Siavash Amini & Zenjungle – Topology of Figments [Flaming Pines]

It was difficult not to become giddy at the prospects when this collaboration between Siavash Amini and Zenjungle (Phil Gardelis) was first announced by Flaming Pines. These are two of the most potent and expressive voices in experimental ambient and drone music on the scene today and the idea of  them joining creative forces was tantalizing to say the least. While it would not be wrong to say the end result exceeded my expectations, it is probably more accurate to say it obliterated them with the stunning and imaginative work of fearsome beauty that is Topology of Figments. The abstract  concept behind the record is the vivid exploration of the characters, places, and memories we invent and which become part of our personal and shared identities. Siavash and Phil explain it this way:

“Sometimes we cannot separate the imagined colors, textures, spaces, or even smells from what actually existed or exists.It’ s in such activities that we create spaces never imagined before; hallways, valleys, rooms, textures on a wall, a howling distant sound in a giant metropolis. These spaces can be thought of as explored but not owned by any person. No one has ever made claim to them. In these tracks we have tried to imagine some of such places, live in them for a while, walk their paths without ever stopping for too long. This album reflects how we understand many of these imaginary lands, leaving them behind as they were (are).”

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Travelogue 2016.05.09: Mental Exfoliation

A listening journey with four albums composed of intricate electroacoustic textures, field recordings, and emotional undercurrents. Immersed in these mild sonic abrasions and vivid soundscapes, the mind can exfoliate… Continue reading

Travelogue 2015-49: Signals and Resonances


A quiet space and a good pair of headphones are recommended for this group of albums that share an intent to capture signals, noise, and resonances and sculpt them into fascinating sonic narratives. Featuring Sustainer, José Soberanes, Kate Carr, Arovane, & Porya Hatami. 

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Siavash Amini – Subsiding [Futuresequence]

Siavash Amini returns to the Futuresequence label with Subsiding, his sixth full length album and the third in a triptych of recent densely layered works, a stunning opus that incorporates some of the most distinctive elements of each of its predecessors while incrementally refining and evolving his sound. We have reached the point where we can no longer be surprised by the scope,  depth, or power of Amini’s sonic creations. We can only savor the joy of hearing each new oeuvre for the first time.

Among the five exquisite tracks that comprise Subsiding, we hear the oceanic stillness and frozen melancholy of Till Human Voices Wake Us  (Umor Rex) and the tempestuous, modern classical infused drones of What Wind Whispered to the Trees (Futuresequnce) and even a bit of the frosty and shimmering guitar lines of Chamomile Vol.01 (Oído).

“His most full and detailed sound to date illustrates Amini’s ability to bring together modern classical composition with that of controlled noise, granular synthesis, and atmospheric soundscape. Both monolithic and micro sound sculptures coexist within a perfect balance, a mix which makes for an all encompassing listen across the audio spectrum, funereal yet uplifting”. – Futuresequence

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A Sense of Place: Tiny Portraits on Flaming Pines


Flaming Pines label founder Kate Carr has developed a highly regarded and multi-faceted creative practice “centered on articulating the relationship between people and place through sound”. In addition to her own sound work, she has curated a variety of wonderful conceptual series, the latest of which has seemingly unlimited potential despite its ostensibly diminutive name – Tiny Portraits.

In Listening to Noise and Silence, Salomé Voeglin talks of soundscape compositions occupying a site ‘between preservation and invention’ – an attempt by the composer or field recordist to retain the essence of a site inevitably results via the processes of recording, composition and listening in the creation of somewhere new. Tiny Portraits asks each participant to dwell on these connections and disconnections between sound and place, representation and invention by starting somewhere small, somewhere overlooked or obscure, and to interrogate this site using sound. – Kate Carr

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[Rekonstrukt-I] Tegh – Night Scenes [Bitrot]


For some time now, we have been singing the praises of a collective of artists from Iran who have consistently been putting out some stunning ambient & electronic recordings. Several of them, namely Siavash Amini, Hesam Ohadi (Idlefon), and Arash Akbari, have gotten together to launch a new label they call Bitrot. The inaugural release is not only a superb record in its own right, but it also sets a benchmark for the label’s aesthetic and launches the “Rekonstrukt” series which takes a cereberal approach to the way artists rework each other’s music.

“In order to reconstruct a piece you first have to take it apart and engage it in a way that with its destruction you bring a new creation to life, in which something from the original still lives…By channeling a piece of music through different imaginations you will find out that it has many hubs and nodes that were hidden in the original. In this series we try to explore this idea by letting artists find these hubs and nodes that make up a work and have them rearranged. Then you can see the work in the light of other creative minds, generating a vast network of musical landscapes connected by an invisible line that is the original music’s destruction.”

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Sound Impression: Idlefon – Submarine [Tympanik]

Tehran based sound artist and computer musician Hesam Ohadi has released a new EP called Submarine under the moniker of Idlefon on Tympanik Audio, following up his outstanding 2014 release on the same label.

With five engaging new songs, Idlefon gently embraces the listener with a striking array of ambient sounds, locking in impressive rhythmic structures that flow through underlying static and echoing melodies. A soulful and reflective journey, ‘Submarine’ melts and pulses within itself, in turn resulting in a deeply resonating listening experience. – Tympanik Audio 

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Arash Akbari – Vanishing Point [Flaming Pines]

Vanishing Point  is the latest full length recording from one of the leading lights of the fertile electronic music scene based in Iran – musician, producer and new media artist Arash Akbari. It has been released by Flaming Pines, a label founded by sound artist Kate Carr based in Sydney, Australia.

Iran’s Arash Akbari’s Vanishing Point nestles into inbetween places, revelling in the indistinct, the delicate and the mysterious. Bringing together field recordings taken from northern Iran, guitar and electronics, this is a late night album, an album which soothes, a set of sounds to think to. This is an album which lingers in the margins of consciousness, it conjures images gently, caresses them and ever so slowly lets them fade from view. – Flaming Pines 

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Travelogue 2015-21: The Power of 3 (a case for the short EP)

Just like the short story in prose, the haiku in poetry, or the short subject in film, the humble EP is a form that can be enjoyed on its own terms. These four wonderful EPs that have something on common – each has exactly 3 tracks. The shortest lasts barely 11 minutes and the longest just over 20. Yet, each one is a complete and memorable musical journey worth taking. Interestingly I also found they they flow very nicely into each other when played through in the order presented, forming a lovely arc from sparkling tones into deep reflection.

Cétieu – Into the Light 

[Twice Removed Records]

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Travelogue Week 2015-09: Spotlight on Hibernate

This week’s travelogue focuses on recent & upcoming releases from Hibernate Recordings, a label based in the South Pennines, a region of moorland and hill country in the north of England.  Featured: A stunning new collaboration by Iranian artists Tegh & Kamyar Tavakoli, a consoling reflection by Federico Durand, a mesmerizing sound experiment with turntables and found objects by Danny Clay, and a beguiling blend of folk, pop, & modern classical music by  Memory Drawings.  

Tegh & Kamyar Tavakoli | Through the Winter Woods

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Arash Akbari – Cracked Echoes [Soft Recordings]

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Arash Akbari (aka Odepth) is a musician, producer and new media artist, based in Tehran. His music explores the genres of experimental, ambient, drone and noise, utilizing electric guitar, acoustic sounds, field recording, digital synthesis and DSP to create soulful compositions and textures. Arash has also created numerous works of still and generative visual art and interactive audiovisual installations.  His newest album has just been released via Soft Recordings and what a captivating journey it turns out to be.

Mastered by none other than Lawrence English, Cracked Echoes is a soul deep collection of expansive ambient drones that seems to have eyes cast upwards toward the endless expanse and two feet planted on solid ground, a metaphorical way of saying that the tracks balance a floating space-ambient aesthetic with scratchy, earthy textures that imbue them with warmth and emotion.

Cracked Echoes accomplishes what only the best ambient records can – it envelops and transports the listener to a place of stillness and wonder.  The celestial build up of ‘All Is Gone’, the tranquil ebbing waves of ‘Until Time Sites By Your Side’, the hissing glow of ‘Passing Flares’ and the hushed choirs of ‘Pale Blue’ are the milestones on this trek through inner and outer space. And special mention must be made of the long form showpiece ‘Tomorrow’s Daylight’ which is a journey unto itself that rewards the patient listener by resolving a tension spun by ominous tones and harsh textures with a soothing and elegant outro. Viewed as whole, the album is an assured and beautiful work.

‘Until Time Sits by Your Side’

‘All Is Gone’ (music and video by Arash Akbari)

Porya Hatami – Arrivals and Departures [Time Released Sound]


Arrivals and Departures by Porya Hatami  [Time Released Sound]

What other word could we use to describe the year 2014 for Porya Hatami but prolific?  He has already given us two excellent solo albums in the form of Shallow (on Tench) and The Garden (on Dronarivm) as well as a pair of full length collaborations, The Longing Daylight with Lee Anthony Norris (their second) and one with Liam Coleman, aka Lcoma, called Synesthesia.  That would be an exceptionally productive year by any measure, but it turns out he had another gem in the works and this one is treated to the artful ministrations of boutique label Time Released Sound for its physical release.

Arrivals and Departures is a gentle skyfaring ambient journey filled with stillness and wonder. Forget the frenetic chaos and anxiety of modern travel as we have come to know it.  This album evokes images of endless blue skies, drifting cloud formations, glistening wings swaddled in wisps of smooth flowing air, and travel as a context for contemplation and nostalgia.

To contrive these bucolic vistas, Hatami uses as his backdrop a variety of synth tones that hum, flow, ebb, and oscillate. He then embellishes with shimmering keys, a variety of electroacoustic textures, and field recordings ranging from a rush of wind, which we hear in the opening tracks, ‘Farewell’ and ‘Homecoming’, to the reassuring cacophony of air traffic control radio transmissions which appears in ‘Landing’.  Chiming bell tones welcome us back to Earth in ‘Terminal’ and finally we reflect on journeys ended and journeys yet to begin with ‘Sunrise Pylon’.  The music is uncompromising in its patience and serenity.  It drifts and glides as if lighter than air and free to meander with the currents of the jet stream. It is pure sonic alchemy.

Arrivals and Departures is available in two forms.  The deluxe edition, limited to 75 copies, comes in the form of a hand assembled 6” x 8” sewn booklet full of aeronautic ephemera such as runway identification diagrams, vintage airport photos, flight instruction manuals, and actual pages from vintage pilots logbooks.  In addition, each also comes with a unique, tipped in vintage aeronautic snapshot and the disc is slipped into a vintage airmail envelope. The standard digipak is limited to 150 copies and comes with different, but equally evocative and nostalgic cover art.



‘Terminal’ by Porya Hatami