Have a Taste of Persian World Music

Have a Taste of Persian World Music

An Album Review of Sehrang’s Dar Lahze, 2014

The force of World music is strong in this one.

In Dar Lahze, the début album of Sehrang, the cultural origin of its members is inevitably apparent in the mood, vocal style, and instrumentation of the contents. Their musical landscape has a texture of Persian folk and classical—very rhythm-based, emphasizing percussion and syncopation; and featuring a vocal style that combines tribal chanting, scat singing, and tahrir (a type of an ornamental trill or a style of singing comparable to yodelling).

The strongest points of Dar Lahze may be found in two places—the cultural character of the vocal parts and the distinct sound of the setar and Persian guitar playing.

Dar Lahze begins with an introductory piece that evokes a picture of a group that is doing a soundcheck in an intimate venue, effectively setting the listener in a relaxed mood. It then carries the listener onto a journey to some somber places in the Middle East, by way of the heartwarming ballad “Noore Bade.” This contemplative feeling occurs again with the title track, “Dar Lahze”; but this time, with the ear-catching rustic melody of the setar. After indulging the listener to its slow parts, Sehrang’s Dar Lahze launches to a number of footstompers, particularly the percussive-heavy and funky “Use the Chance.” Ultimately, the album glows most brightly in “Noore Bade,” “Morghe Sahar,” “Pari,” and “Mosafer”—all of which have captured the definitive style of Sehrang.

So, to those who are curious to taste Persian-rooted World music, Sehrang’s Dar Lahze is a sumptuous offering. In fact, even enthusiasts of Alternative music could partake in it—what with hints of Babacar, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, and Shelleyan Orphan.

Final Note

Sehrang is a musical trio comprised by three Iranian musicians: Golnar Shahyar (vocals, percussion, songwriting), Mahan Mirarab (guitar, fretless guitar, setar, composition), and Shayan Fathi (drums, percussion). The individual and collective styles and the proficiency in the respective craft and instruments of these artists are what give their group a unique shape and sound. In English, the Farsi (Persian) phrase ‘dar lahze’ means “in the moment.”

World music, for the most part, refers to a cultural or regional blend of classical, folk, and jazz. It usually showcases musical instruments or sound elements local, native, or distinct to the culture or region the artists hail from. Having said this, one primary challenge in listening to World music is for the listener to become familiar first with the roots of the particular artist she is listening to and to the typical characteristics of the music from that culture.