FULL ALBUM: City of Leaves


1 cd for $15, 2 for $25 (+ s/h)

From National Geographic:
“It’s been almost 10 years since Persian singer Sussan Deyhim knocked our socks off with Madman of God, but now she’s back with another stunner – and this time she’s joined by a veritable who’s who of collaborators, including Richard Horowitz, Bill Laswell and DJ Spooky. Available on CD January 31…”
– read more

now available on “Venus Rising Records”.
With great new tracks in collaboration with Richard Horowitz, Bill Laswell, DJ Spooky and Duke Bojadziev

Listen & buy individual mp3s: *


project: Majoun

Read about Turbulant [pdf]

Majoun on

Majoun on

Majoun on

project: Vocodeliks

Vocalist & Performance Artist Sussan Deyhim
At UCLA Live

“[Sussan Deyhim creates] thrilling music that sounds in the ear long after you’ve left the show.” – The New York Times

Incorporating the ancient mysticism of Middle Eastern music with the wizardry of modern technology, songster Sussan Deyhim has lent her haunting and lushly layered vocal improvisations to Peter Gabriel’s score for “The Last Temptation of Christ” as well as to projects by Bobby McFerrin, Branford Marsalis, Mickey Hart, Bill Laswell and world-renowned Iranian filmmaker Shirin Neshat.

Deyhim’s last performance in Los Angeles was more than a decade ago. She returns with “Vocodeliks,” which is as much rooted in ancient rituals, as it is in her futuristic sonic vision. The first installment of her one-woman show was originally commissioned by the Whitney Museum of Art and Philip Morris in 1998. In her UCLA Live performance, Deyhim showcases her more experimental vocal soundscapes. Much of the music is also derived from her various excursions in film music, particularly her collaboration with Iranian filmmaker Shirin Neshat.

The second half of this program features Maya Beiser, former cellist for new music heroes Bang on a Can All-Stars, who has redefined her instrument with a repertoire that cuts across cultures and genres. Evocative, theatrical and spiritual, Beiser’s new multi-media solo concert features new works that were written for her by Osvaldo Golijov, David Lang and Louis Andriessen. She will also perform the Los Angeles premiere of a Steve Reich multi-track cello piece titled, “Cello Counterpoint.” This is the first piece Reich has written entirely for cello.

“‘Cello Counterpoint’ is one of the most difficult pieces I have ever written, calling for extremely tight, fast moving rhythmic relationships not commonly found in the cello literature,” says Reich.

Named after Lang’s composition and encompassing text, vocals, dramatic lighting and interactive videos, “World to Come” is Beiser’s personal exploration of the sounds and images of cello music for the 21st century through the works of some of our most esteemed living composers.

“When composers write music for me, I ask them to forget what they know about the cello, I hope to arrive at new territories, to discover sounds I have never heard before. I want to create endless possibilities with my cello. I become the medium, through which the music is being channeled, and in the process, when all is right, the music is transformed and so am I,” says Beiser.

Sussan Deyhim Biography
Born in Teheran to an old aristocratic family and the youngest of 11 children, Sussan Deyhim’s upbringing during the rule of the Shah of Iran was ultra-progressive. Her father was an economist, scientist and violinist; her house was filled with every conceivable style of music, old and new. Her life was consumed with ballet and her teacher was a choreographer who combined works by Stockhausen and Bartók with traditional and folk Persian music. Summers were spent at a special dance and arts camp at the Caspian Sea, and at the Shiraz Festival, the largest avant-garde gathering in the country, which featured the likes of Robert Wilson, John Cage and the Living Theater. By the time she met Maurice Bejart and was offered a scholarship to attend his School of Performing Arts in Brussels, Deyhim had been exposed to an amazing variety of music: from India, Egypt, Andalusia, and every part of her own country-the African-influenced styles and trance ceremonies of the south, Saudi Arabian, Kurdish, Luristani, Baluchistani, Afghani and the immigrant tribes of the central regions.

Deyhim studied and performed with Bejart’s Ballet of the Twentieth Century and had been dancing with the company for almost two years when she moved to New York and plunged into dance classes, only to realize that ballet was no longer her calling. Her opportunity arrived when she met and began working with Richard Horowitz, a musician, composer and producer schooled in free jazz, steeped in the music of Morocco and many other forms of what would become known as “world music.” Their collaboration would produce “Majoun” for Sony Classical, a unique synthesis that married the strains of traditional Middle Eastern music with cutting edge technology and a progressive sensibility.

Her appearances have ranged from productions such as John Claude van Italie’s “Tibetan Book of the Dead” at La Mama in New York to playing Euridice at La Scala in Milan, to performing with Bill Laswell and Jah Wobble to recording and performing as a soloist with Bobby McFerrin’s vocal ensemble. Deyhim wrote and performed the music in Shirin Neshat’s acclaimed short film, “Turbulent,” which has toured major international museums, with Deyhim also performing live in a solo piece at the museums called “Vocodeliks,” which will be featured with her UCLA Live concert.

project: Madman of God

see more on Madman of God and Shy Angels here…

This is how extraordinary Iranian vocalist Sussan Deyhim describes her first solo album: “Madman Of God is a collection of classic melodies taken from the Persian repertoire, which were composed around the poetry of Rûmi, Saadi, Djami and other Sufi writers from the 11th to the 19th centuries. These pieces are as well-known by my grandparents as they are by my own generation, and they represent the torch songs of classical Persian music”

The result is an inspired, exciting and deeply spiritual masterpiece. Deyhim and her sublime voice are surrounded by contributions from players as diverse as Iranian classical musician Reza Derakhshani, percussionist Glen Velez (a long-time collaborator of Steve Reich), veteran jazz bassist Reggie Workman (who has been heard alongside the likes of John Coltrane), percussionist Will Calhoun (who has drummed with Living Colour as well as with BB King) and others.

Although practically all the sounds are performed by acoustic instruments and voices, Sussan Deyhim’s innovative arrangement and production have shaped “Madman Of God” into a very modern soundscape.

Born and raised in Tehran, Sussan Deyhim now lives in New York. She has been navigating between traditional music, electronics and avant-garde art. She has collaborated with Peter Gabriel (on “Passion”), with Bill Laswell, Jah Wobble, Bobby McFerrin, Adrian Sherwood, with cyber-guru Jaron Lanier and many more, including Richard Horowitz (with whom she recorded cult electro-avant-Persian album “Desert Equations” for Crammed’s Made To Measure label in the late 80’s) and Majoun, the band she formed with Horowitz, Doug Wimbish & Will Calhoun). “Turbulent”, the video installation by Shirin Neshat of which Sussan is the central focus, has just won an award at the Venice Biennial, while Neshat’s most recent piece (featuring Deyhim’s music) will soon be presented in several prestigious museums and galleries in the USA and Europe.

project: Zarathustra’s Mother

A Multimedia Opera

Zarathustra’s Mother is a full-length multimedia opera by Sussan Deyhim, in collaboration with Richard Horowitz. Zarathustra’s Mother will be scored for solo vocalist (Deyhim), an ensemble (including ancient and modern instruments and electronics) and string quartet.

Zarathustra’s Mother draws its inspiration both from Friedrich Nietzsche’s classic philosophical prose poem Thus Spake Zarathustra and the ancient Zoroastrian texts that inspired him. The opera will be performed in Pahlavi (the ancient language of Zoroastrianism), German, Farsi (the current language of Iran) and English. As in much of her previous work, Zarathustra’s Mother will forge words and music from the ancient world with modern electronic and sonic techniques.

Zarathustra and Nietzsche
In a time of religious and political conflict, the ideas of Zoroaster and Nietzsche have great contemporary relevance. Thus Spake Zarathustra is an oracular and highly personal contemplation of Zoroaster’s revelations. Zoroastrianism was founded in the 6th Century BC, flourished for over a thousand years, and was the world’s most powerful religion at the time of Jesus. Zoroastrianism was founded by the prophet Zarathustra (known as Zoroaster to the Greeks) in Persia, which is now modern-day Iran. When Islamic Arabs invaded Persia in 650 CE, many Zoroastrians fled to India where a small number continue to practice the religion today. Small communities also still exist in Iran and Canada.

Nietzsche clearly identified with Zarathustra – both were in their way utterly solitary figures trying to bring a message to the world at large – and saw in him the purest and most rational of prophets. Zoroastrianism espouses respect for the earth, free will, direct contact with a universal force without the intervention of idols or priests, the idea that evil exists only in the human mind and is not a primordial force, freedom from sin, equality of the sexes, and human rights: all ideas that resonate with Nietzschean philosophy.

Written at the end of the 19th century but largely ignored in its own time, Thus Spake Zarathustra became a vastly influential book in the 20th century. It continues to be so today, because Nietzsche foresaw, over one hundred years ago, the destruction of Earth by modern society due to human greed and the reluctance to make an ultimate spiritual transformation. Nietzsche uses the language of a prose poem rather than formal logic to tell Zarathustra’s story as he ventures from his mountain hermitage to teach his gospel, experience the world, and ultimately, to conduct his own spiritual journey of crisis and final affirmation.

Zarathustra’s Mother
Like its sources, Zarathustra’s Mother will be an incendiary and highly provocative journey that uses poetry and metaphor to raise questions critical to our time about free will, spirituality and religion, personal and political power, gender and equality, and our relationship to nature. Timeless insights will be drawn from the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, its main scripture (the Avesta) and the Gathas (or the Hymns of Zarathushtra); Deyhim will collaborate with scholars of ancient Persia to incorporate these into the libretto. The ancient texts will be juxtaposed with Nietzsche’s own unique language, and his mix of parables, dialogues, poetry and humor that make up Thus Spake Zarathustra.

Through Zarathustra’s Mother audiences will be introduced to pre-Islamic culture, its rituals, and mythologies. In this way, Zarathustra’s Mother continues some the musical and thematic concerns of Deyhim’s latest work. Her recent Logic of the Birds (in collaboration with visual artist Shirin Neshat, composer Richard Horowitz, and filmmakers Ghasem Ebrahimian and Shoja Yousefi) was based on a mystic, feminine hero from a 12th century Sufi text. A multimedia piece that blurred lines between performance, media, electronic and acoustic sound, The Logic of the Birds was commissioned by Artangel, The Kitchen, Walker Art Center, Change, and the Lincoln Center Summer Festival and premiered in 2002. Her CD Madman of God: Divine Love Songs of the Persian Sufi Masters was based on traditional Persian melodies and poems by Rumi and other Sufi writers from the 11th to 19th centuries. For a number of years Deyhim has also collaborated with artist Shirin Neshat on a series of highly acclaimed video installations, producing the scores to Fervor, Soliloquy, Rapture and Turbulent (which won the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale). Their most recent collaboration was presented at the 2004 Olympics in Greece.

The Composition
Musically, the composition will embody diverse stylistic and musical approaches, from the ritualistic primacy of shamanism to the atonal realities of post-industrial noise. At the heart of Zarathustra’s Mother will be the solo voice performing in many languages (Pahlavi, Farsi, German and English) and drawing on Deyhim’s long performance history of combining indigenous microtonal modes with a unique harmonic sensibility.

Deyhim’s compositional approach includes the use of complex electronic and computer transformation of her vocals. Each vocal syllable and melismatic phrase is placed in a subtle, diffracted relation to its component digital double by choosing up to six overtones which are then placed in three dimensional space as a kind of sonic sculpture. These overtones are, in fact, based on microtonal modal melodic fragments, which are sung with microtonal harmonies. (In the last century Bulgarian composers invented ways to apply western harmonic concepts, based on the well-tempered scale, to microtonal modes they inherited after five hundred years of Turkish influence.)

At points in the composition, Deyhim’s solo voice will be transformed into an electronic choir (with multiple overlays of samples), with each voice sculpted by advanced electronic and computer processing technologies. The advanced technologies also allow the singer to incorporate improvised passages by using interactive interfaces: composed elements can be triggered via an array of controllers (midi keyboards, infrared beams and various other sensors and looping devices). In this way, fragments of composed elements can be collaged, ornamented, and improvised spontaneously.

Although this piece would not be possible without extensive use of digital technology, the challenge and goal is to convey the emotional and spiritual depth of this ancient culture via live, human interaction. In Zarathustra’s Mother, Deyhim will combine ancient Eastern musical sources and contemporary Western sounds, and through a kind of digital alchemy, bring audiences closer to a sense of ritual and the unknown.