Young Iranian Female Voices: Songs in the Mist

Review by Tyran Grillo

Breaking the Silence

Listening Post 116. The world music movement is a bridge, allowing artists who once might have been heard only in their own land to reach across borders and oceans. Sometimes distant ears also represent a lifeline for performers who can’t be heard in their own country at all. In Iran, women are prohibited from singing solo to mixed-gender audiences or having their voices broadcast. Providing a stage for eight supremely talented Iranian women to sing of love, hope, longing and new beginnings, Songs in the Mist(produced and released in Norway) is surely one of the loveliest acts of defiance on record. The album’s 13 titles—from classic and contemporary Persian poetry and folk songs of Iran’s ethnic minorities—float through the haze as melancholy tones and sweet scents, aided by traditional instruments, also played by women. In Bahar e Delneshin (Gentle Spring in the Meadow), Yasaman’s dulcet and nuanced voice echoes solace: “Season of desire, cast your shadow on me,” she sings in Farsi, “
Break the silence of my solitude/See the burned longing on my face…
” (video 1). Ooldouz Pouri’s voice has a calm and beautiful power in Yaraliam (My Wounds): “Oh my beloved,” she chants in Azerbaijani, “
You are the crown for my heart/
The light of my eyes/
The cure for my injuries” (video 2). In Heyf (Alas!), Pouri bemoans a love already gone: “Those eyes which will gaze at someone else/Alas! Now grief is mine, bliss yours” (video 3). Women were prominent in Iranian music prior to the 1979 revolution, before there was a world music scene to carry their voices abroad. It’s inevitable—And may it soon come to pass—that the mist will clear and these voices will be heard and heralded at both ends of the bridge. (Kirkelig Kulturverksted)

Bahar e Delneshin/Gentle Spring in the Meadow
O the gentle spring came to the meadow/O you, season of desire, cast your shadow on me
Let the breeze of spring caress my home
 so my home will be filled with a rain of flowers
When the spring of life comes, it is you, comfort of my soul
When you, wind with a scent of flowers come, come to me with grace
Set me on fire like Sepand/
Come like tears and extinguish the glow of my heart

O you, season of desire, cast your shadow on me…
Come back and behold me, I am astonished/
Break the silence of my solitude
See the burned longing on my face, like a tulip/
O you, whose face is my mirror

Yaraliam/My Wounds
Oh my beloved/
You are the crown of my heart
The light of my eyes/
The cure for my wounds
Mountain peaks are a home for deers/My heart a nest for spears
Do not touch me, I am wounded/
Do not bend the bough of my heart
You are the light of my eyes/
The crown of my heart
The cure for all my wounds

Alas! Those eyes which will gaze at some other one
Alas! Those eyebrows which frounce immersing into sorrow
Alas! Now grief is mine, bliss yours
Now I am presenting my bliss to some other one

Playing til your fingers hurt

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