Boomkat Product Review:
Coming hot on the heels of the excellent 'A Vow Not To Read', 'Chasing Stateless' is the most complete example yet of Saint Abdullah & Eomac's erratic fusion of complex percussion and haunted Iranian vocals. Where else might you find manic, distorted gabber blended with ritual chants? Proper good, this one.
Mohammad and Mehdi Mehrabani (aka Saint Abdullah) and Ian McDonnell (aka Eomac) have had a prolific working relationshp already. Working long distance, they've found a workflow that easily integrates both sides' distinctive compositional and production techniques. The comparatively zippy 'A Vow Not To Read' improved on last year's Other People-released 'Patience of a Traitor', and 'Chasing Stateless' arranges all their themes and sounds into a neat row, crushing, melting and eliminating them where necessary.
'Experts Defeating Experts' takes a devotional vocal and cuts into it with blunted, heartbeat-like percussion and eerie silence. It provides a neat intro to 'Pretense of Neutrality', where Saint Abdullah's illbient influences are brushed to center stage. A dusty, staggering beat reels beneath rousing cries and an AutoTuned wail; gongs bring the track to silence, offering us a break before the low-slung final third. And it's not all downtempo, contemplative gear either - 'Frequently Fugitive' has the high-NRG rush of a Thunderdome tape, but McDonnell, Mohammad and Mehdi trap their overdriven kick rushes in a sandstorm of chattering voices and exclamations.
If there's an aesthetic element that grounds 'Chasing Stateless', it's the layer of grit and grime that the trio lavish over each sound. On previous records the digital sounds and heaving, tape-damaged samples sometimes seemed at odds, while here everything sounds as if it's bellowing from the same broken amplifier. On 'Sag Masab', a busted drum machine beat quivers alongside garbled robot screams, and 'Put By Nothing' sounds as jerky and forceful as a SOPHIE track, but one that's been buried under a few feet of mud and clay.
The whirr of IDM is never too far from the frame, but McDonnell, Mohammad and Mehdi temper it expertly; 'Arrows of Illusion' has a familiar structure, but its rhythmic complexity is less important than the energy itself, that's been distorted and compressed into a pneumatic thump. Elsewhere, 'Hiccup' sounds as bumpy and melancholy as early Arovane, but the trio pull away by enhancing the machine hum and corrupting the frequencies. And the final track 'Lonely is our Non-Existent House Yard' might be the biggest surprise of them all, a chirpy hyperpop banger that loops an echoed-out Iranian vocal (we're thinking 'Halcyon' here) over bleepy synths and crunchy rhythms. Really good stuff.