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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

Sussan Deyhim

By Doug Merlino
Published March 13, 2007

Madman Of God: Divine Love Songs Of The Persian Sufi Masters
Crammed Discs 22

IRAN (ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF)

Tehran-born singer and performance artist Sussan Deyhim’s voice is amazing: She can scat along with a tabla, rise seamlessly from a whisper to a howl, or vibrate longingly over a mournful cello. Deyhim has collaborated with Peter Gabriel, Bill Laswell, Jah Wobble and Adrian Sherwood, among others. On Madman Of God, a gripping album recorded in 2000 and now re-released, she tackles a collection of centuries-old Persian melodies composed around poems by Sufi writers including Rumi, Saadi and Djami. Backed by jazz bassist Reggie Workman and tablaist Karsh Kale, as well as traditional Persian musicians, Deyhim stamps her personality on the material yet still conveys respect for her sources. These ancient poems of love and pain sound contemporary and urgent. There are no weak points, but some sections, such as the haunting, multi-tracked “Daylaman (Inextricable),” featuring only vocals and kamancheh (Persian lute), are breathtaking, the sound of the heart’s longing.