Love In Exile

Love In Exile

Musical worlds converge in these dark, celestial dreamscapes featuring Urdu-language vocalist Arooj Aftab with the acclaimed Vijay Iyer (piano, Rhodes, electronics) and Shahzad Ismaily (bass, Moog bass). All three have a complex connection to the South Asian diaspora: Iyer and Ismaily were born in the States to Indian and Pakistani parents, respectively; Aftab grew up in Lahore, came to study at Berklee, and settled in New York, charting a course that led to a historic Grammy for Best Global Music Performance in 2022 (the first Grammy for a Pakistani artist). Ismaily played synth on the winning track, “Mohabbat,” from Aftab’s celebrated Vulture Prince. Here, he parlays with Aftab at album length, joining a kindred spirit in Iyer, a fellow member of Greg Tate’s experimental big band Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber back in the 2000s. The extended pieces on Love in Exile have Aftab’s haunting yet inwardly calm voice at the fore, floating atop a sustaining low end of Ismaily’s raw electric basslines and Moog drones and Iyer’s spacious electroacoustic environments. Even without the input of a drummer, there’s often a very present sense of pulse, akin to a beating and soulful heart.

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