Niyaz is something of a miniature electro-worldbeat supergroup. Consisting of singer Azam Ali (of Vas), multi-instrumentalist Loga Ramin Torkian (of Axiom of Choice), and producer/remix artist Carmen Rizzo, the trio has a sound that centers on Ali's ethereal vocals and incorporates musical elements from Iran, Pakistan, India, Western Europe, the U.S., Turkey, and many other regions. Three of the songs on the band's eponymous debut album are based on the writings of the acclaimed Sufi mystic poet Jalaluddin Rumi; another is a setting of an Urdu poem by Sauda. But these ancient traditions are given settings that could have been created at no time but the present -- while traditional instruments are used liberally throughout, everything is undergirded with up to the minute breakbeats, electric guitars, and synthesizers. The resulting sound isn't slick, but it's definitely complex and frequently highly danceable. Highlights include the bhangra-flavored "Allahi Allah" (on which Ali's singing is especially beautiful), the dark and funky "Golzar," and the slowly simmering "Dunya." One or two other tracks (notably a rather slight instrumental titled "Arezou") fail to match the intense beauty of this album's best moments, but then, this is the first release by Niyaz -- the trio's next one should be even better.
AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson