It is a very firm belief of mine that great music should always be felt. Physically felt. Whether it’s the vibrations of a subliminal bass line massaging your brain or the fuzzy tickle of a softly-textured synth on your eardrum; perhaps the moisture in your unwitting eye when you hear an old man croon his sorrow into his beat-up blues harp, or the slight twinge in your chest when a lonely woman’s alto caresses your heart. If the song doesn’t affect you on some palpable level, then the creator has failed. Many individuals dislike this line of thought because that would mean that the majority of what they listen to is the result of someone else’s failure. Perhaps I’m a bit radical, but I also hold to the belief that music is a universal language that not only has the power to convey and inspire a broad range of emotion, but can invoke a sense of spirituality and mysticism, and can unify humanity solely through their shared passions and common hunger for musical enlightenment.
Soroosh Khavari (aka Soosh) has presented me with an exceptionally difficult piece of work to define or categorize with his debut LP on Error Broadcast, due for release February 25, 2013. There is no genre at present that you could assign to this startlingly intimate production. But perhaps if I dispense enough futile metaphors in an effort to simulate this extraordinary experience in words, then you may be able to get just a basic idea of what you can expect from Soosh’s magnum opus.
As “For You” gently begins, your ears may be a bit confused to begin with. It’s okay though.. you didn’t download a bad quality format of some late night radio show for lovers. In fact, as you listen, you find that your ears acclimate to the variance in aural atmosphere, like your body would in a hot bath. The beat is barely there, in an invisible basement with pillows for walls, and there are voices too. You may feel like an eavesdropper as you strain to make out what is sung a-midst the growing confusion of wavering pads and tremulous synths. Until about two minutes in.. Just when you’re starting to feel a bit dizzy: “Do what you feel is right.” Next thing you know, you’re beyond the barrier of your own temporal reality.. but it’s alright. Do what you feel is right..
“Open Hearts” comes at you – straight out of the blinding sun of this uncharted wonderland of sounds, with a determined beat that will set the pace of your heart for you before setting you adrift in a brilliant void drenched in the rays of an alien sun. Thank the unfamiliar stars for those reassuringly tender vocals murmured by Soosh’s own sister, Carmel Khavari. She keeps a part of you close even though the rest of you may get swept off into the chaotic oblivion of Soroosh’s devise. Throughout the album, it’s as though Soroosh and Carmel play the parts of two supreme entities, creating a sense of yin vs. yang and you may often find yourself conflicted as to which you would rather prevail. Ultimately, this is inconsequential, because there will always be equal parts of both within the other, so you should probably calm yourself and embrace the qualitative aspects of both. Take a deep breath and let the Khavaris guide you along the unpredictable tides of a sea that rises and falls in accordance with the phases of eleven moons.
“The Space Between” undulates recklessly, like some lullaby for Martian infants. It’s spacious, meditative, and is perhaps the most hi-fi of Soosh’s otherwise deceiving renderings. “Loving” intrigues me with its unique take on what might have once been an 80’s R&B song that got caught up in a time warp and became the next big hit of the future. While a bit monotonous and discordant at some points, you’ll still find yourself bobbing your head to the bubbling bassy synths and the echoing discourse between Carmel and Soroosh. It ends on a bit of an ominous note, fading out to make way for “Chorus Dream.” This track has a sublimely down-tempo beat with wooden blocks at its core and a few renegade toms interjecting at will. On top, Soosh layers it with finely textured polyphonic synths, samples that sound like they were once harmless field recordings from a school playground and a chorus of perfectly timed vibraphones. Together they create a romantically dreamy atmosphere as Soroosh gently implores you, “Come dance with me… I…love…you.”
“The Way You” is one of my personal picks, though I’ve often been told my tastes favor the strange. This track is utterly captivating for me. Synth-master Soosh once again spins my head with his billowing saws, complex rhythms and wonderfully intimate vocals. Both his and his sister’s voices find their way into your mind, carried on the currents of sound that Soroosh has woven into an organic tapestry imbibed with the powers of flight. An incredibly seductive track that leaves you feeling tingly and just a tad bit reluctant to carry on to the next plane of this sensory journey through this multi-layered universe. “Uncertain” is yet another stand-out track for me, featuring an ultra-swanky beat and a catchy tin-wrapped lick from what might a Plutonian shamisen – if I had to hazard a guess.
The final two tracks appropriately wind down this compelling excursion. Soosh gently looses his grip on your consciousness, letting you gently re-acclimate to your personal reality. Though not without a great deal of melancholy and just a tiny bit of cowbell. “Light Shadow” is short, but sweetly charming and incredibly calming. For me, that is the true end of the album. The bonus track, “Touched” serves as more of a reminder – a track you would listen to when you didn’t have 46 minutes to devote to the album’s entirety. Distantly reminiscent, it draws from the whole of Soosh’s surreal compendium in modest and subtle increments, gently recalling the marvelous planes of the realm he has forged from rhythm and sound. Soosh has previously shown us his capabilities in the field of synth-crafting, but I feel it’s apparent that the EPs, his collaborations with like-minded artists, and various remixes were also reflections of his personal journey; albeit in a surprisingly condensed period of time. In Soroosh’s earliest works, created mostly with samples taken from his personal field recordings, you can hear the most uncertainty. A reaching-out towards a then-intangible concept; but even in the infant stages of Soosh’s experimentation, you could hear a distinction – an inspiration of a different ilk. It is here that I think elements of Soroosh’s family and religious backgrounds serve as vital segments of the foundation for his singular approach to music composition and manipulation of sound. It’s a compellingly heavy account, centered around the increasing religious intolerance within Iran, beginning in the early 1980s. The story is replete with a covert exodus in the dark of night under hot pursuit, a trying pilgrimage for freedom, and Soroosh’s own quest to reclaim his heritage. More can be read in this interview with the BBC dated April 24th, 2006.
I, for one, cannot help but be impressed by the results. Though Soosh has since evolved his style, upgraded his equipment, and honed his methods, this most recent work is still infused with poignant and intensely personal expressions of his own experience and an inherent desire to better his immediate reality. Accepting the risk of sounding like an occultist, I theorize that Soosh has managed to tear a small rift in the frail fabric that separates our physical world from the ones beyond, allowing us mortals to briefly savor a glimpse of parallel realms that can only be breached by music. Crossing spectral boundaries might not be your calling, but hopefully you take away an infectious enthusiasm to better your immediate reality through whatever means you are given.
Words by hmCm