Sussan Deyhim, Madman Of God

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

When you hear Sussan Deyhim sing, it's easy to understand that she was originally a ballet dancer. There's a languorous, seductive grace about her voice; it flows like honey into the ears. This album of Sufi poetry reconnects the Iranian-born (but long-time New York resident) vocalist with her native culture, putting romantic and sacred texts through her personal blender. The result is lushly atmospheric, as the (studio-treated) acoustic instruments behind her lay deep, subtle grooves, as on "The Candle & the Moth," where bass and percussion establish a ground for layers of voice, with tendrils of oud peering through spicily. It's an album bursting with artistic imagination, and even if you can't understand a word the whole is captivating. "Meykhaneh," with its loops and samples, transforms from song into a journey into the mind, as disorienting and enthralling as anything Björk's produced, while tracks like "Bade Saba" bristle with a tense, dangerous beauty, adventurous and avant-garde without ever seeming awkward or self-conscious. It's Deyhim's most complete and satisfying work to date, making modern art out of the past. The words might indeed belong to the madmen of God, but the divine inspiration has passed to Deyhim here.