Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Azam Ali, Niyaz and Vas

I've been following Azam Ali for years, now, ever since she was the lead vocal in the duo, Vas. She is, according to Wikipedia, an Indian American of Iranian descent, and she has two qualities that make her a knockout performer: a beautiful, sultry and mysterious voice combined with a sense of ethnic heritage that stems from the parts of Persia and India that we very rarely hear much about in the U.S.

Her recent solo album, From Night To the Edge of Day, embodies the fusion of her heritage perfectly. There's an Indian sensibility to many of these songs, but it's unlike any Indian music I've ever heard because of the Persian influences.

If you check out her most recent work, I also highly recommend you look into Vas (who I've only mentioned in passing, here, before). This was the original group that I heard her in, before she left the "alternate worlds" duo to be the lead of Niyaz. I don't think I've ever heard her sing in English, which is kind of interesting, since she's certainly capable of it, but I'm not certain that I'd enjoy her performance as much without the ethnic distance that I feel from it. Listening to a Niyaz or Azam Ali song is like taking a vacation in an exotic corner of the world.

Azam Ali's music has also been featured in a number of films and television shows from the songs Whirling from Prince of Persia to Svarga from Fight Club (neither one of which is available on the soundtracks for those films, sadly). Probably her most recognized work is a small but memorable vocal part in the fight theme from Matrix Revolutions, Navras by Juno Reactor.

As you can tell, I really enjoy her work, and pretty much anything she's involved in, I'll probably get around to listening to at some point. Hopefully, a Niyaz tour will come to my area someday...