Album Review: Berahmand - Empress
Recording artists have the opportunity to create something that represents who they are and where they have been. On his full length LP, Empress, Berahmand does just that by sharing deeply moving lyrics, catchy melodies, and a plethora of sonic layers. It's a difficult thing to try to put Berahmand into a category because there is so much freedom in his songwriting. This album has rock, blues, electronic, hip-hop, and alternative influences. My first time through the entire album I didn't know what to expect, and it did not disappoint.
Last September I had the opportunity to catch my first Berahmand show after being introduced to his music. Empress came out in late 2014, so I was late to the party. Having said that I did a crash course with the album the day of the show to get a feeling of his overall sound. This is an album review so I'll keep this part short but I have to say how impressed I was with his live performance. The entire time Berahmand was on stage I was waiting to see what was going to happen next. The band was incredible, the songs were powerful, and the show never stopped. His entire set was a seamless blend of songs and an honest exchange with the audience.
Berahmand has given his listeners a lot of diversity on this album. Songs like "Message Above" showcase his well thought out mix of sounds. You hear chunky guitar riffs and in-the-pocket rock drums up against a wall of synth keys, synth lead, and electronic drum fills. There is also a fantastic balance of vocal textures and layers. The song “I Don't Mind" shows an entirely different and personal side of this artist. His melody draws you in right away and there is something tangible in this recording that makes it feel very personal. His voice is haunting, inspiring, and captivating. Berahmand is an engaging singer and performer both live and on this album. I believe the name of the game for Berahmand is connection. He wants to share and relate with those around him.
In January of this year I had the opportunity to speak with Berahmand on Portland Radio Project about this track. During our interview he said he wrote “I Don't Mind" with and for his wife. After knowing that bit of information and seeing him perform this song a few times it illuminated even more the range he has as an artist.
Songs like “Turn It Up" and “Siblings” have the cool synth / hip hop inspired beats that I love so much in today's modern electronic music. This album is saturated with amazing vocal layers and melodies. As a producer I really appreciate his approach to the sonic aspect of each song. During our time on the air at Portland Radio Project I also learned that this album was an analog recording. This was truly a jaw dropping moment for me. At this moment I had an even deeper appreciation for these recordings. Without auto tune, digital recording, or any other modern recording crutch, Berahmand put out an album and an engineering work of art. In this day and age we see a lot of musicians putting out great sounding stuff from home studios all across Portland. When you hear Empress in its entirety and understand that it is an analog recording, you can't help but be blown away.
Empress is an accurate reflection of Berahmand as an artist and as a person. His evolution is continuing now with the release of his captivating new single and video for "One Day You'll Know". I love this new single and in his own words Berahmand says:
"It has allowed me to venture out musically and create a pallet of sound with a concept somewhat guiding the track into the visual. The results are "One Day You'll Know". Directed by Kenton Waltz of KLiK Concepts".
There is so much to enjoy on this record and it continues to reveal new things to experience each time I listen to it. After dissecting the album and diving further in I'm still not sure how I would categorize this record and I think that's the way it's meant to be.
Be sure to get your copy of Empress and more information on Berahmand below.