Ata Ebtekar, aka Sote, composes music with a deeply-held conviction that rules and formulas should be deconstructed and rethought. A pivotal figure of the electronic music scene in the Middle East, he alters musical modal codes from their original tonality and rhythmic tradition to achieve vivid, synthetic soundscapes. 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 focuses 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, 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.
In July 2017, Sote released Sacred Horror in Design via Opal Tapes. The album came out on vinyl via Sub Rosa in June 2018. His most recent project, Parallel Persia, arrived in May 2019 via Powell's Diagonal label, and has earned enthusiastic praise across the board since.
Sote 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), Donaueschinger Musiktage, Mira (Barcelona), Terraforma (Milan), and many more.
Several projects by Sote are available for festivals and events – solo performances, the audiovisual work Sacred Horror in Design, the acoustic-computer music hybrid Parallel Persia, and diverse installation pieces. Please see below for more information or contact us.
Ebtekar's solo live show harkens back to his formidable Hardcore Sounds from Tehran release. High-energy hardcore is twisted, pressed into rhythmically and sonically challenging structures. The show has met rave reviews, and has been credited with going "beyond the lazy revivalism of the contemporary set, sounding as searing as Merzbow but with the rhythmic intensity of Hellfish & Producer." (FACT)
Parallel Persia was originally commissioned by Donaufestival and premiered with great success in April 2018. The forthcoming release is preceded by new electro-acoustic work "Artificial Neutrality," and will be presented in the form of an electro-acoustic live show that Sote will tour throughout the year. Parallel Persia deals with the illusion and creation of an artificial hyperreal culture manipulated and controlled by an imperious agency somewhere within all galaxies. Amongst destruction arises beauty, grace, and symmetry. Snapshots of an apocryphal Iran are presented via sonic and optic schematics for a synthetic "Persian" experience.
The performance was created by Sote in collaboration with Arash Bolouri (santour) and Pouya Damadi (tar).
Listen to the album below.
"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.