Four gripping works of odd contradictions, ambiguity and intensity - just as the punning title promises - from an Iranian team-up of sombre duo 9T Antiope and the ever-busy Siavash Amini. As ever with 9T, lyricist Sara Bigdeli Shamloo gives, with a clear and handsome voice, expressive textuality to a style where it is usually absent.
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It should come as no surprise to anyone that Harmistice from 9T Antiope and Siavash Amini is interested in contradictions. With a title like that, they would have struggled to be more obvious. And to be honest this interest is just as present in their music. You see, what the trio do is probably best described as noise, often quite harsh noise. But in 9T Antiope's singer and lyricist Sara Bigdeli Shamloo, it finds an opposite and an equal. Shamloo’s voice is clear and powerful, exactly the sort of voice you wouldn’t expect to find here. It’s not going through and effects pedal, it’s just there. And from the moment it appears, about two minutes into ‘Blue As In Bleeding’, I’m absolutely hooked.
This contrast is a rare one, the only artist in recent memory who’ve pulled it off are the Body in their work with Chrissy Wolpert on their more recent albums. Shamloo singing beautiful melodies as the two musicians play sick and twisted bass hits is overwordly, and brings the best out of all of them. But Shamloo can’t hold on forever. Her lyrics are sad and angry, and by the end of ‘Purple As In Pain’ she’s shouting “feed me to their hungry beaks!” as disoriented violins sway in the backdrop.
What is most impressive about Harmistice is how it doesn’t sound forced or contrived. It’s obviously a collaborative work, meaning that though they’re not excessively structured, these songs feel like songs.
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