“…as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.” Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments
Intention in this case was a long road. Five years ago, Justin Vitale Yazdeli of Space Chimney came across a link online to a digital trove of cassette tape rips from K-Marts’ in-store radio. This included promotional announcements, muzak, and laws about where you could smoke. Not knowing when and how these would ever be relevant or useful, he saved the link and passed it from one hard-drive to the next – aware that one day their time would come.
In April of 2019 Justin was in a musical rut, unable to combine his songwriting and production to a point that made sense. He found himself getting over attached to material and hitting the same walls every time. That’s when he remembered the K-Mart tapes…
What would happen trying to write around music that was meant to be forgotten? The unoffensive, corporate approved, background ambience of middle-class shopping from nearly two decades ago – seemed to be the perfect place to lose all sense of care and convention.
The album at its core draws from Justin’s formative years discovering electronic music production and songwriting / playing guitar in Hardcore bands in the early 2000’s. Applying the same attack strategy to writing The Invisible hand – every track had an emotion. The goal was to chase it as far as it would go and as fast as possible. Choosing a K-Mart tape at random, the entire project was constantly mediating on the notion of letting go.
Using samples as the foundation brings an instant nostalgia to the music, expanding the listening experience to touch on the intrinsic human desire for past days. The rosy picture however quickly becomes disrupted by the sonic destruction of the source material and the overt commentary on capitalisms shortcomings. The accompanying music videos for the album amplify the criticism by taking K-Mart commercials, training videos, and home footage to present a distorted and frenzied world.
The lines between the samples and Justins’ instrumentation often become blurred, leaving the listener to pass through a wide range of feelings. Aggressive, introspective, campy, retro, and psychedelic overtones build a wide palate of auditory adventure. The Invisible Hand explores the freedom of experimentation without judgment.
As the release drew closer, there was the inevitable issue that Justin had tried to ignore – the samples. Was it legal? Is this a right thing to do?
“Morals, ethics, and laws are a funny thing. Someone else is always choosing them for you. I have chosen to make art without restriction, as it is my belief that any hinderance on such is ultimately a deprivation to humanity. My goal is to make people happy, inspire new lines of thought, and promote self-reflection.”
We always put living on pause in fear of death. Running around like a hamster providing things, hoarding more elements of modern life advertised necessities without seeing life’s true depth.
To learn something new, sometimes life plays the most wicked trick on you in order to teach it.
Mahi Mordab (Immaculate Divinity) is written from an experience beyond the end, the suspended dream state of a coma, recalling a voice that came through the dark. Frightened and pleading, “breathe, just breathe” – the message of Space Chimney’s fourth single explores the fragile and imperceivable line between this world and the next. It combines an eclectic mixture of Farsi vocals, rock guitars, and pulsing electronic sounds that invites you into a world that you can feel (even if you can’t understand the language).
In 2015 shortly before Ela and Justin had met, Ela was experimenting in technique used to achieve lucid dreaming. From the moment she would open her eyes, she would record her dreams into a notebook. This would help to cope with a past trauma and allow her to revalue her life, to appreciate the chances she had, and realize that the things worth living for are different than life’s basic needs.
During the rehearsal of another Space Chimney song, Fatally Decomposing, Ela had begun to sing in Farsi over the arrangement. Justin saw the potential and began to track Ela’s vocals, adding additional instrumentation to the original arrangement. Over the course of production Ela was reminded by the lyrics of the dreams she recorded. Going back and finding her book, she saw that she had written the same exact set of phrases. It was a surreal moment to be faced with the message she was trying to pass to her self all those years ago.
Mahi Mordab was written and released specifically for Nowruz (Persian New Year), on March 20th, 2020. The message of the song embodies the values of the holiday which celebrates the rebirth of nature in the spring, a reminder that the death of winter is not eternal.
Keeping with its Persian foundation, the music video for Mahi Mordab was filmed in Tehran, Iran in a collaborative online effort.
Space Chimney plays with their inner child assembling music like lego blocks, exploring linguistic elements and musical styles to satisfy their curiosity. Still in the end, the listener can experience something that seems relevant and familiar. Assembling the pieces but not building the same old chimney.
It wasn’t the debut release they wanted, but it happened. Space Chimney wasn’t the name they had planned for, but that happened as well…
For over ten years, member J had quietly saved up a band name in his back pocket – waiting for the right moment. In July 2019, the time came when he and his wife Ela went to the studio to record after many years of dreaming of the day to actually use it.
They completed their intended debut single “Work Me, Smoke You” in around three weeks, finding time to get into the studio around work schedules. Excited about the results, E had contacted an old friend and animator Mustafa Osanlooy to create a music video.
While they waited, J + E concocted an idea to make a “test band” to try out all the steps they would need in order to release the single and music video. It would serve the purpose of being able to experiment without consequence before executing under their real band name.
Space Chimney had been a name E suggested years ago when they first started dating. J had remembered it and reflected fondly upon its lack of any real meaning and childlike ingenuity.
J took to his computer one Sunday morning and churned out a full arrangement roughly mixed by the time he went to bed. After a few days of rapid production, the song was completed within a week from demo to master. This was the day Space Chimney was born – November 10th, 2019.
Alongside the production of 08 System Bonanza, J + E had worked on assembling a collection of their cellphone footage from over the years into a music video that represented a theme of movement and transition. This mirrored the emotions conveyed by the music, exploding with hyper-saturated colors and intricate image blending.
The following week involved buying a domain, building a website, designing merchandise, launching Instagram and Twitter handles, Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages, and lastly a Youtube channel (plus designing a logo and making artwork for all services). By November 22nd, 08 System Bonanza was released on www.spacechimney.com alongside its official music video.
During this time, something funny happened. The name that they had berated, insulted, and deemed “irresponsibly stupid” became something they both cherished. It was something that spoke to their personalities and desire to be unbound and free to create. In contrast to their intended name choice which carried a more serious tone (still being kept a secret) – Space Chimney undoubtedly proved itself to be more welcoming to the ears. A name that would remove expectations and care for tradition, reason and purpose.
That is the story behind Space Chimney and 08 System Bonanza.