Some musicians make it easy on me to review an album, but sometimes I receive a record about which it's rather difficult to write a decent review. That's certainly the case with Human Encounter, an album by the Iranian (!) musician Salim Ghazi Saeedi. First of all I have to say that I respect the fact that he sticks to his own style of music by creating a complicated kind of progressive music not very common in that area. On his website his music is compared to King Crimson and even Frank Zappa. To me the only resemblance with these artists is the improvisation and the use of odd rhythms in the songs, but he never meets the same high standards.
Reading the inside of the CD-cover almost gives me the creeps; I can imagine life in Iran is tough, but this reads like he was writing a suicide note. So much negativity towards life itself makes me feel a bit sorry for him. On the other hand this could be a political statement to bring back the focus of life in Iran. I hope for the latter option.
Human Encounter is an instrumental album on which all instruments are played by Saeedi. The emphasis is on the keyboards - mainly piano- and guitar with some percussion and drums underneath. The album has been divided in two parts: a dark side and a bright side. This would mean that the compositions on the bright side must be predominantly cheerful, but no, all tracks are dark, moody and very complex. Sometimes it seems as if parts of a song don't fit together. But maybe that's the experimental element in the music. Personally I think the atmosphere is far too negative; he even dedicates the song Sadistic Teacher to his fourth grade teacher; that may say enough. Highlight on the album is For Eugene, Distilling The Delicacy where hints of Arabic music go together with instrumental experimental fusion.
Human Encounter is an album that has been composed by putting a lot of ideas and parts of music into each song that sometimes don't fit together. If the basic ideas would have had the time to grow, the album would have been much more coherent. I guess there was no more time to develop the songs, as Salim Ghazi Saeedi stated on the cover: 'now as I am departing this planet, I will only miss a few people like those I named in the 'bright side. Let the others putrefy in the abyss of time..'
**+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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