Review: Pantea – Things (Active Listeners Club, Oct 23)

Active Listeners Club, a new netlabel “dedicated to active listening” through releasing abstract experimental music by Tehran’s sound artists and forward-thinking musicians, caught my attention early this month with the bizarre sonic palette, complete contextual obscurity, and eye-catching cover template of their inaugural release: Ben & Jerry’s Formant Fry (the collaborative musical debut from label founders and operators Ramtin Niazi and PARSA), an impressive array of sensory-overload sample collage, some of the contents of which appear to be extracted from video games. Things, ALC’s second offering, is also Tehran artist pantea’s second—that is if you don’t count AA0011, a brief set of two tracks put out digitally in 2018. I enjoyed this one a great deal more than the preceding everydaymeal, which came out on Czsaszka earlier this year; here the Iranian musician and photographer largely leaves the recognizability of the real word behind, instead delving deep into granular dissections and dense, physical arrangements of high-velocity tones and razor-sharp remnants, transporting us to the inside of an atom smasher gone haywire. The impossibly agile contortions of “Patu (blanket)” rival the impressive sound design of glitch-storm experimenters like Florian Hecker or Jeff Carey, but the following “N.E.W.S & ESX,” and the mangled carcass of a dance track it tosses in our laps, reminds everyone that pantea has her hands much deeper in the innards of the cadaver of electronic music as all of these talented sound-surgeons perform its autopsy—all the way up to the elbows, in fact; I think club music would be located pretty deep in the chest cavity.