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Sirvan Khosravi- “Saate 9”

IranGaam (Iran)
2009 (1388)

Sirvan Khosravi recently released the follow up to the reported commercial failure, but ironically incredibly popular debut album (which makes the equation add up in illegal downloading). During these past years Sirvan has created and produced for other domestic artists, making a living according to himself, while his fans have eagerly been waiting for the new direction of his own music. Since two years ago he announced that he would abandon his established TRANCE base for something new. Sirvan has recently said in the press that he hardly listens to Iranian music and that his musical favorites are Elton John and Eros Ramazotti. Sirvan’s younger brother Zanyar who goes under the stage-name Xaniar (X is phonetically read Z, like Xanadu) and had a creative role in his brother’s debut is back with an equally creative part in the current album as both lyricist and composer. Xaniar has recently aspired to a solo career and some of his songs and videos have been distributed online without legal permit, mainly via his brother’s website. For the rest of the compositions and the entire arrangements stand Sirvan himself and Omid Atharinejad is responsible for two songs’ lyrics. “Saate 9” and its 10 tracks have been in the making since 2004 and now released on IranGaam. With a cover image depicting Sirvan in London, of course just photoshopically!

The album kicks off with the strongest track on the album. “Che Haali Daare” is one of the songs that are heavily inspired by Cameron Cartio’s music and his rapid-fire style of singing! This is a well-made and delivered POP-HOUSE fare which serves the album as both an adequate opener and HIT.

Next comes the first song in the albums range of experimental POP songs. The ballad “Emrooz Mikhaam Behet Begam …” is not a bad ballad per se, in fact a rather well-made one. However it is not that compatible with the Iranian musical mentality, meaning that it lacks those familiar ingredients that make you recognize and welcome the song. I chose to call this type of fillers wall-flowers!

“Aare” is the next song which borrows a lot from the Cartio sound and style and also the song “CC Baby” by Farzam Feiz. Compare the vocal-styles and you’ll get the awkward resemblance! I think Sirvan should reconsider much of the things he has claimed in regards to the strictly non-Iranian sources of inspiration for this album.

Another wall-flower which could have been a perfect forgettable song on Eurovision, but in an Iranian setting it becomes even less that that! It lacks relevance and appeal. “Zendegi Hamin Emrooze” says the title and so is the expiration date of the song!

Now back to some more recognizable sound, the throbbing beats get the song rocking and the vocals manage to keep the balance, barely! “Mano Negaah Kon” bears further chorus-underpinning, nevertheless it still serves this album well.

“Delam Gerefte” confirms the pattern of the wall-flower blooming on this album! There is a musical foundation to this song that could have been used for something special, however it is wasted on a pretentious pop failure!

Sirvan takes pride in “inventing” this particular fusion-formula. He even claims that he came up with this for some other singer but decided to keep it a secret and use it in his own album! But the fact is that what you hear in “Tekraar” is nothing new, Parviz Rahmanpanah was the first who officially fused classic Persian instrumentation with the CLUB musicality and Nami and Kamran Delan delivered a perfected specimen in “Planet Harmony” on Nami’s debut album “Lost Generation”! So this is another one of Sirvan’s claims that doesn’t hold water and grant a patent! Having said that this is a formula that works well for Sirvan, however the song lacks the commercial anatomy that an original mix should posses and instead appears in shape of a remix.

Next comes “Oon Roozaa”, another song which could have turned into something really good if only Sirvan hadn’t experimented within the experiment! This might be a colorful wall-flower, none the less a wall-flower!

The 9th track and the title-track “Saate 9” is no exception, however thanks to your Dutch fellow reader Richard this particular song is getting airplay on a non-Iranian radio station in Holland (read more in my blog)! This is exactly the kind of wall-flower song local and smaller radio-stations in Europe play around lunch-hours. You might hear 20 of them in a row, yet neither stands out nor would have you recognizing it next time you hear it!

Last but not least comes one of the album’s aces. “To Marizi” delivered here together with Xaniar is thematically, lyrically and musically a clever creation! In my opinion the best song on the album and the most successful result of the claimed experimentation! There is also an alternative version available for download online which features the popular Iran-based rapper Yas. I personally am neither a fan of Yas’ rap nor repertoire, however this seemingly improbable and incompatible collaboration happens to work perfectly somehow! Most likely this version has been excluded from the album due to the illegal status of Yas.

Sirvan has in recent year, together with his new nemesis Benyamin Bahadori (read more in my blog), been one of the main elements in the whole wave of provocative interviews! Due to being outspoken in the press about his relation and regards concerning fellow artists. He said in an interview, as a critique on Chavoshi’s legal debut, that a change of style just for the sake of a change is not a wise thing to attend to. Ironically this is exactly the kind of error he has committed in his new album! He has tried so hard to get away from the TRANCE, but without really having a clue where he is heading and whether he’s got what it takes to get there. Instead he has experimented with one particular Western POP style, since he insists that it is Western music with Persian lyrics that he produces. People of all kinds will be able to compare my music with today’s international music, Sirvan claims. However when compared it stands clear that he has only taken the parts and pieces that constitute fillers on Western POP albums and not the HIT formulas! There is nothing wrong with the level of experimentation and ambition on this album, the result however bears to be discussed. He says that his heart is no longer in DANCE music and has tried to step out of the box. Ironically as a direct result the only songs which work commercially are the DANCE oriented songs, those that remind of his older songs and not his so called nouveautés! In other words he sounds better inside the box, his comfort zone. His debut wasn’t perfect, but it promised a growth much stronger and determined than this follow up. I can somehow understand Sirvan’s ambition with this album, however it also says much about his undetermined character as a recording artist! That he hasn’t really made up his mind about “what” and “for whom” he likes to create. His heart might not be in the DANCE music anymore, understandable, but neither is it in this particular setting! At least it doesn’t sound that way. “Saate 9” is not fully thought-through and a disappointment for those who anticipated a worthy follow up to the debut. My only advice to Sirvan is his own, a change of style just for the sake of a change is not a wise thing to attend to!

Note: thanks to Ahmad and Richard.

Overall Performance: ++
Artistic Ambition: ++
Commercial Potential: ++
Aesthetic Presentation: --
Ethical Adherence: +++
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