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Various Artists - Visions Of Darkness Volume II [Cold Spring/Unexplained Sounds Group - 2022]

With the first instalment of Visions of Darkness opening up the world to the fascinating and extremely engaging world of modern, dark, Iranian music, Cold Spring/Unexplained Sounds Group return with a sequel, Visions Of Darkness (In Iranian Contemporary Music): Volume II. WIth some acts carried over from the first release, the world is once again exposed to many unknown and talented artists/bands from this generally underrepresented region. While styles may change between artists, all the tracks are delightfully dark, although still deeply inspiring. Wonderfully curated and mastered by Raffaele Pezzella, this second, in-depth look at dark, ambient and experimental music in Iran is a vision for sure.

Spread over two jam-packed discs, Visions II picks up where the original left off, bringing dark, Iranian music to the world. While there are some very welcome returns (Xerxes the Dark, S.S.M.P, , PooYar, and others), many of the acts on this sequel are getting their first exposure on Cold Spring. Thanks to tireless experimental world music chronicler Raffaele Pezzella, this 2xCD set is an excellent glimpse into this strong and engaging scene. Focusing most on dark ambient pieces, the tracks selected for this compilation spread and sprawl slowly and grimly, well fitted to the darkness of the title. However, interspersed within this dark ambient are excellent spots of concrete, traditional instrumentation, and lighter experimental pieces. For example, the opener, Negari, Shirely, Pandi's "Koohestan," uses traditional Iranian music as the driving, droning force to pull the cloudy, experimental veil forward. This being followed by Nyctalllz's industrial "The Curse Of The White Demon" shows the listener how wide a reach this compilation has and how well put together it is. Add to that the almost poppy "Ruin Is the Beginning" (Babak Sepanta), and that genre spread cannot be denied. 

For fans of the first release, Visions II is a no-brainer. There are twenty well-crafted, well-chosen tracks showcasing nearly two hours of engaging, enigmatic and dark Iranian contemporary music. With fingers in many different genres, the compilation shows how well these acts handle darkness in their respective scenes, and how well each different sound interacts with those of their fellow countrymates. The Iranian scene may not be world-renowned, but only because of lack of exposure. These world-class tracks are being given the stage they deserve, a proverbial light shone on their darkness. 

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Paul Casey
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