Elysium for the Brave/Elysium Remixes
You know you’ve heard that sexy, haunting voice somewhere before. If you’re no stranger to sci-fi, you may have heard Azam Ali’s vocals on the soundtrack of such movies as Children of Dune, Matrix Revolutions and Earthsea, among others. Although Elysium for the Brave is only Azam Ali’s second solo album, the singer has been with world music duo Vas since 1996 and has started Niyaz, a side project whose first album debuted at #1 on the iTunes world music chart. This album has credentials and confidence.
Ali’s voice is simply lovely, especially when paired with Elysium’s richly layered instrumentation and hypnotic beats. The songs, in both English and Farsi, are dark and brooding with Persian, Indian and western influences. Ali sings of wars, internal and external, and the arrangements in her music carry that tension. Despite having all of the right ingredients, Ali’s sophomore effort was disappointing. Most songs on the album leave the listener waiting for a climax that never happens, which is especially frustrating because they are longer than a typical pop song. “From Heaven to Dust” is her shortest song at 4:18; “I am a Stranger in This World” goes on for over 7 minutes. Remixes makes this problem more apparent. Set to overused beats and sliced to its most simplistic, her beautiful but hollow music loses what soul it had. Elysium for the Brave is a showcase for Ali’s voice, and can be enjoyed as simply that, but listeners looking for the emotional intensity it seems to promise will be disappointed.