Mamak Khadem: The Road

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Follow This Nomad

Listening Post 41. Mamak Khadem defies categorization. Born in Iran and rooted in Persian classical styles, she has also studied North Indian and Balkan traditions. Resettled in Los Angeles, she spent 10 years as lead singer for Axiom of Choice, a Persian-western fusion group. The Road, her second solo album, is less a blending than a radiant mosaic, exploring Iranian majority and minority cultures, Balkan folk and Andalusian classical music. Amid a diverse collection of artists who are literally world class is Khadem’s soulful and supple voice. A Thousand Strings, which she performs in Farsi and Serbian, pairs a Serbian melody with lyrics by a 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic: “Your love awakened the music in me/At times I am the harp, at times the lute/You are the heart of my night and my day (video 1). One album co-star is the Džambo Agušev Orchestra, a Macedonian brass ensemble, which provides sumptuous accompaniment for Those Eyes, which Khadem sings in Kurdish (video 2). They also back the equally festive Do, Don’t, sung in Farsi. Other outstanding tracks include High Sea, sung in Gilaki (spoken on Iran’s Caspian shore) about a lovelorn man caught in a storm; and Romance, featuring a Baluchi melody sung in Farsi and supported by a Bulgarian chorus (video 3). Though she has too many facets for the usual music categories, Khadem does fit a modest but tangible term she uses to describe herself—“nomad.” She’s definitely worth following. (Innova)

 

 


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