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


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.



Playlist – Aria Rostami & Daniel Blomquist

It is our great pleasure to welcome Aria Rostami and Daniel Blomquist to the Arcana playlist section.

They have been working together on a second collaboration for the Glacial Movements label. Still is the culmination of years of work and musical shapeshifting, the resultant six-track album the ideal companion to our cold weather isolation here in the northern hemisphere

Still was reviewed on Arcana here, but the playlist the pair have put together reflects a little more of their listening, as well as including a couple of tracks from the album. Sit back and get horizontal with a tracklisting that includes stellar works from Bryce Hackford – the gorgeous Coast (maybe) – Mica Levi and Popul Vuh.

Our thanks to Aria and Daniel for this wonderful hour of music:

On Record: Aria Rostami & Daniel Blomquist: Still (Glacial Movements)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

The music of Still reflects the circumstances in which the album came together. Aria Rostami and Daniel Blomquist have already released a collaboration for Glacial Movements – the Wandering Eye album – where they focused on the Antarctic Plateau, and the best places to observe space. Yet during that work the building blocks for Still were already in place.

The music explores a process of change over time, describing how time can change its motion in cases of cold weather. Because of this, each track ends up at a different place from where it started.

What’s the music like?

As deep as the ocean, and as slow as a huge ship in icy water. This is music that works well as background listening but reveals its intensity when experienced up close. The structures are as big as the pair’s first album – ten minutes or more in some cases – but maintain their concentrated level throughout.

The use of fragments of speech in the background of Undercooled works well against the foreground and wide background elements, with flecks of piano appearing towards the end. The lovely wide outlook of Hoarfrost works well, with chords shifting very slowly and peacefully, while Crystal Gazer swirls and then settles on a harmonic bed before floating away.

Does it all work?

Yes. These pieces are like six massive chord progressions over a long period of time, but they link together beautifully to make one big structure. It is the coldest of ambient music – you can literally feel the ice at times! – but leaves the sort of warmth you feel when getting back indoors after a stint outside on a cold winter’s day.

Is it recommended?

Yes, along with the duo’s first album. It ticks all the boxes for a Glacial Movements release while keeping its own individual qualities. A subtly invigorating piece of work that makes its mark.

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