Sufi-inspired singer and composer Mentrix will release her debut album My Enemy, My Love, a powerful exploration of resilient womanhood and belonging between eastern and western culture, on April 3 via House of Strength. The video for "Walk" contains motifs symbolising womanhood, unity, solidarity and spirituality, from the contrast of the concrete and neon of urban Tehran to the breathtaking dunes of Iranian deserts.
Mentrix draws her sacred music practice into a secular exploration of the illusive dualities of Existence and belonging for her bold debut album, for which she also inaugurates her female-led record label, House Of Strength. Iranian-born Berlin-based Mentrix- real name Samar Rad - fuses eastern and western sounds with lyrical songwriting, crisp drum machines and propulsive traditional Sufi instruments, into a bold and luminous goth-pop debut. Her dazzling polyglot sound has arrived fully-formed, sounding like an Iranian take on The Knife or Zola Jesus.
Mentrix moved to France aged eight to escape war in her home country. At age 14 she moved back, and had to relearn her Farsi mother tongue almost from scratch, going from studying Latin and French literature to Arabic and the Qu’ran. She then spent time in the UK and now lives in Berlin. Summing up My Enemy, My Love, Samar says: “This album reflects my relationship with the contrasting worlds I lived in, with myself, and all my existential wanderings.”
The title of the album is both a reference to being seen as both an immigrant and a deserter, and to the daf, an iconic percussive instrument originally played in Sufi temples. The daf is the punctuation around Samar’s songwriting – a large hand drum with metal ringlets, its propulsive and trance-like sound has an earth-shaking kick with the sharp clamour of metal. “In Sufism the daf is a calling for the soul to awaken,” explains Samar. “It makes that big sound because it’s empty, and its emptiness means two things: on the lower level someone who is empty and has nothing to offer makes a lot of noise. On a higher level, when you are truly empty of the world the entire universe can resonate within you. It’s the dark side and the bright side of the moon in one instrument."
Her self-produced music videos are striking cinematic counterparts, offering alternative visions of femininity, and the awe-inspiring landscapes of her home country. “It is very important for me to associate my music with the landscape of Iran,” explains Mentrix.“I am forever attached to my birth place, and my identity and aspirations are very rooted in Iranian culture. Since the West so often portrays Iran in a questionable way, I feel obliged to share its diverse and positive faces to the world.”
My Enemy, My Love track list:
6. My Enemy, My Love
7. Igneous Sun