MEHRAN
Subterranea
(Mehran Publishing Company)

 

Back in 2010 Mehran burst on the progressive guitar scene with his New Age Flamenco meets World Beat meets prog-rock instrumental album entitled Angels Of Persepolis. In 2012 Mehran follows the critical acclaim of that sensational CD debut with an even stronger album called Subterranea. All instrumental, while covering a wealth of musical genres, the nine track Subterranea CD has a definite Pink Floyd type feel to it however, Mehran’s flamenco and electric guitar is still the center of the sonic storm here. On his latest CD masterpiece, Mehran's Pink Floyd meets Segovia in Chicago via Persia creates the perfect instrumental sound storm. On Subterranea, Mehran really fleshes out and develops his sound this time around with the help of a full band including Carl Kennedy (keyboards), Sam Werk (drums) and Krushanu Joseph (bass). Maybe it has something to do with Mehran’s exotic Iranian roots but his guitar-centric music is even more fascinating here and Subterranea makes for an indelible sonic experience. In addition to the music, the Subterranea CD graphics, perfectly evoking the progressive content of the music within, sets a new 21st century standard for album artwork. www.MehranGuitar.com

mwe3.com presents an interview with
MEHRAN


mwe3: Your new Subterranea CD is a fantastic follow up to your 2010 album Angels Of Persepolis. Why do you call your new album Subterranea and how do you feel it’s different from the Persepolis album? It certainly sounds a lot heavier in a rock kind of way, in places. What did you set out to achieve musically, sonically and otherwise on the Subterranea album?

Mehran: Subterranea is a concept CD as was my previous work Angels Of Persepolis. Only this time I am not targeting the events in Iran. Here, my focus is on humanity in general. Subterranea is the perfect civilization that exists beneath the earth. They live life through transcendence and love yet in tune with nature. They lack all the bad human attributes such as hate, greed, crime, war, and consumerism, did I say war? Basically the idea is a sarcastic reminder of an alternative path for humans.

Musically, it is very different from my first album, Angels Of Persepolis. It is a lot more focused because I formed a band to record and perform with. All four musicians in the band are the ones on the recording. No studio or session players were used. I wanted to create a certain continuity throughout that required this. I also wanted to draw from my past influences in psychedelic and progressive rock such as Pink Floyd. I grew up in the 1970’s focusing on the contemporary music of the time. What I had in mind this time to have a rock band as the backbone and play with Flamenco guitar.

mwe3: Who plays with you on the Subterranea album, how did you choose the players and how would you describe the chemistry between you and the other musicians on the Subterranea CD?

Mehran: On drums we have Sam Werk who is heavily influenced by John Bonham. Sam also performs regularly with Afro Cuban and Puerto Rican ensembles around town. On keys we have Carl Kennedy who is a jazz keyboardist/pianist and currently finishing up his masters degree in jazz performance. He is well versed in blues, rock and world music. On bass we have Krushanu Joseph who was my Flamenco guitar student for a couple of years. The fact that he was familiar with Flamenco was very important to me.

I have had many different musicians in and out of my group since its inception a couple of years ago but current lineup seems to be working very well so there is no need to change it. We have been together for about a year now in this form and it is getting to the stage where we work very naturally together. In general I bring a new song in and the guys put in their touch in there and together we orchestrate the music.

mwe3: On Angels Of Persepolis you were impacted by the current events in Iran. Even though your music is instrumental in nature, how has the latest news from Iran in 2012 (and future events) influenced your writing and recording on the Subterranea CD? Has your music been heard in Iran and what has been some of the other reactions to your music in other places from around the planet?

Mehran: The new CD has nothing to do with Iran. Previously I created Angels Of Persepolis as my personal reflex and reaction to what was going on there. What we were seeing from outside of Iran was very strong and emotional. It impacted all Iranians abroad. Most artists, musicians, writers one way or another responded the way they could. My music is being heard in Iran and I know that from the amount of response I get from there. Being it other musicians wanting some guidance in Flamenco guitar or just people who like my music. This time around my target is our current society and all humanity. It seems like something has gone wrong and we have reached this current state where so many people die in wars and crimes and still we are so numbed to it. Tomorrow the sun comes out and we forget about it. Why? Because our current state has made us so consumed by the day to day matters of our fast moving society. I feel like humans have become so stressed that the mindset has become, as long we are okay here who cares about disease and famine in Africa and who cares about 60,000 killed in Syrian civil war? Our world is being run by corporations who only care about profit and greed. Our governments have become tools to manipulate humans to an eternal submission. So this is what inspired me to create Subterranea.

So far the CD is getting very good reviews globally specially in Europe. Many music magazines, websites and blogs are writing about it and giving it high praise. We are hoping to be able to finance a tour there this year.

mwe3: There are nine tracks on Subterranea. Which tracks stand out in your mind and why and can you say something about your favorite Subterranea tracks? Even though you love both art forms, was it challenging to combine your Flamenco / classical expertise with the rock edge in play on the Subterranea CD?

Mehran: It wasn’t hard at all, it was very natural. I am surrounded with good musicians who understand fully what I am trying to accomplish. That specially makes it easy.

Every piece on this album is special and very personal for me. For example on the title track we are trying to introduce Subterranea, a majestic and mysterious place. The music starts very cinematic and full of depth. The way it starts and the way I express the first few lines is full of air with room to breathe. It almost reminds me of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd. Very dramatic!

The next song “Into the Abyss” caries the rock influence to its fullest with all the tension and release it would make a good action movie sound track.

Both songs “Sunshower” and “Breathe”, back to back are very special to me. “Sunshower” is a bluesy ballad, although a French review out today called it a jazz ballad. “Breathe” is definitely an airy Pink Floyd influence, a modern version of something you would hear on the Meddle album.

“Natalia” is another favorite. It is almost a gospel instrumental with all the Hammond sounding keyboard accompaniment.

I can say “Desert Moon” is perhaps my favorite if I were to rank the songs. It carries the concept well. It has mysticism and drama. It has all the spoken words and hints to what the CD is all about. Musically it has a lot of Persian and Kurdish influences mixed with western scales and a pretty jazzy guitar solo.

mwe3: What guitars are you featuring on the Subterranea album and are you still playing the Jose Romero classical and the Flamenco guitar you spoke of during our last interview? Are there other guitars featured on the Subterranea album and were electric guitars featured as well on the Subterranea CD?

Mehran: Two guitars were used on this recording. All the clean sounding guitars were done with my Romero and all the distorted electric sections were done by a Strat body Jackson that I have had since I was involved with rock years ago. The Romero was recorded with a high grade audio Technica and a Neumann mic. The Jackson was sent into an Alexis effect processor and then into a Trace acoustic amp.

mwe3: What currently interests you in the current guitar world and who are the guitarists and recordings you currently listen to and that you admire?

Mehran: Vicente has always been the guitarist that inspires me the most but so have David Gilmour and Jimmy Page. Although we are talking about two very different genres of music but the special thing about each one of them is the command they have on the instrument when they want to be purely technical versus when they want to show feel and energy.

mwe3: Can you say something about the fantastic artwork on the Subterranea album? It’s quite amazing and even harrowing in places and what do you think it says about the music on the CD?

Mehran: The creator of the artwork is a friend, Siamak Zarrin Ghalami. He and I discussed the content and idea. A few weeks later he presented to me his work. There were a few green islands on water and their reflection were modern buildings that were downward, pointing to their being inferior and less desirable. This is the way he interpreted the concept and I really liked it, so we chose to use it. As you move to the right the structure and designs of the buildings in the shadows become more ancient, representing the passage of time.

mwe3: It seems like you have achieved a true guitar masterpiece on Subterranea. What are your plans to further expose the new CD and what are your plans, musically and otherwise moving forward into 2013, which I hope will turn out better than people are expecting! Is there a way to address the pessimism of the world as it is today through the power of music and in your estimation, how can music make our planet a better place?

Mehran: Well, thank you. We are exposing the CD by doing performances and hopefully if we can finance a European tour it will further popularizes it.

We all know the power of music is immense because of its interaction with our emotion. For example, in certain moods we want to hear certain type of music and not something totally opposite. Music can evoke emotions in us and in a way pull aside a curtain in our mind and expose a subconscious existence, experience, feeling... It penetrates deeply and that is why when a tune is stuck in one’s head, it is difficult to get it out.

I tried to do this on Subterranea. I tried to create music that matches the mood I was trying to express. Whether I succeeded or not, I am not a hundred percent sure but I know that was the intention, to get the listener to think a little deeper and use their imagination to let the music interact with them.


Thanks to Mehran @ www.MehranGuitar.com











 

 
   
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