Sumud (Six Degrees)
“World music” is often a catchphrase for exotic mediocrity. Niyaz is among the great exceptions, a trio in cosmopolitan exile, retaining their Iranian roots but seamlessly fusing the quiet ecstasy of age-old melodies and rhythms with contemporary punch and production. Sumud (Persian for “yearning”) is as much at home in the caravansary as the dance club. Vocalist Azam Ali rises true to the album's title; her words are Persian, and their precise definition means little when delivered with such unearthly intensity.