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Vas


Country of origin:

Iran and U.S.

Type of music generally:

Persian world fusion music

Status:

Most recent release, Feast of Silence (2004)

See also:

Wikipedia's entry for Vas

Azim Ali's MySpace page

Ectoguide entry for Azam Ali; and info on her other projects, Niyaz, and The Ectophiles' Guide's page for Roseland

Comparisons:

Lisa Gerrard, Dead Can Dance, Axiom of Choice

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Their music is marvelous. While I'm usually worried about clone bands, they manage to raise themselves above being just a Dead Can Dance sound alike. The comparisons are apt, (if you like Dead Can Dance, you are almost guaranteed to like Vas), but the music did not strike me at all as derivative. It's beautiful and haunting, and personally, I find it a bit catchier than Dead Can Dance. (neal)

Another find is Vas. This is very much in the Sheila Chandra approach to Indian music. There are 3 CDs and I have heard the first 2. Wonderful! Don't forget to check out Vas. Although different from Sheila Chandra, Azam Ali is more in her direction than say, Najma, who is more traditional. (zzkwhite@ktwu.wuacc.edu)

fans of Dead Can Dance, et al. must check out Vas! Incredible stuff... (runly@hvi.net)

Well, if Dead Can Dance are no longer, this is the closest you'll get. Great wordless vocals, great percussion and instrumentation—new-agey without being bland. (jjhanson@att.net)

Comments about live performance:

Vas were great. The lead singer is an Iranian woman (largely featureless, Jeff commented, with her long dark hair and pale face) with a beautiful voice. While I thought it was possible that she was singing in a foreign language, it turns out that she just sings in no language at all. The sound is very strongly in the Dead Can Dance vein, but with a stronger emphasis on Eastern rhythms and sounds. The other main member of the group is a guy who plays an incredible array of percussion. For the live show, they also had an excellent cello player and a keyboard player/backup singer. The music was really beautiful, and even the drum solos weren't boring. I highly recommend any of Vas' three albums. (8/00, neal)

Recommended first album:

Feast of Silence

Recordings:


Sunyata

Release info:

1997—Narada-ND—63039

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Azam Ali—voice, hammered dulcimer, bendir
Greg Ellis—udu, dumbek, madal, nagara, bendir, bowls, bells, shaker, tambura, vocal drones, keyboards

Produced by:

Azam Ali and Greg Ellis

Comments:

Really, really, good. (cstack@ix.netcom.com)

Another strong vote for it, highly recommended for Dead Can Dance fans, though a touch lighter and more new-agey. (jzitt@humansystems.com)


Offerings

Release info:

1998—Narada—72438-46289-2-5

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Azam Ali—voice, hammered dulcimer, psaltery, tanpura, frame drum
Greg Ellis—udu, tabla, dumbek, nagara, riqq, frame drum, bells, gongs, zils, tombak, shakers, voice

Guest artists:

Omar Faruk Tekbilek—ney, zurna, voice on "Wajad"
Nabil Azzam—Arabic violin
Steve Stevens—nylon-string guitar
Hans Christian—cello, sarangi, nyckelharpa

Produced by:

Azam Ali and Greg Ellis

Comments:

The mysterious female chant/singing, resonant sitars, and Eastern ambience of Vas's new cd Offerings remind one strongly of Dead Can Dance/Lisa Gerrard solo work. Even the titles are similar: made-up words, esoteric references to myth, (e.g. Mist-Weaving; The Temple of the Maiden). This new work is even more expansive than their last outing, Sunyata. The chanteuse's voice is even fuller than before, and they are more reliant on harmonic instruments, whereas before, it was basically drums and voice. Azam Ali's Iranian dulcimer (the santour) fiercer and more percussive on this album as well. This cd has the same mystic/escapist feel any 4AD lp, sans the gothic overcast. One of the best world/ethereal cds of the year. (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

Also picked up an older album by Vas called Offerings. Lisa Gerrard/Azam Ali/Dead Can Dance fans take note—I'd say Vas is as close as you're going to get. Same wordless vocals, use of interesting instrumentation, etc. (jjhanson@att.net)


In the Garden of Souls

Release info:

2000—Narada—72438-49188-2-8

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Azam Ali—voice, hammered dulcimer, tanpura, frame drum, riqq
Greg Ellis—udu, tabla, dumbek, nagara, cymbals, bells, frame drum, toms, gongs, keyboards, voice, lap dulcimer, hammered dulcimer on "Inamorata"

Guest artists:

Cameron Stone—cello
Shannon Michael Terry—harmonic singing on "In the Garden of Souls"

Produced by:

Azam Ali and Greg Ellis

Comments:

Azam Ali and Greg Ellis have produced another hour's worth of tranquil, Eastern-influenced music. This new work, their third, skirts the edges of New Age, but the music possesses a dark beauty that transcends that genre. This is brought out in no small part by the weeping cello passages provided by Cameron Stone. It competes and compliments Azam's soaring vocals perfectly. Azam's voice utilizes several singing styles, not dissimilar to techniques used by Lisa Gerrard or Sheila Chandra—melismatic Arabic inflections that mutate into operatic sighs. This is sad music; I glean from some of the titles that grief and sorrow is the subtext for some the songs. Ellis's percussion comes to the forefront on this recording—sonorous gongs float through the mist sounds of voice, dulcimer and cello. There's one piece that's a wonderful showcase for his talents, but it fits perfectly within the thematic framework of the CD. (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

Feast of Silence

Release info:

2004—Narada—72435-77337-2-4

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Azam Ali—voice, hammered dulcimer
Greg Ellis—percussion (including udu, nagara, frame drum, mridangam, ghatam, cajon, chan chan, kharkharba, talking drum, riq, dumbek, tapan, sabar, toms, cymbals, bowls, zils, shakers, gongs, bells), hammered dulcimer

Guest artists:

Tyler Bates—guitar, keyboards, keyboard drones
Pejman Hadadi—tombak
Deepak Ram—bansuri, voice
Cameron Stone—cello
Justin Meldal-Johnsen—bass
Naser Musa—oud
Brent Meyer—bouzouki

Produced by:

Azam Ali (1-4, 6-9), Greg Ellis (1-7, 9), Tyler Bates (8)

Comments:

"In our Faith" is a breathtakingly beautiful layered piece of music on the CD. I heard it on Hearts of Space, and it was a jaw-dropping, attention-focusing moment. (rbj@audioimagination.com)

Azam Ali has a voice of silver. It's the thread that wavers through this vaporous musical landscape. She can be pure and angelic, or bewitching and earthy. She explores the lower end of her register, flirts with Bulgarian music, sings in otherworldy English and her own invented tongue—flavored with her native Farsi. Greg Ellis is the muscle behind the sound. His drums patterns create almost danceable song structures and sacred atmospheres with his gongs. More traditional rock instrumentation—guitars and bass—float along with flutes and spoken Indian boles. In many ways, the compositions on this Feast of Silence are tighter than on previous albums, which were almost-too 'samey'. With Feast, they come into their own. If In the Garden of Souls was dreamy, this is more hallucinatory and opium-fueled. Exquiste exotica. (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2016-06-23 15:33:16.
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