The Shadow Majlis “Mazdur”
man standing in front of a cement wall

The Shadow Majlis “Mazdur”


Toronto’s The Shadow Majlis** **presents his debut album ‘The Departure’ and the video for ‘Mazdur’, showcasing genre-fluid excellence and raw emotional experience, while fusing elements of Eastern modes with post-punk. An alternative neo-global style that transcends borders, this is a departure from the norm – a journey into something other, where there are no limits.

Revolving around Ali Jafri, a formidable multi-instrumentalist known for his involvement in various projects – as a member of David J‘s live band, playing rock-sitar for Pigface (or through his projects ARIEL, The Gotham City Drugstore, Saintfield or his solo work). On this album, Ali Jafri offers a multi-cultural artistic and musical vision, together with David J** (Bauhaus, Love & Rockets) on bass and drummer-percussionist Rakesh Tewari (Jaffa Road, The Special Interest Group)**.

Produced and mixed by three-time Grammy Award winning producer David Bottrill** (Peter Gabriel, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Tool, David Sylvian, Mastodon, Smashing Pumpkins, Muse, Real World Studios)**, with Darren McGill engineering the album. Mastered by Noah Mintz, the cover art was created by Stephen Seto (Splintercage).

The most poignant and powerful artistic output stems from tragedy, and The Shadow Majlis is no exception. Amid a deluge of personal upheaval, this album has been Jafri’s means to address his grief over losing his seven-year-old son Oisín, who passed away in September 2022 after a nine-month battle with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (a highly aggressive form of brain cancer), the dissolution of his conjugal relationship, and a year-long state of temporary homelessness. Recovering from such devastation is no simple task, but The Shadow Majlis has offered Jafri medicine for his soul, while presenting us an alternative sonic reality in which we can all find solace and relief.

“Mazdur means “labourer”, which came to me as İ watched how hard it was for Oisín to fight his losing battle to cancer. All the changes and adjustments. İ chose to have the song “mutate” through the different styles it weaves through. From the classical guitar to the dub reggae and ending on industrial with MRİ sounds mixed in. MRİs were hard on Oisín. Existing became hard labour for him but he wasnt ever far from having a laugh. He had a gracefulness about him which became apparent when it was observed by us as one of the constants through all the change. İ dream of him sometimes, he’s ever graceful then,” explains Ali Jafri.

“Going “dub” on this was David J’s idea – hard to refuse. When İ realized he wanted to play dubby stuff, my reaction was ummm hello?? Yes please! My demo was originally more like the first half of the song, which Bottrill and İ had worked on. We saw Skinny Puppy during our sessions, which inspired the industrial ending. We recorded it the next day as a good way to conclude the “mutation” furthest away from its original form. The ending was also a good place for some of the angst I was feeling and that Oisín was feeling. The machine voices say “We Come To Leave”, a recurring line on the album – making it a concept, I guess.”

The album features numerous guest performers, including vocalist Olena Tsybulska (DakhaBrakha), guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite** (The Mission, Peter Murphy, MGT, Tricky, Gary Numan), cellist **Anne Bourne **(Loreena McKennitt, Jane Siberry), Tuvan throat singer Soriah, Ravi Naimpally (Niyaz, Constantinople) **on tabla, Pankaj Mishra on sarangi, Selmanpak Ayduz on ney, Kerem Koktas on kemanche, and Sasha Singer-Wilson on backing vocals.

Blending alternative music with the rich, diverse instrumentation and rhythms of world music, The Shadow Majlis leaves a distinct imprint on the ever-evolving soundscape. Recorded in Toronto, LA, Portland, Istanbul, Kyiv and Iceland, this is truly an international affair, with languages such as Urdu, Farsi, Arabic, Icelandic and Ukrainian woven with English throughout this album.

Calling the album a powerful achievement, David J says, “I believe that there are certain tracks and moments that act as portals into another dimension – I’m not being fanciful here!”

‘The Departure’ album is out now, available everywhere digitally, including Spotify, Apple Music** **and Bandcamp. This album’s creation was made possible through funding received from FACTOR.

-Official bio

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