Arash Akbari – Vanishing Point (Flaming Pines, 2015)


Time wields a power over us all, there’s nothing any of us can do to stop it, change it, reverse it, it just marches forwards endlessly. And it’s turbulent too, unforgiving; across the course of our ever withering lives we suffer loss, loneliness, anxiety, increasingly relying on our past exploits as we age before we slowly lose those recollections to the fading obfuscation of senility and death. Arash Akbari’s latest exploration in Vanishing Point sees us coast through the miserable void of time, leaning on its darkness and the haunted corners of its vast expanse in introspective movements of morose guitar and synth drone, alongside suggestive fragments of field recordings and found sounds.

The title track opens the record and how immediately affecting it is in its rotating drone pulses and circular swathes of bleary guitar drone, luxurious waves of pastel sound that blanket the rushing silence, the roar of our car through time as it advances expediently towards the closing horizon, the outside a mere blur of undefined colour; it’s luxurious and empowered but never stifling, an important feature of this record. It finds itself married to “Through The Endless Gale”, a deceptively titled piece that cruises on a bed of ethereal and barely impinging drones, the gale perhaps the limitless, timeless abyss stretching out before us, a hopeless void filled with echoic and distant shouts and thin electronic creepings, the entire entity a lifeless pit of despair stripped of all future and lost on its own solitary trail.

On the back of this moroseness arrives the three-part “Constant Blankness” suite, an evocative collection of sounds with the most palpable evolution of any of the tracks on the album; Part 1 is nothing more than a damaged rush of electronic tones and glitches, percussive elements throbbing with frustration out of the dystopian dronescape, fighting for meaning in the chaos. Things begin to cool and settle in Part 2 as the fragmentary sounds begin to coagulate and reform, the abrupt passages turning into tidally swelling motions of recurring drone slowly reinforcing itself, memories waxing from a place we thought we’d lost deep within our subconscious. The good fight culminates of course in Part 3 in a haze of reimagined life, homely and familiar field recordings of indistinct activity but clearly normal life well out of the mix, a faint and tired glimpse of a past soon to be lost forever, tinged in sadness.

These continuing feelings of loss and bounded existence find their way into the celestial evocations of “Rays From A Dead Star” as our eyes turn skywards, the glimmers of ancient light in the night sky emanating from sources since extinguished, the soft reminder that even the biggest and seemingly most permanent features of our Universe live out lives in much the same way as ourselves as it creeps along in light washes of static and delicate guitar manipulations. But with our eyes back on the ground in the final pieces of the record we’re reminded of the pains of reality once again; “You Were Real” finds itself initially lost on electronic fingerings, textural shifting sands of grey and obfuscated origin that seek to erode the reversed guitar notes that float through it, elements of life and love drifting through the noisy emotional haze that has since enveloped us. Finally 10 minute closer “There’s Another Sky” seems to find some solace somewhere inside itself in its soothing smear of thick guitar and vinyl static, looping a slow riff unerringly and emanating this much needed feeling of light and progression, the soft hope of some redemption after death leaving nothing behind but the soft patter of rain and the faint legacy of electronic leftovers hovering in its wake, harmless remnants and moments kept alive.

Every expression Akbari paints into his sound is deliberate, everything is perfectly weighted and measured to keep the flow of the album moving nicely to  maintain that level of important emotional suspension throughout. It’s often deceptive and wont to keep a certain level of minimalism in the air but as with much of the best Ambient music it tells volumes more when it speaks less; it keeps things simple and uncomplicated to cut straight to the heart of the matter, conjuring up powerful sensations of nostalgia and anxiety, the fear of the unknown lost in the unmemorable or perhaps beyond death. But for now it’s far too nice a day for me to be dwelling on such things; thoughtful and powerful music when the mood is there for sure.

A few tracks can be previewed before the April 30th release date below: