Australian label Art As Catharsis has been selected to show up first on my Facebook for a reason. A few months back, whilst reviewing a world music album, I clocked a post about Iranian jazz fusion act Eishan Ensemble and their upcoming record Nim Dong. Having listened to the first track released, I made it a mission to get round to reviewing this album and was not disappointed. I’m certainly going to be spinning the record a lot this summer, using it as a springboard as the team here at It Djents and I forge ahead into musical genres unknown, populating our review list with gems from around the world.
Eishan Ensemble, the brainchild of Hamed Sadeghi, is a collective of musicians and, much like the record label they are signed to, they are Australian-based. Sadeghi is a composer and plays a variety of instruments, such as the Iranian tar, oud and setar. Also comprised of Michael Avgenicos on saxophone, Pedram Layegh on guitar, Elsen Price on double bass, and Adem Yilmaz on percussion, this is a band oozing sonic variety, and as you move through this exciting album, you marvel at the switches in style whilst the core instruments remain the same.
Nim Dong opens with its title track, a gorgeous entry to this magical world. It is very upbeat, with a classical Middle Eastern feel to it. The tar leads the beat, while the excellent percussion and bass hold it together in the background. It keeps the same bouncy vibe throughout, however when instruments drop out of the mix it does create a darker, more absorbing sound. I find this music very enveloping, and it was a surprisingly good choice for video games, offering a perfect soundtrack. The saxophone used in “Nim Dong” is also very satisfying, moving the soundscape to jazz, its appearance not too long but full of rich flavourful tones which fit in well with the eastern instruments.
Even more absorbing was track two, “Solo Tar and Double Bass”, a very minimalist track where Sadeghi shows off his prowess on the tar, rapid-fire strums bleeding out into a melancholic piece by Price. Yilmaz shines in the leviathan eight-minute track “Future”, where percussion takes centre stage; and the intense change of time signatures is beautiful to lock into. The band ties these incredibly complex motions together like it is child’s play, resulting in shifting soundscapes that warp from one idea to the next.
“Timelessness” again employs the sax well, whilst “Doubt” is an immersive piece that sucks the listener in, and a perfect fit for free roaming games! Rolling twangs fight against almost fuzzy strums on the guitar, before a clarinet wades in with a transcendental tone to take you away. These moments return throughout the song, constructing a temple of emotions for you to wander through.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this record, and as mentioned will be throwing this on throughout the summer months. Whilst the songs do sometimes strike a melancholic tone, there are plenty more upbeat emotions to go with the sad. As my colleague said at work when we were listening to this: these are beats you can dance to. Eishan Ensemble‘s Nim Dong is an album I feel could be picked up the world over and enjoyed, thanks to its clever composition, which plays on common themes then encapsulating it in a grand movie soundtrack.
Notable Tracks: “Nim Dong”; “Future”; “Solo Tar and Double Bass”
FFO: Le Trio Joubran, Anouar Brahem, Hossein Alizadeh