Jon Pareles introduces us to Mohsen Namjoo and his music in The New York Times:
The songwriter Mohsen Namjoo stirs things up in Iran. Mr. Namjoo…plays the setar, a long-necked lute, and is steeped in Persian classical and literary traditions. But in Iran, where Western music was banned in 2005, Mr. Namjoo decided to fuse Persian music with rock and jazz and to sing — in a voice that can push from the nuances of Persian improvisation to the rougher attack of the blues — about the conditions facing his generation: unemployment, repression, violence. Though he was not allowed to perform in public or licensed to sell CDs, his music spread in private events, on the black market and via YouTube and radio.
Eventually, he went into exile and settled in California — though he recently moved to Brooklyn. Some of his songs, which still reach his audience in Iran, have grown more forthright; “Strange Times” warns, “Don’t dare the danger of thinking.” But he prizes allusive poetry and musical exploration above politics. His 2012 album, “13/8,” is full of compositional complexities.