Following the critical success of his 2015 debut GUUD, Iranian sonic experimenter Ash Koosha moved to Ninja Tune for the release of 2016 follow-up I AKA I. A software designer who works with virtual reality, Koosha claims the ability to see sound (referred to as "synaesthesia"), and he treats soundwaves as physical matter which can be manipulated. Judging by his music, he must be able to see shapes and formations that simply don't exist in the natural world. He contorts computerized fractal patterns and granulations into unconventional arrangements, and they seem to take on a life of their own. The sounds scatter, scramble, and knock into each other, creating bizarre off-time rhythms and dense tonal clusters. Sometimes the beats resemble the abstract hip-hop of producers like Flying Lotus, but on much of the album, the rhythms are splintered and stretched apart. Koosha's training in Persian classical music is reflected by the presence of Middle Eastern string melodies drifting into some of these tracks, but as on pieces like "Mudafossil," he morphs these into distorted electronic tones and blends them with stammering beats. "Biutiful" combines woozy, wistful melodies with choppy, cluttered beats, and the Autechre-like "Snow" features pretty yet urgent melodies dancing around clipping, buzzing rhythms. "Eluded" has a music box-like waltz tempo and an eerie melody that could easily fit in a Venetian Snares track, but without the frenetic, aggressive breakbeats. Even at its darkest and strangest, Koosha's music rarely feels like it's trying to punish or alienate the listener. He seems excited to explore the possibilities of music-making technology, and the results are endlessly fascinating.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson