Nazanin Noori
Mix of the Issue

Writers: Malak Al Suwaihel.
Published: August 5th 2022

Photographer: Peter Oliver Wolff


- The artist won't disclose the tracklist.

Duration: 31 mintues 12 seconds.

Examining the “hardcore continuum,” particuarly along the Ambient Jungle tributary, English music journalist and author Simon Reynolds aptly describes its cousin genre, Ambient Hardcore, as a “balance between madness and musicality, between ruff and smooth,” and beyond its perceived “floating ethereality.” Within Nazanin Noori’s atmospheric sound universe, Ambient Hardcore is narrated through what the Berlin-Based Iranian sound artist and musician synthasizes in this SONDUKE interview as: “[t]he very certain emotional, as well as physical state that [she] introduce[s] to the audience, which happens to be somewhere between meditation, trance, ritual, ecstasy, as well as distraction.”

Working in sound art, performance, installation, theater and radio play direction, and text, with an educational background in theater, film, and media studies, Noori’s sequent Post Ambient Hardcore sound adds dimension to recovery of an altogether antecedent production of the genre as previousiouly described by Reynolds. Sensorial dimension after dimension, Noori’s soundscapes are reciprocally what she describes as “calming” and “heavily blasting;” and replete with cultural and political pertinence. Incorporating ‘Islamic music,’ along with recordings of rallying demonstrations, Noori contends with difficult political realities through an active sonorous introspection by the agency of sound. In this exclusive SONDUKE mix, Noori’s ‘sound scenario’ exalts the everpresent ethereal potentiality of Islamic sound in artistic application. While in this exclusive SONDUKE interview she describes the process of composing this mix as “dark,” yet “invigorating” in its potency to grapple with “different manifestos”—a meditative process.

Below is our digital conversation with Nazanin Noori


MS: In every sense of the word, you are an interdisciplinary artist (see intro.), how has your cross-functional range—from music, art, and theater and film—promoted your work?

NN: I primarily intend to create an emotional cosmos in my work – by designing a space, a sound scenario or a poetic narrative. I do not make any divisions between individual artistic disciplines, when it comes to developing a certain idea. I do name them, whenever I formulate a concept, though this mostly serves to explain some kind of superior context to the audience or to the people I work with. What I care about is that my works presuppose that the recipients have to engage with the respective scenario that I present to them. In the end, it does not matter what my exact intention was, while I was developing it or what the medium is, but for the others to get involved with the setting, let themselves go and establish their very own interpretation of it.


MS: You’re often introduced as a “Berlin-based artist originally from Iran.” While such categories may seem prescriptive or limiting, as a transnational and multicultural artist, do you find yourself inserting your cultural background into your sound and your art as a whole? Is it ever a conscious effort?

NN: I do not think that it is any way limiting, but in my case, very descriptive of the inspirations that have shaped me. Growing up as an Iranian in a German society, or more precisely as a Spiritist Muslim in a predominantly Christian / Atheist society, to me used to be a steady distraction. I was busy with comparing and trying to understand social habits and their abysses that surrounded me. I guess that therefore shaping these very ‘distractions’ became very essential in my artistic practice. Throughout the time, I learned how to transform these perspective shifts into my very own language. It most often happens to end up somewhere between grotesque and pathos.

Sound - Art

MS: On US label enmossed, your debut album FARCE was released in 2020 to raving reviews. Sensorial dimension after dimension, your influence as theater director is manifest. Can you tell us more about the guiding narrative that drives the album?

NN: The creation of this album started with an idea for a dramatic text that I had about a group of people that fear a pothole in a road surface. Instead of finding a solution or realizing what it actually is, they start fighting each other. A child accidentally sets its foot inside the pothole and the entire group realizes that their rage was unnecessary. They then split apart. I created two forty-minute sound pieces that retell the story. The music does not include any vocals. The story is told only musically. The first track tells the story from the perspective of the road and the second track tells the story from the perspective of the pothole. I wrote a poem that summarizes the scenario. The poem is split into two parts and turned out to become the title of the first and second half of the album.

MS: Pulling this phrase from your official bio., what does the creation of an ‘atmospheric narrative’ mean to you and your artistic process? And what to you is a ‘sound scenario,’ and can you talk to us more about your sound and room installations AMBIENT ROOM (2021; was on display at EIGEN + ART Lab, Berlin) and APOLOGY (2022; was on display at Akademie der Künste, Berlin), respectively?

NN: The very certain emotional, as well as physical state that I introduce to the audience, happens to be somewhere between meditation, trance, ritual, ecstasy, as well as distraction. I call it Ambient Hardcore. I think this is the very best way to describe what an 'atmospheric narrative' can become to the audience. It can be very calming and then, all of a sudden, become heavily blasting. In this context I always recall what Nietzsche said about Wagner's music. Saying that the sound only pretends to inherit the emotions that it narrates.

Therefore, the drama itself falls apart and the disintegration of the parts turns out to become cathartic. The term sound scenario frames this situation more precisely than any other word, to me. It can be translated with sound situation as well. Entering a room installation like AMBIENT ROOM or APOLOGY feels like entering an abstract film set, in which both the oral and visual situation distract the audience from what is happening outside the fictive situation that they happen to be in. The recipients are invited to sit in the space, the sound in the space has a hypnotic effect on them and they start developing an associative space of thought. In the best case.


MS: Where do you find or mine for inspiration when composing?

NN: It takes a lot of time for me to compose. I cannot say what exactly inspires me and what doesn’t. My musical research is mainly focused on religious music, my poetic research on mythology and post-dramatic poetry. My sound work is based on modular synthesis. I then develop a sound structure by arranging the soundscapes into a certain poetic narrative. In general, I am inspired by the works of the Greek-Russian conductor Teodor Currentzis, as well as Pauline Oliveros, Ghédalia Tazartès, Antonin Artaud, Sufism, William Shakespeare, Doom Music and overly dramatic Trash TV shows.


MS: What was the process and inspiration in composing this latest SONDUKE mix?

NN: The SONDUKE mix is a very special mix, because I mainly worked with Islamic music. It also includes samples from demonstrations and, of course, my own music. Like most people, I have a hard time channeling our political reality. Creating a sound scenario like this, that is dark, as well as invigorating, mostly feels like dealing with a lot of different manifestos to me. It is a very essential and reoccuring part of my artistic practice. I am very thankful to be creating sound scenarios regularly for Refuge Worldwide and Retreat Radio, which have both given me the freedom to express myself in the way I do. It also challenges me with finding new music.


MS: What’s next for you, creatively?

NN: I am working on my next album that will include singing as well as spoken-word poetry. According to the motto: POST AMBIENT HARDCORE IS VOCAL AMBIENT HARDCORE. I am working on a poetry book and I have a few installations in the next year that I am preparing. I know, it sounds like I have a lot to do and I do have a lot to do, but since my practice is interdisciplinary, each project is interrelated to each other and therefore very essential.