Inspired by Persian classical, late 60's acid garage psychedelia and surf mayhem, traditional Armenian and Jewish dances, Cambodian street music, Gothic art rock, and Bollywood soundtracks, SF Bay Area based ensemble KHI DARAG walks a thin line between the modern and archaic.
"khidarag" (ki-dah-rahg), pronounced with a clearing-of-the-throat sound at the beginning, roughly translates from Armenian to mean "disgraceful scoundrel" or "person of unpredictable or outlandish nature." The group has embraced this as their namesake and mission, combining influences and cultures such as Iron Butterfly, new wave Klezmer, Mid-East pop icons such as Ofra Haza and Abdel Halim Hafez, Post-Punk Surf, Bauhaus, Black Sabbath, and soundtrack/cinematic maestros such as R.D. Burman and Ennio Morricone, to make music that has best been described as " A fictional soundtrack for a 1960's macabre thriller from the Middle East."
This limited edition, mostly instrumental 7-song, 28 minute EP was recorded at the group's inception in May of 2008 and marks its first recorded release featuring its early cast of musicians culled from other Bay Area groups such as Lord Loves a Working Man, Rupa & The April Fishes, Charming Hostess, Aphrodesia, Kugelplex, Rube Waddell, The SF Mime Troupe, and the Japonize Elephants.
"This stuff is fun. Khi Darag! hail from San Francisco, and they've certainly got hints of that classic Bay Area psychedelia. But before any of that hits you, you'll hear the great sounds of Middle Eastern folk-dance music. Clarinet, oboe, saxophone take the lead in a number of their songs. Add in guitarist Max Baloian's great prog riffs and you've got some pretty refreshing tunes. Oh, and the percussion! Dear god, the percussion! Go, dance, have a good time. You deserve it, America."
Preview by: Joey Price
"San Francisco’s Khi Darag works to demolish the border between the present and the past. With influences ranging from Sayat Nova to Black Sabbath, Djivan Gasparyan to Iron Butterfly, these guys bleed together a self-proclaimed, “sacred and profane mixture of acid rock, surf, and Mid/Far-East modalities” that will certainly redefine ideas of contemporary ethnic music.”
--The Armenian Reporter, 5/12/09
"Khi Darag. Another San Francisco local band, Khi Darag easily filled the small venue with its big sound, sending audience members to another time zone with their arsenal of exotic drums and wind instruments (the band very accurately describes their own music on their website as "soundtrack for a 60s macabre Middle East thriller"). Khi Darag didn't feature any slowly undressing ladies, but we think they still managed to put on an impressive show.
-SF WEEKLY, October 2009