An improv performance featuring modular synth, saxophone and dance.
In 2018, British-Iranian musician Pouya Ehsaei and MANANA//Records founder Harry Follett had the idea of starting a platform that would allow musicians and artists from different backgrounds to come together and make music and multi-disciplinary audio-visual pieces together. The result was Parasang, a weekly improv project and event series that has featured musicians from across the world.
Each collaboration is led by Ehsaei, whose modular synth provides electronics for each performance. Musicians from Morocco, Ethiopia, South Korea and more countries across the globe have performed with Parasang, which continued its collaborations over the pandemic in the form of a livestream series.
“We mostly collaborate with musicians who have a strong root in a particular genre/style of music from around the globe,” Ehsaei says. “So the start of the process for me is always listening and reading about the music and the culture of the musicians who are joining me. For instance, if they are from Ghana I listen to Ghanaian music and read about the different rhythms and melodies and a bit about the culture and sometimes even their cuisine (just because I like that stuff).”
“After that I try to prepare the backbone of the musical world I make for the performance from what I’ve found. The challenge is always how you interpret those polyrhythms and melodic patterns with a sequencer on Eurorack. There is always a way through, you just have to scratch your head a bit harder and stare at your rack a bit longer!”
In this episode of Patch Notes, Ehsaei performs with saxophonist and composer Binker Golding at London’s Space 289, with a dance performance from Dafni Krazoudi, who performed remotely in Greece. “I played with a Eurorack synthesizer, Elektron Octatrack, and Analog Rytm, Novation Peak, Oto Machine Bim, Bam, Biscuit and Chase Bliss Audio Mood,” Ehsaei says. “Everything (including Binker’s sound) is routed to a Midas Venice U16 which I use for overdubbing and mixing.”
“The core of my setup is the Eurorack and Octatrack and the mixer. I add in more equipment depending on who I am playing with. For this one, we did not have a drummer/percussionist so I added Rytm to the mix and since there were no keys or guitarists playing with us, I used Peak to play some stabs, pads and chords.”
Parasang has just begun to perform to live audiences again after a spell of remote collaboration. “We’ve been feeling grateful and very fortunate to be able to carry on doing what we loved before the pandemic during the pandemic. It took us a while to come up with a system that facilitates musicians from around the world to jam together in real-time but when it happened it was magical. Feeling the connection and synergy with musicians, dancers, and visuals artists who are not present with you in the same space was definitely a great experience on a psychedelic level. For one of the performances, we had a Cuban saxophonist in Berlin, a Cuban dancer in Detroit, and an Iranian visual artist in Tehran, all joining me from London.”
Parasang’s next live dates take place on September 17 and November 25 at London’s King’s Place (tickets here), and on December 11 they will curate an evening at Space 289. “I think the remote series opened a lot of possibilities that we will carry on experimenting with,” Ehsaei says. “The addition of real-time computer-generated graphics and dancers is definitely something we’ll carry on doing for our shows.”
“We will continue to come up with new combinations of artists from different backgrounds and give them a space in which they can bring who they truly are forward and express themselves while bouncing off each other and reacting to one another.”
Produced by Pouya Ehsaei
Filmed by T.E.N. Studios
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