Firoza is the latest solo guise of Hobart’s Steven Wright who has previously released music as Polanyi, under his own name and with the duo Bi-Hour, amongst others. ‘In the Noon of Ashura’ is the debut for this new project. The album was inspired by and partly recorded during a trip to Iran in 2017 and could be described as a travel diary of sorts, albeit one with a definite post-industrial feel to it. The basis for each of the eight compositions was created with a small battery-powered keyboard that Steven took with him on his travels, recorded to mobile phone; those recordings were then added to with the same portable keyboard along with organ, clarinet, household percussion and voice. Interspersed with the composed pieces are fragments of field recordings made whilst on the move, again recorded with a phone and then processed to a greater or lesser degree afterwards. The resulting sound-pieces are in a sense abstract and very impressionistic portraits of the locations that Steven visited, they feature repeating motifs and atmospheric drones that are often half-submerged, distant-sounding or competing with various elements of noise. Partly due to the choice of recording techniques, the tracks retain some of the roughness of a lo-fi sketch and this adds to a sense of ambiguity that is a whole mindset away from the usual didactic representations of the Middle East in western media. Travel and particularly the direct experience of cultures very different to one’s own, has a tendency to turn one’s gaze inward and this might explain the introspective quality of these compositions; likewise the experience of awe-inspiring landscapes such as those depicted in Steven’s photographs (featured in the physical edition of the album). There is a psychological weight to this music then – it isn’t dark so much as it is heavy. It’s also quite beautiful I think. – Tim P.
On green vinyl, housed in full colour sleeve with colour insert and download card. Limited edition of 99 hand-numbered copies.