CD Review: Azam Ali – From Night to the Edge of Day

About four years ago, a co-worker asked me if I had borrowed her Vas CD In the Garden of Souls. I had never even heard of Vas at the time, so no–I hadn’t borrowed it. Being curious, I hopped on Amazon and picked up a copy. Once it shipped, I listened to it a few times, then as a gift turned it over to my co-worker.

After a few days, I found myself *really* wanting to listen to it again. She let me borrow it for a few days, during which I became absolutely enamored with Azam Ali’s voice and style. Then I started doing my homework …

I know I’ve mentioned this in other posts, but for the love of all that is holy, that chick is PROLIFIC. Not only did she have 3 other CDs with Vas, but she had a CD with her side project Niyaz, 2 solo CDs, and a bunch of collaboration projects, one of which was a single with Serj Tankian of SOAD and Buckethead. GREAT song.

That was an expensive Amazon day. I bought everything she had that I could find in one fell swoop. Over the years, I’ve kept tabs to see what else she had going on. She released a new CD with Niyaz a few years ago. Then her website started hinting at a new solo CD.

That CD was released today. From Night to the Edge of Day is a compilation of her takes on various children’s lullabies from her native Iran. 10 tracks of not understanding a single word she sings, but feeling every neuron respond to the pure musical magic of her incantations.

Some of her music is incredibly energetic, though in a subdued, refined way. I point to Elysium for the Brave for a few tracks, such as “Endless Reverie,” “Abode,” and “Forty One Ways.” There’s an energy to these that’s so … different. Not the “I can get up and dance to this!” kind of energy. No … this energy is different, and I just figured out what it is: it reminds me of the “energy” that Sarah Fimm creates in her music–one of a very strong … “amorous” energy. Yah–that’s it.

However, that energy is nowhere on this new CD. Like I said, it’s a collection of re-invented children’s’ lullabies, and every track does its intended job. There is a dreaminess and trance-inducing quality to these songs that is only hinted at on her other works.

Stand-out tracks:

“Tenderness” is absolutely ethereal. There is a I could listen to this one track on repeat pretty much all day. The deep, almost rumbling sounds of what may be a synth, layered with her breathy, luring vocals, mixed with various sounds, slowly mixing in another layer of synth a couple of octaves above the bass synth … it’s just an incredibly relaxing track.

“Neni Desem” starts similarly, but then a string instrument sounding suspiciously like a dulcimer kicks in. Gah … I wish I had the liner notes with me for this. This is a much more stripped down song than “Tenderness.” It really is just the keyboard synth, some string instruments, and her layered vocals that mesmerize and hypnotize.

“Dandini” uses percussion to keep the flow of the song moving, though I’m sure it would sound just as incredible without. This track is similar to “In the Garden of Souls” in that you can hear similar percussion, used in a similarly slow, burning, yearning way.

If this becomes your first Azam Ali purchase, may I congratulate you for taking your first steps into a larger, more musically mature world. Unless you are fluent in Farsi or native Iranian dialects, odds are you won’t understand a word on this CD. that will have literally zero impact on your ability to flat-out enjoy this new offering.

Feel free to file this under “shiver” because this is almost guaranteed to give you goose bumps.

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