HIATUS, the London-based atmospheric electronics project of Cyrus Shahrad, has announced a new album, Distancer, for a mid-March release. The very first fruits of that project are with us now in the shape of a single, “Arrival”; you can watch the stunning video below.
The Hiatus project began more than a decade ago, when Cyrus was working as a journalist in London. By 2005 he was working for an Iranian newspaper in Tehran and, living with his grandmother, began to sift through his father’s vinyl collection.
This cache of interesting vinyl inspired him and, on his return to London, he began work on what would be his self-released debut album, Ghost Notes, using that vinyl as a deep sample well. Despite being a bedroom project tracks picked up national airplay from the likes of Lamacq.
In 2013 saw the arrival of the more vocal Parklands, which featured “We Can Be Ghosts Now”, the stop-motion video for which won Best Animation at the 2013 UK Music Video Awards. His 2017 album All The Troubled Hearts closed with “Delam”, featuring his father reciting and translating old Iranian poems.
Cyrus sets the blueprint for the new album with “Arrival”, a deeply atmospheric groove with nuanced propulsion, featuring an opening recital of the wise words of the poem “The Guest House”, by the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi. Food for thought.
Cyrus says: “For me, the poem is about how as humans we are subject to thoughts and feelings that seem beyond our control, the result of animal instincts that connect us to the origins of life on Earth.
“I find myself bombarded with complex thoughts about my relationship with others and the world around me, many of them judgemental and negative in nature, all of which have their roots in a handful of behaviours that throughout evolution have ensured our survival – paranoia, pride, anger, ambition.
“But the poem suggests that there is a world outside of the stories of our lives, and though we can never be entirely free of the behaviours that define us as humans, we can connect with something much larger, and find liberation through recognising that it is us, and we are it.”
The video is a combination of footage from around the globe, combined with animation from artist Nathan Shipley.
“The visuals are created using a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN),” says Nathan, “an algorithm designed to learn and generate patterns.
“We trained the GAN using images of cells taken through a microscope and also star formations taken through a telescope. This enables the GAN to dream an infinite landscape of new cells and star formations and also morph between the two.
“This ties back to the message of the poem: showing a connection between our elemental selves and the larger universe, which seems so alien and outside of us, yet which is made of exactly the same stuff, and came from exactly the same place.”
Now that actually is pretty cosmic.
Distancer, we’re promised, is Hiatus’s most Iranian-influenced album so far. It features a collaboration with Faraz Eshgi Sahraei, an accomplished player of a traditional string instrument called the kamancheh, and his wife, singer Malahat; the couple relocated to London for the recording of the album.