V/A – Visions of Darkness (In Iranian Contemporary Music)

Reviewing something twice may seem useless. Anyone who’s followed the history of Archaic Triad, our tastes and our skills in marketing, will not be surprised that we do precisely that. Having become something of a (albeit largely untraveled) bridge between the musical East and West, we feel obliged to call attention to the fact that the compilation Visions of Darkness in Iranian Contemporary Music has been reissued in physical form by UK’s own Cold Spring under the title Visions Of Darkness (In Iranian Contemporary Music). As just stated, we’ve already reviewed the digital version put out by Unexplained Sounds not too long ago, but here we go again.

Visions Of Darkness offers up two full CDs of high caliber Iranian experimental music, most of which would fall into categories like dark ambient, ambient and possibly “art music” or some-such. The styles nevertheless vary wildly. S.S.M.P. and their “The Blue Chasm” have an airy and light sound, and the “darkness” manifests itself mainly as a held back melancholy or minor regret. The activity to recommend for anyone listening to this track would be swimming with strange fish a few feet under the surface right above the Mariana Trench – sunlight breaking through into the water. Ali Phi’s “Condition.III” is something else entirely. Ominous bass, naked and lonely synth tunes and a strange rhythm form the basis for a track oozing with loneliness and existential despair – and perhaps also hope. Xerxes the Dark side project Nyctalllz is not at its noisiest with their contribution “Daeva”, but after a rumbling dark ambient beginning it becomes ever more industrial and disturbing. Clever music from a clever musician (interviewed on AT just recently, if you somehow missed it).

DSM, finally, is on the more arty side of the musical spectrum, with fleeting and somehow intelligent notes building a virtual world of anxiety tinged relaxation with “Nowruz”. There are many other excellent tracks here, and if these examples aren’t enough for you, there are plenty more in our other review. Visions of Darkness (In Iranian Contemporary Music) is a spectacular compilation album with mainly obscure artists – a compilation of the good old type, which actually introduces you to many new quality bands rather than simply put tracks you already have by artists you already know together and sell it to you. The production is good, the diversity is splendid, and there is virtually no “filler” material.

The album is available on double CD from Cold Spring’s webshop, and on digital download from their bandcamp page. Don’t miss out on this one  – now that a physical version exists, you have literally no acceptable excuse.

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