With my current schedule being as tight as it is, there has to be something compelling about a release to warrant one of my verbose, 1,000+ word reviews; the days where I’d publish near daily reviews on Sputnikmusic during college are long since gone. This occasionally results in more of a diatribe than manifesto. But for the most part, it means that the albums I write about are among my favorites of the year.
Even considering this high bar, I can’t remember the last time I was as excited to cover something as I am about Hashshashin‘s phenomenal new album Badakhshan. Named after a region of Tajikistan bordering Afghanistan, the record features a transportive series of compositions drawing from Middle Eastern musical traditions. These themes are spliced with elements of psychedelic rock and post-rock and benefit from the unique sonic textures of Irish bouzouki, Persian setar, Pamiri setor, and Afghan rabab.
These instruments are performed by Lachlan R. Dale, who also happens to run two of my favorite modern labels: Art As Catharsis and Worlds Within Worlds. We were thrilled to connect with him about premiering “Shrines of the Wakhan,” one of my favorite tracks from Badakhshan and a perfect encapsulation of what the album has to offer. Prepare for a taste from one of the year’s most engulfing, meditative, and downright excellent releases.
Incredible, right? As I mentioned above, I’ll have plenty to say about Badakhshan when we publish my review later this month. In the mean time, I’ll share some thoughts from Lachlan about the album and “Shrines of the Wakhan” specifically:
For me, this song conjures up the sense of wonder I felt exploring the shrines around the Wakhan Corridor in Tajikistan. Throughout the region you find these beautiful, decorative shrines, adorned with ibex horns. While today they are dedicated to Ismaili Muslim saints, the horns throw back to symbols of purity in the Zoroastrian faith. They are like nothing I’ve ever encountered before, and a beautiful example of the blend of religious and cultural influences you’ll find in the region.
With Hashshashin, it’s like I’m trying to work my way back to some sense of spirituality in a culture that has lost both the tools to induce mystical experience, and the language to speak about it. Creating music is part of that search, and an effort to communicate experiences and ideas that I haven’t been able to conceptualise.
Badakhshan is available Sept. 27 via Art As Catharsis. Head over to Bandcamp for pre-orders.