Electro-acoustic outfit Niyaz breaks new ground with "The Fourth Light," a far-reaching album that defies most standards of “world music” and makes a bold statement to a global audience. On the heels of three successful albums which have topped the world music and radio charts and placed them in front of international audiences around the world for the past decade, Niyaz has created what is arguably their most mature work yet. Mixed by Grammy nominee producer/ electronic musician Damian Taylor (Bjork, The Killers, Arcade Fire), the album unveils nine compelling songs featuring exotic rhythms, outstanding acoustic performances and the bewitching melancholy of front woman Azam Ali's voice, all seamlessly blended together into a sleek production of richly textured arrangements, sweeping choruses and electronic beats that make their music both authentic as well as unimpeachably original. Yet with all the mysticism and allure of the East which is dominant in their musical heritage, these are musicians not limited by geographical and cultural boundaries. Niyaz offers listeners, with a convincing truth, a bridge between the East and the West- a sanctuary in the modern world of polarized ideologies.

On The Fourth Light, lead singer, co-composer and co-producer, Azam Ali, for the first time takes on the role of electronic musician and programmes all the beats for the album. This is, in and of itself a towering achievement for a woman who is mostly recognized for her spellbinding voice which has been featured in some of the biggest Hollywood film and television scores. "It was a tremendous challenge," Azam explains, "to take on what is generally a very masculine role. People know me as a singer, not an electronic musician and there was an initial fear that I would not be taken seriously. But once I freed myself up mentally from that self-imposed limitation, I discovered a whole new world inside myself, a world that led me to my greatest personal triumph on this album, which was transcending the role that had come to define me as being just a singer."

In can be said that The Fourth Light is in many ways a feminist album. The central figure who served as the main source of inspiration for the music is the first female Sufi mystic and poet Rabia Al Basri, who was born in the 8th century in Iraq. She was a woman born into extreme poverty during a time when women's rights were severely constrained. Sold into slavery at a young age, Rabia defied the odds and managed to find the inner strength and resolve that would eventually lead to her liberation both as a woman as well as a spiritual figure. "Rabia's struggles even in the 8th century," Azam adds, "remain quite relevant to our time when women continue to strive to rise above the status of inferiority placed upon them by many patriarchal societies around the world."

 

This performance is available for the Art Lovers Subscription as of June 13.
Tickets Available to the general public on July 4.