Boomkat Product Review:
Iranian-Canadian brothers Mohammad and Mehdi Mehrabani-Yeganeh harness the fourth world power of Jon Hassell and the spannered, electrified weirdness of New York's short-lived illbient genre on this exceptional, eccentric voyage into stateless sound. RIYL DJ Spooky, Bill Laswell, Moor Mother, Supersilent...
Over the last few years, Saint Abdullah have been quietly cooking some of the most intense genre-distorting experimental music we've heard from NYC in ages. Their PTP run - 2018's "Stars Have Eyes" and last year's "Where Do We Go, Now?" - established them as key players in the city's musical landscape, and this two volume follow-up (the second part is a cassette on Important's sublabel Cassauna) is their most convincing statement yet.
On "To Live A La West", the brothers lean into the spiritual and political fluctuation of free jazz, effortlessly melting it into their established fractured electronic backdrop. So virtuoso instrumental performance takes a front seat, whether it's Panamanian trumpeter Aquiles Navarro on subdued opening track 'A Lot of Kings', British sax legend John Butcher improvising over stuttering beats on 'Like A Great Starving Beast' or Mohammad and Mehdi themselves inhabiting a space between Alice Coltrane and Florian Fricke on cosmic jazz burners like 'Philly' or 'Nocturnal Pool Party'.
The album is a subtle statement on western living; Mohammad and Mehdi grew up in Iran but were shuttled to Canada by their parents when they were kids. So they reflect on the choices they made for acceptance, for "a life lived with less tension". "But who are we imitating?" they ask. The brothers take American music history and reconfigure it in their own mode: levitational spiritual jazz becomes as emotionally affecting as Middle Eastern classical music, and blown-out, freeform electronics that owe as much to the post-punk era as they do The Bronx, sound as cybernetic and expertly wrought as Sote's "Parallel Persia". At times their production takes on the cadence of gutter-blasted IDM, refined with the free-flowing immediacy of Rune Grammafon's Supersilent.
It's hard to express how well engineered and perfectly cooked this sound is. Fusion is a tough thing to get right - a quick dip into NYC's restaurant culture will assure you of that - but when it's good, it sounds like everything you love all at once - and nothing quite like anything you've heard before.