Sunday Song: Azam Ali

My metal cred is probably completely shot after all the showtunes, folk music, neoclassical operatic electronica, and such. Might as well stomp the last shards into powder by posting some Middle Eastern world music kinda thing.

It won’t hurt. I promise.

My first real introduction into this world was at a little shop in downtown Flagstaff. It was one of those places that sells world imports: statues of Buddha and various Egyptian and Indian gods, incense, other miscellaneous decorative items, bits of small furniture carved in intricate patterns, various textiles… you know the kind of place. They always have something exotic playing in the background. On this day, when we walked in, the shop was suffused with a sublime female voice, and sounded as if it belonged to a different century in a far-away part of the world. Captivating.

We asked about it. The shop clerk took us to a barrel in which many CDs were displayed, and gushed about Azam Ali. Portals of Grace was her first solo effort, but she’d been with Vas. We then got a dissertation on Vas and related music, and by the time that was finished enough of the album had played for me to decide it should probably come home with me.

Lasse Pour Quoi

Haunting, isn’t it? I get that song stuck in my head from time-to-time, and make no effort to dislodge it.

“Ben Pode Santa Maria” is sometimes my favorite song from this album, though.

And yes, you might have noticed those actually aren’t Middle Eastern songs, but medieval European. World music, doncha know. Don’t worry, we’ll get to the stuff that’s actually Middle Eastern in just a moment. First, though, I want to gush about the fact she has a song on the Neil Gaiman tribute album Where’s Neil When You Need Him? Neil Gaiman is, of course, my favorite author, and it’s neat to see musicians I like so much intersecting in unexpected ways.

The Cold Black Key

Right. So, Middle Eastern music. Azam Ali is also part of an Iranian electronic band named Niyaz, which I bloody well adore. “Sadrang” is based on the work of Amīr Khusrow, a 13th century Persian poet and musician, and it is delicious.

This song, “Spring Arrives,” is from her solo album Elysium for the Brave. Don’t let the English title fool you: it’s not in English. This song has been haunting me since I first heard it a few days ago: I downloaded the album Saturday morning, and have played it twice and this song I don’t know how many times since. Love it.

You lot may not love it as much as I do, but you’ll love the birds, and there’s also some delicious geology, so watch.

And, finally, because it has some truly great geology in it as well as being awesome music, the Vas song “Unbecome.”

That should give you some idea of why I adore this woman.

Sunday Song: Azam Ali
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4 thoughts on “Sunday Song: Azam Ali

  1. 1

    Welcome to some real beautiful music. Check out Aster Aweke, Rokia Traore…there is so much real good ethic/world music stuff out there too.

  2. 2

    PS – I have been a white european “audiophile” for a long time, but in my pursuit of exiting music I was always struck how few of my fellow music enthusiasts ever venture outside the boundaries of their cultural cage.

    The tipping point for me was over fifty years ago at age ten, when a big atlas my dad brought home contained a record of samples of ethnic music world wide – that record opened my ears to listen to more than just anglo saxon rock, folk, jazz and classical music.
    But even within Europe, little is heard in the western EU countries of the music of the Sami Mati Boine), the folk rock of Sweden (Garmana), the bands from Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Hungary (Marta Sebestyn as an example).

    Just open your ears and listen.

  3. 3

    Yay, a fellow Azam Ali fan!! Hope you’ve gotten a chance to check out Niyaz’ new album, Sumud, which is beautiful. Stellamara is another artist in this genre I’d highly recommend!

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