A lot of positive feedback followed “Organism” (Karlrecords), the fourth collaborative album by Uwe Zahn aka Arovane (if you are a follower of high-quality contemporary electronics, you should know his wonderful albums ‘Lilies’ and ‘Tides’ for City Centre Office and ‘Atol Scrap’ on Pole and Monolake’s imprint DIN, at least) and the surprising Iranian composer Porya Hatami (I could have introduced some of his releases on Hibernate in Chain DLK’s page). Let’s find out the reason for such acclaim together, with its authors.
Chain D.L.K.: Hi Porya and Uwe! How are you?
Arovane: I’m fine. Currently working in my studio on new sounds for a collaboration with Darren McClure and scanning through tracks for a follow up to “Organism.”
Porya Hatami: Hello, thank you!
Chain D.L.K.: You recently signed your third collaborative album, didn’t you? It seems you like to co-work. What are the reasons for such a reciprocal understanding that supposedly feeds this collaboration?
Arovane: Yes. I like to co-work very much. It’s an inspiring process. Porya and I are very into sound design and sounds. We share a deep interest and motivation to record and to create new sounds and to manipulate sounds. Porya is famous for his field recordings. I used this technique to create some very special sounds for “Veerian” (a collaboration with Porya Hatami and Darren McClure – Eilean rec. 2016). I recorded clouds of insects in front of my house in the garden. The natural sound had a granular characteristic that I liked very much. If you listen very carefully, you can recognize the processed sound on the album. I used some DSP processing to transform the insect sound into an electronic, fuzzy tonal cloud.
Porya Hatami: Actually, “Organism” is our fourth collaborative album if you count the one that we released with Darren McClure entitled “Veerian.” Well, we have a similar taste in sound and music; we talk on a daily basis and exchange sounds and ideas, and that has created a very comfortable zone for collaborating. We can decide on the concept and direction of a new album after a few short chats, and that makes working together a lot of fun.
Chain D.L.K.: Did you know each other before your very first collaboration?
Arovane: No. On my side, there was no connection or recognition of the Iranian electronic scene before. I think it was a track or sound from Porya on Soundcloud or Bandcamp I stumbled across that awakened my interest. I contacted Porya, and so the story began.
Porya Hatami: Not personally, but I had known Uwe’s music for a long time, and he was one of my favorite artists from back when I started listening to this kind of music.
Chain D.L.K.: Both of your sonic research seems to have been focused on the organic side of electronic music. How do you explain the typical contrast between machine-generated or artificial music and nature?
Arovane: Is there a contrast or difference? That’s what I’m asking. You’ll find sound structures in nature that are comparable to structures in electronic music or synthesis technologies, e.g. granular synthesis. It’s comparable to swarming behavior. I think the contrast between “artificial music“ and natural sounds becomes blurred in specific aspects. I remember a sound I worked on that was a field recording of a huge, rusty old door. I used a short snippet of that recording with a granular synthesizer and it sounded like a cloud of violins! If you dive deep into sound structures, you’ll find a lot of synthetic-sounding structures in nature and vice versa. I would like to say, there is a kind of symmetric correlation. If you listen to insects, they sound quite “electronic” or “artificial” sometimes. Birds have the ability to create sounds that remind me of FM-frequency modulation.
Porya Hatami: In the past, I was trying to create a balance between the two, but recently I more and more see both of them the same way. Once the sounds made it onto my palette, there was no contrast between a natural source, an acoustic or purely electronic sound. I treat them all as basic elements of my creation, necessary to put down the ideas that I had in mind.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the most charming aspect of both electronic music and nature that will never meet, in your opinion?
Arovane: Interesting question. There are beautiful sounds in nature that we are never able to synthesize or recreate with technology, I think. But when we try, it’s imperfect in a way. That’s a charming aspect for me.
Porya Hatami: I agree with Uwe. There are times when you try to recreate a certain natural sound and you fail, but end up with some completely new sound.
Chain D.L.K.: Uwe, I still remember your wonderful album ‘Lilies.’ If I remember well, there was a connection with Japan related to that album. Did you lose it after the long hiatus following that album and ‘Tides’ (another masterpiece)?
Arovane: No. I have a strong attraction to Japan and the Japanese culture. I played concerts back in 2014 together with my colleague Loscil. Kazumi, who sang on the album ‘Lilies,’ is one of my best friends.
Chain D.L.K.: With reference to the geographic and cultural connection, Porya, could you tell us something about the Iranian scene that, in spite of being a nest of great contemporary musicians, is out of focus due (maybe) to political disputes?
Porya Hatami: Fortunately, Iran’s music scene has been the subject of focus for the past few years, and this growing scene has drawn more attention lately. There have been some features on different websites and in magazines covering Iran’s musical scene and different aspects of it, such as the problems and difficulties that artists are facing …
So, nothing comes to my mind at the moment regarding your question, but you can see some biased reports here and there and, sometimes, some of them are poorly researched, and they are mostly based on the writer’s prejudices instead of the actual facts. Sometimes the magazine’s agenda prompts the writer to distort the reports and provide the reader with a juicy story, rather than an honest one.
Chain D.L.K.: What did you have in mind while forging your recent collaborative release, ‘Organism’?
Arovane: Our idea was to create a sound that reflects the life of an organism. The music reflects the secrets and the beauty of life. How does it sound when a bacterium reproduces itself? I like the world of microorganisms on a microscopic scale. Porya and I wanted to create a sound that reminds us of that fascinating life of an organism.
I read that the number of Earth’s current species ranges from 10 million to 14 million, of which only about 1.2 million have been documented. There’s a lot to explore!
Porya Hatami: I remember receiving a sound from Uwe; I liked it very much and replied something like, “This sounds like some sort of a weird breathing creature.” We started chatting about it and exchanged some thoughts and ideas about that sound and how we could expand this idea to start a new album based on it. So, the idea of creating an album called organism and the direction we wanted to take came from that conversation.
Chain D.L.K.: I guess there are some ‘organic’ sounds and supposedly some field recordings…if so, how did you collect them?
Arovane: I have a huge collection of field recordings and synthesized/ processed sounds. My focus during the production of ‘Organism’ was to create synthetic sounds that have an “organic” impression. Porya and I swapped sounds, field recordings and synthetic sounds that fit the acoustic concept we had in our minds. That was the starting point, a sound pool for us to create an “organism.” There are some “organic“ sounds Porya recorded. The challenge was to process sounds to integrate them in the electronic context.
Porya Hatami: I have a handy zoom recorder, and I use it to capture sound everywhere I go. I record almost anything and have made a huge collection of field recordings over the years. As I said, we exchange sounds and ideas on a daily basis, and when we are about to start a new project we create a folder and fill it with sounds and sketches that can be used as starting points.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s behind the idea of titling those medleys ‘rhizome’ by shifting the capital letter?
Arovane: We used this technique on the album “resonance“ released on Eter lab 2015. During the production of “Organism,” we collected a bunch of tracks that fit into the concept of interludes between the “main” tracks. To make a difference between the single tracks, we used the shifted capital letter. It reminds me of the nucleic acid sequence that represents the information which directs the functions of a living thing.
Chain D.L.K.: Are the tracks ‘Micro Organism’ and ‘Macro Organism’ somehow interrelated? How do the sounds mirror the idea behind their titles, in your own words?
Arovane: The idea behind the tracks was to zoom into the world of micro-organisms sound-wise, and to zoom out or back to the world of macro-organism. You can hear similar sound structures in both tracks. They are connected sound-wise. It’s fascinating that, with the micro and macro world, you will find the same structures in both worlds, zooming in and out or back and forth.
Chain D.L.K.: Tracks like ‘Tuber’ or ‘Mutation’ seem to have been made by means of electroacoustic items instead of purely electronics. Am I wrong?
Arovane: Yes and no. You’re right with “Mutation,” where acoustic sounds were used to create an electroacoustic soundscape. An array of high resonating delays and filters were triggered by acoustic sounds to transform them into an abstract structure. The character of “Tuber” is more organic, natural sounding. It is purely electronic and living from slight tube distortion in the background.
Chain D.L.K.: Have you performed ‘Organism’ on live stage, by chance? If not, are you planning to do it?
Arovane: Not yet, but it would be very nice to do that. I talked to Porya about that topic before, but it is quite hard to organize a concert with that kind of electronic music. Maybe there is an interest in the times of modular synthesizers and experimental music. I would like to start a call to the people/ organizers to make it happen.
Porya Hatami: Unfortunately not; we talked about playing live together, and hopefully it will happen at some point in the future.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the fil rouge joining ‘Organism’ to your previous collaborative releases?
Arovane: Porya and I established a very special way to work remotely. The fil rouge for “Organism” was to create a specific sound, based on the idea and the associations we have of organic life.
Porya Hatami: Not sure what ties this one to the other releases, because for each release we try to step in a new direction and explore areas that we’ve never worked in before. Of course, you might hear some similarities between them or find some shared elements, but our intention is to try a different approach for each new release.
Chain D.L.K.: Are you planning some other releases for the near future? If so, any anticipation?
Arovane: Porya and me are “sound workers.” We are “sound explorers”; that’s our motivation. Currently, we are working on a follow up to “Organism.” We both have a lot of ideas for future projects. So, there’s more to expect.
Porya Hatami: At the moment we are working on the second part of Organism for Karlrecords. The plan is to release it digitally again, plus both volumes as a specially packaged double CD.