Review - Niyaz

Artist: Niyaz

Label: Six Degrees
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Niyaz

Although the work of 13th-century mystical poet Rumi has grown increasingly well-known over the last half-century, it's also been subject to numerous "modernizations" that have been calamitously hokey in their execution. However, Niyaz – a trio of Persian-American musicians with roots in both traditional and electronic music – have little in common with the new-age fruitcakes that continue to debase Rumi's legacy. Though this self-titled album takes lyrical inspiration from Rumi, it also dips into the work of other Urdu poets; this gives Niyaz a linguistic and thematic consistency that bolsters the legitimacy of its ethno-electronica sounds. For the most part, the tracks hold up pretty well, with subtle, engaging atmospherics punctuated by a plethora of traditional Iranian instrumentation; only on a track like "Dilruba" – when a straight-ahead, four-on-the-floor rhythm eclipses the sound of an actual dilruba – does the album disappoint.