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Album review: The Fourth Light by Niyaz

March 20, 2015

The Fourth Light Cover

The Canadian/Persian band Niyaz have been around since 2004 and have five previous releases before this new album, The Fourth Light. One of the most welcome aspects of the post-music-industry economy is that incredibly talented artists such as Niyaz have the possibility of releasing fan-funded albums without the interference of record labels.

In this case, a modest donation gets you a digital download of the album and there are various options beyond that which can include a CD, a signed CD, a t shirt, a handwritten lyric sheet. A 20 minute Skype call with Azam Ali and Loga Ramin Torkian, a private music lesson with Loga Ramin Torkian, a limited edition lithograph of the cover art…and more! What a creative way to raise funds for a project!

Niyaz has until recently comprised of DJ, programmer/producer and remixer Carmen Rizzo, vocalist and hammered dulcimer player Azam Ali, formerly of the group Vas, and Ali‘s husband, Loga Ramin Torkian, of the Iranian crossover group Axiom Of Choice. Carmen Rizzo left the band amicably in 2013.

  • If you were to pass before me, my tears would turn to rain
    If I were to gaze into the light in your eyes, I would enter a drunken state
    If I were to touch even the tip of your hair, my heart would be enraptured
    If you were to remain in my presence, I would be consumed with the
    sweetness of love

Niyaz are superb musicians but manage to not disappear up their own arses as too many virtuosic bands do. Their instrumental, vocal and production skills are second to none; this music is not self-indulgent, it is flawless but very accessible. Although rooted in the traditions of Persia and with influences from Turkey and other parts of the Middle East, this is not difficult music for anyone hearing it for the first time.

  • Come, let your heart become as empty as a desert
    Come, let our eyes see beyond the expanse of the sea
    Come, let us build a home from divine feathers
    One home built from nothing but love

The nine tracks all feature beautiful Iranian percussion – there is some lovely frame drum playing on Tam e EshqEyvallah Shahim and Marg e Man in particular. The drums and percussion are mixed high in all the tracks which I like. When playing is that tasteful I want to hear it!   There is some evocative flute on some tracks (I presume a ney) and various stringed instruments are perfectly set in the mixes, audible yet without detracting from Azam Ali’s (as always) exquisite vocals. She sings in Dari, Farsi, Urdu and Turkish. Melodies sometimes dip into those gorgeous Persian modes that instantly transport the listener to a distant land – check out the flute in Eyvallah Shahim. Niyaz are not a traditional folk band, however, and there is understated electronica underpinning most of this album. It merges seamlessly with the acoustic instruments.

Niyaz say this about the album:

 “The Fourth Light” is a tribute to the first female Sufi mystic and poet Rabia Al Basri (Rabia Al Adawiyya) who was born in the 8th century in Iraq. The album features original songs we have composed inspired by her great spirit and universal message of love. In today’s modern world where women are still striving in every aspect of life, to rise above the status of inferiority placed on them by patriarchal societies and laws, Rabia represents a true feminine icon that embodies every aspect of feminine and spiritual liberation. The Fourth Light will also feature several old folk songs from Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey with new and modern arrangements. One of the cornerstones of our music has always been the underlying social message aimed at raising awareness about the plight of ethnic and religious minority groups in the Middle East.

It’s an album I recommend without hesitation, uplifting and beautiful.

We like music

Inspirational Sounds – Secret Archives of the Vatican Podcast 125

March 6, 2015

podcast 125.Small

Our latest podcast is available from


  1. Drop the Bass
    MUM Music!music/ct74
  2. Princess Monomenoke
  3. Snake Charmer
  4. Disco el Khema
    Khan El Rouh
  5. Kecak Calling
    Midland Sparks
  6. Karami
  7. Basmati Riddim
  8. Digital Nomad
  9. New Ji-Had
    C Production
  10. Africa 138
    Sherwood and Pinch

“Spiritual life can certainly follow the pattern one sees in the fake martial arts, with most teachers making nebulous and magical claims that never get tested, while their students derange themselves with weird ideas, empty rituals, and other affectations.”
Sam Harris

Bass Jitsu – Secret Archives of the Vatican Podcast 124

January 18, 2015

podcast 124_small

Our latest podcast is now available to stream from MixCloud or to download/stream from iTunes.


  1. Khalifah (Analogue Fakir Mix)
    Celt Islam
  2. Musashi
    Dr Das
  3. Shadow Warrior
    Dr Das
  4. Singing in Tongues (Dub Colossus Remix)
  5. Babylon Flamenco in Dub
  6. Trirebel
    Nuphlo & Osmani Soundz
  7. Ganges
  8. Ganges
  9. The Stones at the Feet of a Prophet
    Secret Archives of the Vatican
  10. Sofia, the Saracen’s Daughter
    Andrew Cronshaw
  11. At the Strike of Dawn
    Shirzad Sharif

“The important thing is to polish wisdom and the mind in great detail. If you sharpen wisdom, you will understand what is just and unjust in society and also the good and the evil of this world; then you will come to know all kinds of arts and you will tread different ways. In this manner, no one in this world will succeed in deceiving you. It is after this stage that you will arrive at the wisdom of strategy. The wisdom of strategy is entirely distinct. Even right in the middle of a battle where everything is in rapid movement, it is necessary to attain the most profound principle of strategy, which assures you an immovable mind. You must examine this well.”
Musashi Miyamoto, The Book of Five Rings

band podcast blog

Maharajah of Groove – Secret Archives of the Vatican Podcast 123

November 15, 2014

It’s a little later than planned but here’s episode 123 of our awesome podcast!

podcast 123_small

Available for download from iTunes

Stream from MixCloud


  1. Bangalore
  2. Enter the Temple
    Kalya Scintilla
  3. Self Pharoah
    Stu Dent
  4. Azizi
  5. Sultan Stomp
    David Starfire feat Inner Forest
  6. Liasufam Desert
  7. Portishead The Walls Are Dripping Halloween Remix
  8. Stygian
  9. The Last Gospel (4 Man Func Mix)
  10. Simply Rolling

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.Dwight D Eisenhower

We like music

New release from Celt Islam: Generation Bass

September 5, 2014

Celt Islam has released a new of Sufi-Dub inflected electronica, Generation Bass. It’s available as a CD or a download from Bandcamp.


Oliphaunt Talk – Secret Archives of the Vatican Podcast 122

August 29, 2014

Here’s our latest podcast. You can also get it from HERE, or from iTunes.

Oliphaunt Talk - Secret Archives of the Vatican Podcast 122 by Secret Archives Of The Vatican on Mixcloud

We like music

Conscious Kalling: New Awakening Remixes

July 29, 2014

Subbass“Conscious Kalling is an up and coming high desert bass music producer from New Mexico. With a passion for all things weird and unique, his production breaks the boundaries of what music should be. Difficult to classify into genres his constantly evolving style takes influence from tribal cultures across the globe and layers it with unique bass sounds and emotional instrumentation.”

Back in 2013 Secret Archives of the Vatican contributed a tune to a compilation called Ethnostep 4.  Another track on there was New Awakening by Conscious Kalling.

“Perhaps due to it’s strong world influence and use of real instruments over deep synthesized bass lines, New Awakening remains once of the most played track’s in Conscious Kalling’s

The Subbass label has now released a compilation of remixes of New Awakening and we have contributed one of the remixes. It’s name your own price and that can include free –  but please consider making a small contribution. Musicians deserve to make some income from their work.


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