Niya Yesh – Axiom Of Choice

  • “Niya yesh” means “a direct communion with God”, and this album is a deeply spiritual fusion of Persian classical and modern world music. Iranian exiles Mamek Khadem, lead vocalist, and Loga Ramin Torkian, guitarist, wrote all of the original music and recorded this set in India, the Middle East, and the U.S.A. Farsi lyrics are drawn from a number of beloved Sufi poets.

    Accordion – Reza Asgarzadeh
    Backing Vocals, Harmonium, Tambura – Dave Stringer
    Cello – Cameron Stone
    Cello [Electric] – Martin Tillman
    Produced by – Dave Stringer, Greg Ellis & Mamad Mohsenzadeh*
    Guitar [Quarter Tone], Guitar, Voice – Loga Ramin Torkian
    Kemenche – Saied Farajpouri*
    Lead Vocals – Mamak Khadem
    Mastered By – Trevor Sadler
    Mixed By – Steven Harrison
    Ney – Shahab Fayyaz
    Percussion – Gilbert Levy, Greg Ellis, Pejman Hadadi
    Sitar – Mas’oud Sho’ari

    Axiom of Choice are based in Los Angeles, but their music springs from the Persian classical music of Iran. “Valeh,” a haunting track from their first album, Beyond Denial, was a popular selection on many world-music samplers a few years ago. Iranian born guitarist Ramin Torkian and singer Mamek Khadem were both trained as mathematicians, and that’s where the group gets its name. The axiom of choice is a principle stating that the mathematician has the right to choose elements without explanation, and Torkian and Khadem have expanded this theory’s freedom into their eclectic musical choices. Eschewing their more high-energy, Middle Eastern grooves in favor of languid moods, Axiom follow up on the sound of “Valeh” on Niya Yesh, which is Farsi for “gnosis.” On a custom quarter-tone guitar, Torkian weaves a flamenco-Persian filigree while Khadem’s voice creates a wraithlike wail of wordless vocalese on pieces such as “Chaos of Paradise” and “Greener Than God’s Dream.” “Rain Drops” is a gentle lullaby while “The Calling” is the only track that really kicks into rhythmic gear. Tambouras, cellos, frame drums, kamancheh (spike fiddle), Buddhist chants, and ney flutes create a global chamber music sound on Niya Yesh, all framing Khadem’s voice, her dark timbres seeming to rise like heat off the floor of the Persian desert. –John Diliberto