Ata ‘Sote’ Ebtekar, the artist behind the remarkable Sacred Horror in Design, has an important story behind this creation in which the past and present collide in order to create the musical aesthetic at work within. This musical combination of past and present can, of course, be approached in many different ways. One example for this can be made through old European or American folk songs, which are renewed over and over again through cascading generations, but on Sacred Horror in Design, we have something completely different, eerie, and thought-provoking.
The album’s background is important in order to understand its whole. As stated on the BandCamp page dedicated to the digital version of the release, Sacred Horror in Design was first developed from a commission by the CTM Festival as an audio/visual project in collaboration with another artist (Tarki Barri). That work was inspired by childhood memories regarding the 1979 Iranian revolution, an aspect and vision that is revealed throughout the album by its original blend between acoustic, traditional-sounding Persian instruments and contemporary approach towards electronic music.
The most powerful moments in this already powerful and meaningful album are the tracks ‘Plural’ and ‘Holy Error’, the latter of which is the album’s closer. In ‘Plural’, the mesmerizing beating of the ancient, Persian strings, processed and deranged by electronic warcraft, are literally breathtaking and intense to the point that I was unable to properly follow the music anymore. In the haunting ‘Holy Error’, the acoustic music is monstrously intensified by a steady, industrial beat, as if Sote were feeding a great machine with the fossil fuel made out of every toxic sound he could find. You know that moment when the intense beat in any great composition so mischievously takes over your own heart’s rhythm? This is how Sacred Horror in Design feels in the last few minutes, and it ends with a clean cut, a brief loss of your breath, and an almost immediate urge to play the album over once again.
Sacred Horror in Design is indeed a wonderful album, combining Sote’s interesting input on contemporary industrial and electronics through the lens of his own historic/cultural background. Sharing an honorable place alongside other great albums by projects like Owl Glitters, Dhul Qarnayn, and of course Muslimgauze, Sote’s Sacred Horror in Design is a must for anyone who favours challenging and thought-provoking music.