[sic] Magazine

Naujawanan Baidar – Volume 1&2

A cross-border exploration of time and culture, Naujawanan Baidar is the side-project of N.R. Safi (Nik Rayne) of Arizona desert-psych outfit The Myrrors. A celebration of the intoxicating sounds of 1960s-80s Afghan cassette culture, Naujawanan Baidar translates to “enlightened youth” in the local language, Volume 1&2, originally released 2018/19 via Radio Khiyaban, treating the traditional ragas of Safi’s paternal heritage to radio interference, drones and hissing tape-deck distortion.

The results feel exotic, steeped in history and yet snappily contemporary. A window to another world, these 15 tracks unspool over a fascinating hour of undulating pulses, wind-blown sorna and slowly churning percussion. Dynamic melodies course through sweet clouds of Kush, dusty vocal snippets hanging at mid-distance. The evocative “Khyber Sound” consequently rolls its ritualistic rhythms down the valleys of Mazar-i-Sharif like cooled shisha smoke, the sleepy lolloping and distorted vocals of “Mohajerin” some glorious reel found stashed under the seat of the rental you picked up at Hamid Karzai International.

Several heavily manipulated, Western vocal structures betray the influence of rock ‘n’ roll and 60s psych, “Zanjeer” proving the best of both worlds and a call to prayer we’d all heed, mesmeric echo meeting tumbling walls of rubab strings, the aptly melancholy “Blood Can’t Clean Blood” earlier a virtuoso performance on the same jangling instrument. The solemn thud of hand-drummed tabla elsewhere dominates, snake-charming sorna and rattling tambourine bubbling away hypnotically like some resin-based lava lamp. Paranoia creeps into the mix as the oddly offbeat incantations of “Symmetry Of Knives” lumber around the campfire shaking percussion sticks, the ancient then sent scuttling for the hills of Tora Bora by the plugged-in “Nagin Saaz” and its menacing undertow. Never less than fascinating, the potent strains of Naujawanan Baidar are often downright addictive.

Best track: “Zanjeer”

~The Volume 1&2 consolidated re-release is out 26th June 2020 via the collaborative efforts of Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records.~