Axiom Of Choice
Recorded in Iran, India, and the U.S., Niya Yesh (“gnosis” in Greek) is dedicated to “those contemplative moments in life that make everything worthwhile.” The album more than lives up to its dedication; it is deeply peaceful, restful, and meditative, though it has its moments of cascading danceable rhythms as well. Building on the core of Loga Ramin Torkian’s classical Persian and flamenco guitar and unique quarter-tone guitar and Mamak Khadem’s richly expressive Persian vocals, Axiom Of Choice extends its reach on Niya Yesh to encompass the sounds of many cultures, from Middle Eastern ney and kamancheh fiddle to the more familiar cello and accordion.
Overall, the feel is mostly classical, in the Western sense, though the intricate drum rhythms and other percussion cast a definite Eastern accent over many tracks. I especially enjoyed “Prelude,” with its lovely guitar and cello duet, joined for the last part of the track by hand drums and shakers. The nine-minute-plus “Calling,” with its underlying drone, mournful kamancheh, and very gentle female vocals, feels a lot like a deeply moving lament until a skirling drone and swift-tattooed hand drum beats spin the track into a dance-frenzy, ending with Khadem’s wild siren song. But probably my favorite track is “Raindrops,” which begins almost like a lullaby with quiet solo guitar, joined soon by Khadem’s exquisitely pure and vulnerable voice in an elegantly simple arrangement that evokes the calming sound of endless raindrops falling outside the window, chased down the panes by the high and sweet tones of the kamancheh.
Narada, 4650 N. Port Washington Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53212-1063; http://www.narada.com