Badieh: New single out now

Yar Golakom, the epic new single from Spanish, Iranian and Afghan ensemble Badieh.

Through their arrangements of traditional folk songs from both sides of the Afghan-Iranian border, Badieh are able to showcase the beauty and power of Greater Khorosan, conjuring the vast landscapes of the steppe, the refined beauty of ancient Herat, and the enduring cultural legacy of Torbat-e-Jam.

At Badieh’s heart are Spain’s Michel Gasco (rubab, oud) and Iran’s Mohammad Miraghazadeh (tar, setar), who are responsible for composition and arrangements. Miraghazadeh has studied with the great master Ustad Mohammad Reza Lotfi, while Gasco has studied the oud in Aleppo with Mohammad Qadri Dalal (Al Kindi, Sabah Fakhri), and Herati rubab under Ustad Nasim Khushnawaz.

Their new single Yar Golakom comes from Iranian Khorasan, and is a relatively obscure traditional piece. “There aren’t many recordings available,” says Gasco, “I came across the song through a video of young musicians in Torbat-e-Jam playing the dotar and singing. I was struck by its dry, dramatic, and incredibly powerful atmosphere, and saw its potential for an arrangement on this new album.”

Badieh’s rendition features a number of guest musicians. “We gathered a fantastic lineup, with Ehsan Nasibi and Golnaz Hariri singing, Afghan percussion (tabla) by Ramin Ahmadi and Persian percussion (daf) by Pouriya Bahrami, and Erfan Homayouni on the bass tar. It’s really a dream band.”

The music video for Yar Golakom was shot in an ancient Caravanserai near the city of Neishabur – the home of the legendary poet and scientist Omar Khayyam. It’s a striking clip, alternating between showing the ensemble performing within the weathered building, and shots of the immense, surrounding steppe.

Yar Golakom is the first single from Badieh’s upcoming album II, which features guest musicians from both Iranian and Afghan folk and classical music, including the master Afghan classical singer Jawad Tabesh, renowned rubab player Nasim Khushnawaz, and one of Afghanistan’s most promising tabla players, Ramin Ahmadi. Also featured are Persian classical singers Ehsan Nasibi and Golnaz Hariri, Pouriya Bahrami on daf, Joohana Alavi on zarb, and Erfan Homayouni on bass tar.

“It’s a privilege to collaborate with esteemed musicians whom I admire in Iran, including my dear mentor Nasim Khushnawaz,” says Michel Gasco. “I am overjoyed to have had the opportunity to delve deeper into a repertoire that I hold dear, working with musicians from this region who are experts in this music.”

In addition to working with such musicians, Badieh recorded, mixed and mastered the release with Ahmad Mahian in Mashhad, Iran, and commissioned a stunning artwork form Afghan artists Nazir Rahguzar and Sosan Mahmoodi for the album’s cover.

Badieh’s II comes off the back of Michel Gasco’s recent production ‘Afghan Music In Exile: Mashhad 2022’, an album and film series featuring Afghan musicians in exile living in Mashhad. The release received high acclaim from press and media, including a 5 star review and multi-page feature in Songlines Magazine by Simon Broughton (BBC’s Breaking The Silence: Music In Afghanistan), and features from Bandcamp, SBS Australia, Spanish National Radio, Aftaab/Afghan Magazine, Foolk Magazine, Cyclic Defrost, Foxy Digitalis, and The Attic.

“This album follows the logic of my career,” reflects Michel, “which encompasses two distinct facets: that of a composer, as seen in the Orontes project where I draw from my knowledge of both Eastern and Western music, and that of a musician who interprets traditional repertoires that I am passionate about. At this moment, it was time to delve into the music of Khorasan.”

This release is Badieh’s second, having published their self-titled debut on the Australian record label Worlds Within Worlds. The album received positive reviews from specialized media outlets such as the British music magazine Songlines, US publication Everything Is Noise, and the Australian publication The Progressive Aspect. It was also featured on radio stations in the US, Australia, Turkey, Spain, and Italy.

Badieh have big plans to tour in support of the release, with performances booked in Turkey, Iran, France, Spain, Italy and Japan, and potential dates in Australia, Hungary and Germany.

With II, Badieh have shown that their syncretic blend of Iranian, Afghan and Western musical influences are as spellbinding as ever. This is as much an inner journey as it is one across different landscapes and time periods, speaking to the potency of the Khorasani traditions, and the immense abilities of the musicians involved.

Badieh’s new single Yar Golakom is out 20 October on Worlds Within Worlds. Their new release II sees release on 17 November 2023.