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Nine Heavens

NiyazAudio CD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

Price: $17.96 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Disc 1:

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Beni Beni 4:29$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Tamana 5:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Feraghi - Song of Exile 5:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Ishq - Love and the Veil 6:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Allah Mazare 6:23$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Iman 7:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Molk-E-Divan 5:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Hejran 3:15$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Sadrang 5:42$0.99  Buy MP3 


Disc 2:

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Allah Mazare (Acoustic) 6:20$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Beni Beni (Acoustic) 4:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Sadrang (Acoustic) 5:14$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Tamana (Acoustic) 5:50$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Feraghi - Song of Exile (Acoustic) 5:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Hejran (Acoustic) 3:13$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Ishq - Love and the Veil (Acoustic) 5:42$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Molk-E-Divan (Acoustic) 4:30$0.99  Buy MP3 


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Biography

Struggle as a metaphor is something every human can relate to. One of the most prolific and challenging forms of struggle in the world today is the plight of ethnic and religious minorities, which is the topic of Niyaz’s third album, Sumud (pronounced soomood) forthcoming on Six Degrees Records. Translating from Arabic as ‘steadfastness,’ lead singer Azam Ali chose this ... Read more in Amazon's Niyaz Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 24, 2008)
  • Original Release Date: 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Six Degrees
  • ASIN: B0018TLRUE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,871 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

About the Artist

By any measure, Niyaz has come very far, very fast. The trio's 2005 debut featured a convincing blend of Sufi mysticism and trance electronica, and quickly established them as a standout ensemble in a very crowded world music field. A worldwide tour followed. Now, Niyaz returns with Nine Heavens, which doesn't just cross cultural and stylistic boundaries, but the centuries as well. Drawing on medieval Persian poetry and 300-year old Persian folk songs, Niyaz has created a 21st century global trance tradition.
This may seem like a tall order for a band that's barely three years old - until you realize who these musicians are. Vocalist Azam Ali co-founded the best-selling world music duo Vas in 1996; her unmistakable voice has graced numerous recordings and major film scores. Loga Ramin Torkian is a multi-instrumentalist whose group Axiom of Choice brought the ancient sounds of Persian classical music to Western listeners in the 1990s. And producer Carmen Rizzo, a multiple Grammy nominee, has worked with Coldplay, Seal, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and many others. Small wonder then that the trio hit the ground running with its self-titled debut. Now, with Nine Heavens, Niyaz breaks new ground in a two-disc format: the first is an adventurous, spiritual exploration of the ties that bind Persian, Indian, Turkish, and Western dance music. The second disc showcases 8 out of the 9 songs in a purely acoustic setting.
Nine Heavens begins with the irresistible "Beni Beni," which marries an 18th century Turkish Sufi poem to a traditional Turkish folk song and some beautifully integrated electronics and programming. "It's a modern kind of Sufi music," Azam explains. "Both Loga and I are influenced by Turkish music, and there are many connections between Turkey and Iran." The steady, trance rhythms support layers of Turkish and Persian lutes, all topped by a new instrument known as the kamman, a larger, lower-pitched version of the traditional Persian fiddle.
Niyaz draws even more connections between Iran and India. The word niyaz means "yearning" in both Farsi, the language of Iran, and Urdu, a major language of northern India and Pakistan. Over the centuries, the cultures of Persia and India have shared not only words, but musical and spiritual traditions - and people. Azam Ali is one of them, born in Iran and raised in India; and two of the songs on Nine Heavens are by Amir Khosrau Dehlavi, a 13th-century Persian mystic and poet who was also raised in India. (The album title comes from his "Song of Nine Heavens.") Amir Khosrau founded the style of Sufi music known as Qawwali, made famous in the recent past by the great Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and some claim he invented the Indian tabla drums as well. But his poems, including "Molk-e-Divan" and "Sadrang," are in the great tradition of Persian mystics like Rumi. "'Molk-e-Divan' was the first song we wrote for the new album," Azam says. "Loga and I found the poem and wrote the music together; he did the main melody and I did the vocal line." Then, the whole thing was shipped off for Carmen to work his magic, which in this case consists of some highly processed drum programming and a rich tapestry of Near Eastern lutes and electronics.
Both Amir Khosrau texts can be read either as love poetry or as devotional songs to God. Of course, an English-speaking audience may be more likely to respond to the songs' earthy, throbbing rhythms. That's fine with Niyaz; Azam Ali points out that the sacred nature of the texts makes them a surprisingly good fit for Western dance music. "The common thread is putting yourself in a higher state. Even with club music, I think that's what people go to it for. The only problem was that it was void of "soul," the spirit of acoustic trance music. We always felt there was a way to bring the two together that blurs the line between the acoustic and the electronic." A good example is the song "Tamana," an 18th century Urdu poem that unfolds over a slow opening - much like the slow alap section of a raga performance. The electronic drones give way to the silvery tone of the Turkish cumbus, a type of lute, and as with a raga performance, the energy builds with the addition of percussion - in this case, both tabla and programmed beats. "We've been working so long now that this sort of fusion happens on a more intuitive level," Loga adds. "The steady rhythm of the tabla blends naturally with the dance grooves - it just makes sense."
So what about that "unplugged" disc? "It wasn't intentional," Azam recalls. "As it was coming together, we felt we had a real gem with the acoustic sessions. After we finished mixing both versions, we realized it would be a shame not to let people hear them." The result is a rare opportunity to get inside the music, as the acoustic versions reflect the songwriting talents and mystical leanings that Azam and Loga bring; then the "final" versions showcase the organic way Carmen's electronics fit both the rhythms and the mood of these deeply-rooted works.
Other highlights of Nine Heavens include "Iman," a lullaby written by Loga and Azam for their infant son. Essentially a musical prayer, it offers a pause in the album's rush of rhythmic excitement. And "Feraghi - Song of Exile" is close to the hearts of the two Persian émigrés, now living in California. At a time when most Americans have a distorted view of Iran and Iranian culture, Niyaz have been doing workshops to raise awareness of the contributions of Iranians in the US and of Persian culture in general. "Our Iranian identity is important," Loga says. "On the first Niyaz album, we were just trying to find our place here. Now, with this second record, the Persian elements are used with more confidence." For example, "Feraghi" uses a Persian 5-beat rhythm, which most Americans would find difficult to dance to -- but the blend of traditional and programmed beats is so persuasive that many would try.
Dance or trance - the music that Niyaz makes on Nine Heavens can serve either purpose. "The function of music in society has changed," Loga points out. "It's very different from one or two decades ago; people now listen on iPods, or in their cars; music is not their primary focus. There's not as much sitting and listening to music. So the goal is for the music to stand on its own in different contexts."

Product Description

Two CD set of two versions of the album in the same package. One is an electronic/acoustic version of Nine Heavens embodying the original philosophy of the band's desire to bring together the ancient and the modern, and the second version is the solely acoustic recordings of these songs. The acoustic recordings are so rich, Niyaz is confident fans of both genres will enjoy it.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
(37)
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous! June 24, 2008
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
After anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new Niyaz album, I am thrilled to report that I am in no way disappointed. "Nine Heavens" is not merely a repeat of Niyaz's debut album, however. Instead, the music has gotten richer, more complex and velvety, with less emphasis on pulsing electronic trance rhythms. Worry not, however, it's still gonna move you...perhaps in a slightly more fluid expression. Despite the novelty of having two discs representing both the "electronic" and acoustic versions for 8 of the 9 songs, the music itself only differs slightly between them, and this is in no way a detriment. The differences are more subtle and nuanced, each thoroughly enjoyable in its own right. I can already imagine that I'll be listening to the slightly quieter acoustic version in the morning, and choosing the electronic version for evening.

For those fans of Azam Ali and/or Vas, you may recognize more of a similarity in the texture of this music than perhaps the first Niyaz album, with a return to more instrumental emphasis.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensuous mystical cross-cultural grooves October 30, 2008
Format:Audio CD
Born in Tehran, Iran, Azam Ali grew up in India and as a teenager moved to USA with her mother in 1979. Her music career that began there now spans more than a decade and remarkably already includes four solo albums and six collaborative ones. These include four with multi-instrumentalist Greg Ellis in a duet called Vas and now two in a Los Angeles-based trio called Niyaz where she is joined by Loga Ramin Torkian, master of many traditional instruments from Europe, Turkey and his native Iran, and Grammy-winning producer/re-mixer Carmen Rizzo. Azam both sings and plays a santour or hammered dulcimer, and not surprisingly her music has been compared with that of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry's Dead Can Dance - a fair comparison in terms of ethereality although her Vas recordings are not as punchy, more like later Loreena McKennitt but less florid. For Niyaz think Natacha Atlas plus Dead Can Dance and you are in the right ball park.

Nine Heavens is a double-CD with both electric and acoustic versions of nine deft, stylish arrangements of traditional folk songs as well as Medieval Farsi, Urdu and Sufi poetry from Persia, Turkey and India. Not that I found the listening experience between one CD and the other a whole lot different - it's all good, with very high production values all the way. It's a nice idea though to give the listener the choice between traditional and modern arrangements.

Where the music of Vas was interesting enough, the results here are far more exciting. Azam has clearly developed musically in leaps and bounds, and her rich sensuous voice is just right for this complex cross-cultural blend with its agreeable balance between old and new.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as I hoped June 25, 2008
By Oggs
Format:Audio CD
If you like Niyaz first album, Nine Heavens will not disappoint. As one other reviewer mentioned, there isn't as strong emphasis on electronic sound like in the song "The Hunt" but this is not to say someone who likes electronic music will be disappointed. Niyaz blends traditional and modern sounds, I'm always looking for bands that fuse different elements of world music together and Niyaz does it in perfect harmony, not to mention Azam Ali's voice is amazing. very few bands can accomplish this.

If you never heard of Niyaz and are looking for not just world music, but something different, Nine Heavens will not disappoint. The addition of the acoustic version is like having a completely different CD, not to mention, they could have waited six months before releasing the acoustic version.

The only negative thing I have to say is that the album is so good, it left me wanting more and I wish it was twice as long!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Azam Ali has Become Progressive July 29, 2008
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
With this new band "Niyaz," Aza Ali has become a more progressive rock style singer, and thus less hauntingly spiritual and sound-oriented. Although I still long for her earlier style from her days on Vas, chiefly her breakthrough performances in the Sunyata album, this 2 CD-set is certainly worth the money. Heck, anything with Azam Ali's incredible vocals is money. I will continue buying whatever album, and in whose ever band, in which Azam sings. This album is good, very good.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful CD August 7, 2008
Format:Audio CD
Thank you NIYAZ for this haunting and beautiful CD. If you've never listened to anything but Western style music then challenge yourself and buy this CD. You will be rewarded by entering into a world of mystic poetry from Turkey and Iran that's accompanied by a blend of traditional instruments and artfully applied electronics (Synths and tastefully applied digital reverb on the vocals). The percussion (darbuka and other instruments)exhibition on this CD is quite masterful. Azam Ali has a fluid and ethereal sound voice that has to be heard to be appreciated.
I highly recommend this work of art.

Bruce Allen
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ecstasy of Nine Heavens July 20, 2008
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Niyaz's sophomore follow-up to their self-titled debut is an ambitious two CD set,"Nine Heavens." They make an otherworldly blend of Persian, Indian, Turkish, and New Age music. There are sacred songs in Urdu and Farsi. It's at once incredibly spiritual and sensual. Like Sinead O'Connor's "Theology",the first CD is electric while the second is acoustic.

"Nine Heavens" opens with the rhythmic "Beni Beni." There is the bittersweet "Feraghi-Song of Exile",and the sensual "Ishq-Love and the Veil." "Hejran" is a meditative instrumental. "Sadrang" has an Indian flavor. "Iman" is a lullaby dedicated to Azam Ali&Loga Ramin Torkian's son who bears that name,and was born recently. "Iman" is about the divine nature of motherhood.

The acoustic sessions opens with a more meditative version of "Beni Beni",and quieter versions of "Love and the Veil" and "Song of Exile." It's a chance to hear Niyaz stripped down to its basic elements.

"Nine Heavens" is celestial music. Be transported!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of their best CD's! I love it!
Published 1 month ago by therebbe
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting and with a Beat.
The CD notes indicate that Niyaz combines multiple musical influences, and it's hard to identify WHERE this music comes from. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Tonn Borde
5.0 out of 5 stars Nine Heavens is good listening
I love the album and consider it good listening and/or dancing music. one cd is more electronic in sound and the other is more acoustic musically. a perfect juxtaposition.
Published 5 months ago by Mary Ann Van Car
5.0 out of 5 stars Great music!
Excellent Arabic/belly dance music! Most of it is on the slower side, I find it's great for dinner music as well. Read more
Published 10 months ago by DAG
5.0 out of 5 stars Niyaz at their very best!
For me, Nine Heavens is still the best Niyaz album, even having now listened to (the still really excellent) Sumud. Read more
Published 11 months ago by P. Sunderland
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Listening Experience
Niyaz's music is almost indescribable. Exotic middle eastern tonalities, with the hauntingly beautifully singing of Azam Ali.With a touch of modern electronica. It's a must buy.
Published 15 months ago by NeuroVX
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Beautiful
This acoustic version of the album is full of rich and buoyant sounds that carry the listener away into worlds of magic and mystery.
Published 18 months ago by Maze
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoy all of Niyaz's work
A good album. The backing music is a perfect fit to the poems and lyrics with which it is combined. Good to listen to, fun to Hula hoop to.
Published 20 months ago by pc6
5.0 out of 5 stars This music is magical!!
I can't stop listening it!! This is the first cd I have from the group but I would definitely buy another cd from Niyaz in the near future.
Published 20 months ago by Celia Maria Hernandez
5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure
Beautiful voice. Lush, rhythmic music. This album is calming, soothing, and will definitely draw you in. I find it almost hypnotizing.
Published 22 months ago by J. Stein
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