Review: Hamed Mafakheri – Durations


Inspired by his childhood recollection of war while growing up in Tehran, Mafakheri’s Durations is a perfect illustration of how memory can smear the details while retaining every ounce of the original sentiment. Depictions of explosions or passing aircraft are reduced to blurred silhouettes, with echoes conveying the approximation of specifics; sonic edges are softened to convey a margin of error regarding the exact timing or placement of gunfire, or the rhythm of a distant alarm. Yet while the physical events might be muffled and dulled, the coalescent sensation of war is recalled with absolute precision – the rumbling power at the base of Durations pulls on both the quake of explosives but also the churn of mortal dread, while the cello of Ankido Darash traces both the grim arc of overhead bombers and great crescents of inner gloom.

Mafakheri highlights how memory brings a synaesthesic fluidity to the senses during the release’s accompanying text, when he refers to remembering the “sounds of red, yellow and white of air raid alarms” (which come ripping into “Second Duration” as shrill descending sirens, withered like figments from deteriorating documentary film). The inner/outer worlds are rendered similarly porous: the emotional self is broadcast onto the sky, just as the destruction of war is internalised. The shower of orchestral strings during “First Duration” could be perceived as either dropped missiles or streaming tears; jolts of bass frequency feel reminiscent of both nearby explosions and panicked gasps of breath; clouds of synthesiser congeal in the air and then disperse, like bomb smoke or thick, stomach-dwelling fear. In this way, Durations captures how memory doesn’t confuse images with sounds with feelings per se – rather it draws lines of poetic correlation across them, collapsing the boundaries between senses to generate a much richer, more resonant evocation of human experience.

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