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"A squiz at the CD booklet and the omens look good. Firstly, thereís a note by director Majgan Khadem explaining that the film itself was inspired by a piece of music (ok we donít actually get that piece of music on this soundtrack, but it establishes a specific direction and we know the intention was always for this music to be more than an adjunct to images). Secondly, we are informed that composer Davood A. Tabrizi is trained in both Western Classical and Persian Classical music which is a double-side better than the all too regular pop compilation soundtracks comprising the ditties of songwriters trained in universal banality. Thirdly, Tabrizi plays many of the instruments himself as well as having that genuine Eastern background so the score is unlikely to be one of those trumped-up, heavily sequenced and sampled imitations of an ethnic style. Fourth, many of the instruments played by both Tabrizi and his musical collaborators have unfamiliar, exotic names full of potentialóyou just know a Baglama, or a YalliTanbur, or a Tibetan Karney has to sound delicious even if youíve never heard (or heard of) one before. Finally, there are twenty tracks and a bonus trailer so there should be plenty of Baglama for our bucks.

Unfortunately, upon folding the booklet and inserting the CD, the theories start to unravel. Which isnít to say there isnít a little truth in all of the above. Certainly there is mood here. Certainly some of the swaying tremolo vocals from the likes of Bahar are impressive. Certainly the various exotic string instruments are performed with engaging graces and dynamics. Certainly there is the occasional ruffle of spirited percussion.

But most certainly it could do without all being glued together by incessantly tedious synth pads, and it could do with a lot more thematic definition. Or if the intention is to avoid melodic hooks, then the arrangements could have done with a lot more orchestral clout.

Interestingly, the most alluring cue features the good old piano. Haaz conjures up a spellbinding melody of ivory and ebony that mainly serves to demonstrate what might have been.

As for the trailer, it looks inviting (I havenít seen the film), but it could do without the cringe-worthy melodrama of the voiceover.

A richly atmospheric soundtrack to be sure, but it had a tendency to serenade me to sleep."
Brad Green

Published June 21, 2001

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Track One - Peydayesh
Track 12 - Haaz

TITLE: Serenades

ID: 314574 323726

Southern Star Entertainment/Move Records

SCORE BY: Davood A. Tabrizi

MUSICIANS: Bahar (main vocal), Parviz Amiri (vocals), Hasih Delnavaz (vocals), Akdagcik Sabahattin (yalli, tanbur, baglama, oud), Kim Sanders (mey, ney, keval), Yama Sarshar (tabla), Sayd Sarshar (harmonium), Davood A. Tabrizi (vocals, persian daf, piano, dayereh, Tibetan karney, Bolivian flute, violin, percussion, keyboards)

TRACKS: 20 (plus Quicktime movie trailer)

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