Atigheh - عتیقه is the third EP from Oxford-based producer and drummer Despicable Zee, aka Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani, who specialises in leftfield, electronic lo-fi-pop – wonky yet meditative tunes, punctuated by biting rhythms. With echoes of The Knife, Tirzah, CocoRosie and Madame Gandhi, the EP sounds like longing, like searching, like hacking away at old vines to reach what’s behind them.
The title track Atigheh derives its name from a ballad by Persian singer Hayedeh, her evocative voice wails around Tehrani’s drumming, a reference point we may not understand but it is filled with meaning nonetheless. The song was released shortly before she entered a self-imposed exile in 1978, the year before Tehrani’s own father emigrated to the U.K.
It feels like many voices intersect. Layering melancholy, lazy melodies to shape a vocal sound that sits somewhere between poetry and quiet rap, her voice is fragile yet assured. Tehrani describes her writing style as ‘stream of consciousness’, and it’s apparent that this release has been collaged together from many different notes, secrets, scraps and moments in time. Not only through the variety of samples, but also in the content, which poetically relates her father leaving Iran to her own feelings of loss in the present day.
In Atigheh - عتیقه we hear a more direct approach to the issues that Despicable Zee raised on her previous release, where she began to creatively navigate her dual heritage and a feeling of being on the periphery. Through the process of music-making she tries to locate a place of belonging.
Hayedeh left Iran so she could keep singing, Tehrani sings to attempt to understand why her father left and what he left behind. The sparse sound acknowledges the holes that displacement leaves. This EP is a single ripple in a chain of intergenerational motion.
The EP is accompanied by a book of written and photographic vignettes shared by Siavash Haji Fath Ali Tehrani about his experiences and challenges with transitioning into life in Oxford. Purchase a copy here.