Moein - “Tolou”

MZM Records
2007 (1386)

When you talk about Moein today, its almost impossible to realise that he first entered the mainstream market as a POP singer after the revolution and that in LA! He has become such an institution that one almost feels that he's been around forever! Moein is indisputably the biggest STAR of the Iranian music to have appeared in its chapters in exile. But he is also the founding father of a particular branch of POP, namely the one that has its roots in our religious culture. Allegedly being from a background of religious music, Moein established a new style combing mainstream POP music with a natural undertone of religious musicality, mainly laments. And this subtle combination with its subliminal references struck an immediate chord with the general public relating to it subconsciously, and still today it does so through the music of artists like Benyamin Bahadori and his alikes! Moein's many fans have been yearning for a new album for years, five years to be exactly! This has been the longest hiatus in Moein's career so far, allegedly caused by a dispute with the record company. Today the album entitled "Tolou" has been released on MZM Records with 11 tracks featuring work by Kazem Alami, Babak Radmanesh, Babak Sahraie, Babak Bayat, Fred Mirza, Ahura, Bamdad Bayat, Zoya Zakarian, Sadegh Najouki, Ara, Taraneh Mokaram, Babak Zarin, Bamdad Jooibari, Nasser Tabrizi, Fazlolah Tavakol and Payam Toni.

The album opens with the ballad "Molaaghaat", a typical tuned and balanced Alami-creation which will please the fans of the artist. The album couldn't have opened more familiarly!

Next comes a Babak Radmanesh creation for yet another conventional track. "Khoshbini" is arranged by Babak himself and not by his son Baran, which makes it sound more traditional than the progressive tracks delivered on Omid's album!

To break the traditions Fred Mirza steps in and "cautiously" adds cutting edges to "Jodaayi" which is a song composed by late Babak Bayat! This is an excellent upgrading of the style and sound which unfortunately stays limited to this track only.

"Ey Eshgh" is another Radmanesh song which starts off very progressive and promising but turns soon into another traditional POP song!

The total sound of the Bayats is manifested in "Vaghti To Baa Man Nisti" and the Retro-ROMANTIC arrangement of Bamdad Bayat. The lush orchestration gives the song a space seldom seen in Los Angeles productions!

Sadegh Nojouki's timeless creations contributed to the flourishing career of Moein in the 80's and early 90's. "Be To Goftam, Nagoftam" is not as instant as his previous HITS but still a clean production and one of the better specimens heard from Nojouki in recent years! The lyrics and mainly the line "Be To Goftam, Nagoftam" sounds so familiar and makes me wonder if Zoya's lyrics haven't been used in another song previously...?

The old Andy & Kouros keyboardist Ara has arranged "To Mage Ghalbe Mani", another Radmanesh song which could have just as well been arranged by Radmanesh himself!

The title-track "Tolou" and first released song from the album is a ballad in the same OLD-SCHOOL sound to please the hardcore fans.

Fred Mirza is back to remake one of the artist's older song, namely "Botparast" in a TRANCE fashion! The result is well-done but not fully credible since Moein's voice doesn't really marry the new progressive cosmetics that smoothly! In that sense "Jodaayi" was a much better compromise and point of departure for updating and upgrading!

"Sharaab" is another song arranged by Ara and even more retrogressive quality-wise! Traditional by all means but in this case it almost borders on the obsolete!

The album closes with "Ey Darigh", which is a better specimen of the traditionally composed and arranged tracks on the album, this one arranged by Payam Toni.

In recent years most artists of the genre have slowly but surely liberalised (coming further away from conservatism) their image and style! Omid, Shahram Solati, Shahyad, Pouya and Jamshid have all become more or less liberal within the spectrum of their music. But even though we happen to see Moein appearing with a tie and pocket square in TV and not in the usual collarless couture that he and his fellow artists in style did wear in more than a decade (a fashion still used for images of the booklet), his music is not liberalised in the same pace and fashion! Moein's comeback (from the hiatus) was just as I had anticipated it. The same old formulas redone and delivered with a slight and cautious tilt towards the left/liberal pole! Following the trend but not enough to be called progressive, I'm not even sure if his fans would have appreciated such a revolutionary leap! So its kept safe but with the little finger tapped in new waters- What this album might in the long run suffer from is the lack of outstanding material, while most songs presented are well-produced and above average none of them are obvious HIT-material per se. By Moein's own standard that is! Its clear that the marketing of the album has completely relied on the sole popularity of the artist even after half a decade's inactivity with minimum effort put in the advertisement and presentation of the product! Letting the name alone do its job. A passive strategy which is slowly backfiring if not immediately reconsidered! Because even though Moein is an institution and his voice a solid currency to count on, the "product" itself is only a variable! And in "Tolou"'s case it might carry the name of its artist as a guarantor but its not enough to guarantee a commercial success. Because its not strong enough to be self-promoting!

"Tolou" is an average Moein album that although assuring the worried fans of the solid presence of their icon and his immortal voice after half a decade of absence, it doesn’t really serve as any other kind of milestone in his career!

Note: thanks to Amir and Ahmad.

Overall 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!