Laudanum by Amir Baghiri and Rudiger Gleisberg ArcHana Records, 2001 No contact information Amir Baghiri, teams up with a German collaborator, Rudiger Gleisberg, for this predictable short set of “Gothick” dark ambient pieces. Baghiri is a perennial imitator of Steve Roach, and here on Laudanum he pulls out a long list of dark ambient cliché’s, some of which come from Roach and others from the standard list which you can now hear with any horror movie or TV show. There’s the pseudo-Gregorian chant, the mournful harmonies on echoing piano, the whooshing wind and tinkling bells, the loops of over-reverbed synthesizer layers, the spooky percussion, and let’s not forget this, the ever-popular (and by far, my least favorite ambient cliché) “subliminal” spoken word whisper track (here, in track 3, exploiting Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night.”). Is it possible to request a moratorium on subliminal spoken word whispers in ambient pieces? I guess not. Granted, this album is full of stuff you have heard before a hundred times, but even so, this duo manage to pull off some listenable material, especially track 2, which plays with big-chord harmonies and a “sunken cathedral” sound. In fact, if you had never heard all the original “dark ambient” of the last 20 years which this imitates, you’d think Laudanum was pretty good. Unfortunately, I have heard 20 years’ worth, so for me it’s pretty dreary. Hannah M.G. Shapero, EER-MUSIC.com 2/16/03 Winterscape by Amir Baghiri NO-CD Rekords Syntorama (Spain), 1999 Contact: email@example.com Amir Baghiri has taken up the repertoire of Euro-American electronic music. More specifically, he has closely adapted the style of Steve Roach, and throughout the '90s he produced albums which were almost indistinguishable from Roach's mid-'90s style as heard on Origins (1993) and Artifacts (1994). But Baghiri's work lacked the originality, creativity, and just plain inspiration of the "real Roach." As the decade ends, Baghiri continues to use the basic musical/ambient elements pioneered by Roach: clinking percussion, rattles, didgeridoo, environmental sounds of birds and thunder, and floating synthesizer chords, all wrapped in that vast spacey digital reverb. Baghiri also borrows heavily from Michael Stearns in his spacier tracks. He has made some attempt to move in his own direction; for instance, he adds in some sounds which might be more "European," like an acoustic piano in one of the later tracks, or some electronic sequencer passages reminiscent of the old "Berlin School." He also uses those trendy sub-tracks of modified shortwave radio voices which seem to mumble and mutter through just about everyone's "dark ambient" in the last few years. This assemblage leads to a fairly listenable set of "dark ambient" pieces, which despite the title doesn't sound very "wintery" (how much thunder do you hear in wintertime?). There are a few moments when Baghiri doesn't sound like Roach, but not too many; most of the time what you will hear on Winterscape is still very indebted to the Arizona master. So if you like Roach so much that his own extensive output is not enough for you, there is always Baghiri to give you a reasonable facsimile. Hannah M.G. Shapero, EER-MUSIC.com 1/25/03
Amir Baghiri: Colours of the Caspian Sea Bluebox, CDR, 2002 www.amirbaghiri.com firstname.lastname@example.org Until very recently, it has been impossible to get Amir Baghiri's early albums on CD. Indeed, it has been difficult to get them on cassette or vinyl LP. Amir recorded and released them in his native land. And he did not own the rights to the music. The company that owned the rights to the music has gone out of business and the rights now belong to Air. He is re-issuing all of his early releases in a five CDR set, due in April, 2002. His first album, Colours of the Caspian Sea, is a surprise and a gem! It is lush and full of experimental overtones. Deep listeners will enjoy a tour of the Caspian Sea and its surrounding topography. Much of his early musical influences come from his older brothers, one of whom "tried (in vain) to follow in the footsteps of Jimi Hendrix." Amir's father was also an accomplished musician, but Amir's primary influence was from Western cultures. His early releases were very similar to Steve Roach's desert ambience. Amir has admitted freely that he was deeply touched by Steve's music. Of late, Amir has been stretching his limits and coming into his own, musically. Deep listeners will hear the development of a new hybrid. It is a hybrid of his older music (as heard here) and his early German releases. - Jim Brenholts Amir Baghiri: Silent Red Planet Bluebox, CDR, 2002 www.amirbaghiri.com email@example.com Silent Red Planet is a set of cosmic space music from Amir Baghiri's early catalog. There is no mistake about it either. This is pure space music! There are no hidden meanings, just catchy hooks, deep sequences and expansive atmospheres. Amir augments his electronics with some hot rock and roll guitars and avant-garde riffs. This is a very cool set and only whets listeners appetites for the entire box. Amir is to be congratulated and thanked for this effort! - Jim Brenholts
Amir Baghiri: Rooms Arya, Y13 www.amirbaghiri.com firstname.lastname@example.org Many fans, reviewers and critics have accused Amir Baghiri of being a "Steve Roach clone." Indeed, some of Amir's recordings bear remarkable similarities to Steve's desert soundscapes. And Amir's studio is equipped exactly the same as Steve's Timeroom. There are excellent reasons for the similarities but they deal with Amir's personal life and that is his and his alone. Suffice it to say that he is an extremely heroic individual deserving of much respect. Rooms, a three CD set, will get plenty of musical respect for Amir. This set shows him in his best light and it is totally unique. The set is divided into three distinct themes, each relating to a metaphor of what rooms represent emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. Easy enough four walls and a ceiling. But what about inner rooms? Rooms can give comfort and safety, but also they can be a prison and a hurdle to new experiences. You can always travel back to rooms of childhood - rooms full of memories. Sometimes the doors are locked, sometimes thrown wide open. Rooms can make you feel small or grand, can inspire you with awe and religious feelings. Some will give you peace and rest, others will make you want to flee. Travel through our rooms and see where you want to linger for a while. In some of them you will find yourself behind a mirror. We know rooms have 3 dimensions - do we really know that? Einstein spoke of four - and more dimensional rooms. But who can imagine those rooms? Already the three dimensions in macro - or microcosms are beyond our imagination too large or too small. Whether three - or more dimensional rooms - all rooms are limited by the power of our imaginations. The universe is a space with 1 and eight 0 - the microcosms have the same sizes only the other way around. How can we give testimony about our world and reality without going back on our experiences? Gabriele von Hardenberg . . . Gabriele is a colleague of Amir's. With that somewhat confusing verse, she introduces "Rooms." Disc one, "Inner Rooms," relates to the rooms that hold memories. Listeners will go to the rooms within the self, the fourth dimension, so to speak. Some listeners will want to stay there and bask in the glow of warm remembrances. Others will recoil and try to flee from painful recollections of the inner child. Either experience is valuable. An ambiguous soundscape allows for either experience. After such an emotional and, perhaps, gut wrenching experience, focused listeners need and deserve a break. Disc two, "Real Rooms," provides that respite. This expansive minimalism allows listeners to see those rooms for what they are - in reality and in metaphorical terms. Such holistic integration is necessary for healing to begin. Disc three is "Spaces in between." It is the music that allows travelers to transition between the rooms and to experience all the benefits and emotions of the journey. Deep listeners will want to experience the entire set and the gamut of the emotions. There are two suggested playback modes. Play the set on a three-disc changer set at either continuous or random continuous play. Put the headphones on, sit back and go! Reviewed by Jim Brenholts
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