Mehrdad Asemani’s artistic career took a new turn earlier this year via the release of Googoosh’s second exile-album “Aakharin Khabar”, featuring him as the MAIN composer! Tapping on the exact same marketing fashion, his own brand new album too, entitled “Axe Fori (Snap Shot)”, has been HYPED on the TANIN SHOW (which is today only a pale shadow of the legendary show it once was back in the early 90’s, severely reduced down to serve as nothing else than Caltex Records’ PR-organ) with one repetitive promotional clip after another, to the extent of ”overkill”! Unlike Mehrdad’s previous albums, all the songs on ”Axe Fori” has been composed, arranged and produced by the artist himself. And for the lyrics stands no other than Shahyar Ghanbari, who also happened to be one of the contributing artists on “Aakharin Khabar”. Not only does “Axe Fori” possesses creative and aesthetical (cover design) features in common with “Aakharin Khabar”, but it also features Googoosh as the guest vocalist on several tracks. All three of them, to be exactly! The album features 8 tracks and is released on Caltex Records.
Although Mehrdad’s music has lately been heavily oriented towards the ENTERTAINMENT-pole, he once started his career with a semi-surrealistic and socio-critical approach through songs like “Lisaance“ and “Sag“! Today after a decade of his career, his music once again starts to fall back on a similar foundation. “Divaare Yaar” is a socio-political song about the restricted and monitored “intersexual relations” within the close parameters of today’s Islamic Iran. This as a PSYCHEDELIC, upbeat and ETHNO-centric album opener!
Next comes the energetic DRUM-n-BASS inspired title-track with Mediterranean spices. With whistle-borne portions and PSYCHEDELIC jargon, is “Axe Fori” reminiscent of the 80’s sound!
Twinkles generate the album’s first duet with Googoosh, “Nasle Maa” is a mid-tempo tune that accelerates at the chorus to a RETRO-ROMANTIC inspired fare with an Andalusian twist! Very close to the sound delivered on Googoosh’s “Aakharin Khabar”, actually!
“Yek Tekke Noor” is “Axe Fori”’s AFGHAN-song, as “Aahouye Eshgh” was for “Aakharin Khabar”! The arrangement reminds of Nabizadeh’s melancholic sound on the “Ye Rouzi” album and Leila Forouhar‘s “Golhaaye Laleh Abbasi“. A very lovely song with a beautiful nostalgic flare, even more beautiful than its older sibling in “Aakharin Khabar”!
The TRIP-HOP-beat driven “Harighe Shahre Ghesse” is the most PSYCHEDELIC song of the album, in the traditional Mehrdad sound! With lyrical references to the late Mofid’s “Shahre Ghesse” arrives the second Googoosh-Mehrdad duet (even though the song is marketed as a “duet“ one should point out that the lady only appears as guest vocalist midst its chorus!).
Mehrdad is not totally unfamiliar with the PERSIAN TECHNO, but “Sar o Tahe Navaar” is the fare wherein he has managed to refine his previously tested skills! Another PSYCHEDELIC song that manages to enjoy a RETRO-ROMANTIC identity through Googoosh’s vocal performance. As you surely have guessed by now, this is the third and LAST duet with Googoosh on the album and just like the previous track it only features the DIVA midst the chorus!
Now for a more ENTERTAINMENT-oriented sound on the album appears “Kaardasti” as an AFGHAN-inspired song marinated in several other ETHNIC spices!
Being an advocator of transcendental WORLDMUSIC without any kind of boundaries, I watched a NOROOZ interview with Mehrdad (Jaame-E-Jam), in which he opposed the idea of giving a concert in DUBAI (unlike many other artists) arguing that our country and culture has been enough “Arabicised”!! …but obviously not enough! Because here comes Mehrdad with “Raghse Biejaaze”, YET ANOTHER PROG. ARABESQUE song! And one should also mention that Mehrdad has not only employed the Arabesque sound frequently in the past, but he has also covered the AMR DIAB song “Mish Had'af” as “Invare Donyaa“, without ANY CREDIT on the cover to either the artist or its creators! Makes one wonder whether this alleged “Arabicisation” has been imposed by the so called “others” …or voluntarily embraced by “us“!?
“Snap Shot” is the BEST MEHRDAD COLLECTION ever released! The album is less psychedelic and more musically refined and consistent than Mehrdad’s previous offerings. It was a rather risqué- but also VERY WISE decision to single-handedly take on the responsibility for the album’s arrangements. As it shows, the man is more than ready and capable of dressing up his own compositions in perfect arrangements! “Axe Fori” is IN MANY ways close to its older “sister”, namely Googoosh’s “Aakharin Khabar”, but at the same time it serves its artist with more CHARM than ”Akharin Khabar” ever did! And the fact that Mehrdad has managed to avoid the temptation of drawing TOO CLOSE musical parallels to ”Aakharin Khabar” (which could result in a lame parody) despite the high expectations on him after the Googoosh album, makes ”Axe Fori” even more SOLID! The main weakness of this album is ironically also its strongest marketing/selling point! And that is the WAY TOO MANY duets with THE SAME artist! Having the album featuring Googoosh on an unconventional number of ”duets with the same artist/per album” indirectly exploits not only the freshness of the DIVA’s voice (by over-exposure) but also deprives Mehrdad’s lovely album from variation and versatility! Such endeavours might result in a short-time profit, …but also in a long-time lost!
Last but not least …going back to the aforementioned “interview”, Mehrdad stated that his (and Googoosh’s) music-videos are signed “Zadori” by Koji since it is how he (Koji that is) signs his credent and “credible” or (in quote) “Baa-Etebaar” music-videos (just like when some authors who use their real name for their official work, use pseudonyms for their experimental pieces in order to protect their credibility)!? Implying that other music videos branded “Koji Film” or “Koji Land” by the man are of a less quality and credibility!? If Mehrdad is actually right, and its not just a presumptuous statement based on something that once started as an unintentional coincidence, then up-n-coming artist who want to hire Koji’s services, should seriously make sure which quality-brand of his they are paying for!