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Hashshashin Badakhshan album cover
3.96 | 6 ratings | 1 reviews | 17% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2019

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Qom (1:32)
2. Crossing the Panj (7:31)
3. Death in Langar (4:37)
4. Shrines of the Wakhan (8:43)
5. Sarhadd (7:10)
6. The Taklamakan (12:28)
7. Then He Hid Himself in the Refining Fire (10:15)

Total Time 52:16

Line-up / Musicians

- Evan McGregor / drums & percussion, Moroccan krakebs, frame drum, harmonium, didgeridoo
- Lachlan R. Dale / guitars, Irish bouzouki, Persian setar, Pamiri setar, Afghan rabab
- Cameron Macdonald / bass

- Natalya Bing / violin (2,3,5,6)

Releases information

Label: Art As Catharsis
Format: CD, Digital
September 27, 2019

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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HASHSHASHIN Badakhshan ratings distribution

(6 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

HASHSHASHIN Badakhshan reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars It can be hard to remember that the band "Hashshashin" comes from Australia, especially when their music is derived and inspired by a middle-Eastern sound. This post rock bands purpose is to experiment with drones, psychedelic music and progressive music to create their end musical product, and in the process, they add their mid-Eastern style to it all. The band formed and released their debut album in 2016 with the basic line-up of Cameron MacDonald (bass), Lachlan R. Dale (guitar, bouzouki), and Even McGregor (drums, percussion).

Their 2nd full length studio album is Badakhshan, released in September of 2019. The album sees the same core line up as before, but this time, a lot more instruments are added to the list, instruments that are specific to the region for which the album is named, including Moroccan krakebs, Persian and Pamiri setars, and Afghan rabab, plus the use of harmonium and didgeridoo. A special guest Natalya Bing adds violin to 4 of the 7 tracks on the album which is available on CD and also digitally. Of course, the music invokes scenes of desert landscapes which include the Pamir Mountains and the Wakhan Corridor to induce a sense of journey.

The album starts with the short "Qom" (1:30) which brings in a low drone and a single stringed instrument playing over it. "Crossing the Panj" (7:30) introduces a tighter tension in the guitar and drums in contrast to the free flowing introductory track. Volume increases and so does the intensity, and the music becomes quite dramatic and intriguing, slightly harsh and a bit barren, just like the landscape it invokes into your mind. The music alternates between hesitancy and assuredness, waxing and waning as it moves back and forth. All along, that mid-Eastern influence runs rampant through the music, which gets quite dramatic and cinematic at it's heaviest moments. Dynamics are used quite smartly to build and deconstruct the music as needed. I also like the raw feeling that is most apparent in the softer sections. Throughout all of this, there are bouts of progressiveness that comes from tricky start-stop rhythm passages and in some changes of meter and tempo that also occur. "Death in Langar" (4:36) continues the flow from the previous track with quite a notable change in key right at the beginning. The drums here have a bit of a muffled feel as plucked strings sing out with arpeggio patterns and melodies, then it all gets soft and pensive, losing the structure of the rhythm while it meanders a bit, and then finding direction again when the rumbling drums come back, bringing a violin in with the rough beat. Then, one of the traditional instruments gets added in and things start to build, and the music feels a little bumpy and rough, but in this case, it adds to the overall roughness of the sound, which works quite well on this album.

"Shrines of the Wakhan" (8:42) fades in slowly as a barren sound slowly increases in volume, like watching a small caravan slowly creeping across a desert getting closer and closer as the volume and intensity increases. Heavy guitars crashing drums and cymbals bring in a feeling of danger though, but the music eventually backs off. The music meanders around, only anchored by drums, but the percussion eventually pulls out the chiming guitars and alternating bass and it all rebuilds the heaviness again, with the guitars churning out desert riffs and themes. The music softens in the last few minutes and bumps along to the peaceful end. "Sarhadd" (7:09) chooses to bring out the melody with a traditional stringed instrument and dry sounding drums. Both instruments improvise around each other as the bass anchors it all. Things start to take shape later on when the notes come out faster and faster and then the drums start to encourage a swirling mid-Eastern style dance. After a while, the music takes on a slightly different rhythmic structure, the melody shifts a bit, and the violin comes in creating a smoothness with the bowed strings that contrasts nicely to the staccato of the plucked strings. Another rhythmic shift sees the drums becoming frantic and then dropping out all together while the plucked notes meander around, and the drums attempt to find their footing again. Instead, the music slowly gets softer and dies off.

"The Taklamakan" (12:27) fades in with the reverse effects of droning guitars and very soft percussion. Layers of sound ebb and flow around the percussion, then intensity increases. A sudden shift brings in a progressive riff and chord sequence, and then the softness returns. A melodic line from guitars builds it all back up again. Then the music resolves into a steadier rhythmic and melodic structure as swirling guitar melodies and sustained chords create an interesting sound with just a touch of violin added in. But the music never really settles into any one style for long, shifting like the swirling sands, yet harsh and unpredictable as the rocky terrain. As the "caravan" rides off into the distance, the music softens and becomes quieter, almost ambient, then fades back in on drones, drums and jangly guitar. The drums drop off, the music becomes trance-like.

The final track is "Then He Hid Himself in the Refining Fire" (10:14). Slow, plucked strings establish a melodic pattern which is soon emphasized by the drums and bass. This continues for a while, shows hints of development then backs off with a feeling of a loose structure, keeping the theme, but messing around with it. After 3 minutes, there is a notable change as the music builds slowly on a new melody, the drums drive the plucked notes faster then settles in a moderate tempo. The drums continue giving a feeling of looseness as the plucked notes improvise using a traditional middle-Eastern mode. The music meanders around, but utilizes dynamics to ebb and flow at will. Around 7 minutes, you can feel structure setting in as the music builds, the drums get heavier and the instruments solidify. A feeling of unease threatens in some effects that make it seem that them music could just tip over at any time. This prevents an expected climax, but the effects whirl around and carry the music into oblivion.

The album definitely paints the pictures it sets out to paint, and the two biggest things that the overall album has going for it is the smart use of dynamics and the overall rawness of the music and production, these things work together to create quite an interesting and intriguing sound. There are ever changing sections in the music also, it never really settles into any one singular sound even within the tracks and that keeps it all interesting. In this respect, its not like the typical post rock that builds and fades off of a singular motif within a track, but instead it moves from one section to another, and chooses to be more inventive and exploratory among shifting tempos, melodies and textures. Yes the music ranges from stark to melodic to dramatic to even rhythmic at times, encompassing the entire landscape and culture instead of only developing off of one idea. It's all quite well done, but the music is like the landscape, dusty, raw, rugged and gritty. It doesn't vary much from the desert landscape that it evokes, but at the same time, it does bring together everything as far as sounds and styles that you would expect. In the end, it is an album that I feel is easily 4 star material, well done and musically interesting.

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