By Nick Ward
Music's newly appointed Visiting Scholar Hooshyar Khayam's latest album Raaz (30M Records, 2020), has been selected by the United Kingdom-based world music journal Songlines as their five-star album of the year from the Middle East.
Khayam is an Iranian-British musician, composer, pianist, and teacher who produces music in contemporary classical, fusion, and world music styles, and composes scores for film and theatre.
Raaz, which translates from Farsi to "secret,"is a collaboration between Khayam and fellow award-winning musician Bamdad Afshar. It is the very first release from the innovative German-based 30M label, which strives to make Iranian music available to the world.
The album is representative of Khayam's field recordings from Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan province on the Pakistani border. It incorporates Gwati, a form of Iranian healing music, and blends this form with elements of electronic music and the implementation of traditional male and female vocals.
In recent years, western jazz and music of the Middle East have been inspiring one another and creating new ways of thinking. Khayam's work is a perfect exemplar of this phenomenon.
"I have constantly worked halfway between my admiration of the music of the West and passion for the East," explains Khayam.
Recently appointed as Music's Visiting Scholar, Khayam has been a prolific composer and producer since finishing his Doctorate of Musical Arts in composition at the University of Cincinnati in 2005. Upon graduation, he returned to Iran to begin a series of travel experiences working and studying his home country's music and its neighbouring nations' music and culture, including Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Armenia and Georgia.
"I also worked on some music from the regions within Iran," says Khayam. "Some of these influences impacted my work almost subconsciously and thus naturally worked their way into my compositions."
Critics around the globe have described Khayam's music as avant-garde, experimental, hopeful, and magical. Have a listen to his pre-Raaz work:
Khayam wrote the string quartet Monir (2013) as the soundtrack to a film by Iranian filmmaker Bahman Kiarostami on the life and art of Iranian painter and sculpturist Monir Shahroudi Farmanfarmaian. Music performed and recorded by Kronos Quartet
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