Painting by Ala Ebtear
"Holy Error" is sonic eschatology. The final track off of Sote's Sacred Horror in Design, Iranian composer Ata Ebtekar's latest full-length for Opal Tapes, brutalizes sound—both acoustic and synthesized—into something apocalyptic. Configured as a means of deciphering Ebtekar's "childhood following the 1979 Iranian revolution," "Holy Error" unloads rounds of sub-bass and discharges decaying arpeggiations. A martial thump introduces the piece before screeching setar and shrieking santour begin to bristle. Before long, the song curdles: distinguishable instrumentation dissolves as the tear gas hits and sound is weaponized, reconfigured and deployed as a mechanized toxicity. The collapsing logic of crisis reticulates, territorializing a state of emergency. Anxiety perforates the scene as electronic source engineered at EMS Stockholm becomes quantized, spectralized, hostile. Rubbery solidity ricochets and extends a network of noise, its erratic flows and spikes mapping a brutal topography across its viscid surface. As the apparatus continues to atomize sound into discrete zones of trauma, another aspect of the array emerges. It might be an alarm, but it could be a scream, too. In this postlapsarian moment of collapse, the ambiguity of the noise blurs the sonic signifiers of state-sanctioned violence (siren) with the visceral, human response to the trauma induced therein (scream)—cultivating a vital humanity from within the submission of imperial control. On "Holy Error," Ebtekar disrobes the acceleratory futurism of neoliberal rhythm while amplifying the voice that wails out in protest. Beyond this onslaught, "Holy Error" projects a glimmer of salvation, refracting into an insurrectionary revelation.