Review: Nima Aghiani – REMS (PTP, Jun 29)

I’ve listened to REMS so many times already and still don’t really know what to say in this review. The album, which as far as I can tell, is Paris-based violinist and producer Nima Aghiani’s first full-length release, is somehow just as elusive and mysterious as the sleep phase for which it is named – despite how loud and grating it often is. Aghiani’s unique fusions of violin melodies, blasting electroacoustic glitches, and pounding bouts of distorted rhythmic crunches are just as, if not more, diverse as that description would imply, making the 33 minute REMS a fulfilling and multifaceted release. It’s split into seven tracks but is best experienced as a whole, with each part naturally evolving into the next. The first few steadily work to craft a metallic, artificial atmosphere, but one that’s disarmingly lush despite how inorganic it all sounds; and then “Khaovyn” arrives to smash any remaining solace into oblivion. This short track’s power noise contortions are among the most brutal things I’ve heard all year, and ahead of the slower-paced rhyming pair of “Qamyn” and “Bamyn” it’s a perfect mid-album purge. This latter, long form piece is nothing short of incredible, and on my first listen through it was what really brought me around on the sleep connection; the rumbling breaths of bass and distorted spoken samples are like waking from a nightmare, the fear still present but the details and memories just out of reach. REMS occupies the perfect middle ground between deafening viscerality and reserved exploration, and despite its short length it’s an enrapturing journey through Aghiani’s creativity and talent.