TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — On the rooftop terrace of her Tehran apartment building, 28-year-old Mojgan Hosseini’s fingers pluck the strings of her qanun, an ancient stringed instrument, bringing life to an Iranian capital stilled by the coronavirus.
With performance halls closed and many isolated in their homes as a result of the Mideast’s worst virus outbreak, Hosseini and other Iranian musicians now find performance spaces where they can. That includes rooftops dotted with water tanks and littered with debris, empty front porches and opened apartment windows. Their music floats down on others stuck in their homes, fearful of the COVID-19 illness the virus brings.
Their impromptu concerts draw applause and offer hope to their listeners, even as public performances still draw hard-line scrutiny in the Islamic Republic.
“We’re not front-line medical workers, hospital custodians, or grocery workers, but I think many musicians — myself included — have felt an obligation to offer our services of comfort and entertainment in these trying times,” said Arif Mirbaghi, who plays the double bass in his front yard.
Iran has been hard-hit by the virus with more than 76,000 confirmed cases, including more than 4,700 fatalities.
‘SLEEP: The Penitent’s Journey’ is a sleep-learning song-cycle tape by 72 year old Californian electronic composer and inventor Paul DeMarinis.
“The Penitent’s Journey”
You recorded this music in 1985. Why do you release it now?
Paul DeMarinis: I came across a cassette with this material in 2018 while I was gathering material for my 2-LP album ‘Songs Without Throats’ released in 2019 on Black Truffle Records. While they didn’t really fit the program of that album, I liked them, and especially noticed that listening to them put me right to sleep. So I decided to issue it. The tracks were originally made as “filler” for a concert at Phill Niblock’s Experimental Media Foundation in 1985. In those days loading programs into computers was slow – either by floppy disk or, worse, 300 baud Serial connection from another computer. I needed something pre-recorded to cover the several minute gaps between pieces, so I made these short “cameo” pieces that used the same DSP cross synthesis I was using for the pieces in the concert.
You tagged the album on Bandcamp with ‘hypnopedia’. Why?
Hypnopedia refers to the fantasy of effortless learning while you sleep by listening to pre-recorded tracks. It was applied experimentally, mostly unsuccessfully, from the 1930s through the 1960s. It proposed applications not only in learning school material as Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” depicts, but also in “brainwashing” black-ops as in John Frankenheimer’s “The Manchurian Candidate.” I thought it was a good category for ‘Sleep’, since if it does succeed in putting other listeners to sleep as well as it does for me, the latter part of the cassette would be experienced only during sleep.
The sub-title of the album is ‘The Penitent’s Journey’. Can you explain this to me?
As I listened to this material a lot of memories about 1985 came flooding back to me, in particular about an on-again/off-again relationship I was involved in at the time. I was on the down-side of it at the point I recorded these pieces and had to eat a lot of crow, so I decided to add the subtitle to set the mood.
The point being.. Well, basically they were asked to imagine what life would be like in the year 2000. According to Collective-Evolution, these artworks were originally in the form of postcards or paper cards enclosed in cigarette and cigar boxes.
The images depict the world as it was imagined it would be like in the year 2000. Some of these unique illustrations are actually quite accurate vision of the current era today, including farming machines, robotic equipment, and flying machines. Now we haven’t started riding giant seahorses yet, although it does look like one hell of a good time.