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
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
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
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.
here for the movie trailer