001 :: RITME

Listen to "001 :: RITME" on Spreaker.


Ritme Jaavdanegi by Mohammad Reza Mortazavi, released by Latency in 2019. Listen / Buy direct


The first thing you hear is time. Not so much time's passing, or its pulse, but the dimension itself: pure Time, as it were. As a solo percussion performance, there is nothing to hear but time: no melody, no harmony, no lyric, just rhythm. And as much as the music brings you into time, it also brings you out of time, or, at least, out of regular time. Because the song's pulse is irregular, disarming, driving, hurtling forward. It seems to stretch out too long and then snap back too quickly, in a hiccuping hexameter of 5 long syllables followed by 1 short. The overall effect is a music that you cannot nod your head to, cannot tap your foot to, a music that resists the way we typically divide up time in our minds. As when a pungent flavour overwhelms one's taste, this music overwhelms our sense of temporality. All else stops, and only time moves forward.

The second thing you hear is space. Because this music is, in fact, not only rhythm. There is pitch and tonality here as well, which punctuate the metronomic rapping, lending it something like the prosody of spoken language: not quite melody, but far from mere percussive sound. Yet these tonal hits occur along a spatial, rather than harmonic, dimension. They serve to situate the music in the space of the tombak. What we are hearing in these disparate pitches is an outline of the embodied drum, a constellation of points from the centre to the periphery of the drumhead, around its rim, and along its shell. We are hearing the drummer's hands move through space: their pats, taps, knuckles, and snaps. We are hearing a three-dimensional musical object, a statue we are walking around with our ears.

The third thing you hear is the club. Listen long enough, closely enough, and this music puts you into a kind of trance, which then brings to mind the dancefloor, home to that other kind of trance. And it's not just the regular pulsing rhythms or the hard percussive hits. It's the experience of absorption into music, of being suffused with music. It's the dissolution of the ordinary boundaries of the self, the disappearance of everything but your immediate auditory experience. In the present moment, there is only the music. You are only the music. You are the drum. The drum is you.

Liner Notes

Mortazavi plays the tombak and the daf, two Persian drums that I'd never heard or heard of before discovering this record. They're fascinating to listen to, and they're also fascinating to watch.