Iranian (or Persian) musicians suffered a horrible blow in 1979, when the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini came to power in Iran and outlawed all music. The late dictator not only banned Western music he found offensive, but outlawed music period, and that included the forms of Islamic spiritual music that Sunnis and Sufis alike believe to be a sacred part of religious life. But great Iranian music (both traditional and pop) continued to be made, thanks to Iranians who had moved to other Middle Eastern countries, as well as Europe and the U.S. In Los Angeles, one excellent source for Iranian music in the 1990s was Aladdin Records, which in 1995 released this excellent collection of acoustic Persian spiritual music. There are no traces of modern Iranian pop on the entirely instrumental CD -- Mohammad Mousavi, Faramarz Payvar, Ahmad Ebadi and others stick with the type of meditational music that Muslims have been embracing for centuries. Aladdin inaccurately labeled these tranquil recordings "new age," something the company no doubt thought would be an effective marketing tool. But this type of music was being played in Persia centuries before Kitaro or Yanni were born, and the truth is that The Tree of Life has very little in common with such artists. This is a rewarding CD that those with an interest in traditional Islamic music should make a point of searching for.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson