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Various Artists: Persian Electronic Music: Yesterday and Today 1966-2006

Various Artists: Persian Electronic Music: Yesterday and Today 1966-2006

Label:Sub Rosa
Release Date:2007

By Sam Hopkins | Posted 12/5/2007

You don't hear many beeps and glitches in Muslim morning prayers. No hipster blog has posted a club remix of Iran's official "Death to America" chant. Yet from Iran we now have a compilation of electronic sounds that displays Persian culture's deepest past and most obscure present.

Persian Electronic Music culls its tracks from the music of Alireza Mashayekhi and Ata Ebtekar, aka Sote. For more than three decades, Mashayekhi has created droning tones and crescendos that build on ancient microtonal melodies, sounding like crickets in the Casbah or Radio Tehran after the censors have gone to sleep. "Chahargah," recorded in 1979, starts with playful keyboard blips familiar to anyone who's heard Jean-Jacques Perrey, Dick Hyman, or Gershon Kingsley. However, Mashayekhi runs atonal tangents to his Western contemporaries and synth enthusiasts, leading a 10-minute trek that sounds like you may end up at a Zoroastrian temple on Mars.

Ebtekar's disc glistens phonically in a digital way that Mashayekhi's could not, playing on Persian classical scales (called radif in Farsi) that cascade through space with the help of echo and delay. There is "Synthetic Overture (Satan's Lullaby)," which may draw the artist a warning call from Salman Rushdie, where Ebtekar casts a plaintive human voice into the rattling vox of a demon before alighting gently on a sustained major key.

Indeed, as Americans stand again unwillingly on war's edge, the best antidote to the bellicose chorus may be the knowledge that there are plenty of weirdos on the other side, too. At least for the still small class willing to listen to American electronic music, that is.

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