Boomkat Product Review:
Siavash Amini's new album is an attempt to wrestle with Safi-al-din Urmavi’s theory of tuning, rhythm and maqam, using a 17-tone scale as the basis for three long-form experiments.
There's been a lot of digital ink spilled on intonation and temperament lately, but it's a subject that's often revisionist, and can willfully ignore the musical development of countries and cultures who have long embraced tonality outside equal temperament. Amini has been fascinated with Urmavi's 17-tone scale since he was at high school but has only tentatively approached it before in his compositions. While writing his last album 'A Trail of Laughters', this scaling was at the front of his mind, but he felt limited by conventional instruments and compositional techniques. 'Eidolon' then is his attempt to wrestle with the concept outside of its history, using Urmavi's scale as a starting point rather than an end point.
'Ortus' is initially hard to place, erupting in hissing noise before it reveals its hand. Shimmering, metallic drones eventually make themselves known, but they sound like traces, hidden beneath frothy waterfall sounds and static. But when the noise subsides, Amini builds a delicate lace of drones, using Urmavi's technique to guide him to the sublime. 'Instantia' is even more forthright, a dense mesh of notes that revels in its powerful thrum, occasionally pricked by field recordings and subsonic rumbles.
The 15-minute final track has us most enthralled; 'Relictio' is the most unassuming track of the three, and its tonality isn't even completely obvious at first. The squealing horn sounds might be a malfunctioning machine, and the vibrating, resonant tones might be feedback or rugged ambience, it's hard to tell at first. In the final third, Amini strips away the gristle, leaving glistening waves that serenade us into silence.
Essential listening if you're into anything from Kali Malone and Ellen Arkbro to Duane Pitre, or Mattias Petersson's excellent 'Triangular Progressions'.