Hatef- “Safir”

Avang Music Co.
2004 (1382)

Hatef is a rather “unpredictable” artist!! …For better or worst!! His debut-album “Fasle Eshgh” came in the late 80s, as a “nod” to the Electro-POP genre, during its peak of popularity!! And his well-produced follow-up “Zange Tafrih” became such a GREAT HIT, that still today are its songs among the most requested songs on the Iranian radios!! But just when he had established himself as a MAINSTREAM POP-artist, he suddenly made a complete U-turn and became a full-fledged “Retro-Romantic”!! And that while the current Retro-Romantic POP genre didn’t even exist inside the country!! It became “allegedly” known that Hatef was “tired” of doing “commercial” music and wanted to focus on what he personally LOVED best, instead!! Whether the rumour was true or not, this particular move disappointed a lot of fans, while attracting a new target-group!!

Today is Hatef back, after almost a half-of-decade’s silence as a vocalist!! But the fact is that Hatef has not been completely silent during this period!! He has actually been active as a songwriter, with songs such as Tara’s extremely popular “Aaghaa Baalaasar” as a result!! Needless to say, is the entire collection of songs on his brand new album, entitled “Safir”, composed and written by the man himself!! Except for one case!! The arrangements are the works of Abdi Yamini, Fereidoun Heidarnia, Tigran Sakian, Parviz R. Panah, Lou Varoojan (any relation to the late master-composer Varojan?!) and of course, Hatef himself!! The album is released on Avang Music Co., with a “surreal” cover-design reminding of Pink Floyd’s legendary “the Wall” and the movie-poster of “Desperados”!!

The album opens with “Shabe Berahne”, a lovely HYBRID of Hatef’s usual Retro-Romantic style and the mid 90s’ EURO-DISCO sound!! Very INNOVATIVE and interesting, actually!! Some people might consider Hatef as a HARD-LINE “conservative”!! …Musically of course!! But this song will prove them otherwise!! The result is still “rough” and experimental, but has a potential to become something special for the future!! There is a choir sample from the Michael Zager Band’s “Let’s all Chant” (previously remade by the BOYZ), right at the intro!! Something that the song would have done better without, in its attempt to establish itself as an “original”!!

A style apparently very close to Hatef’s own heart is the “satirical” CAPRICCIOS (term for satirical ART)!! And ironically enough, is this also the least “commercial” style of Hatef, in a sense that not many people actually understand its “critical” purpose and “socio-political” depth!! Something that characterises this style in general!! Even though it is dressed in the “common man’s” words, its subliminal messages are far beneath its –in Hatef’s own words-HODGE-PODGE (Shalam-Shoorbaa) facade!! You’ll recognise the frame of the song though!! With “Teryaak”, Hatef builds further upon the original words and melodies that have been frequently used in his previous CAPRICCIOS like “Ghaaraashmish” (performed by both Mehran and Hatef himself)!!

I mentioned the references to the motion-picture “Desperados” earlier, hence it doesn’t feel like a coincidence when Hatef suddenly decides to assume the role of “El Mariachi” and make a REMAKE of the good old Los Lobos’ HIT-song (featuring Antonio Banderas) from the original soundtrack!! Even though there is absolutely nothing mentioned on the album cover, about the origin of the song!! While adding some Persian lyrics and melodic “spices” to “Cancion del Mariachi’s (Morena de Mi Corazon) Hispanic original, the GORGEOUS “Khandehaat Ghiaamate” is born!! …This is an obvious HIT!! Hatef shot a video for a song in a similar style 10 years ago, I do not know the title of the song, since it was NEVER released on an album!! But it went like: “Too baaghe pahne kahkeshoon, setaareeye cheshaat take!! …Baa inke shirine labaat, vali ye goolle namake!!”!! The song had a TREMENDOUS HIT-potentiality!! But from what I know, it never made it to an album!! …SADLY!! Perhaps due to the sudden change-in-style!?!

The FANATIC fans of the Retro-Romantic Hatef have probably started to lose hope by now!?! Well DON’T!! Because the title-track comes to serve you as a lovely BALLAD!! “Safir” is a rather typical Hatef composition!! It’s been a while since we heard anything new from Abdi Yamini!! Therefor, I’m extra exalted to see that the “maestro” is back!!

“Maghnae (Dokhtare Iran)” is Hatef’s own rhythmic way of “liberating” the beautiful Iranian woman and putting her on the pedestal!! Much like his equally lovely and appreciated tribute to the Afghan woman in “Dokhtare Kabol”!!

Next comes another typical Hatef composition, with a socio-political approach!! “Asre Degargouni” marches in the same steps as songs like “Asre Maa”, in order to “mobilise the masses” with its NRG/Electro-POP style!!

“Rooze bad az Raftane To” is yet another attempt to “upgrade” the Retro-Romantic POP genre!! This lovely mid-tempo fare is actually the most INNOVATIVE piece of the whole collection!! It manages to take the “process” started with the first song, to another level!!

The fans of the song “Zange Tafrih” will enjoy this particular track!! “Mojarrad” is Hatef’s way of tackling a rather common socio-cultural issue with a “spoon full of HUMOUR”!! The BACHELORS of the world!! …UNIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITE!!!(*LOL*)!!

“Aaghooshe Aaftabi” is the last song on the album!! Yet another beautiful BALLAD from the “Founding Father” of the Retro-Romantic POP!! Accompanied by another gorgeous full-scale arrangement by Abdi Yamini!!

Medleys seem to be back to stay this time!! Although in “Safir”’s case with already 9 original tracks, it actually works as a BONUS!! And not a FILLER!!

“Safir” actually confirms my comment about Hatef’s “unpredictability” in a very positive way!! Because just when we have got used to his almost strictly Retro-Romantic approach to POP music, he makes a “detour” to the 90s and -believe it or not- incorporates some pure MAINSTREAM POP-creations!! Now, for a Hatef-fan like me, who enjoys BOTH sides of his talents equally much, comes “Safir” as the BEST compromise!! Although I can imagine that the Retro-Romantic “purists” that he has managed to gather around himself, during the past decade of his career, might feel a bit “shocked”!! But as I said, Hatef is a very unpredictable artist and such “zigzagging” is to be expected from him, even in the future!! The album claims to be “another unique approach to world music” (as stated on the album-cover)!! I however would not file it under “world music”, because even though the collection possesses references to International musicality, its “instrumentation” is predominately Western!! Nevertheless is “Safir” a GREAT album from a man with a GREAT voice!! Its POP creations might not hold the same class as their older “siblings” on “Zange Tafrih” (e. g. “Aay Dokhtare”), but as a “collection” it is SOLID and actually the most versatile one ever released by Hatef!!

My personal conclusion is that Hatef is NOT a commercially driven and motivated artist!! His music might occasionally border on the commercial-music-related MAINSTREAM POP-styles, but it is not a marketing “tactic”!! …Rather a “conscious” decision based on an own independent “taste”!! Hatef IS a talented, unpredictable and “eccentric” artist!! But he is so, in the same way that the master-painter Francisco de Goya was!! Goya, although today known as “El Padre del Arte Moderno (the Father of the Modern Art)”, was broadly “misunderstood” and acclaimed by only a small group of his time’s “intellectuals”!! His paintings oscillated between two EXTREME poles, from “midday BRIGHTNESS” to “midnight DARKNESS”!! …But the broad perspective of time has proved that they did so for a REASON!!


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!