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Song of the day – 222: Mohammad Nouri

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Folk misunderstand me. Often. I am way more thrilled to be updated about Kevin Pierce’s blog – this man, more than most, ought to employed by record companies as a compiler (“World’s coolest bass player, and what a groove,” Kevin remarks about the entry I’ve just linked to) – or sent a collection of 60s and 70s Persian folk, pop, funk and psych by the always-awesome Finders Keepers label than I am to receive some piece of mediocre post-Animal Collective shit or another fucking grunge band. Way more.

I’m not going to bullshit you here. I know next to nothing about this music, beyond noting a certain similarity to other forms of Eastern pop music from the same period. I just know that I – and my family – love to listen to this shit over breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Daniel, in particular, will rock the sideways groove to Mohammad Nouri while seated in his high chair. So I’m not going to pretend. The following is lifted direct from the Finders Keepers website.

It’s no accident that the phoenix is an exalted moral, mythical, and figurative symbol in Iran. Like the phoenix, Iranian culture is in constant flux and, at times, elusive, with its existential wavering and blurred panoramas. Most of contemporary Iran’s artistic and creative leanings, its grapples with history and identity, are loosely and mystically conjoined and contested in memory. Iran is marked by the complex interplay of diverse constituencies, philosophies, and influences: ethnic, religious, political, geopolitical and historical. The glorification of pre-Islamic antiquity (in search of authentication) marked the socio-cultural attitude of a bygone era and is witnessing revival in the present day. The discordant reality of eastern traditions complicated by the rampant confusions of modernity has become a norm in Persian dialogue, not to mention revolution, exile, and diaspora. Like many other countries, the Sixties and Seventies were a time of tumult in Iran, bringing growth (via petrodollars) and freedom (under the banner of socioeconomic development) while exacerbating inequalities within the country.

The music and voices that blossomed during those decades exemplify the turbulence and excitement of the age. It is worth recognizing these ‘left out’ and ‘lost’ artists individually and as a group in the global happenings of 60s/70s psych, rock and folk, while exploring their influence and relevance to the present day. Is it possible that there is a genus of delectable sounds and fetching images that almost exclusively reside in the elbowroom of memory and nostalgic ‘yesteryear’ storytelling? Little consideration has been given to the correlation of these sounds and stories within the universal psychedelic phenomena: parallel to the shared stylistics of British and American players, and the radical politicking of their Turkish and Korean counterparts.

This collection endeavors to re-contextualize these songs from the realm of reminiscence, nostalgia, and memory into a specific and accessible narrative to share and relate within the universal musical gamut. It is for aficionados, the curious, and collectors alike. We hope that Iranians around the world will rediscover these songs. This collection is, in some sense, dedicated to a generation in self-imposed mental exile, due to years of war and catastrophe; decades of lies and bombs; a fundamentalist theocracy of reformist shams; addiction; isolation and alienation; unemployment, and inflation. These are voices and stories that may again prove relevant to a psychologically damaged and spiritually corrupt society, a society whose discontents recall the latter years of the Shah’s rule.

The recordings excavated here are highly sexual musings, voluble love songs, and simple folk tunes. In many of these songs, there are subtle voices of political protest. Here is a personal best, a handful of artists and diversely stylized songs, presented on Finders Keepers.

Mohammad Nouri died a few months back. Viewing the photographs of his funeral, it’s clear he was much loved.

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