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Review of Soundtrack of
No One Knows About Persian Cats

Reviewed by Garrett Neergaard



When I think about the country of Iran, independent music is about the last thing that comes to mind.  And I would guess that for that very reason the documentary, No One Knows About Persian Cats, was made.

The film follows young singer Negar and her musician boyfriend Ashkan (Take It Easy Hospital), who attempt to form a rock band after being released from prison. Forbidden by the authorities to play in Iran, and dreaming of performing in Europe, they plan their escape. The necessary paperwork proves impossible to come by legitimately, so they team up with Nader, a fast-talking music promoter, who may be able to provide the connections they need.

With passports and visas being made to order, the trio trawl the Tehran underworld, listening to local rockers, metal-heads, rappers, singer-songwriters, musicians of every sort—all of whom will go to any length to perform their music.

No One Knows About Persian Cats is an urgent scream for freedom in a land where it is unlawful for musicians to play, rehearse and just make their art.  The film won a Special Jury Prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival.

All great art is born out of necessity, out of a need for the artist to convey something.  It is the degree to which these artists need to express themselves that is fascinating.  The lengths they will go to in order to be heard.  The music from the soundtrack covers a pretty wide spectrum.  There are some pretty traditional indie rock sounds.

Take It Easy Hospital, the band at the center of the film, could easily pass as an American indie rock outfit.  But it's when they sing in their native language, what I'm guessing is Persian, on the song "Me and You" that you get a sense of what the band is really capable of.

They sound like early Death Cab For Cutie, led by boy/girl harmonies.

I loved "New Century" by The Yellow Dogs.  They sound like an eighties bass-heavy punk band along the lines of the Minutemen led by an Iranian Stephen Malkmus.

And the absolute standout on the soundtrack is "Emshab" by Mirza.  This is one of the more "middle-eastern" sounding songs, but with a sort of bluesy-soul vibe.
Mirza's singer has this incredibly rich gravelly voice that sounds aching over the Persian lyrics.

Now be forewarned, this is not the Matador music-sampler.  This is the soundtrack to a movie about bands trying to make it work in a country that won't let them, and the styles vary widely.  There are hits and misses for sure.  But that's not what this movie is about.  It's about music that matters.  It's about art and the need of the artist to express his art against all odds.

Click here for the movie trailer

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