ARASH - ”Arash Arash”

Warner Music Sweden
2005 (1383)

Being the home-country of many Iranians, Sweden has always been a hotbed for aspiring Iranians in MANY professional areas. In terms of Entertainment and its branch of MUSIC to be precisely, the first one to break the MAINSTREAM barriers and -ground was the Iranian rapper RO-CEE, who reached the TOP-position on the charts already back in 1995 with his west-coast sounding MEGA- HIT “Gettin‘ all da Babes“. Around the same time came the female rapper CREAM of the duo ADDIS BLACK WIDOW with their first successful album. In recent years we have witnessed the international success of the CLUB-FILLER Dj Aligator and of course the little rapper NICO as the youngest member of this ever-growing MAINSTREAM-movement. These days the ROCK-heroine Laleh is on the rise with her “Invisible” and of course the young brother of the talented director Alec Cartio, Cameron Cartio, who is fighting bravely on his way to the EUROVISION SONG-CONTEST 2005 with his “Roma“! …these, only a few names among MANY talented artists active and relatively successful in the Swedish industry!

Arash Labaf, a young MAINSTREAM songwriter/producer with many years of experience in his artistic luggage, was first introduced as ALEX to the public as you can see in his guest appearance in Rebecca Zadig’s “Temptation”. Today he has released his debut album, entitled “Arash Arash” as a parody on his first HIT-song “Boro Boro”! The albums features collaborations with Robert Uhlmann, Johan Bejerholm, Max Tavahen, Charles Burbank, Ronny Gold, Sammy Goz, Ishtar, Pedro Maza Luaces, Cezar Zamini, Anila Mirza, Ecco, Timbuktu, Esben Iversen, M. Nielsen, Dj Aligator, Christian Steen Jensen, RAL, Ali Afati, Payam Payami, Andreas Johansson, Farid Zoland, Ardalan Sarfaraz and Anders Wrethov.

The album kicks off with a ”tail-rider”! A tail-raider on another tail-rider, actually! What does that mean you might very rightfully ask!? Well, it means that this song is meant to cash in on the success of ”Boro Boro” which itself was a commercial attempt to cash in on the success of the PANJABI MC! ”Tike Tike Kardi” enjoys the same pseudo-Hindi accent and a bit more Middle Eastern influences. The song however lacks its predecessor’s freshness and therefore its strong potentiality!

Another one in Arash’s borrowings from other songs is ”Yalla” which is a song with a chorus derived almost completely from a song Arash likes to describe this way:

”three years ago when I was in Kairo (Cairo), I bought an old cassette at a bazaar. There was one song on this cassette that was simply fantastic, and I kept listening to it during my stay there. It’s that song that inspired me to write Yalla”

And since you still today don’t know Arash-jaan, let me inform you that this very song happens to be Amr Diab’s HIT ”El-Alim Allah”! The arrangement too holds borrowed segments from Brian Wayy’s arrangement for Mansour’s ”Faghat Bekhaatere To”. A strong song, but for those who DON’T recognise the original Diab song! A song from the HIP HOP HORA O.S.T..

And now to THE song which made Arash to a household name! ”Boro Boro” needs no further introduction! A song with a catchy jargon and title! A clever tactic move to tail-ride the mental way that Antique’s ”Opa Opa” once paved, since westerners have relatively easier to adopt such titles! The Indian melody is copied from Tweet’s ”Call Me”!

Another Sweden-based singer has joined Arash for a duet-remake of his own old ”Ey Yaar Begoo”! Ebi of course, the MASTER OF VOICE! In a EURO-TRANCE fare with Arash FINALLY showcasing his REAL and lovely Persian accent!

”Temptation” was meant to be the SUGAR-sweet Rebecca Zadig’s take off in the sky of music. The song mainly derived from ALABINA’s original, is here remade and revised lyrically to feature Rebecca as the guest-artist instead of Arash! Another TOP-NOTCH track that deserves to be re-released with a new stronger commercial PUSH.

Symptom: Writing a passionate LOVE-song for no other than …himself!!???
Diagnose: The man suffers apparently from a low self-esteem …NOT!! (*LOL*)!!!
Maybe the best song from the album featuring the sweet-voiced and Persian-singing (I guess) non-Iranian Helena in an AMAZING duet! ”Arash” is a LATIN/R&B ballad with a SUMMER FLOW!! A bit hard to take the lyrics seriously, but HEY!!! … Arash jaan yaadet nare ye esfandi vaase khodet dood koni aziz (*LOL*)

The lead from the BOMBAY DREAMS O.S.T. feat. Rebecca and Aneela in a Hindi/English song with Arash singing in …URDU!!

Now Now!! The first released song from the album is here! ”Man o To” came as an obvious tail-rider on the PANJABI MC-mania last year! When I first heard this song, I thought it was by an Afghan Londoner! A nice song with a TARKAN-ian influence!

His fellow MALMÖBO rapper ”Timbuktu” has supported him in ”Baskon”, a mellow song with a typical ”Timbuktu” sound and jargon. Here performing in English instead of his usual rap in Swedish. Nice, will do well on charts!

In the already a HIT Dj Aligator-duet ”Music is my Language” can Arash once again showcase his ability to sing strongly in Persian! It is truly a SHAME that his wings are cut by the industry and are not able to unfold and free-fly! Nevertheless is this heavy CLUB FARE a HIT to be played and replayed in years to come! WELL DONE BOYZ!!!

”Salamati” is a PERSIAN song with ORIENTALISTIC influences! Reminds me of the old SHAD RABBANI sound! Hey!! …The man CAN WAIL!!

PERSIAN-ANDALUSIAN comes ”Behnaz” khanoom (who is allegedly also Arash’s real-life girl friend) as the last original track on the album with a VERY STRONG potential to please Arash’s Iranian fans and fill the floors of the Iranian CLUBS! Haalaa dastaaaaaa baalaaaaaaaaa!! …GHERRRRRRR be kamarrraaaaa!!!!!!

The album then rounds off with:

- ”Boro Boro (Bollywood Café Mix) ”, a rather MINIMALISTIC version.

- ”Tikke Tikke Kardi (Payami Lounge)”, NEW ORDER/PET SHOP BOYS inspired with Balearic Lounge and ELECTRO-POP influences! I LOOOOVE THIS VERSION!!!

The North-Europeans have always had a taste for EXOTIC music from the East, especially during the summers where the weather condition is more suitable and manage to set up the right scenery and mood for the songs to grow on the people of the North. Every year, at least one song from the southern European countries finds its way via the passengers’ luggage to the European HIT-charts and the households. Tarkan’s “Simarik” was the first song with Middle Eastern influences to be included in this line of songs, which later became even covered by the Australian star Holly Valance. But never had a “local” act managed to do what Arash has done today, to break through with a song in a foreign language before the Greco-Swede duo ANTIQUE did five years ago with their cover on “Opa Opa“! So unfortunately is Arash NOT the first in those lines of trend-makers! However, he is THE FIRST Iranian to convince sooo many Swedes to actually BUY his music!! In these days of illegal copying and lost revenues for ailing companies not even the most credible artists get to release a record that easily! “Boro Boro” sold so many copies that the song broke the sales record by staying #1 for weeks and on top 10 for more than two months! Although we have had many internationally acclaimed and famous artists of Iranian decent, Arash is de facto THE FIRST Iranian to succeed on an international scene and level by songs in his mother tongue …Persian!!

So, are the Indian overtone of the album and Arash’s persona really derived from the reported LOVE of Arash for BOLLYWOOD?!! It might be so to an extent, but not entirely so in my opinion! I think that the sudden and unexpected success of “ Boro Boro” more or less came to entrap him in the temporary commercial niche that he had once found for his artistic survival! As an artist Arash is hardly an innovator, at the same time his wings are tied up by his record label so we cant really judge his true level of creativity and performance! Right now he is not more than a very talented “collage maker“ with a keen ear for details and HIT-factors, and his lovely “Arash Arash” is a charming “Frankenstein” made mainly of other artists’ dissected song-parts! … elegantly patched up! The material is simple and the production clean, custom-made for a non-Iranian crowd who has no clue about what the man is singing about or what cultural “hodgepodge” he is serving! While to anyone with at least a lingual clue, the whole projects sounds, although truly CHARMING, but still nothing more than a CHARADE! The main responsible factor for this rather unnecessary confusion is Arash’s insistence on using a pseudo-Hindi accent which makes this whole thing sounding as something too light-hearted to be taken seriously. I can only imagine what real Punjabis think about someone who inflict himself as one of them but sings in …Persian! It took years for the Swedes to be able to ALMOST distinguish between different Middle Eastern cultures, and Arash’s contribution does not exactly help the case by adding another element to the dilemma! Some might class this as WORLD-MUSIC, but no culturally motivated world-musician would EVER adopt such commercial manoeuvres like a pseudo-accent! Which is only a proof of the late Edward Said’s argument on “Orientalism” and the Orientalistic ART (not oriental)! To reflect a distorted image of the East for the Westerners CAN be experienced as entertaining in the short run, but in the long run it causes more harm to the real movement of cultural integration and WORLD-MUSIC …than good! I am sure that this “disservice” is not “intentionally” committed by Arash, however, a sense of responsibility should always be added to the commercial ambition in order to neutralise the damage factor.

Nevertheless is Arash’s artistic emergence and debut a heavy and significant millstone in our music history and its positive achievements should be acknowledged and not overlooked!

Artistic Performance: +++
Artistic Ambition: ++
Commercial Potential: +++
Technical Quality: +++
Aesthetic Presentation: +
Ethical Adherence: ++
[ +++ > --- ]


Review by: Pourya E.

Reviews described herein are mere opinions, and must be construed in that manner only! In other words they are not absolute!