Mad Sheer Takes Hendrix to Samarkand

Mad Sheer Khan

Samarkand Hotel, Live at Le Triton 2002 (Le Triton TRI 03507, 2003)

It is hard to classify this recording. It is world music, but also dreamtime psychedelia, and simply an incredible jam. Mad Sheer Khan has taken legendary rock songs like “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan; “Stone Free,” “Purple Haze,” “Voodoo Chile,” “Fire” and “If 6 was 9,” by Jimi Hendrix; and “Changes” by Buddy Miles, plus a handful of original pieces, and has recreated them with an unconventional jam band. Mad Sheer Khan leads the ensemble, playing an amplified dilruba (a bowed instrument from India). Khan explains, “Using extreme distortion in the use of  acoustic
instruments, we achieved his [Jimi Hendrix] wish of freedom from the space in
which a lot of people are forced to live in. Hendrix was an electric shaman and
liberator. He was the first to use masterfully the parameters of distortion and
space. He was the first to exorcize the fear of machines and developed
frequencies until he made them sound like sirens. He made the sounds of bombs in
Vietnam and sung with a deep and sweet voice about love
.”Mad sheer Khan’s collaborators play Indian tabla, African drums and drone instruments such as the harmonium and tanpura. The effect is a metamorphosis of rock songs into trance-like dilruba improvisations that sounds like an electric guitar processed with distortion effects. The album’s title makes a reference to the ancient Silk Road route that crossed Central Asia.

Mad Sheer Khan was born Mahamad Hadi, in Algiers in 1955, of mixed Persian and Arabic origin. He studied in France, where he now lives. His experience of being steeped in three different cultures has enabled him to develop fruitful relations between these varied influences. His oriental roots are apparent everywhere in the rhythms, colors, scales and sources of inspiration of his music. His aim is to go beyond the worn-out image of the ‘exotic East’, and in order to achieve this he constantly seeks points of contact between a western-inspired oriental culture and its counterpart, an oriental-inspired western culture. Mad Sheer Khan strives to give his music a wide range by juxtaposing ideas from both classical and folk music, developing them in compositions in which classically urban and rural styles exist side by side.