Boomkat Product Review:
What would Dariush Dolat-Shahi’s Electronic Music, Tar And Sehtar classic sound like if he had access to a Serge modular and digital applications in 2016? That notion is beautifully answered in Sote’s remarkable Sacred Horror In Design, which was produced in Tehran, Iran as the sonic quota of an A/V collaboration with Tarik Barri, commissioned for a performance at the 2017 edition of Berlin’s CTM festival, and now picked up for this special release by the excellent Opal Tapes label.
To more pertinently expand the question at the top; what if Dolat-Shahi had also come up listening to hardcore, techno and modern electronic music? Across six tracks that idea unfolds in gloriously beguiling fashion, rendering 45 minutes of the classic instruments - ancient forerunners of the ubiquitous guitar - sublimated into flourishing vamps and diaphanous clouds of complex harmonics which reprise the beauty of Dolat-Shahi’s music, but with a more dynamic keen and microtonal glisten that’s no doubt been inspired by the cultural restrictions of his home country, and also resonates with the fraught ambiguity of our times.
It’s the latest and arguably most impressive example of Sote’s creative renaissance, presenting his definitive opus after a winding 15 years of work which has variously turned up on Warp in the early ‘00s, followed by a 7 years hiatus which saw him return with the Xenakis-at-the-rave styles of Architectonic and Arrhythmia for Morphine Records and Record Label Records, and a pair of staggering techno releases for Ge-stell and Opal Tapes in Hardcore Sounds From Tehran .
Opening with the wide-eyed, vaulted dimensions of Flux of Sorrow, incorporating material from NOVA Ensemble’s Seyle Ashk, to vacillate serene pastoral motifs with panicked modular busts in Boghze Esfahan and the demented prangs of Plural, before lashing out with the intense rave brainfloss of Plebians and sweeping us up in the folk music advancement of Segaah, the meter-tearing Serge rushes of Holy Error’ provides a fitting, climactic closure to the album’s mind bending equations.
It’s hard to think of another artist who has so uniquely pursued a synthesis of traditional and modern, sacred and arcane, with such vigour and vision in recent years, and for it all to remain so compellingly coherent is strong testament to Sote’s sorely under-regarded brilliance.