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Nine Heavens

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Album Review

On their second outing, Niyaz are even more specific about what they're doing in both acoustic and electronic music. Their sound draws on traditional Turkish music, as exemplified by "Beni Beni," and music inspired by Iranian folk songs. By using two discs, one consisting of acoustic and the other of electronic versions of the same material, they really illustrate their approach. But what's most interesting is how subtle their electronic process is. It's still powered by percussion, like the acoustic versions, and voice and instruments still take center stage, but the careful programming and mixing provide for a changed atmosphere. In many cases the electronic tracks are not any more contemporary than their acoustic counterparts, but just different, offering a new perspective on the sound. There's a lot of rootedness in the music, and they use drones effectively, as well as lots of percussion around the simple melodies, with the basic trio filled out by guest musicians who are used judiciously. Singer Azam Ali is stunning throughout, a gentle powerhouse who acts as the glue to hold it all together. In fact, this is more than just an interesting release; it's an important way forward for Middle Eastern music.

Biography

Formed: 2004 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Electronic world fusion group Niyaz were founded in Los Angeles in 2004 by Iranian refugees Azam Ali (formerly of Vas) and Loga Ramin Torkian (founder of Axiom of Choice), along with American producer/engineer Carmen Rizzo. Their self-titled 2005 debut album on Six Degrees Records introduced their sound combining Persian and Urdu lyrics derived from Sufi poetry with hypnotic electronic beats and traditional Middle Eastern and Indian instrumentation. Sophomore album Nine Heavens followed in 2008,...
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Nine Heavens, Niyaz
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