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Siavash Amini * Amini & Umchunga

Amini - Umchunga


SIAVASH AMINI – FORAS  Also on Spotify

Foras (meaning ‘Outside’ in Latin) is Siavash Amini‘s sixth solo album in six years, and his second release for Hallow Ground. With four track covering 38 minutes it is a relatively short album, but Amini does not need more than that to express what he wants to.

The opener First Came Their Shadows warns us for what’s to come, with sonic outbursts as well as foreboding calm. The track titles reveal that the atmosphere will not get much ‘lighter’: Aporia (‘the expression of doubt’, definitely the noisiest track of the set), The Beclouding, Shadow of their Shadows.

Foras want to explore ‘how individual sorrow relates to and is triggered by space’, focusing on ‘how landscapes and buildings connect to and transform the inside world and thus the psychological experience’.
Using field recordings he made ‘in places over which a deep sense of darkness looms’, he blends ‘harsh electronic noise with lush granular synthesis and classical composition techniques.’ With four intense, deep soundscapes as a result, a ‘complex sound world that is haunted also by hope and compassion’.

Amini - Umchunga


The Brightest Winter Sun was released almost simultaneously with Foras, but on a different label (Flaming Pines). Here, Siavash Amini teams up with Umchunga (Nima Pourkarimi, also from Iran) who released his debut album Should Have Been Done By Now  on Hibernate in 2015.
The depth and emotional impact of these soundscapes are similar to those on Foras, but the ‘tone of voice’ is quite different: widely cinematic, more open perhaps, more optimistic even?

This may have something to do with the fact that this is a collaboration. But it may also have originated from the underlying concept: the ‘disoriented drunken drones’  are ‘drawn from the work of long dead composers.’
Amini and Umchunga reinterpret (piano) compositions of late 18th and 19th century composers in a way that renders them completely unrecognisable – ‘by depriving these compositions of one their most prominent characteristics namely thematic and tonal development and progression’.

For most tracks, you will have a hard time recognising the composers and their compositions. But the titles are a clue: each track points to the year in which the composer in question passed away. So Google is your friend here. You’ll probably be surprised (I was).

The Brightest Winter Sun is released on cassette and as a digital download.

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More Various



Abscence offers a unique chance to explore the electronic/experimental scene from Iran.
Usually, a statement like that triggers a search for a political context, or for elements from the cultural heritage. Something that doesn’t happen when the artists come from the western world (like the Discovery compilation, below).

When writing about art from the middle east, western media often  ‘places artists exclusively within the political context presented by the mainstream media, and only shows you the day-to-day politics of governments in the region. This biased approach means artists’ works are only interpreted in relation to a reduced conception of the political context. By seeing things this way you only have a handful of artists addressing certain issues with enough exaggeration to be newsworthy.
It would be terrifyingly ignorant to think that day-to-day politics in Iran has no impact on artists, but on the other hand it is too simplistic to see the wide range of artistic practices of Iranians though this narrow context.” 

This compilations, curated by Arash Akbari, presents Iranian artists that, as Siavash Amini states in his introduction, ‘are the voices who choose to be absent from the news and the musical mainstream in order to express the complex range of emotions and ideas which make up our lives.’
This music, so far removed from what is called ‘mainstream’ represents ‘an endless world of exploration and experimentation, a life of vast possibilities and new forms of cultural and political resistance’. This way, it’s hardly very different from experimental music all over the world: which goes to show that music knows no borders .

Discovery 1

Soft Recordings presents a 40-track (3 hours and 50 minutes!) compilation album that is free to download.
A really huge set, with some familiar names and a lot of new artists to discover.

“Discovery series aims to promote new artists and sounds in the experimental music community; including ambient, drone, electronic, noise and modern classical genres.”

This means there’s a lot of variation in the tracks so you probably have to compile your own subset with the tracks you like. But even then, chances are you still have a tracklist as long as 2 CD’s!

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Porya Hatami – The Garden

Porya Hatami

2014 is a good year for Porya Hatami (based in Sanandaj, Iran).
After releasing two collaboration albums (with Lee Anthony Norris and Lcoma, respectively), and a solo album (“Shallow”) earlier this year, his new album The Garden is now released on the Dronarivm label.

There’s the digital download, of course.
But there are also two versions of the CD (both limited to 150):
The regular CD comes in a beautiful ‘discbox slider’; for the ‘special edition’ it is lavishly packed in a “tea and grass handmade colored envelope sewn up in hessian bag”, together with “a lavender flower, 6 photo inserts (12×12 cm) on matte paper (200 gr.)”.

The Garden - Special Edition

Poryama Hatami‘s music on this album is every bit as beautiful as the package promises.

The tracks are all named after the small wildlife creatures you might find in your garden: “Firefly”, “Spider”, “Snail”, “Ladybug”, “Bee” and “Ant”.

Hatami adds his own electronic sounds and processed acoustics, carefully balanced with the environmental sounds, so that both seem to enhance each others relaxing effect.

Throughout, there is some undefined crackling – which could very well be the amplified sound of the garden insects – merging with the delicate sounds of a gentle rain, wind- and bamboo chimes.
“The soundscape of  The Garden forms from whispers and murmurs of rural nature, from that noiseless noise which lives in the summer air that are captured in a macro mode, so one can almost touch.”

The atmosphere is like a refreshing rest in your garden on a late summer night.
“Atmospheric in a summer way, meditative in the Oriental style and just beautiful music”.
A soundtrack for the summer night you’re always longing for…

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