Born in Iran and raised in London, beat wizard Ashkan Kooshanejad, better known by his alias Ash Koosha, broke into the electronic scene with debut album Guud in 2015. Taking the freneticism of Flying Lotus’ signature LA beat weirdness further, it seemed to spectators that Koosha could do no wrong. Guud was a monolith, dark and brooding, complex and suffocating, like Godspeed You! Black Emperor ditched the instruments for a MIDI keyboard and a DAW.

Koosha continued these motifs on his sophomore effort, IAKAI, but at a decidedly lower energy level, without moving the sonic palette forward.

On AKTUAL, Koosha channels the earlier energy of Guud, while exploring new ground through vocal performances. These sonic textures enable Koosha to accomplish more than his earlier efforts – he hits his highest high with track ‘TrappistOne’, a poised, delicate, and slowly-evolving piano composition that ebbs and flows its way to a subtle climax – denoted by the subtle introduction of a synthesizer into the bass.

However (and unlike earlier efforts), the inconsistent textures, sounds, and ideas do not complement the disjointed nature of this LP. The juxtaposition of more complex IDM pieces versus the sombre vocal performances makes AKTUAL feel more like a string of demos, with highs and lows, but a distinct lack of coherence. The album has lush sonic highs, but entirely misses any sense of binding theme or narrative, a context for any of these compositions.

As such, the album is reduced to a set of sketches, a B-side album from a man without the reputation to get away with it.

3 Stars

Artist: Ash Koosha. Label: Independent. Top Tracks: Magnet; Aktual II; TrappistOne; Aroha. For Fans Of: Holly Herndon; Arca; Flying Lotus; Actress. 34 minutes