Opium Moon took home a Grammy in 2019 for their self-titled, critically acclaimed debut album of atmospheric, ancient-yet-contemporary instrumental music. The virtuosic quartet return this summer with NIGHT + DAY — their new sophomore offering, a double studio album exploring the full dynamic range of their highly evocative soundscapes.
In its two song sequences, the album showcases both the band’s artful conjuring of a languorous sensuality with the seven songs on NIGHT, and the electric, swirling alchemy that brings audiences to their feet at their live concert performances on the six tracks comprising DAY. Violinist and vocalist Lili Haydn says, “We love the magic of the slow, hypnotic seductiveness of our first album, but we also love to shred and make people dance, so we put all the lovemaking music on the NIGHT album and all the groovy, danceable songs on DAY. And on two songs we interpreted the same theme in both ways, illuminating our belief that perspective changes everything.”
The self-titled song Opium Moon appears on both NIGHT and DAY, interpreted both meditatively and energetically; the DAY rendition quotes the poem “She Responded” by the great Sufi poet Hafiz, translated in his book The Gift by author Daniel Ladinsky — who was so inspired by Opium Moon’s music that he wrote them a new haiku inspired by Rumi, which is included on the CD format:
all day long
God proposes to us
Also appearing on both albums is Dhikr (pronounced thik-er), its title a sacred Sufi word meaning “remembrance of God” that exemplifies the spirituality and devotion from which Opium Moon’s music is born. The joyful Dream was created around a theme that actually came in a dream. I’ll Wait for You (the only song with English words), while it grooves like a sultry Sade track, is written from the perspective of the many saints and enlightened masters whose compassion for the world inspired them to wait and teach, rather than disappear in rapture. For the song Feast of Sevens, a retro-cool, spy noir convergence of the group’s musical personalities and exoticism, a high-concept video is in production with director Z Berg and an intriguing cast of characters, coming soon.
The lilting, uptempo La La Lai is a collaboration with the popular Kurdish ensemble MiRaz from Turkey, with whom the band connected through Facebook right after Turkey’s brutal 2019 attack on the Kurds. Both MiRaz and Opium Moon believe that music is an essential instrument of peace, and they decided to sing and play this joyous driving ditty together — rich with Moroccan Gnawa rhythms and a Hebraic folk- inspired melody — with the understanding that simply coming together in song is an act of defiance in the face of oppression.
100 Ways to Kneel and Kiss the Ground is titled after a Rumi poem translated by Coleman Barks and is inspired by the playing of master bansuri player Hariprasad Chaurasia on the classic album Call of the Valley, which was also an inspiration for Opium Moon’s eponymous, Grammy-winning debut.
Opium Moon is a super-group of consummate, celebrated musicians/composers from Iran, Israel, Canada, and the U.S., whose love for each other’s passionate, innovative playing and the magic that ensues when they unite, creates what their fans have called “world music from another world.” Their last live show was in Mumbai, India for the TED stage, where they brought 7,000 people to their feet just days before the world shut down due to COVID. It was during that forced reprieve that they conceived and produced this magnum opus which pushes the boundaries of genre, embodying their ethos of freedom and spirituality.
The cinematic richness of Opium Moon’s music is born of all four musicians’ accomplished solo careers, as well as their prodigious composing and playing for film and TV. While the last 18 months halted all touring, the group forged ahead. In addition to co-producing the Opium Moon album, Haydn released her sixth solo album earlier this year for Lakeshore Records, scored the music for two feature documentaries by Oscar-winning and -nominated directors (Strip Down, Rise Up for Netflix and Ruth: Justice Ginsberg in Her Own Words for Starz), as well as composing the music for Netflix’s record-breaking hit Ginny & Georgia.
Bassist Itai Disraeli recorded and produced a new album with his jazz group Maetar, to be released next year. Founder of the music program at Los Angeles’ prestigious Wildwood School, he designed a new online forum to continue teaching his young students during the lockdown. He also contributed additional music to Haydn’s scoring projects and co-produced NIGHT + DAY with her and the band.
In addition to recording and co-producing the Opium Moon album this last year, santoor maestro Hamid Saeidi created and produced a new TV talent show for the Persian diaspora (Contestee), and completed an album with his Hamid Saeidi Ensemble, scheduled for release this fall. He also produced, performed, and recorded 12 megahits of legendary Persian vocalist Aref in celebration of the singer’s 80th birthday.
Percussionist MB Gordy taught online seminars for USC, Berklee College of Music, the Eastman School of Music and more, as well as continuing his private teaching. He worked on numerous projects for films, trailers, PBS, HBO, Spotify, a new video game, and diverse recording sessions in his studio for artists ranging from Adele and Michael Buble to Justin Bieber, along with co-producing NIGHT + DAY.
Itai Disraeli sums up the eventful journey that created Night + Day by saying, “We love to be deep and spiritual, and we love to dance and be physical — but either way it is inspired by our complete presence and love in action. This work represents the best of us.”
NIGHT + DAY will be out on August 27th, the band’s first release through Six Degrees Music Distribution’s partnership with InGrooves/Universal Music Group.
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