Niyaz Sumud

The immigrant's challenge to retain their cultural identity while embracing modern ideology resonates with Iranian vocalist Azam Ali and her husband, multi-instrumentalist Loga Ramin Torkian, reflecting the intergenerational struggle occurring in their homeland. The Montreal-based couple know exactly how the two can be consolidated: using the universal language of music to make their point. They are joined by DJ/producer Carmen Rizzo to form the trio Niyaz. The group's third release, Sumud, is a luminous ten-track collection of elaborately carved Middle Eastern music with an electronic aesthetic more pronounced than in previous releases. Niyaz reimagines Palestinian, Afghan and Kurdish folk songs, blending the trio's humanitarian, social message with 17th century Middle Eastern poetry. Ali's haunting vocals perfectly complement Sumud's shifting moods; she sounds exquisite whether backed by rhythmic, traditional instruments or made more hypnotic via ambient electronica. Film composer A.R. Rahman (Bombay, Slumdog Millionaire) makes an appearance as a guest vocalist on "Mazeer." If not a must-have for socially conscious world-fusion listeners at the very least Sumud is a must-listen. (Six Degrees)