Photo by Hirad Panahi

Ata Ebtekar aka Sote is an electronic music composer and sound artist based in Tehran, Iran. Over the last two decades, he has published his work via established labels such as Warp, Sub Rosa, Opal Tapes, Morphine and Repitch among others. In 2018, he founded a new label called Zabte Sote, which functions as a sub-label of Opal Tapes and will focus on releases by Iranian experimental electronic composers. Sote is also co-founder of SET Festival in Tehran.

Known for creating compositions that range from the delicate to the abrasive, using sounds both of acoustical and electronic origins, Ebtekar sees music as the expression of cultural habits and views on sound and anti sound (silence). Seeking to expand such traditions he creates music that, while rooted in many cultures at once, itself belongs to none in particular. Sote’s work deals with various blueprints, in particular his solo all synthetic music, his electroacoustic a/v group project and his multi-channel sound installations.

He has created commissioned work for and performed at a.o. Berghain and CTM Festival (Berlin), Unsound Festival (Krakow), Cafe Oto (London), Jazzhouse (Copenhagen), TodaysArt Festival (The Hague), Bozar (Brussels),  Ultima Festival (Oslo), Donaufestival (Krems).

Sote's latest release, Sacred Horror in Design, was put out by Opal Tapes in July 2017. The album is scheduled for release on vinyl on Sub Rosa this summer 2018.

Several projects by Sote are available for festivals and events – solo performances, his audiovisual works "Sacred Horror in Design" and "Parallel Persia", and diverse installation pieces. Please see below for more information or contact us.

Sacred Horror In Design

Photo by Stephan Kaffa

"Sacred Horror In Design" was developed from a commission by CTM Festival as an audio/visual project in collaboration with Tarik Barri, Arash Bolouri and Behrouz Pashaei. Inspired by CTM’s 2017 theme, Fear Anger Love, and its relevance to Sote’s childhood following the 1979 Iranian revolution, this performance reveals a dramatic blend of acoustic Persian instrumentation and contemporary electronics.

Working with Arash Bolouri, who plays the santour (Persian hammered dulcimer), and Behrouz Pashaei on the long-necked, four-string setar, Sote frames and responds to each instrumentalist’s artistry as the piece oscillates between the traditional and the radically contemporary. Bolouri and Pashaei’s acoustic melodies are offset against Sote's electro-acoustical spund processing, their sounds being frequently digitally manipulated and distorted beyond recognition.

Realtime visuals are generated by Tarik Barri, known for his collaborations with musicians like Monolake, Thom Yorke, Paul Jebanasam, and Nicolas Jaar. Analogous to the contrasting elements within the music, the visuals express a constantly shifting dynamic between traditional Iranian patterns and noisy, colourful digital distortions, sometimes appearing in harmony, at other times clashing in violent opposition. "Sacred Horror in Design" boldly builds and burns bridges as it explores relationships between past and future, image and sound, electronic and acoustic, audience and performer.

Parallel Persia

Sote’s latest project, "Parallel Persia", commissioned by Donaufestival for their 2018 edition, deals with the illusion and creation of an artificial hyperreal culture manipulated and controlled by an imperious agency somewhere within all galaxies. Like all realities, greed and arrogance channels destruction of life. However, the path to havoc includes resistance via beauty, grace and symmetry. Snapshots of an apocryphal Iran are presented via sonic and optic schematics for a synthetic "Persian" experience.

The audiovisual performance was created by Sote in collaboration with Arash Bolouri (santour), Pouy Damadi (tar), and Arash Akbari (visuals).