Monday, August 27, 2012

Niyaz Mixes Traditional With Modern

Niyaz, which means yearning in Persian and Urdu, was formed in 2005 by Ali, Loga, and Carmen. Together the band takes its cue from historic influences within Middle Eastern culture, from poets and music, while exploring the sounds that make them up and then modernize it into something that's globally aware while remaining exploratory. Their third album Sumud is a beautiful mixture of just that; it's a stunningly gorgeous ancient sounding recording that's thoroughly modern in it's approach and construction.

Using struggle as a launching point the band explores the steadfastness and resilience of peoples who have been put into situations simply because of religion or ethnicity. While I have no idea what's being sung you get the sense of resiliency built into each song and although it's awash in stunning vocals and instrumentation the message remains. Sumud is an awesome record that finds source material through the Middle East region and latches onto the struggle for those minority groups to maintain their identity. The struggle doesn't sound downtrodden but brimming with beauty and positivity and that pressing on is the only way and that's what Niyaz conveys and plays throughout Sumud.

Minimal by nature and nearly ambient at times the record is sparse and fascinating. With instrumentation coming from a feast of traditional instruments including Kamaan, Robab, Santour, Lafta, Viol listening to Sumud is like listening to to a Blue Planet guide to the Middle East. It's filled with adventure, mysteries, and things that provoke your mind. Sumud is a great record and the thought and musicianship that has gone into this truly reflects upon Niyaz as being one of the most important bands playing traditionally influenced Middle Eastern music outside of the region. Truly something every citizen of the world should own.

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