Ebtekar's music has always been visceral, but on Sacred Horror In Design he employs a broader palette of sounds as he collaborates with Iranian musicians. Arash Bolouri plays the santur (a hammered dulcimer) and Behrouz Pashaei plays a setar (an Iranian lute), while Ebtekar weaves in complex electronic sounds.
Chilling opener "Flux Of Sorrow" is a relatively measured piece shaped by the flutter of stringed instruments and harmonising drones. It takes time for Ebtekar's use of effects to reveal themselves, eventually sending the players into subtle flurries of abstraction as the composition rises and falls with woozy intensity. "Boghze Esfahan" begins with delicate string plucks, but by the midway section angular shards of generative processing and granular delays interfere with the purity of the santur and setar. Ebtekar does a remarkable job of merging these disparate sounds, creating an unsettling yet cohesive body of work.
The electronics are so subtle on "Seegah" that you'd think the track was wholly acoustic, but behind Bolouri and Pashaei's instruments the reverb gently swells. "Holy Error," by way of contrast, revels in a rich spread of sonic barbs that bend and flex in arrhythmic formations. Ebtekar's sound design experience is never more apparent than on this daring closer. As fragments of organic and synthetic sound hurtle towards a climax, he seems possessed of the same virtuosity as his collaborators.