Pouya Ehsaei
LP (E172)

There, Pouya Ehsaei’s debut album,
processes samples of traditional Iranian
music to reveal the rage hidden beneath
its melancholia.

Pouya Ehsaei is an Iranian sound artist
currently residing in the UK.

Edition of 200 copies
Mastered by Jacques Beloeil

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Photo by Tara Fatehi


While every instrumental album is open to interpretation,
some beg to be discussed. Pouya Ehsaei’s There is one
of them. This ambitious work from the Iranian sound artist
introduces Iranian music samples, then pulverises them
with processing and electronics. If this work arose from out-
side the nation, it might be questioned, but its authenticity
is never in doubt. If anything, the music comes across as
inside journalism from a native observer.

The samples are heard in plinks and plonks, typically at the
beginning of tracks, dissipating like individual droplets in a
downpour. But sub-melodies hide throughout the work, in-
habiting the background like serfs in the presence of a king.
At times, all that can be heard is their low-level hum, a choral
echo, a repressed populace, a buried pride. Ahmad Shamliu’s
prison poems come across as radio chatter, sound and fury,
dropped transmissions whose tone bears the weight of their
visceral power. And over it all, like a mist of regret, a fog of
indecision, a cloud of unknowing, an electronic shroud blocks
out the light, whitewashes the history, substitutes itself for
the truth; and nothing stands in its way.

Richard Allen at A Closer Listen

Engrossing debut album from Iranian sound artist,
Pouya Ehsaei, sublimating samples of traditional Iranian
music to “reveal the rage hidden beneath its melancholia.”
There was produced in 2010, using fractured and brutally
processed instrumentation indigenous to Iran to isolate
a palpable feeling of tension articulated with a timbre
unique to the artist’s background. In the course of its six
pieces we perceive a stark and grinding sadness from his
aerated arrangements, gleaning elusive emotions from
a rich, whisked swirl of glistening tones that remain
dangerously high in the mix, sustaining and imparting
a perpetually heightened state of sensitivity that either
makes each ornate shimmer and glisten cut like a piano
string garotte, or accentuates the feeling of frustrated
detachment and confusion in the two pieces employing
Ahmad Shamliu’s indecipherable reading of poems written
whilst in prison in 1954. As listeners, we’ve long been
drawn to the deep melancholy of recordings created or
informed by this region, from Muslimgauze to Honest
Jon’s archival collections, thru to recordings by Dariush
Dolat-Shahi or Touch’s Sohrab. Understandably, we’d file
There in that precious pile.