Hi Lachlan! Tell us a little about the project.
I am currently working on the launch of my new record label, Worlds Within Worlds, which will be focusing on classical, traditional and fusion world music. Our first release centres on the Tehran-born tar player, Hamed Sadeghi and his group, the Eishan Ensemble. The group creates music which fuses Persian contemporary classical and Western jazz, featuring the tar, guitar, clarinet and double bass.
How did you get involved in non-Western art music?
I play in a band which creates music that is an embodiment of my belief that there are common aspects across all different styles of music. We work with motifs, structures and different instruments – all elements common to a myriad of genres – but my particular sound operates within a psychedelic, progressive framework.
Where did you find Eishan?
My band members and I are constantly trying to find new and exciting acts, particularly from musicians who sit outside the “usual” sounds of rock, pop, jazz, etc. Because of my personal interests in non-Western classical music, I keep a particular eye out for unusual instrumentation or sounds that operate in a cross-genre or post-genre space.
Evan, the drummer in my band Hashshashin, went to see Hamed Sadeghi perform at a local jazz bar one Tuesday night. Hamed plays the Tar, a long-necked, microtonal, lute with a skin on the front that often features in Persian classical music. After an excited review from Evan, I went out to Paramatta to hear Hamed play.
Hamed went on to play a number of shows for my other record label, Art As Catharsis. As we continued to chat, the prospect of releasing his debut album from Eishan Ensemble popped up.
A lot of the music that you release fuses elements of seemingly unrelated styles. How do you find a way to describe it?
Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out the language here – the “world music” arena is new to me and really I find that term itself much too broad. World music as a way to encompass everything that sits outside of the Western canon feels like a great simplification of a complex and extensive beast.
Finding a middle ground between contemporary music and classical, and incorporating sounds of multiple cultures is the work that interests me the most. I grew up listening to a lot of progressive metal and rock, and honestly, Persian classical music feels like an extension of that, rather than an enormous jump.
But you’re right: finding the way to communicate that thread that runs between these diverse styles is always a challenge.
Does giving music a genre label help or hinder the listener?
I have come across plenty of people who dislike genre labels, but I have found that when they’re used with some leniency, they can offer helpful language when talking about new music. Realistically, when you’re selling an album, people will only give you a moment of their time to consider whether or not to listen, then make a split second decision based on the way you’ve written or spoken about it. Genre labels are helpful in this forum because they allow your audience to anchor their expectations and make informed decisions about their listening habits. Once you’ve built up a community, you can begin to start pushing the language you use. I do think you need to throw your audience a lifeline in the form of words – something that they can take hold of – which allows them to grow and explore as listeners.