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A mellow take on the music of the Mideast

By Farhad Besharati

Planet Beat International: 1997

Buy it now

This review first appeared in the August 22, 1998 edition of the American Reporter.

Farhad Besharati plays a kind of light Middle Eastern music. It's Mideastern the way the band Hiroshima's pop jazz sounds are Japanese.

There is, quite frankly, no other way to explain the presence of songs like "The Theme from the Godfather" or "The Theme from Zorba the Greek" on an album claiming to be Mideastern.

Besharati plays a harplike Arab instrument, the 78-stringed kanun, which he learned growing up in Tehran.

Music being the opiate of the masses, according to Iran's leadership in the late '70s, Besharati left for greener pastures, eventually ending up in Los Angeles where, according to publicity materials supplied by his label, he decided to merge his Persian roots with American influences.

Those influences are definitely of a very mellow pop variety. This is easy listening music with an exotic edge to it – anyone remember Martin Denny?

The kanun has a sweet, slightly nasal tone. Besharati also employs three percussionists and a guitarist to fill out the sound. And while not credited on the album, it sure sounds like there are strings in the background.

The overall effect isn't terribly different from what other ambient groups are doing; fans of Strunz & Farrah or Willie & Lobo will find much to like here as well.