Chimera EP, the follow up to Ash Koosha’s 2016 acclaimed LP, I AKA I (Ninja Tune) sees the Iranian born, London based producer digging into the audio archive of Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum bringing the rhythms ingrained in his Iranian heritage to the fore and fusing them with his fractured, mind-bending style to reimagine centuries worth of musical tradition into a singular journey.
Chimera, the mythical Greek creature represents something hoped for but ultimately illusory and unattainable rightly so for Koosha, Chimera EP is a fantastical conception of journeying through a bazaar where each turn unlocks a new alley of chaos, serenity, tension and relief.
Musically, just like the old 13cm tapes whose samples make up the EP it is warm and textured; a natural sounding work that rounds the jagged edges which made I AKA I so visceral impressing a softer hue upon Koosha’s unmistakable sonic palate that invites a listener into the maze beckoning to follow deeper.
As with I AKA I, Koosha builds upon his personalized embracement of serendipitous sound design letting the obscure audio source material become what it will and precisely composing the outputs in lieu of forcing their transformation every step of the way. His vision is one of chance encounters instead of planned meetings. For anyone who has entered a crowded market knows how quickly the best laid plans can go out the window as your senses are pulled in every direction.
It’s exactly this sensorial stimulation that brings Koosha’s Chimera to life.The palpable mood of the EP owes much to its source material. The archival field recordings retain their sonic and traditional qualities to the point that one can become confused and turned around in the maze, unsure of whether or not the sounds are of now or then, from here or there.
Like any bazaar, Chimera is a melange of cultures coming together to establish a cohesive whole. Instruments like the Tarpa and Sarangi of India, the Zokra of Libya and Ghaychak, Doyra and Zurna of Afghanistan create a palpable melodic backdrop while the impassioned rhythmic section that propels and dances about is occupied by the likes of Dholaks, Tablas, Zerbaghalis and Talking Drums.
Chimera shows how the melding of cultures and worlds no matter how foreign to one another can create something greater than the sum of its parts but is Koosha’s grand bazaar simply a chimera in its own right?
Done as part of Unlocking Sounds, a collaboration between The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision’s RE:VIVE initiative, the Research Center for Material Culture and Tropenmuseum to open up archival collections and share with the world and explore how contemporary artistic interpretation can change the way we perceive the past and inform the present.
Unlocking Sounds is a collaborative effort between heritage institutes to open up these rich heritage collections to share with the world and explore how contemporary artistic interpretation can change the way we perceive the past.
Chimera EP is available for free here
RE:VIVE, CC BY-SA 3.0 Cover image: DRs Kulturarvsprojekt CC BY-SA