The Gate by Reza Solatipour

Reza Solatipour The Gate
Eighth Tower Records (CD/CS/DL)

Italy’s Raffaele Pezzella has slowly and methodically been making a name for himself in the experimental world. His labels Unexplained Sounds and its off-shoot, the more ambient focused Eighth Tower, have been issuing experimental fringe music, nearing cult like status in avant circles. Pezzella in recent years has been busy shining a light in corners of the world that is not necessarily known for experimental music. One such album, 2017’s Visions Of Darkness In Iranian Contemporary Music, filled a 2 cd set of dark ambience and experimental compositions from Iran and included a stellar track from Reza Solatipour. Fast forward two years and Solatipour graces us with his debut, a stunning dark ambient collection called The Gate.

The album is drenched in mystery and ritual. The opening track The Last Resurrection opens with pulsating war drums with shimmering drones expertly floating in and out. What immediately strikes you when hearing The Gate is its drenched in echo as if you are hearing it in the next room over. This is not a complaint, it fits the music well. This is music of a cabalistic nature. You expect to walk in on a ceremony that maybe you should not be seeing. Referring back to the drums heard on this opening track, the drums are really my only complaint about this album. They work so well and it fits the music so perfectly I wish there was more percussion on this album as Solatipour’s percussive tendencies are slight.

I read a review of an album a while back and while I cannot recall the album or the writer a phrase got stuck in my subconscious from that review. The term was “nightmare fuel.” That was the phrase that I kept hearing in my head upon listening to this album in its entirety. The phrase kept repeating as the second track Copestones infiltrated my living room. This is music to listen to with the lights out and the candles lit. Ancient voices bathed in echo appear as if in a dream. Bass drones pound and what sounds like bowed cymbals pierce the tiny bits of silence. The music keeps making you want to look over your shoulder to see if something is lurking in the shadows.

Whispers In Gate is another slow building churner built around rumbling bass tones, a chorus of wailing souls and effective samples of swirling vortexes of wind. Slowly keyboards work their way into the mix with some type of skittering percussion. As the track progresses the tempo quickens until it all falls away at the end.

Among The Signs is the first sign of industrial influences and where some horror finds its way into the music. What seems to be keyboard low tones are supplanted by demonic and machine-like rumblings. We are transferred to dungeon like atmospheres all whispering hushed tones, metallic stabs and those otherworldly voices. Among The Signs might be the strongest track on the album as it glides by mechanically and menacingly, pulsing with an evil that resides just below the surface. This is where Solatipour gets sinister.

Reach The End is more windswept dusty streets. Metal on metal gives the feeling of ceremony. At the halfway point in the album Solatipour sets a scene of purpose with the music, using fast drones and more excited composing to give the track a sense of hurry. The track ends with an almost noise/techno motif. The album as a whole plays with cinematic, epic soundscapes, evoking a sense of being there. Solatipour’s music makes for vivid visions for the imaginative. Film directors should be knocking on his door. This comes through most clearly on Collapse with its storms shrouded in echo being cloaked by the walls of some forgotten temple.

Reza Solatipour, with the release of this album should be at the forefront of the dark ambient genre. The music is haunting, affecting, hidden in mystery and suspense. This is music for dark hallways and candle lit corridors. Once again, the experimental community should be thanking the genius behind Unexplained Sounds and Eighth Tower. They are continually bringing experimental artists out of the fringe into the spotlight. They are releasing some of the most interesting, compelling music in the genre. They are branding themselves release after release as one of experimentation and unique quality. Whenever they release something you can almost support it on principle because you know it is going to be good. I can’t wait to see what else both Reza Solatipour and Raffaele Pezzella have in store for the future. 

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