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Tehran, Iran, August 2012
This article is about Rastak, an Iranian group that re-interprets folkloric music in a contemporary sound.
Luck has been a constant companion for Annika and me along the way. But sometimes even we are surprised at the quality of the luck that follows us. Such was the case in Tehran. Without belonging to any of the hospitality sites like warmshowers.org or couchsurfing.org, Sepehr (or as we call him today Sep) hosted us in his apartment near the metro of this populated capital of the world. We ended up here because a good friend of a friend who knew us recommended we stay in his home and he accepted.
“Welcome to my home, you can make this space, your place” he said to us on our first day of arrival.
Little did we know about him, but since the first time I talked to him on the phone I knew we would get along fine. He was a very honest and sensitive person who enjoys the little joys in life.
At first glance his apartment looked clean and tidy. The atmosphere of his home was that of an intellectual. Independent films on the shelf, classical music CD’s lying on the floor and an old record player caught my eye upon entering his home. There was some selfmade art on the walls and some eggshells and tea rotted in the compost.
But what was most striking to me was his bass, this giant musical instrument that reigned in his living room. The instrument remained ensconced in his big black protective case, concealed yet alive.
“You are a musician then” I said to Sep when I saw this tremendous instrument in his room. “Well yes, but I am not very good at it, in fact I consider myself more the public relationist of the group”, he replied meekly.
We did not know a lot about Sep and his work. But we were very interested in his music and when he offered us to play some songs he had on his computer we were touched and impressed. Little by little Sep told us more about the band, their video shot they had had one week ago and the national and international concerts that they had done. It took a while until we really understood that
Sep belonged to one of the most famous and successful groups in Iran: Rastak.
In a humble and charismatic matter Sep kept talking about his group and the part he played in it. His band members are far more for him than work mates or co-musicians; he grew up with them, his father was the band leader’s father’s best friend and he considers the others as his extended family. We talked about his last working week. The Rastak Family had to work for long hours on location recording the new material to promote their new album. They had a lot of expectations to fulfill. Their last album sold over 1 million copies worldwide, so they had to double their efforts if they expect to satisfy the ears of his followers once again. Sep has been actively involved with the group throughout their 15 years of existence, although for only a couple of years ago he has taken part of the musical ensemble.
Rastak is known thanks to the outstanding achievement of rewriting diverse ethnic folk songs from all over Iran and turning them into pieces of contemporary that satisfies all sorts of musical tastes. Its power is undeniable and it was even more for evident for us when he connected the audio channel from his lap to his professional sound box to make the sound reverberate throughout his department.
Without expecting more of this already surprising gift of life that Annika and I received; when the last song of Sep´s selection concluded he made us the following question, “Next Friday we have a live performance, do you want to come?”
Our answer was of course was a load YES.
When we saw them live, their strength, their coordination and elegance, our admiration towards the group ensemble grew even more. At the end of the show we had the opportunity to meet everyone in the group. All of them where made from the same mold as Sep, humble, happy and accessible. Not everyone spoke English but that was no barrier to understand them, their instruments spoke for themselves.
Sep told me that once they came close to play live in Mexico, sadly the project was clanceled a few days before boarding the plane. So until a brave company decides to hire them again to play in Mexico and abroad we present them to you through our site. We are sure you will enjoy them and demand them to visit your country.