Ata Ebtekar, better known as Sote, is an electronic music composer and sound artist based in Tehran, Iran. His wide-ranging love of rich sounds and textures is embodied in diverse paths such as hardcore club sounds, collaborations that straddle (traditional) acoustic and electronic instrumentation, and solo experimental electronics – making Ebtekar equally at home in concert halls, galleries, or clubs. Over the last two decades, he has released on labels such as Warp, Sub Rosa, Morphine,Diagonal, and Opal Tapes.
Ebtekar’s compositions and installations weave expansive sonic tales that exhibit a strong engagement with electro-acoustic techniques, sound design, microtonal systems, and polyrhythmic motifs. His vivid soundscapes employ various synthesis strategies and DSP techniques, both in analogue and digital environments. Much of his output deals with a continual exploration of a relentlessly maximalist aesthetic – as heard on a record like Hardcore Sounds from Tehran, which was listed on The Quietus’ Top 100 albums of 2016, and saw Sote re-invent high-energy banging hardcore by twisting it into challenging rhythmic and sonic structures.
Ata Ebtekar composes music with a deeply-held conviction that rules and formulas should be deconstructed and rethought. A pivotal figure of the electronic music scene in the Middle East, he alters musical modal codes from their original tonality and rhythmic tradition to achieve vivid synthetic soundscapes.
Many of his daring compositions revisit traditional musical material and playing techniques and subject them to digital manipulations to achieve radically contemporary forms that range from the delicate to the abrasive, and display a unique ability to convey intense yet contrasting emotions. His acclaimed electro-acoustic albums Sacred Horror in Design (2017) and Parallel Persia (2019) are testament to Sote’s unique capacity as a composer with both acoustic instrumentation and synthetic material.
2020 saw the release of the 5-track album Moscels (Opal Tapes), described by Boomkat as »daringly iconoclastic and ravishingly future-curious.« Though the pandemic might have somewhat muted the attention for this marvellous release, Sote continued his work relentlessly, creating new material along the vein of Hardcore Sounds from Tehran, plus launching into work on another album, the harmonically maximalist and symphonic-synthetic Majestic Noise Made in Beautiful Rotten Iran, released in March 2022 on Sub Rosa with an accompanying live AV show created with acclaimed visual composer Tarik Barri.
A driving force behind Tehran’s vibrant electronic music scene, Ebtekar is founder of Zabte Sote, a sub-label of Opal Tapes focusing on Iranian electronic composers, as well as co-founder of the SET Festival in Tehran. He is always on the lookout for new challenges or commissions that invite forays into new creative territories.