Welcome to the meandering musical insights of Aaron Joy (me!), formerly known as the Roman Midnight Music Blog. Here you'll find nearly 750 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie, good & bad, U.S. & foreign. A new review every Monday.

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March 14, 2011

Salim Ghazi Saeedi ~ Iconophobic (album review) ... The composer's laughter!

Style: progressive rock, avant garde, instrumental
Label: self-released
Year: 2010
Home: Tehran, Iran

Members: Salim Ghazi Saeedi ~ guitars/keyboards/percussion/sound effects
I won't lie & say that when Salim Ghazi Saeedi's music came to me I was immediately intrigued because I never get any submissions from Iran & I'm like many others in the world who have heard about the influence that rock music has on people, in an almost mystical way, in the Middle East who suffer under musical & cultural censorship. Luckily SGS's music held up to my microscope being interesting & unique & I was happy to request a promo copy of Iconophobic, his debut solo release following three albums with his prog-rock band Arashk. This collection of thirteen original instrumentals, combining only guitar, keyboards & some occasional sound effects, has been compared to King Crimson guitarist/frontman Robert Fripp & the comparison is not for nothing ... though John Zorn's movie soundtracks works as a better comparison to my ears. SGS largely aims not for the standard approach to melodic guitar instrumental songs with riffs, layers & distorted solos, though they do make an appearance (for example "Asiyeh" & "Give My Childhood Back") but more for a meandering journey of guitar-focused instrumental landscapes that are anything but riffs & include symphonic violin-sounding keyboards, acoustic piano, light percussion & hand clapping. It's as if he walked through his town in Iran & make songs up based on what he was seeing, which might not be so far from reality. There's overly dark songs such as "The Songful Song Of The Songbirds" which is a representation of iconophobia itself or the hatred and/or fear of religious art that are digging into the uncensored alleys of the city, while the opening "Composer's Laughter" with its synthesized orchestra background is indeed an autobiographical meeting of personal demons with loving laughter, to the whimsical "Don't You See The Cheerful Rainbow" that's reminiscent of kids playing in a park with no worries. There's a level of improvisational feeling here as though SGS is allowing the city to take him where it musically will. Though, this is a concept album eliciting a psychological story of alienation so the city is a muse not a controlling entity. To this end SGS doesn't limit himself to songs that feature a repeating steady drumbeat in 2/4, verse/chorus/verse/chorus format or even a typical rhythm-melody-harmony relationship. He lets the soundscape travel where it will to go with delightful originality as the scenes in his iconophobic movie progress ... as if this really is a soundtrack. Movies don't have characters repeating the same lines & actions over & over so why should the music do that?

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