Hamid Askari - “Coma 2”

HamAvaz Ahang (Iran)
2009 (1388)

Much has happened Hamid Askari since his debut “Coma” was released a couple of years ago. He has since then gone from being the uncrowned king of concerts to one performing for an half-empty auditorium just recently! Aksari was accused of copycatting by Benyamin Bahadori, who later schizophrenically praised Askari as one of the top five POP artists in the country! Hamid Aksari chose not to retaliate then, instead he started working with Nima Varasteh. The man who arranged Benyamin’s debut album “85”, but later fell out with him due to feeling unfairly treated. The follow up entitled “Coma 2” is therefore an elaborate collaboration with Varasteh as the main arranger, while it features music and lyrics by mainly Askari himself. Other co-contributors are Mohammad Reza Gholizadeh, Dariush Shahriari, Artimes Tavakoli, Mohamad Alizadeh, Shahab Ramezan, Mohamad Kazemi, Fatemeh Salehi and last but not least Behnam Safavi. “Coma 2” features nine tracks and is released on HamAvaz Ahang, with a cover depicting a stylish Askari handing you his umbrella out of courtesy!lol

The album happens to open very controversially! Askari and Varasteh have namely included “Fereshteh”, a song blatantly duplicating the essence and structure of Benyamin’s ÜBER-HIT “Khaaterehaa”, as an opener. The song is to such extent reminiscent of the Benyamin song (which itself is a loose remake of a contemporary religious anthem) that it must be either to prove something or try to tell us something. Because otherwise it would be nothing but a case of idiocy! My guess is that Varasteh did this to prove that he is as per claim the brain behind the Benyamin success formula and Askari agreed to it as some kind of indirect attempt to pay back for the copycat accusation. However the whole thing backfired since it wasn’t preceded by any kind of explanation and as a result Askari was accused of copycatting Benyamin by the people this time! Which means the same thing Benyamin had previously accused him of, only then no one understood what he was talking about since this song was publically unknown. Most likely as an uncalculated damage-control of an uncalculated offense Varasteh came out in the media and said that he had nothing to do with this track’s existence and Askari who saw himself abandoned by both friend and foe got panicked and instead accused Benyamin of ripping him off! The fact that all parties disclaimed responsibility for the plan-gone-wrong added up to nothing but a pile of mess and unprofessional nonsense! The question is, was it all worth it?!

But it doesn’t end there! Strangely “Gole Man” follows the same formula though tones down the striking resemblance by toning down the throbbing drum-pattern.

Thankfully “Khaste Shodam” departs further away from the controversial resemblances and adds a ROCK twist to the flavor. However the aforementioned beat is still there, as if Varasteh still tries to brand it as his own! The ROCK elements are not properly embedded and contextualized, but still an appreciated addition considering what has been so far.

“Khande o Gerye” however does a good job in its attempt to contextualize the beat, further away through a nice electronic soundscape! I have always had a bit difficult time listening to Askari when he sounds nasal, which he often tends to do when he tries to sing slower than usual. Especially when he almost raps! Right there is where his weakest spot gets exposed! Where his Shadmehr sound-alike mask gets transparent enough to reveal his natural voice caught in emulation!

Next song suffers from the same weakness. “Setaare” is a nice but too short song which ends prematurely. A two and half minute track is barely a song, let alone a ballad!

“Taghsir” opens reminiscent of Jean Michel Jarre’s “Revolution” and features a violin segment which further evokes that album’s style. This is the track with most experimental value, wherein Varasteh manages to truly represent his beat while incorporating unconventional elements.

Followed by “Vaase Ine Ke …”, another ridiculously short ballad with a nasal performance by Hamid Askari! Nonetheless the song enjoys a lovely arrangement.

The exception confirms the rule perfectly in this album! “Chesmaaye To” is the only song that hasn’t been arranged by Varasteh, but rather by Behnam Safavi and it is therefore an adequately arranged and produced ballad with almost four minutes of running time. The song somehow reminds me of a Regheb Allameh ballad which I can’t recall the title off. This is the song with the least experimental value, however ironically also the song which hosts Askari’s voice the best way possible!

“Vaghte Raftan” comes and wraps up the collection in time, with a thematically suitable message! Another experimental arrangement by Varasteh who tries his best to fuse the established beat of his with some heavier ROCK elements. The result is decent but tends to be too overpowering for Askari who seem to have difficult to keep up with the boost while maintain his contrived Shadmer-ian ornamentation!

Obviously different people involved try to say different things with this album! Sadly no one but them seems to understand what it really is that they are trying to say! In retrospect, I’m not even sure that they themselves know what it is! They definitely won’t stand for any of it, that is for sure! As a result “Coma 2” comes across exactly the way one could expect from a sophomore album trying to be a thematic and titular sequel to a debut. The creative difference and artistic growth between the two albums can be measured by a simple calculation and comparison between their mere titles, namely “Coma” and “Coma 2”. That is basically how superior the follow up is to the debut! To me this album is not about Hamid Askari, it’s about Nima Varasteh! His portrait is depicted on the back of the album, while it should be fronting it! “Coma 2” is about Varasteh’s Don Quixote-sque battle against Benyamin Bahadori and other imaginary demons in the industry! Hamid Askari just happens to be there, in the middle of it all! As his Sancho Panza! Like a variable in a bad boussinesq equation. The music, albeit positively experimental at times, doesn’t really suit him as much as it serves Varasteh’s purpose. Neither does Askari manage to personalize and make this music his own. Despite having written most of the songs, which is the ironic and sad part of it all! Due to his submissive attitude and role in production he comes across as just a vessel, hollow and unable to stand for anything that has to do with the substance and style of his album. It hurts me to see him, who has so far tried his best to stay out of all the trashtalk-ping ponging in the tabloid media, so naively used as a pawn in a power struggle!

The first “Coma” wasn’t an original album, neither was it an immaculate production. It was an account of a blatant Shadmehr cloning process, the first in the line of many more to follow! However its imperfection and peccability was its singer’s to stand for, for better and worse. “Coma 2” has its crispy bits and pieces here and there, but in the end it’s an uncalculated equation and an ephemeral moment in the career of all those involved!

Overall Performance: ++
Artistic Ambition: +
Commercial Potential: ++
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!