grandi artisti, sebbene da qui sembra che la vita sia abbastanza complicata per loro. Forse potresti spiegarci meglio cosa significa essere un artista in Iran?

Spesso ho sentito dagli artisti iraniani che qui c’è abbondanza di ispirazioni utili per la creazione artistica. Forse ciò è dovuto alla diversità culturale fra le varie parti del paese, un caos incontrollato in lotta tra i valori moderni e quelli tradizionali, o forse sono le limitazioni che spingono l’artista a diventare più creativo cercando nuove forme di espressioni. Effettivamente sono d’accordo con questa nozione. Penso che abbia sentito il bisogno di trovare un mezzo come la musica per esprimere il mio sovraccarico mentale e sensoriale dovuto all’estrema paura per la guerra e alle altre sciagure interne alla società dove sono cresciuto.
Non trovo per niente piacevole la vita artistica in Iran. Oggigiorno i mezzi di espressione sono controllati dai governanti. Per poter pubblicare, eseguire, esibire qualsiasi cosa, incluse le arti creative, devi chiedere il permesso al ministro della cultura e guida islamica. Così in un certo senso, dal momento in cui tu crei qualcosa, fino a quando non ottieni il permesso, il tuo pensiero è illegale. Inoltre esistono dibattiti religiosi sulla musica, danza e altre forme di espressioni artistiche considerate haram (punibili dalla legge). Credo che sia troppo complicato per un artista capire come il processo di creazione abbia origine al di là di considerazioni buone o cattive. Quindi sarebbe forse più saggio o ironico accettare il peccato dell’Autunno, citando una poesia che ho scritto una volta in persiano: “Perché i saggi folli non abbandonano l’esecuzione… arti visuali, danza e cinema? Non sono queste illusioni? Manifestazioni incomplete di illusioni non risultano ossessioni? I saggi folli sono morti?”

C’è qualche musicista persiano, o più in generale qualche artista, che ha avuto un’influenza significativa su di te?

Non direttamente, ho principalmente ascoltato la musica occidentale. Comunque lo stile degli strumenti solisti suonati nella musica tradizionale persiana mi ha ispirato nello sperimentare lo stesso con la chitarra elettrica. Penso che questa sia una cosa teatrale e nuova nel mondo della chitarra elettrica. Puoi averne un esempio nella canzone “Artemis the Huntress” dall’album del 2008 “Ustuqus-al-Uss”. Comunque riguardo agli artisti persiani, nel mio secondo album con gli Arashk, “Sovereign”, hai dei temi ispirati dal Shahnameh, un poema epico di Ferdowsi, poeta classico iraniano.

Nella tua biografia scrivi che ascoltare i Nirvana per la prima volta ha rappresentato una svolta nella tua vita e nella tua carriera musicale e che grazie a Kurt Cobain hai iniziato a suonare la chitarra. Partendo dai Nirvana, come sei riuscito ad arrivare all’avant prog che è al lato opposto dell’universo rock?

Penso che il processo di composizione musicale sia come camminare all’indietro. Realizzi la tua intenzione solo dopo che è stata compiuta. Non puoi decidere che suono comporre. Il suono decide.
Non so come arrivi alla mia testa l’ispirazione musicale e comunque non ho sentito la maggior parte delle band a cui sono stato paragonato (come Univers Zero, John Zorn, etc…). Ho appena provato a trovare la cultura musicale a cui appartengo ascoltando le mie orecchie interiori e sono così arrivato all’avant prog. Certamente continuando con questo approccio non mi sorprenderei se nel futuro giungessi a differenti generi musicali!

Non mi piace stereotipizzare la musica, ma tu hai affermato che hai iniziato a suonare il progressive e il RIO spontaneamente, senza conoscere troppo circa questo genere, Una volta raggiunto questo “punto” hai iniziato a studiare maggiormente questo genere? Quali sono i tuoi artisti preferiti?

Dopo aver ricevuto le critiche riguardo a “Iconophobic”, mi sono informato un po’ più seriamente sul RIO, rock sperimentale, la scena Canterbury e l’art rock. Ogni volta che venivo paragonato ad un artista che non conoscevo (nei quali sono inclusi la maggior parte degli artisti elencati nella pagina del mio sito alla pagina “Sound Like”) ho provato ad ascoltare i loro lavori… Tra loro ho particolarmente apprezzato gli Univers Zero e gli X-Legged Sally.

Hai iniziato la tua carriera musicale con una band prog metal chiamata “Arashk”. E’ un progetto ancora attivo? Perché gli altri membri degli Arashk non ti hanno seguito in questa tua evoluzione musicale verso il progressive, rock sperimentale e jazz rock?

Quando sono entrato negli Arashk nel 2004, Pouyan Khajavi e Shahram Khosraviani stavano lavorando su un progetto hard rock con parti vocali in persiano. Fino al 2008, quando quel progetto terminò con l’album “YELL”, ho composto come membro degli Arashk tre album strumentali di progressive metal (“Abrahadabra” 2006, “Sovereign” 2007 e “Ustuqus-al-Uss” 2008) nei quali, successivamente, ho trovato influenze jazz rock e fusion.
Negli Arashk abbiamo sempre avuto sessioni regolari di prove. Tuttavia le limitazioni sulla scena rock in Iran hanno impedito ai membri di stare ancora assieme dopo quattro anni di prove (2004-2008) con solo tre concerti nelle università. Abbiamo anche provato ad iscriverci a qualche festival all’estero, ma non ci siamo riusciti a causa dei costi e delle pesanti limitazioni per viaggiare sui passaporti iraniani. Quindi dopo il 2008 gli Arashk hanno terminato ogni attività e io ho proseguito con la mia carriera solista. Penso che gli Arashk siano in coma! Se i membri vedranno una seria opportunità, penso che allora ci potranno essere le possibilità di tornare assieme.

Nei tuoi album da solista suoni tutti gli strumenti. E’ stata una scelta o una necessità?

E’ stata una necessità. Non ho accesso ai musicisti professionisti che suonano jazz o rock in Iran. Oltre ai miei album da solista ho suonato tutti gli strumenti anche in 3 album degli Arashk, “Abrahadabra” (2006), “Sovereign” (2007) e “Ustuqus-al-Uss” (2008) con qualche piccola eccezione riportata nei crediti degli album.

Possiamo dire che una delle differenze principali tra “Iconophobic” e “Human Encounter” è che tu sei diventato più auto consapevole della musica che stai suonando?

Credo che da “Iconophobic” a “Human Encounter” ci sia una transizione dalla “fobia delle icone” a “incontrare le icone”. “Iconophobic” è composto da un punto di vista di un neonato. Ad esempio, nella canzone “Give my Childhood Back”, ho provato a descrivere i suoni che posso aver sentito dal mondo esterno quando fluttuavo nel ventre materno (ad esempio la realtà o il mondo delle icone).
In “Human Encounter” ho visitato la terra e ho provato a mostrare il mondo nella sua forma più completa, le cose belle e le cose brutte che ho incontrato. Penso che attraverso l’osservazione acuta e riflettendo sul mondo, l’artista aiuti la realtà a trovare il suo significato attuale nella mente delle persone. Penso che le persone spontaneamente non disegnino linee precise fra i mondi soggettivi e oggettivi finché non le realizzano attraverso un mezzo tangibile (tra cui le forme artistiche) e questo accade sicuramente anche per l’artista stesso. Ora, dopo aver composto “Human Encounter”, ho in qualche modo trasceso la natura ossessiva per molti dei miei dolori e piaceri e sono capace di andare con la mia vita verso nuovi regni.

I tuoi pezzi sono sempre abbastanza brevi, come mai?

Nel 2006, dopo aver composto il mio primo album con gli Arashk, “Abrahadabra”, ho scritto: “Mi piacciono i dettagli esagerati e le tecniche molto delicate degli strumenti e quando mi capita di comporre all’interno di una canzone una parte più orecchiabile, non vedo nessuna ragione per ripeterla. Se a qualcuno piace quella parte può mandare indietro la canzone.”
Oltre a questo approccio, ho sempre speso molto tempo nel rendere le melodie ricche verticalmente. Specialmente in “Iconophobic” e “Human Encounter” tutti gli strumenti suonano quasi sempre melodie indipendenti e non si limitano a mantenere l'atmosfera per gli altri. Penso che texture armonici e di contrappunto così ricchi aggiungano strati interni alla canzone e possano interessare gli ascoltatori (incluso me) nello scovare nuove idee sonore ascolto dopo ascolto. Ovviamente ho adottato un approccio un po’ differente nel mio prossimo album sul quale sto attualmente lavorando.

Hai mai pensato di inserire parti vocali nella tua musica?

Io disprezzo le parole perché fonte di confusione e fraintendimenti. Forse è questa la ragione per la quale ho sempre preferito la musica strumentale come mezzo espressivo. Tuttavia mi capita di scrivere poesie che chiamo “l’inferno delle parole” per lo stesso motivo, ma non canzoni (le poesie sono disponibili sul mio sito web).
E’ certo possibile che in futuro inserisca suoni umani espressivi. Come in qualche rara occasione ho fatto in “Supreme Grades” dall’album “Ustuqus-al-Uss” oppure “The Songful Song of Songbirds” da “Iconophobic”.

Nel tuo ultimo album hai diviso il mondo in buoni e cattivi. Come mai questa divisione così netta?

Forse questo è il riflesso di dove sono cresciuto. In Oriente puoi incontrare spesso questo dualismo fra bene e male nella vita quotidiana, credenze religiose o anche antiche idee mitologiche… La gente è giudicata per essere devota a Dio o al diavolo o per essere religiosa o atea, per andare all’inferno o in paradiso, ecc… Inoltre in Iran puoi trovare tonnellate di “aforismi” sui muri delle strade o sui cartelli autostradali che iniziano con frasi del tipo: “ Il peggior peccato è…” o “l’uomo migliore è colui che…”, ecc…
Personalmente non la vedo in maniera così assoluta. Ma in “Human Encounter” sto illustrando il mondo come l’ho incontrato e l’ambiente vivente ha indubbiamente avuto un importante effetto… Amore profondo, dolore amaro, insolite fobie… Forse è perché ho provato a disegnare suggestivi affreschi sonori nel modo in cui li ho vissuti con il mio cuore e la mia anima…

Hai fatto un gran lavoro nel promuovere la tua musica. Un sito ben fatto con tante informazioni e tradotto in molte lingue. E’ possibile trovare informazioni tue anche su Wikepedia in svariate lingue. Ne è valsa la pena?

Il motivo per cui ho tradotto i contenuti del mio sito web in 14 lingue (è stanno ancora aumentando) è che, come per la scelta di un tipo di musica strumentale, sto cercando di trascendere le parole. Sono voglioso di eliminare ogni ostacolo nel modo di comunicare la mia musica strumentale senza parole… Citando David Cronenberg nel film il “Pasto Nudo”: “Sterminare tutto il pensiero razionale. Quella è la conclusione a cui devo arrivare.”
Riguardo alle informazioni online e i contenuti in generale, devo dire che è molto deludente per me quando scopro che molte vecchie band hanno nessuna o pochi dati accessibili da internet. Informazioni online e contenuti multimediali sono generalmente i mezzi più facili e veloci di informazione. Sono sicuro che richiedere informazioni online, forse quando sarà più facile per la gente portarsi dietro i computer, diventerà parte delle conversazioni di tutti i giorni.
Recentemente ho anche messo su un mini blog chiamato “Salimworld live” descrivendolo come una mia “interazione live della mente, zero-paradigramatica”. E’ consultabile all’indirizzo e posto lì quasi tutto ciò che la mia mente “conclude”. Io lo penso come una connessione fisica tra la mia coscienza e la nostro inconscio collettivo.

Hai scritto che i tuoi “fans” hanno tradotto per te il sito in molte lingue. Come hai creato una base di fan cosi affezionati?

I miei fans sono sparpagliati in tutto il mondo, ma io cerco sempre di comunicare personalmente con ognuno di loro. Quando qualcuno apprezza la tua arte e si preoccupa di parlare di ciò con te, è la conversazione più preziosa che un artista possa avere. In questo modo ho sempre fatto amicizie, seppure non di persona, molto care in tutto il mondo.

Quali sono i riscontri alla tua musica in Iran?

Non ho trovato seri ascoltatori iraniani di avant-prog o jazz rock in generale. Quindi la maggior parte dei feedback che ho ricevuto è stata solo per la curiosità di affrontare qualcosa di diverso. Ovviamente non ho mai avuto aspettative maggiori. Gli Iraniani in genere preferiscono la cultura e la musica tradizionale o almeno si aspettano che ci sia una presenza importante di questa.

Oggigiorno, con internet, ci sono possibilità illimitate. Hai mai pensato ad una collaborazione con artisti stranieri? C’è un artista con il quale ti piacerebbe collaborare?

Recentemente ho partecipato al concorso da solista dei Tangent e ho anche pensato di partecipare in ambienti di composizione collettiva come ccMixter o Kompoz, ma non ci ho mai investito seriamente del tempo. Una volta ho iniziato a lavorare su un remix (o meglio una ricomposizione) di una canzone dei NIN (Nine Inch Nails) dall’album “The Slip” visto che, appena fatto l’album, ne avevano reso disponibili a tutti i campionamenti.
Mi piacerebbe collaborare con produttori che tecnicamente producono la musica come me. Giusto per fare qualche nome potrei dire Charlie Clouser e Liam Howlett.

La tua musica è in continua evoluzione, che cosa dobbiamo aspettarci prossimamente da te?

Arlequins è il primo posto dove lo annuncio. Ho iniziato a lavorare su un altro album da circa un mese. Sarà un concept e sarà il seguito di “Iconophobic” e “Human Encounter”. Alla fine della storia di “Human Encounter” (come evidenziato nel suo booklet), dopo aver incontrato i piaceri e le bruttezze, ho lasciato la Terra… Quindi ora dovrei essere in una terra di nessuno concentrato sul prossimo album!!! Mi aspetto che sia la mia reazione “all’incontro con le icone” (in “Human Encounter” 2011) dopo la “fobia delle icone” (in “Iconophobic” 2010).

Interview with Salim Ghazi Saeedi, The Rocktologist, Rok Podgrajšek, Dec 2012 [permalink]

Salim Ghazi Saeedi had been a member of Arashk before embarking on a solo career. His first solo album came in 2010 and his second in 2011. It didn’t take him long before he started working on another project, this time called namoWoman, released just a while ago.

What has happened in your life since the release of your previous album, Human Encounter?

I think I have become more courageous in personal endeavours. Maybe this is the result of entering my 30s... Artistically saying I have entered a new mind-set that its bottom line is change - as basic as fundamental human characteristics like assuming a world based on non-dualistic sexuality or non-Carbon based life as in biochemistry. Such ideas converged to my 2012 album, namoWoman that is now released.

Besides music I have also written extensive poetry in Farsi. I have also translated some of them into English that is available at

Your country’s situation isn’t all that great currently. How much did that affect the song-writing process?

It directly did. Living in Iran, feelings of strangulation and fear have always been my companion. During 1980 Iran-Iraq I was a little child and I think the terror of bombings and war has become an integral part of my being... I guess prevalence of such feelings in a considerable span of my life have led me to seek cure in artistic ways like music composition - maybe as a natural reaction to my environment. And I think namoWoman album tries to communicate such feelings in a clearer and barer way than ever.

Besides, weak status of music industry in Iran has forced me to keep my day job and so the time I could devote to music has become limited. Besides after 1979 revolution, music has always been under religious surveillance in Iran and as a result, the social aspects of musicianship have become very limited. Of course the advancements of digital technology both in means of the cost of music production and ease of communication have somehow let musicians like me to surpass such barriers and at least have enabled me to continue creating art in recent years.

The western media often point at how people in Muslim countries are mistreated and their freedoms basically taken away from them. How is someone producing “western” music viewed in your country? Is the western media painting another propaganda picture?

In short answer, I find the picture you are talking about to be true. But I have found Iranian people having very diversified and paradoxical values. Many Iranians of my generation – that are born after 1979 revolution have had parallel lives while growing up: Behaving by formal values - as dominating in school and public society - and informal values - among family and friends.

Of course western music in Iran is officially viewed as a taboo and even diabolic. But if you go to a venue and ask if they will allow you to play a rock concert, the venue owner will most probably pretend that there is no problem as long as you can provide the venue costs. Of course one has to get governmental permission for performance and it is even possible that the Ministry of Culture gives a rock concert permission but 99% of times the concert will be cancelled at the last minute. So it is all a joke. I conclude that people in this art industry like or wish to be open-minded; but they cannot be because they believe in paradoxical values... Let me call it the unresolved problem of good and evil in a religious mind confronting the modern world. So the result will be simply “nothing”: If you live for a long time in Iran you may be astonished by the dynamism that seems to be around you; but in the long run, the outcome of these living forces appears to be nothing... The opposing forces tend to cancel each other in this country and as a result the thoughts and achievements of people show little advancement in course of time.

Your music sounds like a merging of the East and West. Would that be a fair assessment?

Of course I have never tried to merge eastern and western music intentionally. In the mean time concepts of eastern rhythm, eastern dance and belly dance seem to be running in my blood (as I pointed out in a post in my blog entitling "Music is Bloody! A True Story"). I think no kind of fusion music could be authentic and be truly aesthetic if it is done intentionally. In contrast, the composer should find the integrity between these merging elements unconsciously.

How long did it take you to write, record and produce your new album, namoWoman?

One year. Of course I did that in spare times of a day job that is unrelated to music.

The album title has some nice wordplay, as do the individual tracks. Can you shed some light about what you were trying to achieve with this?

On the cover page - around Medusa's head - there are nine symbols. Two of them are regular male and female symbols and the other seven are made-up symbols by me, denoting hypothetical sexualities yet unknown. The idea is that in order to transcend the limitation of our human world, one should transcend the dualistic structure of life - that is represented by our dual sexuality. So these pseudo-sexualities corresponding to nine songs in the album represent potential realms that men may be able to reach beyond the nature that are used to. The Medusa's head is also the symbol of castration (according to Freud) that I have here chosen as representing the prerequisite act of introducing change in the concept of sexuality. Such ideas could be categorized as science fiction or subjects in biochemistry (in terms of non-Carbon life) but as an artist I find them strong triggers to the creativity of my mind.

Do you think the new album sounds different to your previous efforts? Did you consciously try to do anything differently?

In my new album I have incorporated bunch of new ideas as follows: (1) In almost all songs I have used Persian music quarter tones of course in the structure of western music and instrumentation. (2) The text in namoWoman album’s booklet is written in an inventive language I have constructed myself named I3abEl (more info at (3) In contrary to my previous works, song lengths are longer as I have tried to expand the motives in a less minimalistic approach. (4) In my previous works I have always used at least a sentence describing the concepts behind songs; but in namoWoman I have completely abandoned using words - both in naming the songs and even the booklet text. (5) In namoWoman I have tried to use silence as an integrating part of melodies and sometimes I have even intentionally tried to accentuate the silences between rhythms to color the melodies differently. I think somehow slower tempos in these songs have helped this canvas to shape better according to the mentioned approach.

You use a lot of string sounds on this release, even more so than before. Why?

I can analyse the process of choosing an instrument to incorporate in my works from two perspectives: First, my process of music composition is greatly based on improvisation even in selecting the instruments themselves. So when my intuition selects the instrumentation I trust it and consequently there comes the instrument's articulation capabilities that are unique to an instrument like strings.

And second, there is the role of instrumentation in harmony, since a specific instrument can emphasize a melody or in contrast, weave it into the sonic texture and distinguish other instruments. In this regard strings can form a great harmonic texture for electric guitar. Besides, the role of strings in eastern music (e.g. in Ottoman music) has always fascinated me and sometimes I have incorporated remote implications to such atmospheres in my works.

I’m guessing the drums were also played on the keyboard, like the strings. Can you tell us what samples and equipment you used to produce such believable sounds?

All samples used are software samples. For drums I mostly use Native Instrument’s Battery. For strings, East West Strings Gold Edition. For solo basses – including double basses I use Spectrasonic’s Trillian. I also use an M-Audio Axiom 49 as a midi controller.

Is there any possibility you will be playing any live gigs to support namoWoman?

In Iran it does not seem doable – both in terms of professional musicians required to play it and complications around obtaining performance permissions. But holding concerts outside Iran is an important priority in my music career.

You’ve done collaborations with other musicians in the past. Is this something you’d also like to do in the future, and if so, do you have a wish list for people you’d like to work with?

I am working on another single with Iranian singer and oud player, Negar Bouban. I think it will be a surprise in terms of Persian rock. This single is heavy metal music with poems by Ahmad Shamlou and has Negar Bouban as vocalist. Negar is a professional singer and I should say that since Persian rock and metal scene is mostly underground in Iran, there are very few trained singers active in this scene; and of course this is true even among male singers, not to mention female singers. And so this single will be among the first tracks with such characteristics, if not the first at all.

My wish list for musicians to work with would be Charlie Closure and Jeff beck.

What can we expect from you in the future? Are you keeping your options open in terms of musical style?

Of course from my 2006 album, Abrahadabra till 2012 album, namoWoman, I have experimented among different genres but I personally think my 2012 compositions have more in common with my Abrahadabra (2006) and Sovereign (2007) works more than other years - that is having prog metal as center with folk, jazz and Persian music as complimentary tastes.

If I forgot to add anything, please feel free to include here.

I'm so thankful for all of your kind supports. I know that both of us devote our time to music for the love of it and make sacrifices in this way a lot. So let it be!

Interview with Salim Ghazi Saeedi by Graham Reid, Elsewhere, Feb 2013 [permalink]

One of the many pleasures of Elsewhere is that we get to meet and hear from interesting people. Salim Ghazi Saeedi is certainly interesting, and not just because he has invented his own language on his most recent album namoWoman (reviewed here).

Saeedi from Tehran is a multi-instrumentalist (he plays everything on the new album) who describes his music as "avant-garde ancient art-rock from Iran". And while he is on the prog-rock end of the spectrum he also includes Persian melodic flourishes and has a liking for the jazz of Thelonious Monk alongside Jeff Beck.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing is he carved his own path in musically repressed Iran at a time when Western music of any kind was hard to access. His family also wasn't musical and he didn't start playing an instrument until he was 18. He is now in his early 30s and looks back on studying industrial engineering before hearing Nirvana, then playing in the band Ashrak and launching a solo career with the album Abrahadabra in 2006.

Since then he has released four other albums before his latest namoWoman.

You can find them at his impressive website here.

Saeedi is planning to come to New Zealand later in 2013 and let's hope he does and brings his electric guitar. And his wife, who is an oud player.

Meantime let Elsewhere's famous questionnaire introduce you to the very interesting Salim Ghazi Saeedi.

The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .

Nirvana’s “Something in the way”. This dates back to my teenage times when there was no internet or satellite in Iran and of course Iranian media totally banned promoting western music and culture. I listened to this track on a little short wave radio and it deeply touched my heart… Maybe I found out unconsciously that there will be something in my way musically as later I bought a guitar merely because Kurt Cobain played one!

Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .

Michael Jackson. I guess this was normal ‘cause I did not have access or know many other music celebrity during my teenage years in Iran. It was after Iran-Iraq war and domestic entertainment industry was inactive and he was globally famous enough to reach Iran merely by word of mouth.

Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?

Lennon songs are more memorable to me.
Nirvana. I liked Kurt Cobain in many ways: As a musician, poet and iconoclast.

Madonna. However I am not a big fan of Pop music anyway.


If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .

An occultist. My zest for knowledge about all kind of science is peculiarly unrestrained! And since it is not practical to go deep in all branches of science in one lifetime, I would prefer occultism as unification to unknown realms among all science.

The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .

“Just A Gigolo” performed by Thelonious Monk

“Lithium” by Nirvana

“Don’t Damn Me” by Guns N Roses:

However these songs are so diversified in genre but I find one common thing here: Delicate and sometimes undercover manipulation of listeners’ feelings in an extreme way.

Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?

When younger I had posters of my music idols on my walls but not anymore!

The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .

Arnold Schoenberg’s Theory of Harmony. I think this is a must-read for any musician. I had read many books on the subject but it revealed the whole story from a unique and theoretically strong perspective.

If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)

Late Gary Moore. “Lost in Your Love” from A Different Beat (1999) album.

The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .

- Anamorph, Henry Miller (2007): Finding aesthetics in everything even murder.

- Crash, David Cronenberg: It depicts eroticism as a universal force existing in many aspects of human interactions even between human and his objects of interest.

- Sherlock Holmes Series with Jeremy Brett acting: I feel affinity with the character Jeremy Brett depicts as Holmes in many ways; to a degree that I have dedicated a song to Jeremy Brett in my “Human Encounter” (2010) album.

The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)

Munir Bashir’s Live in Budapest CD. Munir Bashir is considered the supreme master of Oud instrument.

One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you in that case would be . . .

I cannot imagine stopping playing music! I will become ill – since I find music composition a process for self-diagnosis and self-treatment of utmost inner paradoxical aspects of Self. So I prefer to do not enter a collaboration that ends my music career – at any price!

The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .

Thelonious Monk Plays the Music of Duke Ellington (1955) by Thelonious Monk. Monk was a living myth and after I saw documentary videos in the biographical movie made about him, “Straight, No Chaser”, I realized he was completely removed from our world into a far fantasized world of notes and harmony. He was so obsessed by music that I can bet even his internal monologue was in music language! Interestingly his family name suits his personality well… A Monk of Music!

You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .

The term: “self-love”

David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?

I would enter the mind-set of this poetry I wrote (originally in Farsi) in Feb 2012:

My fears are cast away again
Starting tomorrow
I’ll become rude again
and rebellious
and disobedient
and chaotic

Come on O wise and wayfarers of truth
Come on
Prepared, with your conspiracies all.
Come on that I’ll not go astray again.

And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”

Well, I guess my best album would always be the next! Of course namoWoman has its own unique features; including use of Persian music microtones, invention of a conlang (constructed language) for album description and special use of silence as an active means of expression in melody lines.

Finally I would like to thank you for revealing new aspects of my Self by your questions.
Anyway what formulates an artist’s path but questions?


Featured Artist on Dig This Real Magazine #17 by Christian Recca [permalink]

At the age of 17, a young man hears a song on a mix tape that seems to be called, “Something in the Way.” In a haunting tone, the singer sings of living under a bridge. Up to this point, the young man’s major obsession has been computer programming, his musical interests limited to a few songs by the likes of Michael Jackson. One day, he hears a radio interview and learns who made the haunting music: Nirvana. He hears how Kurt Cobain’s parents split and promptly threw his possessions over a bridge, prompting him to buy an acoustic guitar. And so this young man goes out and buys an acoustic guitar. He quickly procures copies of Nevermind and In Utero, and listens them exclusively for the better part of a year. The young man’s life is forever changed. This is a story that has been told many times before. The only difference is that this young man does not live in the Pacific Northwest; he lives in Tehran.

There are many ways to start Salim Ghazi Saeedi’s story. It might start at the age of ten when he got his first computer. It might begin when he found his first bootleg on the streets of Tehran. It might begin when he heard the dissonant melodies of bombs and sirens during the Iran-Iraq war. Likewise, there are many ways to define who Salim is: a part-time programmer, a DIY businessman, a musician, a thoughtful man. There are also many ways to define the music Ghazi makes: techno, prog-rock, art-rock, classical, “eastern,” post-modern or “Asian-Iranian folklore patterns combined with western rock music,” as Progressive Newsletter Magazine put it. No matter what label one ascribes to the musician, what is undeniable is the quality of Salim’s music.
Salim was first turned on to Western music as a boy listening to bootlegs of Queen and Michael Jackson. Since non-Western music is largely banned in Iran, such tapes had to be procured on the QT in the backroom of an electronics store. Supplemented by tapes given to him by friends and family, Salim grew to enjoy music as much as any adolescent does. However, his real passion was the computer. His parents had purchased a Commodore 64 when he was ten, and he had been exploring the world of circuits and code ever since. He planned to enroll at the local university to study industrial engineering. Salim seemed destined to fulfill his parents’ wishes of finding a stable career.

“Something in the Way” and Nirvana in general changed all that. Salim says, “I think Kurt Cobain’s music was influential in many aspects that were interesting for my generation as a teenager. Rapture, philosophy of life, anarchy, etc. I’ve really never literally scrutinized what his message may (have) been; but I found burning loves, freedom of spirit and deep pleasures and pains in his music.” Salim began teaching himself guitar and theory. It is a point of pride for him never to have had a music teacher; a testament to his perseverance to be sure, but also a potential explanation for the openness of his sound.
After graduating university, he started a long stint of working as an engineer to support himself, while writing songs and jamming with friends on the side. The next step forward came in 2004 when Salim joined the band Arashk as a guitarist. In 2006, Arashk released their first album. Four years later, Salim decided to go solo. Now residing in Santa Cruz, California, Salim is still living his “double life” but, enabled by his computer savvy, he is developing a following, working for the day when he can give up programming and focus on the sounds.

Trying to analyze Salim’s music can be a frustrating experience. Danceable grooves give way to distorted solos. Pentatonic scales give way to eastern modes. Duple and triple meters wrestle with each other. A gentle cello suddenly stands alone and the song is over. There are no choruses or lyrics to hold it together. And yet it somehow works. In fact, one soon realizes that, since one can never decide quite what the music is, then one is never done listening.
Perhaps the best way to describe Salim’s music is to use the term that he himself uses: pictorial rock. He says, “For composing a new song, I usually select an idea and focus on it. I start to develop that idea in a narrative form in my mind – like writing a story, but of course a story with no words… For example in “Give my Childhood Back,” … I started to imagine myself in my mother’s womb and started to imagine how the world would seem from there. Of course many experiences in such an imagination are so abstract that I have no way to express them other than music.” In essence then, Salim is a painter as well as a musician.
Salim’s latest effort goes beyond telling discrete stories to connecting them with an overall theme, what Salim calls “iconophobia.” Salim writes of a world where images have distorted reality to a pathological extent: “The concept behind Iconophobic is that every image perceived by (the) human eye induces thoughts that form our conception of reality; one could be freer without those images… To live happily in the midst of world’s imageries I have invented for myself an approach to form my own reality; that is my music.” This message could not be more relevant.

Taking all this into consideration, one begins to make sense of a song like “Transcend Ecstasy with Ecstasy.” A drum loop and synthesizer start off, like a man leaving work, merging with the stream of human traffic in a bustling metropolis. And then the synthesizer drops out: something stops the man in his efficient progress. Perhaps he collides with a fellow pedestrian, or perhaps he averts his eyes to avoid an outstretched hand. But soon the groove picks up again: the man keeps walking. Suddenly a lovely violin comes into the mix as his attention fixes on a beautiful woman walking ahead of him. Just as soon the violin is gone and a harsh guitar solo takes its place: the woman turns to stare at him. The groove returns, the guitar swells: the camera pans out, and we can see dozens of workers, all rushing with the same insistent progress. The guitar cuts out, and the groove fades out. The sun sets and the city sleeps. At least until tomorrow morning.
For those living in this kind of environment, the scene is all too familiar. So many designers and brands, so many billboards, so much text, sound, and image—it’s enough to make one iconophobic. Musical styles vie for attention in Salim’s music as tasks and desires vie for attention in the post-modern mind. Salim’s music, like a child with ADHD, just will not settle down. Without lyrics, and without thinking too much about it, Salim has created a perfect soundtrack for life in 2011.
Of course, his claims to contemporary relevance are not just based on his diverse music. They are also based on his diverse experience. As a computer programmer, he knows intimately the technology that keeps us all so connected (for his part, Salim claims that he sees no connection between his programming and his music).

As an Iranian, he can relate to the growing immigrant population in the U.S. in addition to the restive majorities making waves in the Middle East. However, despite the fact that he could, he chooses not to represent these communities or, in fact, anybody. He does not feel comfortable discussing the recent events: “Maybe if I had this experience as an adult I (would have) different ideas toward concepts of revolution and war. But I can just say I avoid destruction and hatred of any kind supported whether by ‘good’ people or ‘bad’ people.” Salim is as uninterested in political labels as he is in musical ones.
When asked to give advice to a young Iranian on how to be a successful musician, he gives advice on how to be a successful person: “I think whether in artistic way or other, every person is capable of having a unique style of living of his own. If one dedicates his life to his ‘dreamful and even unrealistic’ ambitions, the paths for realizing them will show up as he treads – no matter where he locates geographically.” Clearly then, with his complex music, his computer savvy, and his heritage, Salim could speak for a generation if he wanted to, but he is not interested.
This humility comes off as quite refreshing. None of Salim’s success is going to his head. In fact, like a Buddhist, he distrusts pleasure in and of itself, seeing as there are so many illusions used to create it. He would rather transcend desire: “When experiencing an ecstatic joy, I think it is more beneficial to transcend that state instead of immersing in or attaching to it. In our world, joys are … transitory and doomed to experience a change sooner or later; so let’s transform them voluntarily and let’s transcend them to something even more pleasurable!” This detachment will surely serve Salim well, no matter what level of success he encounters.

Indeed, the future looks bright for Salim. He is developing a steady online presence on most every social networking site one could think of, and others that one could not. He has been written up in several publications. Salim knows that he will struggle, but the path ahead is clear: “I think it is inevitable for (today’s) independent artists to acquire business skills... Maybe in a dream world I (would be) able to dedicate 100% of my time to music and let others to handle the business side, but it is not possible now anyway!” The next step is to record another solo effort: this time, he will pare down his orchestration to that of a simple jazz band. It will be fascinating to see what he does with this limited aural palette.
No matter how he makes his living, Salim will continue to be a musician. He uses Ovid to describe what that means to him: “A musician – in my humble opinion – is a man who by his music ‘allures the trees, the savage animals, and even the insensate rocks, to follow him.’”


More Links