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Electronic Duo Esfand Debuts Iranian Folk Techno Album ‘Piltan’

A flamboyantly danceable body of work, the eight-track album is an organic fusion of traditional Iranian folk music with techno.

Riham Issa

Electronic Duo Esfand Debuts Iranian Folk Techno Album ‘Piltan’

Netherlands-based electronic duo Esfand, made up of Iranian producer Rouzbeh and New Zealand-born artist Patrick Steward, has just released their debut album ‘Piltan’, an organic hybrid of traditional Iranian folk music and techno.

A flamboyantly danceable body of work, ‘Piltan’ sees the duo weaving hypnotic rhythms from contemporary Western club hits, with elements from traditional Persian music and vocals from famed exiled Iranian artists like Habib Meftah, Mohsen Namjoo and Misagh Mordi. Though it lacks any hints of ethno-kitsch, it introduces a unique ecstatic sound into the global electronic music scene.

Each of the eight songs boasts a sophisticated production that is a product of Rouzbeh’s years of research into the Iranian musical heritage. “Esfand started as my master’s thesis. We selected all the samples from a purely musical perspective. Though we didn’t focus on preserving the purity of the culture, we didn’t discard Iranian traditions, we simply kept the ones that fit best,” Rouzbeh tells SceneNoise. “At the end of the day, they are all just sounds.”

The first two songs, ‘Babi Saghi’ and ‘O’Seda’, are based on repetitive rhythms of the Zar rituals of the Persian Gulf, manifested through hand drums and techno beat in the former and frantic synth grooves in the latter. The looping beat on both tracks is accompanied by warped vocals in Persian dialect, resulting in a charming sound that kind of possesses you as you listen.

“We’re not just about techno,” Steward says. “It’s more about evoking a feeling that makes you groove with excitement.”

Meanwhile, ‘Shawl’, a more low-tempo track, features poetic lyricism from famous Iranian poets like Daqiqi and Farrukhi Sistani, and is sung beautifully by Iranian folk artist Mohsen Namjoo. The element of poetry appears again in the lyrics of ‘Without Foot, Without Head’, which are based on texts by world-famous poet Rumi.