Switched On: Aria Rostami & Daniel Blomquist: Time Apart In The West (Intimate Inanimate)

aria-rostami-daniel-blomquist

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

The partnership of Aria Rostami & Daniel Blomquist release their second album in five months, again recording in separate cities due to conditions imposed by the pandemic. Rostami currently resides on the East Coast in Brooklyn while Blomquist has remained in San Francisco, but the two have honed their recording process to an effective method of musical communication across the country.

For Time Apart In The West the compositions were written separately and then the ideas developed, with Blomquist sampling and altering Rostami’s composed and recorded contributions. Like a piece of chain mail, the music was passed back and forth until both were satisfied.

What’s the music like?

The titles are simple and indistinct, divided into 14 Months, but in spite of its minimal construction Time Apart In The West contains music of warmth and meaning. It contrasts nicely with the pair’s previous release Still, on Glacial Movements, which explored how time could change motion in cold weather.

The constructions on that release were much longer, clocking in around the ten minute mark, but some of the tracks here are short, descriptive sketches like Month 1 and Month 13, suggesting slightly more mechanical origins.

They are complemented by much more expansive scenes such as Month 2 or Month 10 which hang on the air beautifully, the latter like a white cloud on a hot summer’s day. This surely has its origins in the Californian heat haze, as Month 5 would seem to have, though the shimmering horizon here has a set of discords ensuring a level of tension remains throughout.

Does it all work?

It does – either on headphones as a calming soundtrack, or on a bigger system as an immersive experience. Both composers have a keen ear for texture, with the extended melodies and chord sequences easy to follow, and the ambient white noise offering extra depth. Often the slow speeds mean the music acts like a weather system, gradually evolving and unfolding.

Is it recommended?

Very much so. Time Apart In The West is the warmth to Still’s cold, and both make excellent companion pieces.

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