Cyminology's As Ney is a delightful album of acoustic jazz fused with eastern melody. It scores highly vocally, instrumentally and compositionally and creates a world to relax and entrance the listener. Beautiful!
As Ney is the third album from this German quartet, although the first to be released on the ECM label. Whilst based in Germany, the ethnic origin of the band members is varied, and it is the influences from these genetic lines that fuses Cymonology's jazz soundscape with such interest.
Clearly, the first member to be mentioned must be Cymin Samawatie. Not only does she write most of the music and sing like an angel but her classic beauty must give this band a striking presence when playing live. Cymin's family descends from Iran but it was through an eclectic musical upbringing and in particular the influence of American jazz veteran Jerry Granelli, who pioneered world jazz fusion, that she began to improvise with ancient Persian poetry and set it to "non-traditional" music. This was the key element that acted as the catalyst for Cyminology's current sound. As Cymin herself says: "Farsi is a soft language and has a unique melody in itself, it already gives you a sense of direction. And the changing meters of the poetry influence the rhythm and the time signatures." 13th and 14th century poetry is used on As Ney, as is that of the 20th century poet Forough Farrokhzaad.
Another major influence in the band's soundscape is French-born Benedikt Jahnel. His piano playing is sublime: delicate in touch, he can weave melodic magic as well as assist in the subtle percussion. The tone, balance and feel of the piano are lush! The band's line-up is completed by the rhythm section of German Ralf Schwarz on double-bass and Indian Katan Bhatti on percussion and drums. The nuances of this pair's playing were a joy to hear.
Whilst the music weaves its mesmeric spell, there is enough variety compositionally in terms of structure and tempos to keep one alert: on "Sendegi" we even get some Latin rhythms without them grating with the predominant flavor of the music. Also, the fact that the lyrics are sung in a foreign language (to most listeners) never comes close to being a problem, such is the beauty of the singing and of the music.
Finally, I must also mention the excellent CD booklet: so enjoyable in this day-and-age of digital downloads to see a CD arriving with a 28-page booklet with lyrics and photos of the band and its tours. Very good.
This is a band that tours regularly internationally: I'm going to keep a look-out for them; perhaps you should do so too!
1) As Ney (9:58)
2) Niyaayesh (5:20)
3) Kalaam / Dassthaa / Delbasstegi (15:43)
4) Sendegi (4:05)
5) Por se ssedaa (5:24)
6) Naagofte (7:13)
7) As Ssafar (2:55)
8) Ashkhaa (7:14)