Published Mar 30, 2016While most of us are limited to merely hearing sounds, recent Ninja Tune signee Ash Koosha has no such restrictions; as a man gifted with synaesthesia, he has the ability to see sound in terms of shape and colour. As you might imagine, this allows for the crafting of music that's largely unlike anything else around.
I AKA I is an album that seems more likely to have been forged in the crucible of the universe than in one man's bedroom. Its elements fuse and bubble into existence before evolving into their own mini-worlds. Look a little deeper and those worlds reveal their own structures, which creak and fasten to each other, forming beautifully fractured crystalline shapes. At times the record scarcely feels like the result of music production at all, more akin to that of sonic assembly on a celestial scale.
Ash Koosha's greatest achievement here is one of translation. For many synaesthetes, the true depth of their music is inevitably lost on an audience that's, frankly, ill-equipped to experience it. With I AKA I, however, there's an almost immediate transferral of something extra-sensory within the music. "Eluded" has the feel of a soft, purple something in transit, while the otherworldly fuzz of "Growl" conjures a vast white edifice rising to the heavens. These are perhaps even overshadowed by the less visual, more sonically pleasing tracks — the digital shuffle of "Feather" sticks out in the crowd, as does the glitched-out serenity of "Biutiful."
Interestingly, Ash Koosha's past is just as colourful as I AKA I itself. Classically trained at the Tehran Conservatory of Music and subsequently exiled from the UK since 2008, his back story has inevitably played a part in shaping his sound, but on a much more indirect level. There isn't much in the way of classical style or Iranian influence in the tracks themselves, but Koosha's transition from constriction to freedom is hugely evident. I AKA I is a shedding of the shackles, a great example of what can happen when someone jettisons rigid structure for boundless creativity. This, above all else, makes Ash Koosha one of 2016's most important players and solidifies I AKA I as one of the most unique records to come out in years. (Ninja Tune)