Nature has been a fascinating artist since the very beginning of our species. They painted mighty animals on cave walls expressing their fear and inferiority over the things that were beyond their rock houses. Today nature is still a force that we cannot tame. It can be either thunder, tsunamis and earthquakes capable of wiping away whole towns, or a gentle touch of wind and a cold morning dew on someone’s bare feet. Porya Hatami, an Iranian ambient producer, focuses on the latter on his latest album “The Garden”. His aim is to capture the beauty of a garden with everything that does not meet the eye of a beholder.
First thing that got my attention was an incredible attention to detail. After all, ambient music to some people is just a single monotonous sound that changes pitches once every half an hour. Although the bases for Hatami’s tracks are made of such sounds, he doesn’t stop on that. Keeping it all natural, each of the tracks on “The Garden” can be compared to a flowery meadow – vast and filled with multifariousness. However, instead of flowers, Porya Hatami plants little spots of sounds, just like a sower who sprinkles seeds over his land. They grow randomly, without much order, but when you look at the meadow as a whole you can see that each of the plants contributes to creating beautiful and coherent, yet a fragile whole.
RELEASE DATE: 08 August 2014 LABEL: Dronarivm Records
Despite it might not seem so, there is a lot going on in spacious sound landscapes of “The Garden”. Songs are packed with various field recordings, weird jingly sounds, stick cracking, rain, bee buzz and many more. However, Porya Hatami uses them in a way that doesn’t create a feeling of an excess. Every track is a perfect example of harmony, every sound is used properly, as if it was meant to be in this exact place. Although it might take a couple of listens to get used to such a mix of ambient and field recordings, “The Garden” is surely worth its time. It is a perfect background music, especially for reading, relaxing or falling asleep. Unfortunately songs on this album fall into category of tracks that get boring after ¾ of its length if you try to focus only on the listening process. Besides a myriad of little adornments, songs are based on a single sound which makes it hard to actually enjoy them as wholes.
On every step, Porya Hatami strives to depict his natural inspirations. And in every case, he succeeds. The best thing you can do while listening to “The Garden” is to lay down on your bed and close your eyes. Let the music fill you and whole room – it won’t take long for images of forests, grasslands and vast plains to appear in your imagination. During listening, I felt as if I was on a walk in the wild woodland somewhere in Poland. It’s morning and you can feel that the forest is fresh and about to be awoken, filled with dew and inaudible sounds. In my imagination I sat with my back against a tree trunk, and, being completely careless, started to embrace everything that was going on around me, all the calmness, modest majesty and life.
Although the mood of the album is its greatest advantage, it can be clearly seen that what I am describing is hardly the concept that Hatami tried to depict. When you think of a garden, you usually convey an image of a manmade space limited by fences with flowers and vegetables planted along set lines. This artificial mood has nothing to do with how free and natural Hatami’s music is. His music flows like a river, unlimited just like a taiga forest somewhere in the north and free of any boundaries like a bird in the sky. For me “The Garden” is like pouring water in the outer space – it doesn’t really have any shape, but you can feel its form, it might stretch to endless sizes, but at the same time it can reduce itself to a single drop.
Hatami risked a lot by providing quite an explicit way of interpretation of his own music. After all, many people (including me!) could not agree with him. I really do prefer to find my own interpretations of art rather than having it provided by somebody else. Still, “The Garden” with its mix of field recordings and ambient is a breath of fresh air in a world where many artists seem to be inspired by urban spaces. Hatami not only did something else, but also did it successfully providing one of the best musical depictions of the beauty of nature I’ve ever had a privilege to listen.