“Kaziwa” – the second collaboration between Iranian Ambient Experimental Composer Porya Hatami and Sound designer Uwe Zahn (aka Arovane) was originally release on digipak and deluxe cd edition in 2016 by Time released Sound. This re-release comes via the n5MD label (which shares a similar emphasis on sound and design) and is the first time the album has been issued on vinyl. It comes in tow different forms – the first is a limited edition of 50 copies designed and put together by Colin Herrick (Time Released Sound Boss/Designer/Mad Scientist) with Gold vinyl, and x-ray, hand printed gold leaf DJ cover and gold parcel twine with a download card, while the other 200 copies comes in Gold and Black Splatter vinyl with a printed sleeve featuring one of Zahn’s photos.
As n5MD states of this collaboration, which was extended to a trio with the addition of Darren Maclure for the “Veerian” release on Eilean Rec, “Each of Hatami and Zahn’s collaborations has been vastly different from one another focusing on a feeling or technique. With Kaziwa the duo focused their attention toward nostalgic layered piano vignettes. The album’s closer “feer” was the first track they worked on and used it as their jumping off point. What began as a simple loop of piano morphed into something contemplatively fascinating. While that specific track features Hatami supplying most of the piano and Zahn creating the “another time and place” atmospheres the two effortlessly switched off on piano duties all while transparently deviating from the current affectation of Frahm / Sakamoto style ambient piano clarity.”
“Vaun” opens the proceedings with a distant glacial howl that shrouds the music with a light orchestral feel before static, piano and drones fill out the sound with a feeling of distant nostalgia, the type that is so cloaked as it could be comprised of partial memories. The piano is the focus, but not necessarily the essential part of the track as while it provides a mood, it is the swirling, at times indecipherable, mass underneath it that provides the texture and overall atmosphere of the track. Field recordings, percussive elements, dark drone elements all add a feeling of unease to the track.
“Uun” sounds more like a glassy sounding glitch piece with circular drone loops than a basic piano piece. The sections of piano are fractured and sound is as if the piano was played by manipulating the strings alongside the keys. There is a feeling of disjointedness where the rhythms go up and down in haphazard steps to give an off kilter feel. It’s a melodic piece where the melodies of the drones work in tandem with the manipulated piano.
“Onva” fuses a Blade Runner like futurist feeling of bright neon lights and drizzling rain with multiple sections of muted nostalgic romantic minimalist piano. One section feels more free form while the other is a nice melodic progression. Slightly ominous drones swirl around in the back ground which add to the cinematic feel of the track. Field recordings of a detritus nature give the track a gritty edge and add to the post apocalyptic feel.
“Laan” soaring static and melodic drones bathe sections of piano that maintains a similar sound to the preceding track. An uplifting drone adds the top-level of sound to the track and nestles the piano between itself and the static. Buzzcut drones that existed early on in the track join in volume and take over the track, tipping it on its head and taking over the track completely. There is a certain clash of more gentler lush sounds and harsher sounds, but they work well together.
“Emn” takes us into the eye of the storm with fractured glitching loops, static and pulsing drones. Piano which is stark and minimal takes the track into post-classical sounds and adds a certain amount of dread to the track. As the track progresses, the degradation of sound continues with the loops giving a feeling of transmissions from a distant past while the synths and drones add to the feeling of unease.
“Eer” sounding like the kitchen sink as added to the piano, the track is a mixture of electroacoustic treatments with a cyclical feel, sonic detritus and haunting drones. The track seems to be a contrast between the more frantic sections of the electroacoustic elements that are held together by the long form circular drones that come in, out and around again bringing forth a swell of sound as they re-enter. There is a ringing sound to the experimentalism that offers a sound texture not heard previously on the album.
“Abiee” a jazz like piano piece that is bright and up beat, packed with melody and rhythm is joined with delicate slices of repeating electronics and soft static that loops around at the edges of the piece. The repeating electronic treatments of piano make the piece and give it that light that has been obscured previously, a chance to shine brightly. If only the track wasn’t only fifty-nine seconds long as it could easily develop into something more and expand on the qualities shown so far.
“Mii” a spooky drone casts over a smokey piano that is supporting the drone rather than the other way around. The drone is long, ominous and threatening while the piano is tentative in its sound and place in the track, though the initial chord sets a definite mood. Field recordings add that extra something to the track creating some intrigue into this noirish track. Towards the end some extra electronic elements creep in and some give a tantalizing taste of a possible direction change, buried deep at the end. A nice moody piece indeed.
“Juee” the feeling returns of a nostalgic time long time ago thanks to the gentle, but at times stark, rolling piano lines that are complimented by the thick static, rumbling sounds, air pressure like drones and overall glacial coldness that the track exudes. You get a feeling of a noir flick starring an act like Humphrey Bogart seem down a dark, poorly lit underground tunnel lighting a cigarette, with steam rising obscuring your vision. The sounds of the ground above adding to the tension and feel of the music.
“Ceill” a simple repetitive rhythm adds some more textural piano elements while a collection of fractured sounds flitter in an out, while several section of drones build up a dense slow-moving wall of sound that is coupled with haunting horn like elements. The cloak is thick on this particular track and when you think that it is heading in a certain direction (it initially gives me a horror movie feel), it changes once more while still maintaining a cinematic feel.
“Phea” loop based start with rolling melodies wrapped in drones and static are paired with a fragile piano section that feels like a recording from the nineteenth century. The piano is submerged which fits the musical style of the track (and the album as well), but it would be interesting to hear it in all its clear glory to give it a different feel. If the keys were clear it would give the feeling of breaking through.
“Feer” the track that started this particular journey in sound. It couples two sections of piano alongside an air pressure like constant sound and these delicate snatches of looped sounds that flutter in and out. The piano twinkles, but with an obscuration that matches the glitched sounds in sonic quality. There is a hypnotic feel to the track, which credit goes to the loops and repetitive piano sections that have a ghostly presence. A nice touch is the way the track dies at the end, as if a switch has been turned off.
The final three tracks appeared on the original CD release, but, I guess with constraints in time for vinyl, they only come as digital downloads.
“Noc” opens with eerie drones, field recordings and industrial bangs and clangs before the faintest piano begins to be heard. A collection of ominous sounds like stretching wire and other clanging sounds fill out the sound with a nod to both electroacoustic and more experimental dark ambient aspects. Weighty drones hold the music together which is battling with the static which is swelling up the sound. When the static dramatically stops, its like the music has been opened up and can reveal itself clearer.
“Kaan” fluid kalimba like percussive, but randomly sounding sections, run in fast motion with a melodic tone. There is a buzzing tone that accompanies it which reminds me of the deep earthy tones generated by Rhodes piano. Buried deep are fractured sound that are not so obvious, but add a texture to the track.
“Lith” long harmonious drones swell and fall in a choral fashion with an underlying humming section that makes it feel like a natural occurring drone. Sounds roll over each other, fragments of delicate piano poke through giving a fragile edge to the uplifting and soaring sound scape. The track feels removed from the other tracks on the album due to it being more of an Ambient/Drone track, rather than the other pieces fitting into the experimental/sound artist vein. For me it is a highlight, but I can see why it doesn’t feature on the vinyl version due to its musical differences (and possibly its length at seven minutes and twenty-three seconds).
This release is close to sold out on vinyl from the label’s bandcamp, but you may be in luck with getting one via their stockists. The original CD in regular and deluxe editions is still available via Time Released Sound.
There are times on the album that hint at the possibilities of this collaboration heading in a cinematic direction. The thing that makes it different would be their approach, should they go down this direction. Their sound in a cinematic field would be different due to both artists experimental natures. I am not sure if their training in music is either classical or self-taught, but they both have ears attuned to exploring sound and how to manipulate it and I for one would like to see how they would work in such a field.