No Country For a Young Man

I declare that I have no country.

I was born in Iran.
I have always adored English and American music culture.
I die for Arabian belly dance.
As a composer I have been mostly compared to Belgian bands.
For no apparent reason I am strongly attracted to Japanese culture.
For more non-apparent reasons I have always been hypnotized by movies and stories revolving Germany and World War II.
My website is available in English, Spanish, Romanian, Japanese, German, Dutch, Italian, French, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Russian, Slovenian and Turkish.

I declare that I have no country.
Sometimes I feel a little lonely about it. But looking at the map and seeing so many country names there, reminds me of million eyes ready to reflect the world within their owners’ minds…

Having millions of worlds inside, is human being in need of having a country at all? I seriously doubt that…

Digging RIO: Rock in Opposition Resurgence in Iran?

“Vacuum fluctuation; I call it originality.” Every now and then, the energy level of the vacuum fluctuates. Spontaneously; and it is a violation of the law of conservation of energy in physics. Maybe the resurgence of Rock in Opposition in Iran obeys similar laws in musics!

Back in 1970s a collective of avant-garde rock bands in Europe “united in their opposition to the music industry that refused to recognize their music” and initiated a music current called “Rock in Opposition” (RIO). I guess no serious RIO listener denies that this genre essentially corresponds with rebellious nature of its composers. Dark, moody and painstaking.

But what is the true motivation behind such views? Social injustice? Poor financial situation of the composer? Artists’ personal and psychological eccentricities? Or maybe merely a pretention to stand out of society to attract attention?

Well sure I am not competent enough to judge above questions. Since I have not been closely in contact with western society’s norms as RIO’s home and even worse I have never been a listener of this genre. But let me examine the case of my own confrontation to RIO:

Being raised within cultural restrictions in Iran that hinder innovation and openmindness, and a child of 1979 Iran-Iraq war, I experimentally started composing music by self-studying. In this situation most interestingly I share an important characteristic with original RIO bands: I was not able to distribute my works in Iran – since this genre is no doubt a reflection of an unrestrained mind. So I started publishing and promoting my works myself – outside Iran. Then among various press coverages like these I became aware of RIO genre for the first time:

“Somebody’s actually making progressive rock music in Iran? And it’s RIO?”
-Iconophobic Review, GEPR, Fred Trafton, Jun 2011 (Read more)

“Saeedi again proves himself to be a very capable composer in Rock in Opposition vein.”
-Human Encounter Review, Vital Weekly #821, Dolf Mulder, Feb 2012 (Read more)

“Rock in Opposition version of The Enid?”
-Iconophobic Review, Progressive Area, CHFAB, Apr 2012 (Read more)

Of course we know that Rock in Opposition is more a historical title than stylistic. But as a musician who has approached this genre involuntarily I guess I could represent an exemplary case to point out some RIO qualities by enumerating my own compositional habits (Critics have discerned RIO in all 5 albums I have composed so far):

  1. Music Composition
    1. Music composition as a painful process
      While composing I am very irritated and in pain. I have always found improvising on the instrument ecstatic and pleasing but music composing has been painful to me. Maybe because I have to honestly confess to everything.
    2. Music as a byproduct of creative intent
      An artist tries to express himself. The medium is an excuse. So for myself I call music composition an involuntarily byproduct of creativity. Despite composing almost one album for every year in past 6 years I have never had an urge to do so. Maybe because music composition is not my ultimate goal in life.
    3. Wildly diverse musical influences
      As I have said in my biography page, I guess the formation of progressive rock genre could be a consequent of my diversified music listening habit. “Let your mind free, and it becomes progressive!”
    4. Minimalism: Miniatures of exaggerated feelings
      Quoting from myself from a 2012 interview with Arlequins webzine: “I like exaggerated details and very subtle techniques of the instrument” and “I always spend a lot of time making melodies vertically rich”.
      And maybe as an eastern habit, I always have also welcomed issuing short statement about my thoughts. Aphorism, as a literal minimalist approach.
    5. Innovation as a rule
      For every musical motive, I choose variations very delicately based on various parameters: It should be innovative, no unnecessary repetition accepted, deeply colorful and emotional.
      I may compare this excessive lust for innovation to Outsider Art movement that I have always found fascinating. Of course in order to receive Prog rock lable, a work should not necessarily be that much avant-garde. But sure “knowing no boundaries” is its essential characteristic.
  2. Composer’s Environment
    1. Large scale social contradictions: Lawful anarchy or anarchic law?
      Regarding law and lawfulness, to my experience Iran has a very paradoxical situation. In a nutshell, a religious country with millions of anarchists. Does Hassan-i Sabbah ring any bell?
    2. War
      As a child of 1979 Iran-Iraq war, I greatly inspired from terror and pains of this human “classic”. I feel war is one reason I have been drawn into music composition.
    3. No support from music industry
      Who would write articles about RIO if a composer like me doesn’t? Every now and then we hear progressive rock festivals cancelling or being held limited around the world more than ever… Needless to say the music industry situation inside Iran with frictions even with simplest forms of rock…
  3. Composer’s perspective
    1. Boundary defying thought
      I guess information explosion age – by constantly confronting contradictory views and multicultural aspects of human belief – has greatly helped to develop this notion in human beings that everything is conceivable in limitless forms. In composing terms I can translate it into constant effort to bypass the structures and being creative in an unpredictable approach.
    2. Occult or Futurist views
      These views in a way relate to a greater form of “boundary defying thought” and are prevalent among RIO and other closely related genres literature.
    3. Maniac Feelings
      I categorize manic feelings as unconscious motivations behind composing music. For a lengthy discussion check out my blog post “Am I a Maniac?

From a listener perspective as I became aware of RIO genre and started listening to these bands, I felt an interesting affinity with some the works. As an example when I listened to Vivisection track by Israeli RIO band, Ahvak on Cuneiform’s website I wrote: “I can immediately sympathize with centuries of pain within sounds of these composers”. So let me call the universal affinity with RIO genre, RIO sympathy… Connecting restless souls of music lovers throughout time and place…

Iranian Progressive Rock in your language!

Exterminate all rational thought!

“Progressive rock knows no border! Salim Ghazi Saeedi, an Iranian progressive rock composer launched his multilingual website!”

My music has always been instrumental, knowing no language barrier in nature. But still my mind does not stop from producing words… To transcend my own word, I decided to speak your language! “Exterminate all rational thought. That is the conclusion I have come to.” (Naked Lunch, David Cronenberg)

http://www.salimworld.com/inter/

Multicultural Sonic Unconsciousness

After releasing Iconophobic album, something extraordinary happened. Critics started comparing my sound to composers and bands I have never listened to. Here are four examples:

  • “In many ways it would be more natural to hear this kind of music coming from a French performer than an Iranian one.” – Gary Hill, Music Street Journal
  • “I say … the entire Belgian chamber rock scene as an influence on making Iconophobic” -Peter van Haerenborgh, Progwereld
  • “Salim was born in Iran in 1981 and at age 29, he sounds much more adapt to the French/Belgium electronic progressive rock school of the 70′s that stand up so well to this day.” – Lee Henderson, ProgNaut
  • “If I had listened without knowing the author, I probably would have said: Cute the new album by Clint Mansell!” – Emanuele Brizzante, Good Times Bad Times Blog

The interesting point here is I have no way to prove – however unnecessary – that I had never listened to Belgian prog rock of the 70s or been a follower of Clint Mansell’s works! For me, this is only a testimony of the multicultural nature of human collective unconsciousness from which I have hunted the sounds for Iconophobic album.

Listen to Iconophobic album in full-length at: http://www.salimworld.com/album%20-%20iconophobic.htm

Music is Bloody! A True Story

Salim Ghazi SaeediA “progressive” musician knows no border; but it seems that Salim Ghazi Saeedi’s ancestors enjoy hunting him down in his veins!

Iran, Tehran – Salim grew up in Iran; a country too proud of its ancient art. Nevertheless Salim from his early childhood, barely followed Iranian traditional music. But interestingly enough, now after 5 years of music composing and releasing 4 albums mostly in progressive rock, Salim is constantly receiving notions about his Middle Eastern themes and using Persian influences.

The oriental mystery within eastern musical themes along with their dance elements versus raw energy restrained in western rock could result in a thrilling experience. Meanwhile to Salim’s own surprise: “My music listening habit has mostly been focused around jazz, blues and modern rock. I’ve never studied eastern music or dedicatedly listened to such records! Actually if there is any eastern influence discernible in my works, it has happened involuntarily.”

In this regard, one may conclude that as a musician, no matter which genre you prefer or what listening habit you adopt, sometimes you cannot elude your ancestors, who may have hunted you in your veins for centuries! The following speculations on Salim’s latest release, Iconophobic, may testify the eastern lore within Salim’s veins while his ears dignify western tradition:

- “It mixes classical, rock, jazz and Persian music to create a mish mash of pain, longing and anger.” -Stave Magazine, Christy Claxton, Aug 2010 [more]
- “Equal parts fusion, classical, heavy rock, and Persian” -Spiritual Prog, Oct 2010 [more]
- “You do hear the definite eastern sound mixed in with most of his songs.” -ProgNaut webzine, Lee Henderson, Oct 2010 [more]
- “We can appreciate the writing skills of Salim and his great imagination to create images and sounds to merge styles that are located in the middle of far apart East and West” [In Italian] -Arlequins webzine, Jessica Attene, Oct 2010 [more]
- “There are definitely some Middle-Eastern sounds…” -Music Street Journal, Issue 85, Gary Hill, Dec 2010 [more]
- “With his one-man band, the artist also detour into areas such as fusion / jazz-rock and oriental music.” [In German] -Babyblaue Prog, Siggy Zielinskim, Oct 2010 [more]
- “Asian-Iranian folklore patterns combined with Western rock music.” [In German] -Progressive Newsletter #70, Volkmar Mantei, Nov 2010 [more]

Oud and Electric Guitar: Ancient Lore vs. Modern Technology

When There is More Beauty in the Contrary“an instrumental jewel that would have corpses dancing in the graveyard.” – Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck, MuzikReviews.com, Jan 2011 [more]

Iran, Tehran, 1/1/11 – Unusual as it may sound, a musician of classical Persian background working in collaboration with a rock musician. “When There is More Beauty in the Contrary” is a single release by Negar Bouban and Salim Ghazi Saeedi featuring oud and electric guitar.

As the name suggests, in this song the aesthetic features are to be found in contradictory elements. “Combining traditionally dissimilar forces into one cohesive composition.” (Matthew Forss, ReviewYou.com, Jan 2011); even the composers themselves have different music backgrounds: Negar Bouban, a university lecturer in Musical Acoustics and an expert in Mesopotamia rooted musical systems versus Salim Ghazi Saeedi, a progressive rock and jazz fusion musician.

In a sense, this song is a portrayal of ancient lore versus modern technology. Negar says: “If you follow the story of oud and electric guitar through time, along with their historical common backgrounds, you’ll come to a view with beautiful contradiction in their respective time and cultures, yet binding past and present, tradition and modernity.”

In “When There is More Beauty in the Contrary” there are screaming guitars balanced with eastern enchantment of oud’s sound. Rock instrumentation and classical Persian ensemble find themselves in harmony, trying to recite the beauties that could be hidden behind self-constructed barriers of mind… Salim says: “In this song we both took an approach with no presumed framework. In terms of musical integrity among genres I think it is the only way to produce a creative yet genuine work”.

For watching this single’s video and more information please visit When There is More Beauty in the Contrary. You may also see Negar Bouban’s website at www.negarbouban.com

I make music, do you know the words?

SalimWorld's Babel Project

SalimWorld's Babel Project

Progressive rock is about innovation and transcending borders… As a musician, I naturally take the burden of the music part; but when it comes to communicating about the music there comes language barriers.

In a non-organic solution, I could hire a multi-lingual localization company to translate all of my website contents to different languages. But boy! I noticed that ideally it is impractical, since for “progressive rock” subject there exist at least 20 rather active languages on the web.

I made “progressive rock” Wikipedia article my reference for finding those 20 languages. Since Wikipedia is itself based on voluntarily collaboration, I think it is a good measure for determining in which languages people speak about a subject on the web.

With this perspective in mind, I decided to start to expand my website’s contents to non-English languages on a collaborative basis. I started a localization wiki project on my website named “SalimWorld’s Babel” at cost of rewarding collaborators with a free CD of Iconophobic album (including free shipping) and a free copy of my upcoming album in 2011!

Yea! I’m trying to climb up the Tower of Babel! Do you know the story of ancient Tower of Babel?

I say a “progressive” musician knows no border… Nor geographically, nor earth-wise… Since the rapture within music cannot be confined by anything concerning “reality”.