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Farzad Farzin - “Shaans”

Chehreye Khandan (Iran)
2010 (1388)

Farzad Farzin’s brand new album was released only 18 months after his “Shock. In an interview with Music360 Farzad said that he was so afraid of having his album leaked and bootlegged that he wasn’t able to sleep at nights and released the album prematurely on a late afternoon with a misprinted cover. As soon as he heard that some version of the album was being sold in a store somewhere! We had managed to convince the websites not to share the album illegally, Farzad explained, so the stores were the big threats this time around. “Shaans” features eleven tracks written and arranged mainly by Farzad himself, including work by Yaghma Golroee, Pedram Keshtkar, Mehran Khalili, Kooshan Haddad, Rouzbeh, Amin Bamshad, Mahmoud, Marjan Nourinejad, Maryam Asadi, Mohammad Shaker, Ali Mehregan and Navid Sepehr. The collection also features a controversial collaboration with the underground artist Hamed Hakan, who has strangely managed to be openly credited on the album! Perhaps a legal permit is on its way even for him?! The album is released on the new record label Chehreye Khandan.

Opening with “Ehsaase Man”, a song completely created by Farzad himself. This track is well-made and truly shows its singer’s maturity as a creator of catchy commercial fares. A dynamic album-opener, well done!

“Chikke Chikke” is the song written by Hamed Hakan, a beautiful ballad with an opening reminiscent of Sting’s “Fragile” and 80’s style of ADULT CONTEMPORARY in its arrangement. Something says me that this has at some point been a duet with Hakan!?

Next comes the first collaboration with Kooshan Haddad, from the DANCE MUSIC duo Ashkan & Kooshan. You can clearly hear the recognizable and progressive touch of his which makes “Boro” standing out a head and shoulder taller from the rest of the tracks! With a SAMBA segment derived from Pitbull’s MEGA-HIT “I Know You Want Me”. If you’ve bought VCD movies from Iran then I’m sure you’ve seen the video of this song being featured before the actual feature! A rather clever and unexplored way for exposure in the absence of a legal music television in Iran.

When you have a song called “Chikke Chikke” on an album you don’t include another song called “Doone Doone” without any really good plan for it! At least not two tracks away! But hey, that’s just me! A beautifully flowing mid-tempo ballad with a similar title, theme and style and approach as the second track. 

The title-track is just like the previous song all created by Farzad himself, but with a more progressive Electro-HOUSE arrangement. I love the old-school influences, reminiscent of Jarre’s music from early 80’s. By the way, see if you can figure out the relation of the title and the lyrics of the song! While the album features “The Chance” as its English translation of the title, I think “luck” is what is really meant by “shaans” in this particular track!

Kooshan is back for a second progressive entry. Another thing which I really find impressive and applaudable in this album is Farzad’s ability and ambition to create catchy and climactic choruses! A passion which as you know I happen to share. If there is one thing that puts me off, in particular when it comes to CLUB oriented music, is anticlimactic flatness or hesitance of a chorus! But “Oon To Nisti” takes off beautifully and leaves me in pure indulgence! 

The album loses some of its earned credits through “Cheraa Donyaa”. I have admittedly never been a fan of Navid Sepehr’s music these past ten years, as I found his RETRO-ROMANTIC arrangements to be awfully messy (even for its genre) and pretentious beyond artistic! I like the Celtic elements of this one and wish that he had stuck to that, instead of this hodgepodge of incompatible influences. Nothing has changed, in other words! 

Farzad had said that he album will be featuring some mystical themes, this is where you hear it best. “Dige Dire” is arranged by Mohammad Shaker who manages to do a decent job at mixing eastern and western influences. Unlike the previous track! It still lacks that edge but as an experimental track it works very well, another climactic chorus by the way. 

Pedram Keshtkar is brought in to deliver a Persian POP arrangement with a RETRO flirt with the similar GITANO inspired tracks from the 60’s and 70’s. “Ki Mitoone” works decently for the variation but it was a wise decision to put it at the end of the track list, since this would have handicapped the album as an opener! 

The same goes for the next track which sounds as if it was taken from Julio Iglesias’ “1100 Bel Air Place”! An album which I loved to listen to back in the 80’s, but a completely wrong RETRO flirt in this particular context. 80’s with all due respect, this flavor of ADULT CONTEMPORARY should be left where it belongs, the 80’s or the Iranian RETRO-ROMANTIC of late 90’s. Not strangely, arranged by Navid Sepehr! 

The album closes with an original track. I’m glad to see that there is someone who doesn’t aim to cash in by filling the track-list with instrumental tracks. Unlike what the title might have you believing it is not about the rising “SUPER STAR”, but rather the insignificance and dependence of it in the bigger scheme and scope! Thus is this a ballad, a RETRO-ROMANTIC one even! But one signed Farzad, thankfully. I really, really hope that we don’t see a comeback to this relic for a genre!

In case you haven’t noticed the domestic artists’ album releases get tighter and tighter, and that is not a coincidence! While there is still an official three years waiting period for each album permit to be issued the artists have found a loophole in the system and that is to submit the albums for release as soon as they are finished, without waiting for the previous one’s permit to be issued. This move puts them ahead of the schedule. At the same time you might have noticed that the numbers of artists active in the legal industry has decreased considerably in recent years. That also is to the active artists’ advantage. Because the ministry has adopted a different policy which makes the overview of the industry much easier. That is to loosen up the restrictions for a select few while tightening it for the rest. Together these changes lead to a much more limited industry with a more frequent release schedule. 

We have seen more and more works by Kooshan Haddad in the legal industry ever since the duo’s recent semi-sabbath. He also had some work in Ali Ashabi’s album. While Ashkan has unfolded wings towards the international horizon. Even though there has to my knowledge not been any official announcement about a break up one can assume that Kooshan’s lower profile even in their joint ventures the past year might be due to his ambitions for a legal domestic career. If that happens to be the case then Sirvan has something to worry about, since thus far he has reigned as the main DANCE MUSIC arranger while the full presence of someone like Kooshan on the legal scene will change the terms and conditions considerably! 

“Shaans” is about clean and crispy productions. Its substance is not always solid but as far as style goes Farzad hasn’t settled for half-made and messy material. He has been the main creator of the songs and in charge of the entire creative process. Consequently “Shaans” is flashy and polished around all its corners. Unfortunately, like I said, there is not much character to each song but as a collection it’s chic and stylish. Not cutting edge, but no jagged edge either! Farzad has been on a straight path of progress ever since his “Sharareh” and you can already foresee a bright future in modern music-making for him. He is one of the “turtles” I often speak of. He doesn’t attend to stunts, horn-tooting and rabbit-naps, but rather takes the long road to his destination without deviation. I for one would love to see more collaborations with Kooshan, since what Farzad lacks in terms of edge and currency, Kooshan brings to the table!

Farzad Farzin has announced that he is to go on domestic and European tours in the upcoming months. He has also said that he is considering pursuing acting again, this time professionally as the lead in the forthcoming feature “Concerte Rooye Aab”. 

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