AMN Reviews: Alphaxone – Dystopian Gate (2020; Cryo Chamber)

Alphaxone is Iranian Mehdi Saleh, a dark ambient composer and performer, who brings his own twists to that expanding genre. Dystopian Gate is his 11th or so solo release, though he has recorded several joint releases, singles, and EPs, and has also contributed to compilations.

The album focuses on deep drones and washes, shored up by dissonant waves and walls. Underneath and around are shifting background elements, echoing percussion, and crackling static. There is a distinct lo-fi feel. The result would not fit comfortably into the outer space or primaeval ambient buckets. Instead, this is industrial / urban ambient. In it, buildings have walls that breathe, while menacing thunder reigns over dark cityscapes.

Alphaxone is just one of many unconventional modern arrangers from Iran who are slowly coming to prominence outside of their home country. Compilations such as Visions of Darkness and Anthology of Persian Experimental Music are great overviews of modern Iranian experimental music, where ambient, industrial, techno, and electroacoustic stylings mix with more traditional influences. It is terrific to finally be able to hear what these artists have to say.

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