- I AKA I, Ashkan Kooshanejad's second album as Ash Koosha, continues down the route he embarked on with his debut, last year's GUUD, namely by dealing in dualities. While studying in Tehran, Kooshanejad developed an understanding of classical composition, which he transposed to the more abstract computer music he was making. At the same time, his experience with contemporary Western styles was scattershot. This formed the music he now creates—tunes like "Mudafossil" and "Shah," for instance, place classical Iranian strings next to Planet Mu-style electronics. The ideas translate as more than just juxtaposition. There's a vital tension in Kooshanejad's work, where his stitching seems as crucial as the textures it connects.
In the music's premise and production, Kooshanejad welds together discrete variables, allowing the smallest qualities of a sample to dictate how whole tracks can sound. Using a process he calls "nano-composition," he zooms in on tiny sound fragments and repurposes them. As he maps out signals amongst noise, he sacrifices some of his own control to the software. Structure and chaos are in constant conflict on I AKA I, reflected in the artwork's fungal growth on flesh.
Every detail on the record screams for attention. Highlights include the dizzying "Eluded," whose lead melody hops from space to space above disarmingly calm mallet percussion. The transition from the imposing "Shah" into the twinkling progressions of "Snow" is I AKA I's most staggering moment. Itchy, glitching noises run rampant through the record, and on "Snow" they complement its motifs.
A couple of moments break the album's flow. Sandwiched between the rain-drenched choir on "Hex" and the piercing laments of "Biutiful," "Ooh Uhh" is a flat interlude. "Make It Fast" falls short from a lack of textural depth, sounding anonymous in an album that takes so much care with detail.
Where GUUD essentially played out like an alien beats record, I AKA I is as cohesive as it is engrossing. The rare lulls seem to be the result of Kooshanejad stretching his material beyond its elastic limit. Still, the number of quality movements ultimately stands as testament to his creativity. I AKA I moves from peak to peak, and you're never more than a couple of tracks away from open-mouthed awe.
04. In Line
07. Ooh Uhh
09. Fool Moon
10. Make It Fast
14. Too Many