01 December 2015 (released)
15 July 2017
There's a funny thing that happens when you're able to see your circumstance from a larger perspective. Those lucky enough to have left our atmosphere to view the earth as a whole, free of its artificial borders, come back with an impassioned sense of unity for mankind. It's even been said that those villagers at the beginning of the last century who first flew 100 feet over their crops were heard remarking that after seeing their connected properties from above that they came back with a renewed determination to work together as they realized that they were all in this together.
Music has always thrived and advanced by appreciating styles from far off lands and fusing them into the local songs. This is perhaps why it is so often cited as the great unifier. It takes the unknown and the misunderstood and makes them relatable. This could be why so-called 'world music' seems to have such a predominately inclusive, loving vibe.
The term world music is often used in western culture to simply denote music that is not western European or North American in nature. Shahed Mohseni Zonoozi's project Inter-Continental Concerts truly encapsulates what it means to make world music. The Iranian-born musical director has courted talent from around the globe to make The Journey, a fiercely eclectic collection of fusion tunes.
The opener 'Cyprus Station' dances with joyful hand drums and flamenco guitar. A gorgeous feminine voice lilts above it all while a playful accordion plays the song out. The second track, 'Eternal Love' takes a sharp turn moving into ethereal EDM territory with full on euphoric synths and trance drum crescendos. An ecstatic flute chirps out like a happy bird as the lyrics talk of cosmic coincidences and immortal connections. Song #3, 'Life' returns to the flamenco guitar underpinning, however this time it's joined by Maria Musaeva slyly rapping in Russian and an almost operatic chorus hook. Total fusion here. Mid album cuts 'Persian Nowruz' and 'Gole Eshgham' bring in more of his Middle Eastern influence with the latter sung in Farsi. The last third of the album goes fully inspirational with songs like 'The Power of Love' and 'The Fellowship' pouring on thick layers of cliched inspirational quotes. Perhaps this is just the pessimistic nature of this sarcastic Western reviewer but by the end, the messages get a little too heavy handed. These songs are also the most classic definition of world music with much less adventurous fusions.
The Journey is a fascinating blend of styles from around the globe and Shahed Mohseni Zonoozi manages to tie them all together under one common banner. The common theme throughout is peace, love, understanding, and unity. Things that you can see clearly when you are able to embrace a larger view of the world.