AMN Reviews: Maryam Sirvan – Untamed Terror (2018; The Committee For Sonic Research)

Maryam Sirvan is an experimental sound artist currently based in Tbilisi, but originally from Iran. Untamed Terror is her first solo release. From the outset, it is abundantly clear that Ms. Sirvan is focused on forging her own musical path. While loosely invoking dark ambient stylings, she also adds in scraping, static, pitch-shifting, electroacoustic noise, overlapping synthesized rhythms, droning voices, and undulating walls. Often, the two pieces on this album have five or six (maybe more) layers interacting simultaneously. The result is a deceptively complex effort that straddles a number of genres without fitting neatly into any.

The title track is nearly 30 minutes and encompasses all that is mentioned above and then some. But beyond the raw techniques used, Ms. Sirvan composes these sounds to evoke a certain atmosphere – shattered landscapes, dark caves with falling water, and haunted villages. And, staying with the view of her music as a whole, one can make out anthropomorphic elements – footsteps, breaths, and vocalizations on the edge of audibility. Needless to say, all of this in line with the Lovecraftian nature of the title.

Under the Full Moon rounds out the album at 15 minutes. Slow inhaling and exhaling is accompanied by a growing wave of static and white noise as well as bassy rumbling.  Sounds of people talking and laughing lurk in the background while the wave is manipulated and twisted. The voices evolve into a maddened babble as the electroacoustic elements become fractured. This eventually leads to a processed amalgam that steadily fades.

Music from a nightmare…soundtrack to a psychological horror movie… Untamed Terror is all of that and much more. Ms. Sirvan’s work exploits the fact that we are more afraid of what we cannot identify than what we can. Much of this album’s impact is subconscious and unknowable.

A perfect candidate for late-night listening at high volume. Strongly recommended.