Thursday, January 23, 2014

Naghmeh Farahmand - Unbound

Naghmeh Farahmand

Being a great tombak player is comparable to being a great violinist, in that it requires the same level of conditioning, nuanced placement, and application of the fingers.  Many Eastern traditional percussion instruments have, by their very design, the potential for a great range of sounds.  The rich historical guru branches and diverse techniques built from that have resulted in giving the tombak player a vast lexicon to work with – one that is expanding and being polished by every generation.  This could be why, like the Indian tabla, the tombak is showing resurgence and integration with other folk ensembles outside of the Persian or Kurdish traditions.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the tombak to take a back seat in music for Persian classical ensemble: either playing long phrases that revolve around melody instrumentation and the poetry sung, or in playing repetitive trance-like phrases.  Thus, Unbound is a great title for performance of this context, as most tracks run through phases of rhythms and instrumentation and can change spontaneously.  These changes sometimes add to what’s already there, and other times totally redirect tension to forge a parallel rhythmic sensibility – ultimately combining and culminating what has been built.  The result in being unbound is intimate illumination of the dense, variegated nature of both the player and the instruments.

As a player, Naghmeh has great and consistent technique; as an artist, her playing is marked with clever hooks and phrasings.  Despite being of small origins, the production quality is top-notch, and although Unbound runs shorter than an average full-length album, it is very diverse and does not suffer from “overdub in excess.”  Its nature makes it a great introduction to exotic percussion instruments of the area (for the audiophile), or a great source of inspiration for modern or tribal dance (for dance addict).  Best yet, in making a solo album, Naghmeh is utilizing her artistic license – a passport that could bring her and her playing to a great many new and outside-the-box contexts that both develop her as a musician, and bring forth wonderful fruit to the expectant listener.
-Seth Premo