Arian Shafiee “Pastorale”

As soon as the stellar new batch from Constellation Tatsu came through, I was immediately drawn to Pastorale because of the eye-catching cover. Digging into the credits, of course it’s by Keith Rankin. Thankfully, the album is just as beautiful and inviting as the cover art. Arian Shafiee plays guitar in Guerilla Toss and has been on an impressive solo run of tapes since 2018, but the airy confines of Pastorale hit harder in 2021.

Shafiee is joined by a host of collaborators across Pastorale such as claire rousay, Joanna Mattrey, and others. Opener “Luscher Cascades” features Chuck Johnson and the lush, expansive drones that shapeshift into melodic globules. Johnson’s lapsteel swells toward the light, meeting the moment head-on and tumbling into the spritely maw. Glitches keep things from getting too real, acting as a buffer against the darkest corners that lurk. Eyes closed, it feels familiar and there’s a sense everything will be okay. 

Swallowed by the lurid abyss, floating aimlessly amongst the hollow waves, the one-two punch of “Wembley” and “Public Life” cuts deep. Rising emotions glisten inside cool synth tones billowing across this great expanse, obscured voices whispering just out of earshot while tiny punctures let in lemon-yellow light. “Public Life” looks outward, projecting tenderness through sympathetic piano passages into the still night as lives come and go, fading into the darkness. There’s the recovery and the heartbreak.

Arian Shafiee continues to evolve his sound and Pastorale is a beautiful, comforting space to rest. Each piece is a building block that, when combined, morph into a warm embrace. Shafiee remains calm ready to guide daybreak toward the horizon with open arms.

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