Opium Moon won a Grammy in 2019 for their debut album, Opium Moon, and were again honored with a nomination for their sophomore release, Night + Day (2021). 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. Their brand new album is called Where We Are Gathered.
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 like 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 tone. Beloved devotional singer Benjy Wertheimer contributes deeply resonant vocals on “Metta Prayer” and “Metta Prayer Invocation,” 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 Kellerman 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 co-produced 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 to each other and make beauty in the face of darkness.”
For more information and music samples, visit opiummoon.com.
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