Porya Hatami ~ Shallow

ShallowAfter so many snowfalls and ice storms, spring will eventually arrive.  Porya Hatami is known for being seasonally aware; Land and Land Remixes focused on autumn and winter, while Shallow offers a soundtrack for the spring thaw.

Hatami sets a sonic table for the spring, awaiting this very welcome guest.  He lays out a soft sheet of drone, and decorates it with bell and flute tones, delicate keys and the sound of flowing water.  The ground is growing soft; nature is in motion once again.  The recording is incredibly crisp, thanks to M. Ostermeier’s exquisite production.  One can imagine the budding forest even with one’s eyes open.  Every sound seems essential, from undulating sine to high-pitched electronic keen. Friendly fireflies flit around the sound field, identifiable by beep instead of by light.  In the center of the 21-minute “fen”, they seem held aloft by breeze alone.  This piece demonstrates one of Hatami’s key strengths, as he first establishes a mood before branching into nuance.  In the final third of the track, xylophone tones reestablish the initial warmth; at the end, the birds return from their winter migration.

Consistent internal development sets Hatami apart from the pack.  The Black Woodpecker (part of Flaming Pines’ Birds of a Feather series) launched the artist into long-form track work, and Shallow is evidence that Hatami enjoys the challenge.  But these tracks deserve their length, often hiding their best parts in the center like the filling of a donut.  When one reaches the bells of “after the rain”, one thinks, “ooh, that was worth waiting for.”  The same holds true for “white forest”, which sounds at the start like a slow-moving train but offers many scenes on the other side of the glass.  Once again waiting for the midpoint, Hatami offers a series of slow music box notes that turn with metallic grace.  While the title likely refers to the line between environmental and electronic sounds, it may also be applied to the line between the seasons; at this time of year, the line is as porous as loam.  (Richard Allen)

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