Opium Moon has launched a third album “Where We Are Gathered” out on the Launch Captivating Third Album, garnering much attention in the just released offering of new music.
Winning a Grammy in 2019 for their debut album, Opium Moon, they were again honored with a nomination for their sophomore release, “Night + Day” (2021).
Opium Moon creates sensuous, enchanting soundscapes that evoke ancient worlds while remaining thoroughly contemporary. Elegant yet deeply emotional, their distinctive sound draws upon the diverse backgrounds of its members: Iranian santoor master Hamid Saeidi, innovative Israeli bassist Itai Disraeli, sought-after American percussionist M.B. Gordy, and virtuosic Canadian-American violinist Lili Haydn.
With original compositions that meld sacred/classical traditions of East and West with trance-inducing grooves, the result is at times both stately and rapturous, a sultry and passionate instrumental music that seems to emanate from a deep wellspring. NPR’s Bob Boilen called it “both a deep, thoughtful breath and an upbeat celebration.”
“Our music is made by four musicians surrendering ourselves to the spontaneous magic and delight in each other’s sounds, delicately balancing on each other’s phrasing and flourishes. The confluence of our togetherness creates a different magic than when we play by ourselves–hence the name of our third album, ‘Where We Are Gathered’. Unlike our previous records, however, this album was not all recorded at the same time with all of us in the same room. The pandemic, political issues, and touring schedules necessitated that we record in pieces, so we decided to start with rhythm first; we reasoned that “where two of us gathered, “red,“, the group explains. “We are still Opium Moon.”
So bassist Itai Disraeli and percussionist MB Gordy aid down the landscape of deserts , palaces and oasis harems with their deep libidinous grooves–grooves embedded within melodies that inspired the themes on which violinist Lili Haydn and santoor master Hamid Saeidi play and improvise together, alternating between stately dances and ecstatic,hip-swaying, snake charmer undulations.
“We invited friends to join us in these sultry worlds: the deeply soulful sacred harmonies of the Metta Prayer, sung and co-written by acclaimed devotional singer and multi-instrumentalist Benjy Wertheimer…the breath and flight of two-time Grammy-winning South African master flautist Wouter Kellerman on Of Kiss and Wing…the Asian underground modern twist from Supreme Beings of Leisure on The Mystery (and co-production throughout the album)…and the defiant creatrix’s declaration of justice for women with legendary Persian singer Hengameh on Woman Life Freedom. Each of these songs was conceived from an image, like scenes from a film that has not yet been made.
The four powerhouse players hail from Iran, Israel, Canada and the U.S., but their paths merged in Los Angeles, where they discovered the unique chemistry that drives their distinctive, sensuous sound. Deep rhythmic grooves, soaring violin, shimmering santoor (Persian hammered dulcimer), and angelic vocals abound in the multi-hued, cinematic soundscapes of this third album. The quartet’s otherworldly, ancient-modern alchemy is resplendent in their new work–at once hypnotic, reverent, innovative, and sensual. The band likes to say that “it’s the best music for meditation, or for making out”–and critics have agreed, variously describing the band’s music as “carnal,” “transcendent,” “haunting,” and “rapturous. “Mix magazine said, “It will awaken every sultry, seductive, sexy, sensual, spiritual and steamy molecule of your being. “In a departure from their previous releases, the band invited several guest artists to appear on WHERE WE ARE GATHERED, delivering a song sequence of interestingly varied textures and tones.
Beloved devotional singer Benjy Wertheimer contributes deeply resonant vocals on the tracks Metta Prayer Invocation and Metta Prayer, intoning the words of the Buddhist loving-kindness mantra in the liturgical Pali language of India–with the chanted prayer set like a gem amid the whirling dazzle of Opium Moon’s virtuosic instrumentation. More than two millennia ago the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, encouraged his followers to chant this timeless mantra; today, yoga superstar Shiva Rea selected Metta Prayer as the featured music in her new guided meditation. South Africa’s two-time Grammy winner Wouter Kellermanem embellishes the lilting Of Kiss and Wing with the delicate filigrees of his flutes. Ramin Sakurai of Supreme Beings of Leisure co-wrote Love and Understanding, contributed programming grooves on several songs, and is credited as co-producer on the album, along with Lili Haydn and Itai Disraeli.
The popular Iranian singer Hengameh joins the band on the rousing, anthemic closing track, Woman, Life, Freedom–alternating the words of the Iranian freedom movement’s protest chant in Farsi and English as the musicians raise their voices and their fists in moral outrage and support of women’s rights and freedom following the tragic death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iranian authorities last year. Itai Disraeli says, “This album is the sound of the human spirit singing freely through all of us.” Lili Haydn adds, “It speaks to our time, in which people feel more and more disconnected through the bombardment of social media. AI, pandemic, war, and suffering. Where we are gathered, there is hope. Where we are gathered, there can be love and understanding, evolution of ideas, and the willingness–indeed, the mandate–to listen deeply to each other and make beauty in the face of darkness.
“WHERE WE ARE GATHERED was released on September 15, 2023 on Downtown Records/Valley Entertainment.
To purchase the CD or for more info visit: https://www.opiummoon.com/