A Rare Glimpse of New Artists Coming Out of Iran

by delarue

One of the more intriguing playlists that ended up on the hard drive here last year was the Homanity compilation of recent music by Iranian artists, streaming at Spotify. The segues are weird, but that’s to be expected considering the diversity of styles on it.

It’s on the quiet side, more influenced by traditional Iranian folk, European pop and art-rock sounds than the inimitably funky psychedelia that was all the rage there before the 1979 counterrevolution. The fourteen artists on the record sing in Farsi. A promised cheat sheet for Farsi-deprived English speakers never materialized, but, many stranger things have happened over the past twenty-one hellish months. At this point, it’s a miracle that artists outside the free world continue to release any music at all.

The first track is crooner Sattar’s Farghi Nemikoneh, a lilting midtempo minor-key folk-rock tune with a delicately melismatic string section and a nimbly picked interweave of acoustic and electric guitars. Chanteuse Nikita goes for understated Eurovision drama in the second track, Yadam Nemire, which could be the Gipsy Kings with a woman out front.

TarantisT contribute Soldiering, a steadily marching, surreal mashup of death metal, hip-hop and 80s goth. Singer Shery M channels muted angst and full-on longing over neoromantic piano and spare rock guitar in Havaye Khooneh.

The best-known band here, Kiosk are represented by Parviz, an uncharacteristically low-key, twinkling Iranian approximation of late 60s Velvet Underground. There’s more moody, chanteusey trip-hop with Shab, by Shaya and Soltan, by Justina.

Bardia Taghipour builds his warily rising and falling ballad, Baba, around a familiar art-rock descending riff. Hero & Frya‘s In Manam harks back to 70s American acid rock. The lone hip-hop track here is Raay Bee Raay, by Behrouz Ghaemi.

Arash Rahbary features in two stark, spare poetic epics: Khoon Bood, with activist and dissenter Fatemeh Ekhtesari, and Gorbeh, with Mehdi Moousavi.