On the Beat in Iran

Ramin Rahimi and Tapesh – Iranian Percussion
Ramin Rahimi and Tapesh

Iranian Percussion (ARC Music EUCD 2218, 2009)

Iran’s been in the news a lot lately, though everyone knows there’s more to the place than turmoil and political/religious unrest coming to a boiling point. But if a majority of Iran’s population is looking to march to a different drum, I do believe I’ve come across the guy who should play it. Being something of a drummer myself, I was humbled the first time I saw a master percussionist have a go at a Persian [wiki:tombak] drum, using all ten of his fingers independently and collectively to create sounds you wouldn’t think one person (or one drum) could make.

Iran’s Ramin Rahimi is just such a tombak master, and his command of a good many other types of drums is mind-boggling as well. He also plays in the first progressive heavy metal band from Iran to ever sign with a European record label, leads an all-percussion orchestra based in Tehran and teaches drumming at that city’s most esteemed music institute. But don’t just take my word that he’s versatile.

If you’re a percussion lover or believer in the power of drumming, this one’s for you. You’ll not only hear Rahimi’s wizardry on the tombak, you’ll get more than an inkling of his expertise on drum set, cajon, daf, darbuka, dhol, djembe and a few other things not specified in the liner notes. A lot of the tracks have one-word titles that they more than live up to: “Swing,” “Excitement,” “Sweet,” etc., and everything on the disc works so well because Rahimi isn’t just about getting fast and furious. He knows how to create varied textures of sound, timbre and rhythm that can be totally locked-in one moment and entirely unpredictable the next.

Apart from knowing everything there is to know about Middle Eastern cadences, he’s well versed in the languages of rock, jazz and African rhythms, coming across at times like a combination of John Bonham, Buddy Rich, Hossam Ramzy and Olatunji. As possessed as a madman and as delicate as a surgeon, Ramin Rahimi plays those opposites and all points in between with astounding skill, agility and the feeling that he’s having a blast doing it.

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Author: Tom Orr

Tom Orr is a California-based writer whose talent and mental
stability are of an equally questionable nature. His hobbies include
ignoring trends, striking dramatic poses in front of his ever-tolerant
wife and watching helplessly as his kids surpass him in all desirable
traits.

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