As a child of immigrants from Iran, San Francisco’s Rostami came to understand that even his own idea of Iran comes from a specific cohort of the Iranian diaspora living in America and that his view of Persian culture is not the full picture. So what is the full picture? How accurate is our understanding of the world in general? Rostami’s response is to take the same route as Americans before him and make an amalgamation of many cultures to create something wholly American.
Historically, American influence proliferates with ease but it has been difficult for media to come from around the world back to America. This has changed with the internet and smart phones. On Sibbe, SIbbe II, and Sibbe III Rostami uses processed field recordings sent to him from Tehran, Kerman and Taipei to insert glimpses of Asia, one of the largest and often over simplified groupings of “The Other.” Rostami also incorporated much of his own instrumentation including Piano, Turkish Tar, Melodica, Glockenspiel, Vocals, Synthesizer, Violin and Computer. The representations of outside cultures are only glimpsed at and often left fighting against masses of information and sound.
On the other side of the globe, Iran is a country that imprisons artists and a culture that, due to strict control of personal freedoms, is uncomfortable being recorded. Some of the recordings sent could have gotten Rostami’s Tehran source in trouble with the law or otherwise. There were even a few instances where people confronted the source about what was being recorded. Although there are many artists making modern art in Iran, distribution and performance within the country is very difficult and/or in many cases illegal. But, through modern technology, instances of events happening across the world can be digitized and transferred. The source material which was sent and recorded through. This is a representation of how technology opens conversation between cultures, spying and voyeurism through technology, and relationships sustained through cellphones and computers. Sibbe is dedicated to all those who have been killed or imprisoned for making art and to those forbidden to document the cultures they live in.
Artwork by Caleb Hahne
REVIEWS of SIBBE
So What (IT)
The names of the songs on the release hint at this culture clash. Opener “Czarat” is a fusion of the Russian word “Czar” and the ancient Persian god “Zarathustra.” Rostami refers to this as a “cultural mishmash” and ultimately the names are a nonsense words, creating something new from familiar ideas. The song stands as a reference to the melting pot of disparate sounds within: Motorik Krautrock and North African rhythmic pulsations, Arab synth solos, Chicago acid lines, and Japanese riffing results in an overarching East meets West sensibility, gelling together to create something novel from a chaotic, contemporary trans-cultural communication. And while seemingly heady in its references, hidden beneath its surface is a banging house music core that positions the track well for those moments when the spotlights cut out and the strobes kick in.
Or, for less intense moments, LA’s Secret Circuit takes Rostami’s original and re-interprets it as sunny Balearica, with warm acoustic guitars and delay washes that make for a round, mellow feeling that keeps the energy laidback, sleek, and sexy — like a tripped-out renegade party on some forgotten beach along California’s Pacific Coast Highway.
Finally, “Vietnamoses” rounds things out. A completely different direction, it reveals aspects of Rostami’s more experimental side, with a downtempo feeling inspired by (but, we stress, not evocative of) dub-techno juxtaposed with less overt influences from music around the world with it’s twangs and drones. Space is the key here — his whipping drum patterns lull a hypnotic trance beneath massive walls of metallic echo and delay and a heightened focus on transition (one of Rostami’s favorite themes) allows the song to grow in unexpected ways.
Artwork by Grady Gordon
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REVIEWS of CZARAT
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DECADES/PETER – Crash Symbols (2013)
Decades/Peter collects two related sets of recordings, two dynamic concepts that play off of one another, though Rostami’s work is normally highly narrative based thanks to his cinematic and literary influences. Peter is an aural distallation of his relationship with a former collaborator, written in his memory, and meant to encompass both his and the composer’s identity, as well as their intersection. Peter represents a more open ended collection of songs, particularly tinted by Rostami’s childhood love of video games. Decades was made as its deliberate antithesis. According to him, whereas Peter ‘croons with vocals and strings,’ Decades ‘grinds and falls apart in lush ambiance and static,’ though the thread of Rostami’s identity runs throughout. Together, they serve as a compelling introduction to the producer’s burgeoning body of work and conceptual repertoire.
REVIEWS of DECADES/PETER
“Peter” was written and recorded in memory of my best friend, Shawn. He was the other half of the music project, feie. We had a very abnormal relationship, probably in the same way that most best friends do. “Peter” is my way of trying to explain that relationship. The album is also influenced by videogames I played in my childhood. I hoped to combine a few distinct ideas and feelings I’ve had throughout my life and simplify them into one coherent sound.
REVIEWS of PETER
Reissued on Audiobulb in 2013
Uniform is a “remix album” and a follow up to my debut album Form. Form was about the deconstruction of sound while Uniform is about the reconstruction of it. Although the album contains only three proper remixes, the five new original tracks were guided by the spirit of a remix album. The songs were put together mostly by constructing field recordings, randomly recorded piano parts, and so on to create source material and then combined afterword to create songs. The new tracks were created to have some parallelism with the remixes. Uniform discovers the differences within similarities. Uniformity is nothing more than an idea; a force that turns and breaks from human lens to human lens.
REVIEWS of UNIFORM
Reissued on Audiobulb in 2013
Form was recorded in the Winter of 2010/2011 and marks that very specific time in my life. I started recording Form after my project, feie, went on hiatus and for all I know may never exist again. This work reflects my understanding and appreciation for all things coming to an end. The album starts off kicking and screaming and slowly unwinds from then on. Sounds burst out like living organisms, somewhat imperfect and random and then fall apart by refolding into themselves. It carries a bittersweet sentiment, a dying organism so to speak. It is a desperate attempt to latch onto form, but losing it all to the elements. The sound is unstable and fragile. The low ends hold power over everything. It is a battle between what an individual pursues and the overwhelming power of nature. The last song on the album is infinitely loop-able; an old memory as it plays forever.
REVIEWS of FORM