LYRICS © Mohsen Soltany MUSIC © Geoffrey Datson 2001
Artist: Mohsen with vocals by Annette Hughes
Mohsen Soltanyzand is a refugee from Iran who endured 4 years ddetention in Australia. Mohsen is also a poet who writes about his experiences with a stark reality. Sydney musicians Annette Hughes and Geoffrey Datson have been visiting Mohsen for about a year, and have set some of his lyrics to music. This is a sample of the collaboration - a sparse tune driven by middle eastern sounds and basic percussion, showcasing the husky vocals of Annette who almost chants the lyrics. Lovely production and an important message that needs to be heard. All proceeds from the CD go to Chilout, a campaign to get children out of detention.
Dan Buhagiar - Wobbly Radio
HQ #95 p 22
MOHSEN has dedicated this album to the children in detention.
All proceeds from the sale of this album go to chilout.
I began visiting Villawood merely to see for myself what was really going on. We were introduced to Mohsen on the first day, and triedto visit as often as possible. Much of the afternoon on these days was spent copying out his handwritten poems, going over them with him, as he refered constantly to an Arabic pocket translator.
We'd take the words back to the studio and try to come up with beats and sounds that worked with his words. The vocal track on Sunset, the first one recorded, like many of the songs on the album was recorded in one take. I asked the vocalists to get a feel for the music first, and then get them to do one pass without stopping. Invariably, that first take was the most tentative and the most expressive. All credit for the melodies goes to the girls who found them and plucked them out of the ether. Having no idea how the melody will go until you are doing it in the booth puts you in a kind of 'nowhere land'; not knowing what will come next, always dependent on the previous note for a clue to the next one. There is no time but the present in this situation, much like where Mohsen had been for the past four years - in limbo.
As a result of our collaboration, I have come to experience his poetry mouth to ear - the way it is meant to be, and he has introduced me to the archaic beauty of Arabic musical forms. Meeting Mohsen has reinforced the music I have always heard. It is like a circle that has been completed creatively, as my first instrument was an Appalachian Dulcimer, which originated in that region.
To my mind, since being here, he has become an Australian poet. He is writing in Australia about Australia for Australians, so by definition is now part of our 'cultural product' that we hope will find its audience.
Mohsen's love and longing for beauty and justice corresponds to mine. I have listened to his heart and can find no hatred there, although his life behind razor wire held little promise. I am inspired by his positivism and humour in spite of his interminable incarceration.
Since having had the opportunity to know Mohsen and many other detainees, it has become increasingly difficult to tolerate the constant and systematic denigration of these people, or understand how our Government can treat them with such disdain, and downright callousness.
Happily, Mohsen was finally lreleased in January 2003. He is free on a full visa and welcome in my home.
On her first visit to Villawood she was sickened by the sight of the razor wire, and then appalled by the stories she was told by detainees, especially the youths - the same age as her own son - who are being forced to spend their innocent adolescent lives in prison. She sings three of the songs and has produced the album in the hope that music will in some way counter the process of demonisation that has already begun.
Actress (Praise and Garage Days soon to be released) and presenter on MTV, Yvette has added her voice to the album because of her concern about the issue of youth suicide. She is deeply involved with the Reachout program, and sees the correlation between youth suicide rates in the community and the attempts by youths in detention on their own lives.
Jane is a young film maker and singer. She made her first visit to Villawood to meet Mohsen after she had recorded her song, and began to think seriously about the issue. There she met detainees and heard their stories, and, as with most first time visitors, spent the trip back to the city in a state of shock.
Matt is a sound engineer and musician who has donated hours of spare time to getting the album sounding right. Much of the recording was done in less than perfect circumstances, and were it not for his calm pragmatism, and hundreds of hours of time, the album would still not be ready.