Iran: Music from ‘below the radar’ distributed on free CD

5 May 2010
From a country where music is sometimes considered a crime, a compilation of underground rock, hip-hop and heavy metal music, compiled by the music centre Bar-Ax, was published as a free bonus-CD with the April-May 2010 issue of the British music magazine Songlines, no. 67.
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The album ‘features brave musicians from Iran,’ the magazine’s editor-in-chief Simon Broughton explains in his editorial. Musicians such as Maral who had her concert with Plastic Wave broken up by police in August 2007, and who contributes with a track where she sings about a young music student who was killed in Tehran during demonstrations in June 2009. Bands such as Font who were one of the groups playing in an unofficial concert in Tehran in 2007 and subsequently imprisoned. And Aprigon who due to the restrictions in Iran had to record their music in Armenia.

“The Islamic Republic is often mistakenly stereotyped in the West as being against music. Apart from the early years after the 1979 revolution, this isn’t true, and the return to Persian roots that was also a part of the revolutionary movement has resulted in a revival of classical Iranian music — Shajarian, Nazeri, Hossein Alizadeh and Kayhan Kalhor are all proof of that. And some of these musicians have been vocal in their opposition to the policies of the regime.
That’s not the music featured on the Iranian Underground CD, however. This is the music of a younger generation, playing styles that are simply not acceptable to the government. Bands playing rock, rap and heavy metal are considered inappropriate,” writes Simon Broughton.

The CD was compiled in a cooperation between the Iranian music organisation Tehran Avenue and the United Kingdom-based centre for alternative Iranian music, Bar-Ax.The tracks appear under a Creative Commons licence, which means that you can help Iranian musicians by sharing the tracks of the album with friends.

“Music and culture are close to the frontline in Iran — we must pay attention to what happens,” writes Simon Broughton.

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“All the bands on this CD are working in Iran, but this music can’t be sold in shops or be officially performed,” writes Songlines.

Click to read more about music in Iran on


Songlines editor-in-chief, Simon Broughton, plays an extract from the CD album ‘Iranian Underground’ – 16 March 2010:

Songlines Podcast

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Songlines no 67 in digital version – 16 March 2010:

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Google News – continuously updated:

Search: ‘Iran’ + ‘music’ + ‘underground’ / BBC – 20 April 2010:

‘Iran’s underground music scene’

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