Boomkat Product Review:
Sote returns with a "harmonically maximalist" all-electronic album that burns traditional Persian elements into glassy electronic superstructures, joining the dots between avant-garde composition, vintage videogame music, DIY noise and soundtrack music. Seriously mind-expanding material >> RIYL Alessandro Cortini, Lorenzo Senni, Carl Stone, Pita, Mika Vainio.
For years, Ata "Sote" Ebtekar's music has been defined by its balance of harmony and dissonance, beauty and charred ugliness. On 2020's brilliant 'Moscels' he used a complicated modular synth setup to draw intricate sonic blueprints that linked Arca at her most melodramatic with Xenakis and Autechre, while its predecessor 'Parallel Persia' reimagined Iranian music to develop a "Meta-Persian" experience. As the title suggests, 'Majestic Noise Made in Beautiful Rotten Iran' is a more personal, self-reflective work that feels less conceptual than its predecessors and more emotional as a result. Ebtekar describes its writing process as a form of "self therapy" - it sounds angry and charged as he blazes through weighty compositions that mine his by-now easily identifiable sound palette, electrifying it with passion and vitriol.
'Forced Abscence' launches us into Ebtekar's brain cavity, matched in its ornate grandiosity with an ear-splitting core. Since his Warp days and 2002's stand-out 'Electric Deaf', Ebtekar has been known for his command of rhythm, and here his drums act as a death rattle: thick, distorted waves of neck-snapping snares and seismic kick drums, that accompany unusually tuned parallax synths, arranged into cascades of santur-like crystal. 'I'm trying but I can't reach you father' is even more bombastic, sounding trapped between arcade beat-em-up OST wind-up electronix and court brass fanfares. Ebtekar eases up on 'Life' - allowing the beats to subside he casually shifts the mood into contemplative, proggy harmony, without losing the guiding sonic signature. On 'Arcane Existence', he balances sickly FM synth spray with stargazing synth sounds and casual rhythms; there are moments that feel as if the track could burst into full-on EDM sleaze, but Ebtekar pulls back at just the right moment.
Many of the album's most memorable moments feel like blown-out, expropriated takes on mid-1980s sci-fi soundtracks, when previously all-analog composers shifted away from bulky expensive setups towards cheaper, space-saving digital sound modules. But Sote's use of these sounds doesn't glimpse into the past, instead the reimagining of a lost future - his vision is a parallel Iranian sci-fi universe that sounds as if it evolved separately from a singular point in history. It's unsettling music that bridges dimensions, states and histories; perhaps Ebtekar will begin to see some of the popularity that's been eluding him for far too long. At this point, he truly deserves it.