Called Badakhshan, the new album from the Australian experimental band Hashshashin packs a stunning experience of musical travel into the great unknown. The music varies between spacey psychedelic rock, deep dives into lush atmosphere, and more, often rolling out fascinatingly complex, twisting cacophonies of rhythmic patterns along the way. The band’s instruments alone range wildly, including — get ready — the Irish bouzouki, Persian setar, Pamiri setor, and Afghan rubab, along with Moroccan krabebs, harmonium, and didgeridoo. If you don’t know what all of those instruments even are, don’t worry. This group bring their wildly diverse elements together into a cohesive musical experience of a sense of rousing individuality arising from the midst of tumult.
Musically, even though the band never utter a single word on this release, their new album really does pack a sense of a story. At the outset, there’s a sonic introduction to a kind of Middle Eastern-feeling environment, and the plucked string instruments that help define this particular feel reappear often, defining moments like the epic minutes-long build of the track “Sarhadd.”
Although there’s a ton of definite experimentation going on as the band roll out their complex rhythms and push the boundaries of established sonic mixtures, they also get right into communicating a personable build of emotional vulnerability. The ethereal musical lines snaking towards the mix on the first part of this album deliver this sense — it’s like you’re at some kind of great desert party, but a dangerous figure hides in the shadows. That’s not where it ends, as alongside the technical prowess communicating a sense of subtly building emotional chaos, there’s an eventual more straightforwardly flowing element, like you’ve found yourself a new, “safe” home in the desert as cultures swirl around. It’s a powerful, poignant sonic vision.
The album’s minutes-long, lush, free-flowing build of a finale strongly reinforces the idea of highlighting an aim for personality emerging in the midst of an arid expanse. Considering the lush dynamics packed in here even while the band twist preconceived musical notions on their head, a core aim of Badakshan — which is named after a real-world region of the country of Tajikstan — seems to be establishing a place for oneself further than personal vulnerability and instead, out in the wilderness.
Check some out. The full album will be available September 27.