The newly formed quartet of German-Afghani vocalist Simin Tander with Swiss-Swedish electric bass guitarist Björn Meyer, Tunisian violinist Jasser Haj Youssef and Swiss drummer Samuel Rohrer from Berlin is a remarkable force field of igniting, merging and amplifying energies, temperaments and temperatures. Tander herself has provided 12 compositions here and three times her own lyrics as a mature mark of class.
Tander's voice fluctuates between confidence and yearning, joy and grief, and oriental and occidental spheres. Her singing displays the blend of low and high, and dark and light side of the voice, which is characteristic of great mediterranean and eastern singers. She deploys this voice calm and intense in long curving lines and widely falling shadows. It is accentuated by the piano-less context and prospers through Tander's extraordinary fellow musicians.
Meyer masterfully supplies suggestive melodies and echoes (see here). Youssef playing the magical baroque instrument viola d'amore here, evokes delicate airy intermediate tones and resonating frequencies thereby also emulating the colors of the bowed Afghan rabab lute. Samuel Rohrer, the trans-rhythmical drummer (see here), creates a strongly pulsating, self- reinforcing and irregularly iterating and shifting network underlying and permeating the shimmering melodic flow. Its organic nature is aptly augmented by traditional hand drumming and shakers.
All the poems (except one traditional lullaby) appearing in Tander's songs were written by female poets, including Nazo Tokhin (1670), Sohayla Hazrat-Nazimi (2020), Sylvia Plath (1961) and Gabriela Mistral (1922). There are also the lyrics of a song by female Afghan singer Gulnar Begum from the 1960s and the lyrics of a folk lullaby reworked by Manuel de Falla (1914). It is quite a range in chronological and geographical terms rendered with illuminative cohesion. To finish the album with Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changing" (1964) is a speaking, as well as surprising unifying choice. To present Afghani lyrics and music in such a rich context is of great significance nowadays when Western perception of the country and its culture is obscured by decades of terrible destruction. The song cycle here feels remote and close by, old and present day. Simin Tander can be praised for her independent spirit which produced this felicitous, daring music.
Hovering Winds; Nargees; Walk Each other Home; Feather/I Am Vertical; Sta Lorey; Walli De Haal Ne
Wayee; Unfading; Yar Koh Laro; Deserted; Nana; The Sea Is Near; Breath; Nargees Afterglow; And the
Water Stretches Far Away; The Times They Are A Changing.