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25 avril 2008

Pouya Mahmoodi

Mehr (Faryaad)

Recorded in Kuala Lumpur, mixed in Switzerland, and featuring a cast of Iranian musicians, singer-guitarist Pouya Mahmoodi’s first solo CD is a truly cosmopolitan undertaking—and that’s both a blessing and something of a curse.

Mehr is being billed as a groundbreaking Persian-rock fusion, but that’s a mild overstatement; it’s more like deracinated soft rock mixed with influences from all over the map. At times a ’60s influence bubbles to the surface: the string-sweetened “Si Pareh” updates the Moody Blues, while the flute-laced “Dingomaro” does the same for Traffic. Hints of Bollywood filter through on “Raz O Niaz”, “Bamdad” aims for Peter Gabriel–style drama, and “Me Va To” slinks along to an Ali Farka Touré–approved desert-blues beat.

Overall, the music is glossy and accomplished—perhaps a bit too polished, in fact—although that’s undercut by Mahmoodi’s understated singing (which, by the way, is all in Farsi). This 33-year-old musician shines, however, on the electric guitar. As a soloist, he mixes birth-of-the-cool octave lines with fluttering quartertone bends in the traditional Persian style, and he has a lovely, fluid sound on his instrument. He could stand to cut loose a little more, but that will likely come with time—and this is certainly a confidence-building debut.

By Alexander Varty

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