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Benyamin Bahadori - “85”

Avaye Nakisa (Iran)
2006 (1384)

Is it even possible that you have managed to miss the recent sensation caused by this mysterious Iran-based artist?! A couple of months ago some scattered songs surfaced on the internet from an artist by the name of Benyamin, who later showed himself to be Benyamin Bahadori! Given the man’s background as a Noheh/Rozeh-khaan and composer of music for recorded religious/moral anecdotes for children, it wasn’t totally a surprise that what characterised his style and sound was summed up by updated and revised versions of the traditional religious chants and hymns used commonly by the men in his profession. Something Koveitipour did years ago by turning pieces like “Amme, Baabaayam Kojaast” to today’s broadly embraced “Change Del”, even though not much of the ornamentation, religious vibe and generic pace is changed! It should be mentioned that our music in general and the POP music in particular is not completely untouched and uninspired by the religio-cultural vein hidden and beating under the skin of our society. In fact the Persian-BLUES/ARABESQUE style currently practised in LA with Moein as its front-figure has its roots in the very same vein! That’s how it manages to rub the right nerve and provoke passion and sentiments in many of Iranians regardless of their current geographical location and social background! Also many of the artists who emerged after the Khordad 2nd were of the same religio-musical background, since it was the main musical genre that was accepted and allowed to be practised broadly in public prior to that era. Benyamin, however, has now released his official album entitled “85”, in which he has only included two of those previously available songs. Interesting enough ONLY those two that have been revised lyrically beyond recognition to a more romantic theme! This album features 9 tracks and is composed by Benyamin himself in an elaborate collaboration with Farid Ahmadi as the lyricist and Nima Varasteh as the arranger. Released on Avaye Nakisa.

The album kicks off with a HI-NRG track strongly reminiscent of the first released song featured later on this album, “Khaaterehat”. “Loknat”, however, is a song with ITALO-DISCO influences and a rather amusing and creatively “stammering” theme!

Next comes “Aashegh Shodam”, a mid-tempo LATIN-POP inspired song with a whirling violin! A rather clean production.

And now to the first HIT of the album, “Khaaterehaa” aka “Donya”! This song is a EURO-/HI-NRG remake of an ultra-religious hymn for “Hazrate Abbas” sung inside the country! Of course are the lyrics rewritten and every religious reference removed, but if you listen closely you can still feel the mourning sway and wailing in the flow of this song! The album version is further rearranged than the first leaked out version of the song, for the worse unfortunately while the crisp performance has been overworked.

“Inam Bemoone” is a TRANCE-NRG fare with a rather loose hook, otherwise a well-engineered piece of recording that bears to be further defined around the chorus!

Now comes my favourite track on the album! A rather enchanting LOVE-SONG of a calibre seldom heard in the Iranian market today! Fresh and engaging in its theme and vocal performance. “Yaadam Miaad” is a ballad with an autumnal flair and a melancholic flow that just begs to be a FILM-SCORE track!! With a hard work and focus on an own elaborate style of love songs Benyamin has the potential to find his niche!

Next comes an Electro-NRG fare with references to the style of Ghomayshi and of course Kamran & Hooman’s “Age Eshghe Man To Nisti”! I just cant avoid being seduced by the flickering post-chorus sound!

Another song with a very good initial potential which bears to have its loose composition further defined is “Man Emshab Mimiram”. A rhythmic ballad that reminds of “Aashegh Shodam”, with subtle references to the British POP sound!

“Taraaneye Vaazhe” is the second HIT from the album. It’s an NRG song with a rather simple yet charming lyrical spine consisted of a SIMPLISTIC vocabular theme! Even this version is further rearranged.

And to wrap up the album comes a EURO-NRG song called “Aadam Aahani”, which is rather clever in its approach to the cliché-theme on the “artificial intelligence“ and “mechanised society” that has been worn out in most literary and artistic forums by now! But even though the song is more refined than its older siblings produced in the Persian industry (Morteza’s “Robot” among many) it still suffers from lyrical underdevelopment!

The themes aside, I must say that I was much more impressed by the quality of the excluded songs than the featured ones on “85“! While songs arranged by Ali Pakdaman or songs like “Banooye Man” and “Ye Pahlevoon” were elaborate and current in arrangement and production, these nonreligious ones sound premature and underdeveloped in comparison! The ornamentation and intonation of the man is still the same, but hardly favoured by engaging lyrics. Benyamin’s voice as a great medium to embody the soul of an album, IF ONLY “85” had a true lyrical soul incorporated! It feels almost as if this entire album was a RUSHED JOB, hastily compiled and produced in order to catch the commercial wave caused by the recent hysteria!? Benyamin is talented and ambitious, no doubt about it, and he is trying his best to find his own style and sound “as soon as possible“! And therein lies the factor of a possible failure! He should give it time and explore further before rushing into releases. A long term plan would be perfect for an artist with such enormous future-potential, a balanced strategy and ambition that allows “Benyamin” to breathe and grow as an artist!

Artistic Performance: ++
Artistic Ambition: ++
Commercial Potential: ++
Technical Quality: ++
Aesthetic Presentation: +
Ethical Adherence: ++
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