As a practitioner and sound artist Shahin Entezami (aka Tegh) has produced a consistent stream of expansive works which have put him at the forefront of the Iranian experimental music scene, a community that continues to reach way beyond its homeland. His music entranced under the melodic swell of 2015’s undulating ‘Night Scenes’ then took a darker turn with his last release in 2019, ‘Unusual Places’. Here the soundscape may have been more granular and dense but the prolonged droning ferocity still captivated.
Tegh’s music is inherently focused on communication. Consequently his planned series of collaborations with classical musicians feels like a very natural step in his diligent evolution. The first of these partnerships with a violinist steeped in traditional Iranian music, Adel Poursamadi, has been captured on the duo’s debut recording Ima ایما , available via Injazero Records from 22nd July.
Striding across conventional boundaries but maintaining a highly emotive pull, Ima ایما is an assertive album that can confidently assume its place alongside the plethora of significant electronic records on 2022’s shelf. Tegh and Poursamadi are not so much seeking common ground in their electro-acoustic discussion but searching for a unique language. Such constant probing gives Ima ایما momentum and a magic tension – you’re not really sure what’s coming around the corner.
Take the winding exploratory route of Bad’ بدع, as a starting point. It may open with the lonely hardanger toned call of Poursamadi’s violin but soon layers of swooning strings, sombre horn phrases and a cavernous pulse imagine a more vast terrain. After a decisive pause, the violinist pirouettes in front of a gathering drone storm before battling ferocious noise in a brutal coda This might all sound too fragmented and chaotic but Bad’ بدع has an episodic quality that keeps you hanging on in anticipation.
This same narrative strength gives closing track Gamān گمان its deceptive continuity. Rudimentary electronic squawks, fluttering synths and string romantics cave-in to insect swarming white noise. The aftermath sees the appealing highs of Poursamadi’s violin steadily surrounded by a tidal string drone as chilling as the most intense Sarah Davachi immersions. Tegh has described the intentions behind the album as exploring the challenges and possibilities of self-expression in a distant future where humans are no longer dominant. In these lengthy pieces such fascinating dialogue is clearly underway.
Perhaps it’s in the abstract Mornāl مرنال that such lines of conversation between the visceral and virtual become more radically blurred. As the most deconstructed track on the album, the piece revolves around a haunting three note pattern, looping hypnotically like some stark call to prayer. Disrupted throughout by unexpected electronic shocks, Mornal مرنال feels primal, otherworldly and beyond a familiar frame of reference, but that elusiveness gives the track an unexpected strength.
Elsewhere on ‘Ima ایما’ music that’s framed slightly more conventionally helps restore some equilibrium. The string focused Regh`e رقعه builds on plucked almost oriental patterns and drapes twirling Arabic passages around the framework. The melody surges hopefully, the electronica escalates and then we return to complete the cycle. Ijād ایجاد is more urgent from the outset, the repeating electronic arpeggios shaping deceptively into equally insistent string patterns. There’s a deep, subterranean bass warning at the centre of the sound as the orchestral swell reaches an intentionally disconcerting circuit scramble for the tune’s close. For Tegh and Poursamadi convention may have some uses but you can only take it so far.
To represent their musical collaboration as fusion really sells it short. There is some kind of alchemy going on here, a coagulation of sound that bleaches out the classical /contemporary, electric / acoustic borderlines. Tegh has said that in these pieces he was attempting ‘to define a new particular type of feeling’. This could have resulted in an impenetrable collection, something alien and isolating. ‘Ima ایما’ is neither, this is the sound of future thinking that we all can share and which we should all celebrate.
Order Ima ایما by Tegh & Adel Poursamadi from: https://tegh.bandcamp.com/album/ima