ecbatan is a 6-channel sound (speakers and transducers) and material (plywood) installation. It was exhibited as a 4-channel sound installation at TADAEX 2018 in Tehran, Iran.
The piece is formed around one guitar arpeggio. I had first used this arpeggio about fourteen years ago (in 2005), during a White Comedy recording at Kargadan studio in Tehran. It was discarded from the album’s final mix. For the purposes of ecbatan, I retrieved it from a recording that had been made during one of the bands’ jam sessions at Kargadan. Working with this material, recycled from an old archive of discarded recordings, I sought to somewhat reinstate a spatial and material connection with an environment to which I had lost physical access. Viewed in the context of broader trajectory of my practice during the course of this research, ecbatan is a pivotal piece as it marked the beginning of a transition between two different approaches to composition: a familiar one according to which pieces were carefully planned and written and an emerging one that tended towards more performativity and was open to accidents. In my earlier works one of the main concerns was to figure out ways of exercising precise control over sounds and their spatial manifestations within a piece, in order to make them subservient to my compositional needs and aims. In my later works, however, these concerns increasingly shifted towards finding creative ways of giving up the precise control through more spontaneous and performative approaches to composition that involved improvisation. In The Lived Experience of Improvisation (2017) Simon Rose notes: ‘The immediacy required for composing in the process of performing calls for a particular presence in time within engagement in the world, an intervolving.’ (161) Through a retrospective reflection I would note that composing in and through performing became a focus, perhaps because it increasingly felt relevant to the new conditions of my life as I transitioned between the two societies (Iran and UK). This change took place organically and through an ongoing exchange with the practice of my interlocutors and that of my colleagues and friends in the UK, especially in SARC, where I have been based since summer of 2014. In this context, ecbatan can be viewed as the sonic/musical articulation of such a transition as well; one that marked the flow of time and embodied an experience of place and a mode of becoming—transitioning between a state of being refugee to a state of becoming permanent resident (and then citizen); from a state of insecurity and float to a state of relative stability and ‘grounding’.