I first came across Marcello De Francisici when he collaborated with Lisa Gerrard on the fantastic album “Departum” bringing his rhythms and structures to an otherworldly voice. He also contributed to the Samsara film soundtrack which has some amazing audio work. Now he is teaming up Persian singer Bahar Shah to form Indie Monastery and the result is a cinematic worldly experience and a delightful album.
“Oneah Meji Ameji” opens with a suitably mystical tone as Shah’s voice is given time to weave an ancient tale of intrigue into your ear. Her Persian tone makes for a powerful low-end cry when singing alone but when added to the synth and percussive work of De Francisici it explodes into a cinematic chorus that sticks in your head. It’s heady blend of acoustic and synth instrumentation brings a real pulse along and it’s a signature of Marcello’s work. “One Big World For Everyone” continues the anthemic approach with simple chords and big drums and vocals. This track flows so effortlessly and feels like a track for healing the soul with the light string arrangements and unravelling of the vocals which are free-spirited and full of joy. After a short spoken word piece “Though Life Eluded Me” we take a quieter approach with “Psalms For The Living”. Initially the subtle arrangements are a cross between simple solace and something more sinister – like a sneaky stealth missions backing music. What it really does though is allow Shah’s delicate side to shine. Her ability to flex her vocal muscles in such a graceful manner is pure class and her voice has been given an effect on this song where she sounds like she’s being piped into your room and so it feels even more otherworldly at times.
“Aksehroyeh” has a gypsy folk quality to it – like a travelling band of storytellers. The guitar underpins the track which has plenty of synth work and powerful chorus moments where Shah’s voice is layered over and over with various effects. The second half of the track becomes symphonic and grande as the backing vocals and brass arrangements explode into something you’d usually hear in a Blockbuster movie. It paves the way for the eleven minute ballad of the album “The Gift”. The opening few minutes are a quiet raj of a single note being expanded upon before a more classical track evolves with piano and strings slowly moving around. There’s some lovely embellishments here and it’s as close to a current Lisa Gerrard track as the album dares to go – and that’s fine with me. The album is full of life and this ballad track covers off the quiet side with ease. “Open Thy Heart” is a full band ballad as bells toll, Persian instruments twist and bend and the track has a childlike feel to it with the backing vocals sounding like a lullaby with the xylophone. The album closes with the rapturous damce of “One Big World” which returns to the cinematic world music of the earlier tracks. If I had a complaint here, it’s that this track fades out too quickly and whilst in many ways it is a reprise of previous themes I was still on the crest of the wave and could have grooved and sung away with it for another minute.
Indie Monastery has all the hallmarks of Marcello’s work on its sleeve and as a result, if you enjoyed his previous work you’ll love this too. Going wider though, if you enjoy authentic voices, cinematic music or just music that is able capture to very essence of the human spirit – you’ll find something to comfort you here. A fabulous debut.
Recommended Track : Aksehroyeh