House of Strength (label)
06 April 2020 (released)
06 April 2020
Iranian reared, French steered and now German engineered Sufi-sophist Mentrix (a.k.a Samar Rad) super-collides the eternal East>West divide on debut album ‘My enemy, my love’. The end product is a retracing and replacing of her displaced footsteps, diasporic steps taken out of necessity either due to civil war or the manifest callings of destiny. It is through looking backwards that she presents/presence her essence and bridges her future(s). The hinterlands of the self are traversed.
Combining traditional Iranian instruments such as the tombak, kamancheh, ney and daf (“In Sufism the daf is a calling for the soul to awaken”) with European pop structures it creates a transglobal gathering, a spiritual redress to the media-manipulated and outdated perceptions of Iran and an audio-acknowledgement to the technotronic tableaus of the ‘supposed’ progressive Western world.
Tapping into a well of rich inspiration that takes in such luminaries as punk-colossus Siouxsie Sioux and the enigmatic Karin ‘The Knife/Fever Ray’ Dreyer it’s a literate clash of cultures and heard-world echoes.
Thematically Rad picks up the baton for resilient womanhood before schematically striking the patriarchy with it. Small blows ripple into great waves.
Rad’s ‘existential wanderings’ have helped nurture her philosophical belief that a nomad is an island, a place where the road less travelled is a neglected path, an unwritten story in need of a scribe. Movement is a key aspect of the album, from rhythmic, hypnotic dance moves to the restless up-routing that wanderlust initiates.
‘Nature’. Or is it nurture? On the opening track, the acts, actions and reactions that make up everyday existence and resistance, what the persistence of distance actually covers is asked by ‘how far we travel is the shadow of our progress’ as Rad’s promissory trance-chant goes ‘nature harms us AND arms us’.
Like a voice from the astral plane ‘Dreams’ filters down from the netherworlds of the sub-unconscious state of being. The woozy lyrics declare ‘In my company, you feel happy’. A deep sleep offers its hand of friendship.
‘My enemy, my love’ is a slow-grower, a block-building call of the wilderness. This is the sound of the desert as an existential terrain to be explored and ignored. To free your mind, first you must allow space.
A John Carpenteresque mood of latent malevolence lurks beneath closer ‘If’. The quirks of fate and paths of possibility have never sounded so full of ominous promise.
So Farsi, so good. There’s no inertia in is this version of Persian.