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Niyaz – “Parishaan”
Niyaz released their third album entitled Sumud this week on Six Degrees Records. Sumud, which translates from Arabic as “steadfastness,” focuses on the ethnic and religious plight of minorities around the globe. Lead singer Azam Ali chose the title to remind people that, as she explains, “every human being should inherit the right to live with dignity and freedom upon the land on which they are born.” Niyaz, which means “yearning” in Persian and Urdu, was formed in 2005 by Ali, multi-instrumentalist Loga Ramin Torkian and two-time Grammy nominated producer and electronic musician Carmen Rizzo. Over the past seven years, Niyaz has drawn strong support from music critics and fans alike. Besides features on NPR and PRI, the Huffington Post declared the band to be “an evolutionary force in contemporary Middle Eastern music.” Niyaz has toured the world over and during their voyage, the sights and sounds of different places had a profound impact on the recording of Sumud.
“We have now traveled across the world, and those experiences have affected the journey that we are on and the direction we’ve taken on this album. We’ve performed in the Kurdish parts of Turkey during times of major conflicts, as well as other parts of the Middle East. Obviously that has affected this project. We wanted to focus on the ethnic and religious minority groups in these regions, because they have really struggled to maintain their identity. It started from us wanting to tell our story, and it has evolved into this humanitarian social message, embracing regions around Iran.” – Azam Ali
Sumud reveals a more electronic approach than Niyaz’s previous effort, Nine Heavens. A collective decision was made to give the kick drum more kick on this record. With more electronic elements and textures, the band merges acoustic and electronic sounds together in a neat collage. Kurdish, Turkish, Afghani, and Palestinian material as well as folk songs from Iran find their way on to the album. Traditional folk music as well as secular and mystical poems from the 11th to 17th centuries complete this sonic collage. Deep grooves surround Ali’s majestic voice and the harmony of electronic and acoustic music makes for an enticing listen. Oscar-winning Indian composer, musician and singer AR Rahman sings exquisitely alongside Ali on “Mazar,” an homage to Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan. Niyaz is currently on tour and they will be performing at Drom in NYC on July 22nd. Listen to “Parishaan” above and buy Sumud at your local record store.