REFORM – Zoom Lens (2017)
Aria Rostami is a San Francisco artist whose intersection of Iranian diaspora and American culture have created a truly unique amalgamation of sound and cultural cultivation. Working under genres of ambient, classical, noise and pop, Rostami’s music seeks to explore the artistic and personal breakthrough of such varied works.
“Reform” is Rostami’s latest album, equally reflective and forward. The album draws closely upon imagery of past remnants and future contemplation.
In Rostami’s recording room are scattered notes of a passed best friend, dead roses on a piano, books on WWII and a painting of a moonlit river purchased in Iran 17 years ago. These items serve as what’s been gathered during time spent in their native San Francisco.
But with any perception of the past comes an idealization of the future, these items also stand for what is to be left behind in preparation of Rostami’s next musical journey towards New York.
A collection of songs both written old and new, “Reform” is a reference to Rostami’s first two albums, “Form” and “Uniform,” as a way to bookend this chapter in life.
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REVIEWS of REFORM
Tiny Mix Tapes (Premiere)
Thats Deck (Premiere)
SIGNAL ARTIFACT – Jacktone Records (2016)
Collaboration with Daniel Blomquist
San Francisco’s Aria Rostami & Daniel Blomquist (Spring Theory, Glacial Movements) debut on Jacktone with a masterful 6-track experimental ambient release titled “Signal Artifact.”
This release spans over 70 minutes, with several tracks clocking in just north of 19 minutes. The moods and textures vary not only from track to track, but within the tracks themselves – dark intense tones and dancefloor rhythms to ethereal cinematics/soundscapes that ebb and flow through builds/dissolution.
Signal Artifact is an intense audio tome that provokes and engages. Not for the faint at heart!
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REVIEWS of SIGNAL ARTIFACT
Post Ambient Lux (End of Year Honorable Mention)
“Return” will be sent to anyone who e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org with a picture of a receipt equivalent to $10 or more to a charity of your choice. This album consists of 12 songs with a total run time of about 67 minutes. I recorded these songs in between albums, for compilations or they didn’t fit the vibe of the album they were recorded for and didn’t make the cut. Most of them are unreleased. With recent changes in the American political landscape, a call for community has become far more important. If their is a cause you’ve always wanted to support, please send them a donation and as my thank you to you I will send you work I’ve spent years on. Consider becoming a regular donor for your cause by pledging a monthly donation. Please don’t send this album to your friends for free, instead encourage them to make a donation and to send the receipt to me (or if you’d like, they can send the receipt to you and then you send them the album.)
The cover was made by James Kennard and I commissioned it for a record I ended up not releasing. You can find more of his work here.
WANDERING EYE – Glacial Movements (2016)
Collaboration with Daniel Blomquist
Aria Rostami and Daniel Blomquist’s debut album “Wandering Eye” was recorded over the span of a year and a half. “Dome A” and “Dome B” were recorded inside of a planetarium dome to no audience and it was the second time Rostami and Blomquist played together. “Ridge A” is the latest song recorded and it was performed live in Blomquist’s basement. These live tracks use source material ranging from samples from the internet, to live field recordings, to synthesizers. “Dome C” and “Dome F” were compiled by sending material back and forth over and over again and then rearranged into coherent songs. These studio recordings mostly consist of processed piano originally recorded by Rostami. “Ridge B” originated as a cover of the Persian pop song “Do Panjereh” by Googoosh that Rostami had created but was manipulated and distorted in the process of sending the material back and forth. The song titles come from a paper published by Saunders et al. titled “Where is the best site on Earth?” which highlights the best places to observe space from the Antarctic Plateau. Antarctica is the coldest, driest and calmest place on earth. The astronomical sights there yield images of the heavens that are sharper and have more clarity than any other sight on earth. It is a gateway to observe other worlds.
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REVIEWS of WANDERING EYE
Foreign Accents (end of year list)
Fear Drop (FR)
So What (IT)
Music Wont Save You (IT)
Radio Beograd 1 (BS)
Uni Mag (CZ)
Spring Theory is proud to announce its latest release, an LP from San Francisco-based experimental producer and label alumni Aria Rostami. Titled Agnys, it’s an intensely personal and introspective reflection on friendship, loss and rebirth in our hyper-connected society. A rumination on a collaborative project started with Rostami’s now deceased production partner, roommate, and friend Shawn Dickerson, it utilizes a melodic and ambient techno sound palette to take the listener on a journey that touches on the uncanny permanence that information technology lends to the tragic fragility of the human experience.
Mirroring the time distortion of the information age, and how new and old exist simultaneously on the internet, Agnys is a record that unfolds in reverse. The deep and minimalistic b-sides, “White-White,” “Soroban” and “Beghilos” guide the aesthetic experience. Unified by an emotion of retrospective nostalgia, they were all created by editing and contorting aspects from a single recording made from Dickerson’s piano — a dusty and detuned standup made sometime before The Great Depression that now sits in Rostami’s bedroom. “This plays with both the idea of sameness (something old, something that’s been done, something bland) and newness (something re-contextualized),” explains Rostami.
By contrast, the warm embrace of “Clepsydra,” the symphonic dancefloor grandeur of “Seven-Segments,” and sharp punchiness of “A Square Tablet Strewn With Dust” reveal Rostami’s own take on the sonic structure of the B-sides. “The A-sides are a reinterpretation of the world made by the B-sides much like the B-sides are a reinterpretation of Shawn’s interests and ideas. In this way, the listener works backwards to the source.”
“The internet became a key player in our relationship. The web dissolved old walls of discovery and opened itself up through search terms and piracy. We were discovering electronic music we couldn’t even conceive of.” says Rostami. “For Agnys, I took ideas that are new, ideas that are old, and ideas that are just old enough to be recycled again and focused on certain points that I thought Shawn and I could have explored more if we had had the time.”
Simply put, Agnys is a beautiful record from one of San Francisco’s most talented producers. We’re excited to release it, and we’re very excited for you to hear it for yourself.
Artwork by øjeRum
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Pacific Beach (US)
REVIEWS of AGNYS
Des Oreilles Dans Babylone (FR – End of Year List)
Tsinoshi Bar (IT)
Mixmag Germany (DE)
Hunger Culture (ES)
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)
Music Wont Save You (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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Purchase Vinyl Piccadilly Records (UK)
Red Eye Records (UK)
Chez Emile Records (FR)
Free Style Online (JP)
Jet Set (JP) plus review
Light House Records (JP) plus review
Technique (JP) plus review
Pigeon Records (JP) plus review
REVIEWS of CZARAT
Resident Advisor (JP)
Beat Burguer (ES)
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