AMN Reviews: NUM – False Awakening (2019; Past Inside the Present)

False Awakening is a genre-twisting release from, NUM, the duo of composers Maryam Sirvan and Milad Bagheri. It lands somewhere in the vicinity of dark ambient, soundscape, free improv, and electroacoustic music. Sirvan contributes voice, electric guitar, and field recordings, while Bagheri is credited with audio engineering. Guest musician Rezo Kiknadze provides sax lines, and all three supply electronics.

Consisting of two tracks in the 16-minute range, the album begins with Watching Myself from the Corner. Sirvan’s haunting vocals rise over a rushing noise wall.  Multi-tracked “outside” sax plays in the background with percussive elements. The latter are no doubt processed, as they crackle with few discernible patterns. This approach slowly descends into chaos, with further noise walls, static, non-stop angular sax motifs, and deconstructed percussion. I am Flying over the City features steady, mid-frequency drones, and heavy use of processed field recordings. Sirvan’s slow chants are subtly mixed therein and, after the more percussive aspects drop out, blend into a dense windswept amalgam with the drones.

The lyrics at the beginning of False Awakening wonder aloud whether the speaker is experiencing a dream or a nightmare. A listen or two to this album, and you could ask the same question. The noises emanating from NUM are straight out of a psychological horror movie. Nonetheless, this is a surprisingly idiosyncratic release. Sounds like these don’t get put together very often or this well. Highly recommended.