We/Or/Me is the musical alias of Bahhaj Taherzadeh, an Irish-born, Chicago-based songwriter who we were recently introduced to. His latest release The Walking Hour is a beautiful acoustic album which weaves amongst dreamy soundscapes that beckon a release from the present. A suspension of reality and time is heightened on some songs by the use of other-worldly ambient sounds on the likes of Lights Inside Us and some beautiful female vocals from Marie Taherzadeh on Picture of the Sky.
As I found out from talking to Bahhaj the album was written whilst walking around on his lunch break at work and the musical arrangements create a very vivid feel of the space that you sometimes experience when walking and thinking deeply. That detachment from the world is very apparent on City Fades which repeats over and over a mantra of ‘City Fades from You’. The knowledge that these songs were written whilst walking brings a whole new feel and perception…the slow contemplative stroll of Tongue-Tied and My Father feature gorgeous short poetic verses…I’m not exaggerating when I say these are some of the most beautiful verses I’ve heard on an album this year.
The biggest surprise on the album was the appearance of Vashti Bunyan on the track Time. This came as a real surprise so I asked Bahhaj to tell me a bit more about the album and how the collaboration came about.
I wrote this album while walking around on my lunch break at work. I work full-time as an editor for a book publisher, and I have twin 4-year-old daughters so my time is limited when it comes to making music, but I found if I could get in the right kind of head-space, I could write songs in my head while walking so that is essentially how the songs were written, and where the title of the album comes from. I wrote the song “Time” after learning that Bert Jansch had died. I loved Bert’s music and always felt a strong connection with him and Nick Drake and a number of others from that era of British folk music. I felt as soon as I had finished it that I wanted to send it to Vashti because I couldn’t help but imagine her voice in the song, so I got in touch with her and she very graciously agreed to record vocals for it. It was as simple as that. She was really lovely to work with and couldn’t have been more humble in the process. As soon as her voice was added to the mix, the song suddenly felt so much more timeless and it felt as though a very real and tangible connection had been made to a time and place that otherwise seemed quite distant and almost imaginary.
The recording was done in a bunch of different locations around Chicago and a number of parts were recorded by people in remote places, so I needed to find someone to mix it and essentially help me turn it into a coherent album. Brian Deck, who has produced a lot of great records in recent years, just happened very coincidentally to get in touch with me while I was wrapping up the recording to tell me that he had heard and enjoyed my previous record, Sleeping City, so we got together and he came on board to do the mixing, and I did a Kickstarter campaign to cover the expenses. So it was kind of a strange journey with a lot of serendipitous developments along the way. A lot of incredible people came together to help me realize my vision and I ended up with a record that is very close to my heart. I’m now faced with the challenge of reaching a wider audience without any real promotional machinery behind me and without much interest or skill when it comes to self-promotion.
The Walking Hour is an exceptionally beautiful album and I can’t recommend it enough!
Buy The Walking Hour from bandcamp (CD / Digital):