Brooklyn-based Persian producer Aria Rostami is set to drop an esoteric eleven-track album on his Intimate Inanimate label later this year. A musician since 1997, a producer since 2004 – recent years have seen Aria Rostami release an EP and album on Spring Theory, long players on Crash Symbols and Audiobulb, not to mention collaborating with Daniel Blomquist for projects on Jacktone and Glacial Movements Records. Many of these are concept records that focus on topics such as new technology’s influence on communication between civilians of the United State and Iran, how culture is exchanged, preserved and/or changed within the diaspora and how things are lost in translation for the children of immigrants, as well as the decay of form and the illusion of control. ‘Numb Years’ is his next album and will be released with a poem and essay. In these Rostami talks about his parent’s immigrant experience, being part of the second generation, the events in the United States since the election and what he’s learned from the untold stories about his aunt that was murdered before his father was born. Below is an excerpt from that essay:
“On July 1st, 2017 I moved to Brooklyn, New York from San Francisco, California. I left a good paying job and a home city I grew to love over 11 years. I moved to New York City for an opportunity to make art and
experience life that was not available in San Francisco. I got an entry level job that paid minimum wage and mostly lived off of savings. I was living like I was 20 all over again... two small meals a day to save money, working for 9 hours a day at a mind-numbing job, coming home and working on music until 5am... Really, music was the only balancing point of the whole experience. So I started making music that brought in the noise of New York... The shrieking and hissing of transit, it’s unavoidable, I hear it everywhere... I made an album in a month. “Numb Years” captures everything I felt in that concentrated period of time.” Composed of densely layered textures and scintillating sounds, the album itself is an eclectic selection of leftfield cuts that span pearlescent downtempo through to frenetic percussive jams. With ‘Numb Years’, Aria Rostami continues to raise the bar and assert himself as one of electronic music’s most fascinating and talented rising artists.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.