Siavash Amini

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Serus Review

by John D. Buchanan

This remarkable album from Iranian experimental sound artist and composer Siavash Amini, his debut for Lawrence English's Room 40 imprint, combines dark ambient, noise, experimental textures, and contemporary classical composition into a beguiling whole. Serus, meaning "late" in Latin, is inspired by philosopher Maurice Blanchot's idea of "the other night" -- that is, the night of dreams as distinct from the physical night -- and Amini's own recollections of a half-waking fugue he experienced during a three-day stay in hospital. Fittingly, the album truly has a dreamlike feel. Never really settling to any one thing, instead it flits in and out of different styles, with each passage merging seamlessly into the next, creating a kind of hallucinatory collage. Starting with a deep dark drone that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a mid-2000s Cold Meat Industry release, "A Recollection of the Disappeared" bursts out into loud bubbling, crashing, and whipcrack sounds that feel like being trapped underwater by a riptide. It then settles down to a more soothing, yet unsettling, ambient passage beset by crackles and ripples, which gradually crescendos into a haunting refrain that sounds like a string quartet playing in a deep cave while unquiet spirits swirl around them. "Semblance" goes deeper into the cave with the album's purest ambient passage, ghostly phosphorescence emanating from the walls as extended techniques on strings cause all manner of insectile creaks and pops to emerge from the shadows. The two-part "All That Remained" brings the album to a satisfying close. On the lengthy "Pt. 1," high-pitched, glassine tones vie with rumbles and crackles that sound like a brushfire; dropping out to near silence, it then swells into a beatific church organ drone that is almost obscured by a roaring and grinding, as though one had emerged from the cave into a howling gale. Amini finishes off the record in fine style with the close-miked, minor-key bowed string chords of the haunting, elegiac "Pt. 2." This is a superb album that should please fans of any of the aforementioned genres, and cements the composer's reputation as an artist of no mean significance.

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