Rostam is the performance name of one Rostam Batmanglij, formerly of Vampire Weekend. Though not the band’s frontman, his influence on their music is easily recognized by those who are familiar with the band and have spent even a few minutes with his other musical offerings.
Rostam is one of what I call today’s Nomadic Artists, as he pops up on Spotify as a solo artist as well as alongside other artists such as Ra Ra Riot, Geppetto, and Hamilton Leithauser. You’ll find his work scattered all over the music streaming services, but if you’re looking for a Rostam album, you won’t find it – at least not yet.
His music is mellow and often accompanied by quick-paced notes and rhythms counterbalanced by a foundation of longer, sustained bass. The constrast seems unlikely to work, but it does. Rostam’s voice seems to float above the music, seemingly oblivious to the sophisticated but catchy beat and the abundance of fast-moving notes, yet it all fits together a very neat and enjoyable package.
Rostam’s busy rhythms bring to mind my generation’s Peter Gabriel and even Paul Simon; yet his middle-eastern influence makes those rhythms uniquely his own. This, along with the quiet, hovering voice, is the essence of Rostam, and the crux of the matter for listeners. It is what is going to determine if those giving audience will stay for more or turn and walk away.
I’ve always enjoyed big rhythm and I consider myself a fan of Rostam and his music. For others, especially those of my generation, the Gabriel/Simon comparisons may not be enough to overcome Rostam’s singular touches.
As always, I encourage one and all to give Rostam a fair and decent chance. New isn’t always better, but it isn’t always worse, either.
Here’s your Rostam “Must Listen” playlist on Spotify…