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Baker's Dozen

The Pleasure Of Discomfort: Siavash Amini's Favourite Music
Jennifer Lucy Allan , August 26th, 2020 09:07

Siavash Amini discusses his 13 favourite albums with Jennifer Lucy Allan, including the power of romanticism, weeping over the death of Leonard Cohen, and why Nils Frahm has a lot to answer for. Photo by Selma Pour-Amin

Siavash Amini was once lazily dubbed 'the Iranian Brian Eno', but the ambiguity and textural low-end in his music means his work might better be compared to Mika Vainio. Amini's new album, A Mimesis Of Nothingness, shares a heaviness with Vainio, as uncomfortable electronic music with compositional complexities. It is a collaboration with photographer Nooshin Shafiee, whose brutalist and haunting images for the release capture water pooling on plastic sheeting, rusting chairs laid out in empty rows, textures abstracted from fencing and concrete steps. "We both saw something decadent or violent about all of these captured places and objects," explains Amini, "almost approaching baroque in their violence, but never getting there. There is no resolution, just excess. It seems they are eternal remnants of a violent scene no matter how new or old they were, never finished, never begotten, stillborn."

He says what he recognised, was that these images, "wasn't the Tehran that everyone projected from their imagination and memory into their work, it was Tehran showing itself through overlooked places or objects. She was letting Tehran come to the camera, letting it show itself rather than go looking for specific things." 

Amini originally lived in Southern Iran, until his family moved to Tehran specifically so he could access art and music education. His father had a large collection of classical music, and once took the family on a trip to Dubai to buy a new stereo – a common trip at the time, if you lived near the border. He started playing electric guitar age 13, and went on to excel studying classical guitar, before dropping out of university to focus on electronic music, later signing to Tehran's Mahriz Recordings. He has since released seven full-length solo albums as well as a handful of collaborations, on labels including Flaming Pines, Umor Rex, and Opal Tapes, among others. A Mimesis Of Nothingness is his fourth album for Swiss label Hallow Ground.

Amini is generally interested in discomfort in music, both concerning his own work and that of others. Despite often being called an ambient musician, he is absolutely not interested in ambient music or what we might call 'nice' music, and is incensed by its lack of meaning or purpose. Over the course of the conversation we talk about romanticism, alcoholism, about the revelation of how tangled art and music and culture can become.

Siavash Amini's A Mimesis Of Nothingness is released on August 28, 2020. For more information, head here. Click the image of Siavash below to begin reading his Baker's Dozen

This article was amended on August 27, 2020 to remove any ambiguity around the author's intention to critique a comparison used lazily in the past