Mahsa Vahdat - The sun will rise

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Mahsa Vahdat
The sun will rise

Listen "The scent of earth"

Recorded inside ancient landmarks in Norway, France, Spain, Turkey, Alhambra, and Poland, The sun will rise is the eighth album from Iranian singer Mahsa Vahdat to be released on the Norwegian KKV imprint. Produced by label head Erik Hillestad, it is a rarity for being sung without accompaniment. While such a premise might turn off some in this age of multi-instrumentalists and genre fusions, its messages promise to open listeners to the primal art of song in ways they will rarely experience.

The album features poetry from the 11th century to the current one, penned by Forough Farrokhzad, Hafiz, Rumi, Saadi, Mohammad Ebrahim Jafari, Baba Tahir, Táhirih, Omar Khayyam, and Mohammad-Reza Shafiei Kadkani. But if many of these names are as unfamiliar to you as the Persian contours of their verses, the informative CD booklet and, even more so, Vahdat's delivery of them will give you more than enough context to take in the scent of their emotional incense. And while a few are based on folk songs, most float on vessels of her own crafting.

Listen "The sun rises"

“The sun rises” sets in motion a theme—namely, light from darkness—that respires throughout the album. Touched by the import of this poetry, Vahdat invites action through consideration:
Leave me no more
Separate me not from these stars
How you shine and the Sun rises

In a warzone where chaos is a prerequisite for order, she seems to say, how else are we to deal with cracks in the surfaces of things but to heal them through the human voice? It is this dynamic we must heed in the more reverberant locales, such as the Emanuel Vigeland Museum in Oslo, where “Imprints” and “Rapacious lovers” bloom insatiably, and Akdamar Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Van Lake, Turkey, where “The vow” balances temptation and forgiveness beyond the walls of its immediate enclosure. The impressionistic flavors of these songs, as much savory as sweet, mingle in absence of tongues, tasted instead by the ear.

Listen "Deylaman"

Blatant ornamentations, such as the brief ululations of “My eyes brim with the sea” and “Deylaman,” are rare, and stand out for their liberating effects. Further implications of freedom exist between the words of “Show your face,” which paints its self-portrait in colors derived from the soul. While many of these tracks possess a floating quality, if only by virtue of being unchained from instruments, others, like “The blue of passion” and “Plea,” ground themselves in structured rhythms. The latter has words and music by 19th-century poet Aref Qazvini, whose unrelenting portrait of separation sets fire to stone.

“The land of love” is another key passage, a yearning for grace as is rarely found on the pathways of life:
On the estate of your love I dwell
No soul caring how I fare
Throw me a glance as one wealthy to a beggar
Give me court as a king to his subject

But behind the sheen of love which coats so much of this album beats a heart that seeks others to join it in chorus. Unlike many world music projects, which to varying degrees of success integrate disparate styles of instrumental and melodic practice, here the purity of expression is paramount. Without even trying, Vahdat has taken the globe in her hands and sung it to sleep like a mother would her child, reminding us of just how infantile we are as a global community. We can hear this in “The scent of earth” and “The caravan of life,” wherein lie the secrets to unraveling the forest from a leaf, yet nowhere so intensely as “Primordial mysteries,” which turns the gaze within in order to forgive indignities without.

While it would be easy to focus on the fact that this is an album of one singer alone and to interpret that as an indication of solitude, ultimately Vahdat's exploration of communication is a lesson in universality by way of that most organic of instruments. Let your voice be one of them. - Tyran Grillo


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cd cover


cd cover
The sun will rise is our May 2016
Music of the Month selection.

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