04 Saman ShahiSaman Shahi – Microlocking
Various Artists
People Places Records (peopleplacesrecords.bandcamp.com)

Microlocking, a new release by the award-winning, Iranian-Canadian composer Saman Shahi, delves deeply into the world of microtonality. By locking in and interconnecting pitches, colours and layers of sound, he creates dialogues and open-ended statements that require an alert ear but inevitably include elements of beauty, even in the sometimes chaotic landscape.

Shahi keeps making surprising turns in his compositional career. His musical trajectory is firmly based in classical music but has included explorations of world music, rock and electronics, all featured on this album. The compositions are vibrant and compelling, especially in the way Shahi treats the solo instruments. Microlocking I, II and III have a distinct character, progressing from spacious to denser textures. Microlocking I, written for six digital pianos (three of which are tuned a quarter-tone sharp) mesmerizes with the constant ripples of ostinato sounds. The colours resulting from uneven pitches bring in the sense of the past, nostalgia. Microlocking II, on the other hand, is very much rooted in the present immediacy of the sound. Written for solo electric guitar, it is a dreamland of techniques and effects, and soloist Andrew Noseworthy pulls it off with flair. Microlocking III for solo accordion (Matti Pulkki) and electronics (Shahi) pushes the boundaries of the sound even further, as if imagining the sound of the future. The surprising but fitting conclusion comes in the form of a remix of Microlocking I by electronic music producer Behrooz Zandi, binding together the aspects of Shahi’s music – the expressiveness and probing sonority, wrapped up in minimalism.

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