Music for a performance by Roshanak Morrowatian

1. Bags
2. Places (feat. Roshanak Morrowatian)
3. Hops & Games
4. Traces
5. Obsolete Veil
6. Breath
7. Landscaping

cd/dl/stream, May 2024

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Note: all profit from the cd and download will be donated to Dutch Performing Arts, a campaign for Gaza Children.
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By now I’ve done various other projects with Roshanak Morrowatian, but Kites was the first one, and it holds a special place in my heart. So I’m glad the score is now available as an album.

The Kites performance deals with the question “What is it like to have to flee your homeland at a young age and grow up in an asylum seekers’ centre, in a ‘limbo’ between past and future?” It’s a solo dance piece, based on Roshanak’s own experiences of being on the run and arriving in a new, unfamiliar country. The subject is addressed in poetic, but at times also powerfully insistent and even euphoric ways, strengthened by visual projections and spoken texts.

Working with Roshanak and the rest of the team was a joy. Witnessing the choreography taking shape as the music was being (re)built and refined was fantastic, but the highlight was Roshanak’s parents visiting me, to hand me an old cassette with Iranian hit songs that the family used to play. There’s various snippets of the tape woven into the Kites music, which combines my usual abstract electronic sound world with Persian influences (without sounding too Fourth World-ish, I hope).

Of course you’re missing Roshanak’s strong performance, and Laisvie Andrea Ochoa Gaevska’s mesmerizing video projections, but I hope the music itself will transport you to intriguing places nonetheless.

Rutger Zuydervelt, February 2023


A Closer Listen

With immigration issues at the forefront of global discussion, Kites could not be more timely. Rutger Zuydervelt‘s score is but one arm of an audio-visual presentation, asking “What is it like to have to flee your homeland at a young age and grow up in an asylum seekers’ centre, in a ‘limbo’ between past and future?” This was the experience of choreographer and dancer Roshanak Morrowatian, who was born in Iran but now makes her home in The Netherlands. As all profits from the music will aid Gaza Children, the project has come full circle.

The “Bags” of the opener can be seen in the video, representing not only physical bags but baggage: the emotional weight carried by refugees and immigrants. The issues of identity and belonging resonate far after the national shift. One might add the additional baggage laden upon travelers by spectators who stereotype and in many cases demonize those who are fleeing everything from persecution to violence. In the video, this heavy weight is eventually lifted, but in the track it is expressed through sudden surges of electric current and drone.

The cover image is equally striking. Morrowatian is curved inward, fists clenched. The posture suggests self-protection, a shielding from blows, but also the desire to hold onto one’s dignity, self-image and memories, no matter how harrowing the journey or arrival. In “Places,” the sense of disorientation is borne on the artist’s voice, solo at first, then doubled, then layered. Dolls, I miss them … we haven’t arrived yet. The voice of one conveys the voices of many, soon subsumed by drone and desert sand. Snippets of an old Iranian pop song – a cassette gifted to Zuydervelt by Morrowatian’s parents – wafts through the cloud, an abraded memory, an aural keepsake.

Midway through “Places,” a beat develops, shifting from clacking to drumming, implying the repetitiveness of putting one foot in front of the other, but also the invitation to dance. Better things await. Micro-samples dot the sonic landscape like messages struggling to break through; then melodies replace the percussion, like conversation instead of quotation. The tracks blend together like national borders to birds. “Traces,” the set’s shortest, punchiest piece, sounds like liberation, while “Obsolete Veil” implies a different status for women in the new location, or perhaps simply a reassessment of rules in regard to religion.

Zuydervelt’s score may be only one facet of the project, but it affords the opportunity to reflect on the experience of people seeking asylum. The often-tender music is a reflection of Morrowatian’s empathetic performance. In the closing minutes, the score topples into joy.


I’ll assume Rutger (‘Machinefabriek‘) Zuydervelt needs no further introduction here. In his massive back-catalogue of music, there are quite some original scores for choreographies or other performances. Usually, these are presented under his own name, as is this one: Kites – Music For A Performance By Roshanak Morrowatian. Kites is the first score Zuydervelt created for Morrowatian. It premiered in 2021, but it is only now released as an album.

Roshanak Morrowatian is an Iranian dancer, choreographer, and actor working from Maastricht (NL). She previously worked with people like Marina Abramovic and Pina Bausch. Her Kites performance deals with her own experience: “What is it like to have to flee your homeland at a young age and grow up in an asylum seekers’ centre, in a ‘limbo’ between past and future?”

Zuydervelt’s score is mainly instrumental, but some of Roshanak’s experiences are voiced in the piece Places, which features her own voice.

Zuydervelt‘s music has no roots in Iranian culture. Still, in this score, he manages to create the feeling of total displacement – especially by subtly incorporating fragments of some Iranian hit songs from a cassette he got from Roshanak’s parents. He adds “I hope they do not sound too Fourth World-ish”. I personally love a good ‘Fourth World sound’, but indeed this is nothing like that. As far as I can tell without having seen the performance, I feel that this score perfectly conveys the message that Morrowatian intended with her performance.

Vital Weekly

To release this on a CD means that he’s confident that the music stands by itself, and it does. The seven pieces here are what I see as a sample card of Zuydervelt’s various musical interests. Of course, the atmospheric side is well represented here, with looped guitar sounds going all drone, deep, intense and minimal. But as with much of his recent work, there is room for shorter loops, sampled spoken word, and even rhythm, such as in ‘Places’ and ‘Traces’. In ‘Obsolete Veil’, he turns to turntablism. There is quite some variety in these seven pieces and no doubt that has to be with a dance performance, but also as a standalone, it works really well. In the past, Zuydervelt may have been stuck to one concept per release; here, he’s confident to play around with various styles, coming up with a most coherent album as a result.


De voorstelling van Morrowatian is al van een paar geleden en gaat over hoe het is om op jonge leeftijd je thuisland te moeten ontvluchten en op te groeien in een asielzoekerscentrum. Het is een solodansstuk, gebaseerd op haar eigen ervaringen van toen en wordt hier op poëtische wijze aangevlogen. Zuydervelt heeft naast zijn eigen elektronica en andere inbreng heeft hij ook op subtiele wijze muziek van een cassette met Iraanse hits die haar familie vroeger luisterde verwerkt; deze kreeg hij overigens van haar ouders. Hij hoopt daarbij niet Fourth World-achtig te klinken, al zou dat bepaald geen diskwalificatie zijn met grootmeesters als Jon Hassell en Brian Eno, die daarbij betrokken zijn. Maar eerlijk is eerlijk, het pakt hier anders uit. Het is dikwijls meer als een veldopname gebruikt of als een DNA bepaling van waar Morrowatian’s culturele erfgoed ligt. De Iraanse muziek, met name die van de vrouwen, is bijzonder en heeft dikwijls een behoorlijk lading en verborgen teksten, omdat ze sinds 1979 in eigen land geen (zang)kunst meer mogen bedrijven. Zuydervelt weet die Perzische elementen echt op zeer fraaie wijze te verweven in zijn meer abstracte composities, uiteenlopend van stukjes muziek tot fragmenten met geluiden van instrumenten. De muziek krijgt daardoor een warm en organisch karakter. Dat geldt sowieso voor de meer ambientachtige stukken, die deze cd ook rijk is. Dit alles levert wel het meest tribale album op van Zuydervelt; al weet je nooit, net als bij een vlieger, waar hij precies landt. Vliegeren wordt geassocieerd met plezier en voorspoed en dat is iets dat dit album zeker uitademt. Hoogstwaarschijnlijk zal het geheel met de performance een nog krachtiger indruk weten te maken, maar ook los daarvan is dit een album van wereldformaat.


Kites cover 2000px

Kites cover 2000px