Arash Akbari

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Arash Akbari image



His recent output “Fragments Of Yearning” (pushed by the excellent Karlrecords in September 2021) was one of my personal favorite soundscape albums of the last year, as it features a remarkable quality in sound editing and awesome ear-hooking strategies. This release also reinforced the connection between Thomas Herbst’s imprint and the fertile artistic Iranian ground, as Teheran-based Arash Akbari is the third artist coming from that area after Porya Hatami (interviewed on the occasion of his collaborative album “Organism” with Arovane here, but also after some outputs on Hibernate records) and Saba Alizadeh. Let’s know Arash by his own words.

Arash Akbari image
AV Performance “Mute Colors” – courtesy of Aram Tahmasebi

Chain D.L.K.: Hi Arash! How are you doing these days? Where are you while typing answers at the moment?

Arash Akbari: Hi, I’m doing well. I’m working on some projects and researching for the upcoming ones. Right now, I’m in Tehran, drinking coffee while it’s raining outside!

Chain D.L.K.: I already had an interesting talk with Porya Hatami, who was the first musician from Iran to land on the excellent catalog of Karlrecords. You’re the third one, following Saba Alizadeh. Just out of curiosity, do you know each other? If yes, did you have collaborative projects as well?

Arash Akbari: I’ve listened to their beautiful music, although we haven’t collaborated or worked together.

Chain D.L.K.: Imagine you have to describe your art to someone who just landed on our planet. What would you say in your explanation?

Arash Akbari: Instead of a representational approach, I’m trying to create art systems and processes that do something, and by doing so, they create and share meanings, emotions, or contexts. The outcome and documentation of each project vary depending on many factors. It may be a music album or an interactive installation, a website or an audiovisual performance, etc…

Chain D.L.K.: Many reviewers match Iranian electronic music to Sufism. Is there any connection between that fascinating spiritual movement that has long-lasting tradition and strong roots in your country?

Arash Akbari: I think the inspirational sources and their effects on the artist are very subjective, and I can’t generalize something to every artist in a scene or a region. But that being said, to answer your question, it’s possible to find a relation between some aspects and characteristics of electronic music subgenres to Sufism. For example, the liminal states in drone music that reveal their essence during a longer time frame, or the repetitive patterns in techno music. These methods are common in the Sufi’s rituals. But I’m not familiar with Sufism, so I’m not the right person to discuss it in detail.

Chain D.L.K.: I really enjoyed listening to “Fragments of Yearning”… any word on the technical aspects to make it?

Arash Akbari: All the tracks have been composed using recorded concrete noise as the raw material. I started from pure noise and then shaped it by frequency filtering, adding partials, and using randomness and procedural decision-making to create the compositions. I love working with noise as the starting point. Everything is already there, and the artist should just explore, filter, and extract what he wants!

courtesy of Arash Bolouri

Chain D.L.K.: Besides the technical aspect, what’s the conceptual framework or a plot, if there are any?

Arash Akbari: I think there’s a metaphor within working with noise. Noise is like a flux, and everything is entangled. It’s very chaotic and nonsense when being witnessed from a distance. But if we become a part of it on a micro scale, patterns would appear, and it all starts to make sense. There’s good or bad, rhythmic and arrhythmic, resonance and dissonance, beauty and ugliness, all in an evolving flux! Isn’t life just the same?

Chain D.L.K.: I read your words on the linear notes saying: “Some moments linger in us, buried in time but molded the eternity. The dusty echoes from the past, yet are vividly unraveled. The irreplaceable momentary fragments of being human.” How do these interesting thoughts mirror your music?

Arash Akbari: I believe there are moments in life that time is not capable of containing. They shape us, change us and stay with us for the rest of our lives, meanwhile, they’re passing just like any other second. To me, every piece is like sitting within those time fragments for a while and exploring them with a different temporality while still being trapped in the passage of objective time. I think that was my take on Deleuze’s concept of crystal images in which the present and past, the actual and virtual, co-exist.

Chain D.L.K.: How did you get close to electronic music and composition?

Arash Akbari: It’s a long story! To give you a brief, I started playing guitar at the age of 15! I was a member of a rock band as a guitar player. I started working with real-time processing to find new approaches to guitar sound design while studying generative algorithms and real-time graphics. Topics like the symbiotic relationship between audio and visual streams and art-making using algorithms grabbed my attention. I started experimenting in the field, and that was a turning point in my creative process and career as an artist!

Chain D.L.K.: Speaking in general, do you make music mostly for yourself or for your listeners?

Arash Akbari: It’s a bit tricky. It’s both. I create music for those who have the same perspective or aesthetics as me. By creating and experimenting, I try to find answers to my questions. I share the outcomes in hope that they may create the same moments, meanings, and feelings for others. It’s economically disastrous to experiment and change styles constantly. Because most of the time, being professional means to be boringly good at one and only one thing, but it’s the price to pay!

Chain D.L.K.: A dear Iranian friend of mine explained to me that there’s not a real distinction between poetry and lyrics in Iranian traditional music. He also told me about the great importance of poetry in general and that some poets are highly respected people, unlike Western culture that almost forgot the importance of poetry in life. Have you ever tried to integrate words into your music? If not, do you think that wordless music can somehow say more than a text?

Arash Akbari: There are different ways of exploring poems, worlds, or ideas in music. A piece of music can be the interpretation of a poem or its context in a symbolic or non-symbiotic way without containing any words or vocals. Using the mimetic power of sound is a great way of approaching ideas, contexts, or interpreting different art forms.
Unlike literature, music and sound are very abstract. It is hard to create a common ground in music cause what you perceive is very subjective to your experiences, cultural background, or many other factors, yet that is where the power of sound comes from. While listening to a sound piece, everyone has their take and impression, free from the artist’s agenda.

Chain D.L.K.: The emotional tension is really high in your tracks on “Fragments of Yearning”, but I particularly appreciated the tracks on the tail of the two sides of your record, as they really sound like coming from otherworldly dimensions. I’m referring to “Far Away From The Dawn” and “Broken Windows, Shimmering Waves”… Is it only a personal impression, or did you follow an asymptotic curve of rarefaction in the choice of track order?

Arash Akbari: You’re right. There’s a curve indeed. There are ups and downs throughout the whole album. I think moments happen in real life just like that. There is no external logic, order, or force. They come to you out of nowhere, and I can’t find an answer for all of that.

I didn’t want to add an ending point to the journey, so I chose “Broken Windows, Shimmering Waves” as the outro to hold the listeners in suspension for some minutes and leave them with no conclusion because the rest is yet to come!

Chain D.L.K.: Is there any connection between “Fragments of Yearning” and your previous releases? if yes, which ones?

Arash Akbari: I think it is conceptually related to one of my first albums, “Cracked Echoes”. It was a concept and a personal tension, I unintentionally needed to come back to after seven years!

Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?

Arash Akbari: Covid’s situation has been forcing me to focus on my work. A lot is going on, actually. I have two finished concept albums on the way, waiting to be released. I can say those are the outcome of my new path in composition and music-making! Furthermore, I’m working on an audiovisual performance investigating Persian art and music, from timbres and motifs to textures and forms and colors! I’m researching for an ongoing artistic research project, which I am excited about. And I have some collaborations with great artists on the way.

Visit Arash Akbari on the web:

https://www.arashakbari.com/

arashakbari.bandcamp.com/

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