Ash Koosha – I AKA I

Album Review by Claire Francis | 01 Apr 2016
  • Ash Koosha – I AKA I
Album title: I AKA I
Artist: Ash Koosha
Label: Ninja Tune
Release date: 1 Apr

Iranian born, London based Ash Koosha has certainly led a captivating life. At 30 years of age the multi-instrumentalist and electronic musician has battled government oppression through various musical incarnations in his native country, from bass duties in subversive hard rock group Font to the myspace-launched indie outfit Take It Easy Hospital, culminating in his starring role in the Cannes-award winning docufiction film No One Knows About Persian Cats.

The 2009 release, which loosley chronicles Koosha's own battle to create music in the face of staunch political resistance, was viewed as so incendiary by Iranian officials that Koosha was forced to seek asylum in London, where he now creates soundtracks (commissioned  via the Internet) to Iranian films.

Not feeling sufficiently inadequate with your own life achievements yet? The talented electronic musician also happens to be a synesthete; the carrier of a neurological phenomenon that allows him to 'see' sound. Little wonder then that I AKA I, the follow up to last year’s debut and surprise success story Guud, makes for one uniquely fascinating listen. In a similar fashion to the likes of Blanck Mass’s kinetic soundscapes,this fifteen track-long opus collages together an unusual yet cohesive assortment of computerised blips and beeps, whirring drum and bass beats, glacial keys, and quirkily distorted vocal samples.

To attempt to extract a highlight from the whole does something of a disservice to Koosha’s expansive vision – just try to choose between the urgent, industrial pummel of opener OTE, the elegant, elegiac fairground-tinkle of Eluded, or the the assertively uptempo, beat-scattered (and aptly-titled) Make it Fast.

Better to take in the record, in which one track flows seamlessly into another, as one continuous act of sensory immersion – described with precision in the accompanying presser as Koosha's attempt to treat sound 'like a physical matter which can be broken down, liquified, rescaled or spatially positioned'. Skittish and layered, whimsical yet insistent, I AKA I somehow still comes together as a compellingly melodic listen; a bold and fascinating sophomore release from an inspiring, and inspired, artist.