Arash Akbari – The Rest is Silence (Unknown Tone Records, 2017)


There’s a lining of Laphroaig left in the empty whisky glass next to me, an alcoholic rime that I find intermittently catching my nose as I turn my head. I bring it to my face and take a sniff of the smoky, peat fire embers of its distinctive scent: a thin bead rolls slovenly at the bottom, the last remaining droplet of an empty bottle. One would have no idea of its past presence and consumption if it wasn’t for the heady hydrocarbon funk that remains, a fragrant remnant in a sadly whisky-less future.

It’s those tiny wisps of the past and┬átheir goodness that instill a sense of drama in the future, invoke a possibility of hope in all of the now’s fugues and abscences. Take the pearlescent fragments of crystalline synth at the conclusion of gorgeous “Haze Pt. 1”: historic gems of such flawlessness that they weather the fractious staccato electronica that churns and chugs and jerks forward like a rattling engine on the verge of self-destruction. They are intransigent anchors of lightness, shards whose belief for the future is good and well despite the overwhelming forces to the contrary.

Indeed, the other pieces in the three part “Haze” suite do not hold even a remote semblance of anything other than darkness and despair. “Pt. 2” feels bottomed out and basal, eerie metallic scrapings and creakings bleeding through the walls of some derelict basement down here at rock bottom. A heartbeat throbs distantly in the post-apocalyptic distresses before it melts into “Pt. 3” and its ashen drifting. Bleached voices and fragments slip through the miasmic drone veil that obfuscates the world, a blinding and mysterious greyness tingling with hovering uncertainty as the path forward becomes untraceable.

The onset of this muted couplet lies with “For The Stillness of Watching The World Through Your Eyes”, a frozen moment of reverie in slow motion noir tumult. Humming drones dribble with static at first, the synths rising and swirling like the fateful last sip of a dram before the end, the music slowly succumbing to the encroaching rush of distortion as the brief moment of loveliness passes into dust. Sadness begins to overwrite the peaceful nostalgia as the memory is scorched and its cinders blown away.

It is a tough counterpoint to precursory album centerpiece “Glimmer” whose nine minute span finds itself immersed in suffocating promise. Radiant drones emerge from every direction, big buzzing and dense walls of drone filling all available space, not an inch of room left for the incursion of unwanted thoughts or unwelcome prospects. It perhaps lives its life in ignorance, excising all avenues of entry for potential distress, but at least it is blissful: that only makes the harshness of its comedown all the more damaging.

What is yet to come is indeterminate: the full bottle will continue to yield until it’s emptied but what then? All that’s left now are dregs and vapours, reminders of enjoyment and tastiness but memories only. It’s my responsibility to restock, refill, take action to rectify the emptiness. The rest is intermediate silence, that is right up until that new cork is popped.