»Watching the unbelievably virtuos soloist, one could get the impression he does not have two but at least six hands.«

Tresor30 2022 - ARTE Concert (DE)
»He succeeds in creating impressive rhythms that produce sounds of orchestral dimensions.«

»Drummer of freedom.«

Sydney Opera House (AU)
»Meet the man with the world's fastest fingers: Mohammad Reza Mortazavi. Relying upon nothing more than a drum and his own dexterity, Mortazavi creates trance-like polyrhythmic soundscapes, complete with melodies and exquisite phrasing.«

3 Sat
»Flying fingers.«

NDR Kultur
»Like sound from a different world«

VAN Magazin • Outernational (DE)
»Rhythm is everything. It shapes all life on earth with its cycle of day and night and the lives of all people, in which there are recurring patterns to be discovered everywhere. Rhythms can condition people to work and sleep at certain times, but they can also be liberating, for example when they leave the usual paths and shift space and time anew - and thus completely readjust perception. This is the state triggered by the music of Berlin-based musician and composer Mohammad Reza Mortazavi.«

»Mortazavi live is incomparable! [...] You could also say, this is a revolution.«

NDR Kulturjournal
»Rhythm and spirituality – Mortazavi combines both and delivers incredible energy through his music«



Tresor30 2022 - ARTE Concert (DE)

Sydney Opera House (AU)

Morgenland Festival Osnabrueck 2021 (DE)

URSSS • Terraforma Festival (IT)

ARTE Concert (DE)

ZDF Aspekte • Documentation

BBC Persian TV

Portraits ✺ Features ✺ Interviews


VAN Magazin • Outernational (DE)


Deutschlandfunk Kultur • Collaboration with Rundfunkchor Berlin (DE)


Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (DE)

Lafayette Anticipations (FR)

Crak Festival • VIZIR RADIO (FR)

Album Reviews

PRISMAflowfish • 2022

»Meine Heimat ist in mir selbst: Das Album PRISMA von Mohammad Reza Mortazavi.«


»'Unlike a metronome', the virtuoso percussionist Mohammad Reza Mortazavi observed in a 2016 interview, 'the human pulse is flexible and not held to a fixed beat.' Drawing on that spontaneity, the Iranian composer makes surreal, beautiful music performed on traditional instruments like the tombak and daf that speaks to basic human emotion using just his nimble hand-drumming. The title of his first full-length vinyl release, Ritme Jaavdanegi, translates loosely to »rhythm of eternity,« and its solo performances become a way for Mortazavi to engage in a conversation that never loses its momentum or sense of surprise. »The audience and I share a common pulse,« he said of his live shows. »Sometimes a member of the audience may even feel as if they are dictating the beat.« In these recordings, he captures that feeling of community. The closer you listen, the deeper it becomes. —Sam Sodomsky.«

»By the time he broke through in 2010 with debut album "Green Hands", Mohammad Reza Mortazavi had already earned a reputation for being the world's leading exponent of the tombak, an ancient Persian "goblet drum" that's still popular in the artist's homeland, Iran. Since then he's released countless albums showcasing his unique tombak techniques and virtuoso playing. His latest, "Ritme Jaavdanegi", is superb. It boasts eight solo pieces in which he creates mesmerizing, mind-altering rhythms and intricate fills using just his fingers and almost every part of the tombak (drum skin, rim, wooden base etc). Given the intricacy of the percussion sounds, you'll be genuinely amazed - like us - that it is the work of a lone musician.«

»‘Virtuosic performances on traditional Persian percussion instruments such as the tombak and daf, inspired by vivid memories of listening to music as a child. ‘The recordings were animated by the phrase ‘ritme jaavdanegi’, or ‘rhythm of eternity’. It reverberated in metrical step with their 11/8 time signatures, harking back to the aksak, a rhythmic system based on the rapid alternation of binary and ternary structures which is intrinsic to the traditional music of Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and the Balkans. ‘What’s most striking about Ritme Jaavdanegi, from a vantage-point within modern Western experimental music, is its supersession of the intensely programmed dynamics of so much electronica. Mortazavi’s needlepoint drum-hits bend in dazzlingly musical ways, but there is still an underlying focus on cyclical repetition, deeply conducive to that ancient transcendental quality clutched after by so many contemporary artists.’ Bim bim bim. Scintillating, rootical and enthralling.
Very warmly recommended.«

»Musical conceptions of eternity permeate the history of music, from the most ancient of traditional songs to the most cutting edge of contemporary composition. Usually, it manifests in percussion; this is how composer Mohammad Reza Mortazavi conceived of his Ritme Jaavdanegi. Loosely translated as “rhythm of eternity”, Ritme Jaavdanegi sees Mortazavi muse on the eternal on the traditional percussive instruments of Persia — namely, the tombak and daf, among others — on which he is a pin-sharp maestro. As if to hold two fingers up at both modern Western experimental music and computerised music altogether, each track on this LP is pure ancient futurism and a testament to the man’s immense stamina and elephant-hide palms.«

FOCUSPadre Himalaya • 2018

»Remarkably dextrous grooves from Berlin-based Iranian tombak virtuoso Mohammad Reza Mortazavi, issued by Portugal’s Padre Himalaya. Mortazavi pursues polymetric spirits deep into the rhythmatrix, using his preternaturally honed classic skills, plus over 30 new self-developed striking and finger techniques which have revolutionised tombak performance, to reprogram the listener’s sense of timing and proprioception in-the-moment. It’s an absolute pleasure to even attempt to follow and anticipate these flurries and inventive syncopations, which seem to cascade from the player in a complexity that sounds like more than two hands on the drum. In an important way, these are the kind of patterns and emotionally informed playing that a computer could never recreate, although we’d love to hear somebody giving it a crack.«

»Padre Himalaya's third release counts with the Iran-born, Berlin-based, Mohammad Reza Mortazavi. An internationally acclaimed artist who, when it comes to play the traditional Persian instruments, Tonbak and Daf, can single-handedly build an orchestra of sounds that are just as illusionistic as shamanistic.«

TRANSFORMATIONflowfish • 2016

Top 100 of the World Music Charts Europe 2016.

CODEXflowfish • 2013

»Seine Hände pochen, trommeln, krabbeln, fliegen, streichen, schnipsen. Mohammad Reza Mortazavi ist einer der bekanntesten Musiker auf den klassischen persischen Instrumenten Tombak und Daf, deren Spielweise er revolutioniert hat.«

YEK ✺ with Burnt Friedman Nonplace • 2017

»‘What Mortazavi and Friedman have in common is their shared expertise in uneven, cyclical rhythms - the foundation of their trance-like art music, which is both subtle and ecstatic. Through repetition and improvisation in the studio they create “numbers” – groove-based pieces played on a variety of drums (Mortazavi mainly plays the Tombak) mixed with electronics. Natural, i.e. given, motion patterns provide the musical backbone. This results in a precisely timed harmony between the electronic sounds and live grooves. Thanks to the extreme acoustic range of the Tombak and his extravagant technique, Mortazavi merges perfectly with Burnt Friedman’s signature sound and repertoire, which seems to belong to no specific place or time. At the age of 9 Mortazavi already won his first national Tombak competition in his home country – which he went on to win a further six times. At twelve he started teaching. Over the years that followed he expanded the traditional playing method by more than 30 new stroke and finger techniques – culminating in concerts, productions and great international acclaim for Mortazavi.’«

»Mortazavi und Friedman verbindet die Erfahrung auf dem Terrain ungerader, zyklischer Rhythmen, die die Grundlage ihrer, einerseits zarten, andererseits ekstatischen Trance-Kunstmusik bilden. Im Studio entstehen in der Wiederholung und Improvisation -Nummern-. Das sind Groove-basierte Stücke, gespielt auf verschiedensten Trommeln (Mortazavi spielt überwiegend Tombak) und elektronischen Mitteln. Die musikalische Basis bilden natürliche, d.h. gegebene Bewegungsformeln. Sie sorgen für die harmonische Spannung zwischen Elektro-Sound und live erzeugtem Groove mit präzisem Timing. Durch extreme Klangbandbreite der Tombak und Mortazavis extravaganter Technik, gelingt die Verschmelzung mit Friedmans ort- und zeitlosem Repertoire.«

YEK 2 ✺ with Burnt Friedman Nonplace • 2020

»Mohammad Reza Mortazavi follows that killer EP for Latency on a second collaborative session with Burnt Friedman for Nonplace, deploying uneven, cyclical rhythms for Tombak and electronics. Mortazavi is an award winning percussionist whose instrument of choice is the tombak - a traditional Iranian drum famed for its wide range of tonalities and striking techniques. Having in recent years collaborated with Mark Fell and Fis, his work with Burnt Friedman has perhaps brought him most acclaim, the pair seemingly in tune with eachothers’ trance–inducing production styles. Friedman’s electronic signature is all over this one, kept low and bubbling in the mix while Mortazavi deploys an ever-shifting percussive meter that swings at an almost imperceptible level; the more you zoom into it, the more fractious and chaotic it seems, but from afar it’s all zoned out and hypnotic. Yeah, it’s a peach this one.«


Designed by Jonas Petry
Last Update • March 22, 2024