A vital figure in Iran's underground music scene, Mahdyar's dauntless electronic architecture fuses restless fractal beat structures with warped Persian motifs and instrumentation. The Tehran-born producer's long-anticipated debut Seized comes more than a decade since Mahdyar made his initial mark as a teenager producing the majority of the newly emerged Persian Hip Hop movement at the age of 16. Retaining the grit and urgency of his hip-hop roots, Mahdyar sonically aims further off-the grid building crushing, feral soundscapes in constant flux. Dark and provocative, Seized's frenetic energy reveals itself slowly and purposefully. Toying with structure, form, and identity, it paints a tense portrait evoking images of abstract forms twisting and mutating.
The record rhythmically structures itself along the contours of middle eastern traditional music and hip-hop, weaving mournful complex sound collages that blur the line between its acoustic and digital sources. Frenetic compositions continually build, reshuffle, and take a new divergent path with each reset. The slow crawl of opener "Seize" begins to take form with each new measure, teeing up the listener for a sonic journey into unfamiliar territory. Trudging along like a ship in a sea of molten iron, "Seize" is a good example of Mahdyar's uncanny ability to give his composition's such strong visual qualities. The dirge "Money Money" is an imaginary score for an apocalyptic ancient world in a universe where money has succeeded in controlling everyone and everything.
The album cycles through an array of themes and visual cues, often alluding to the horrors of war, greed, and intolerance. However, there are moments of odd beauty ("Glimmer Of" "Running From") that suggests that Mahdyar's realist vision isn't dystopian as it may seem but rather is one that recognizes conquering these challenges means taking the more uncertain routes.