Aficionados of jazz, progressive rock, ethnic, classical and instrumental music will delight to the rich modalities, melodies and rhythms of this unique style of world music in which the singer's voice, chanting in Farsi, serves as the centerpiece, an instrument in and of itself. The orchestration is filled out with strings, upright bass, the Arabian lute, sitar, acoustic guitar, Indian and North African percussion and drumset. The texts sung have a basis in modern and traditional Sufi poetry, and carry a message of peace and global harmony. Although Atash is an all-acoustic ensemble, audiences with a taste for electronica are also devout fans of this world-class quintet.
Atash has found fans all over the world and has showcased at the South by Southwest festival (SXSW) in Austin, on the webcast show "Wired" from the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, and at the Sun Moon Lake Festival in Taiwan. The group or members of the group have collaborated and/or mentored with Fairouz, Ali Akbar Khan, Simon Shaheen, L. Subramaniam, Swapan Chaudhuri, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Aashish Khan, Vigen, Francois Rabbath, Ram Narayan, Kazem Al Saher, Billy Joe Shaver, Butch Trucks, Chuck Rainey and many other distinguished artists. The group has shared the stage with many notable speakers as well, including Ram Dass, Noam Chomsky and Lloyd Doggett.
Republic of Love, released in May 2003, was recorded at Congress House studio in Austin, Texas, and was co-produced by the award-winning producer Mark Hallman (Carole King, Oasis, Ani DiFranco). The album features the quintet's original compositions with Persian vocals by Mohammad Firoozi; Roberto Riggio on violin, viola, and oud; John Moon on violin; Dylan Jones on upright bass, and Jason McKenzie on Indian and Arabic tabla and drumset. Also featured are world-class musicians from India -- Indrajit Banerjee on sitar, Gaurishankar on tabla, Sathish Pathakota on mridangam -- and Austin guitar virtuoso Glenn Rexach. The work has earned international kudos and is played on radio stations throughout the country.
Atash tours internationally, now featuring the talents of Guinean drum master Alseny Sylla.
Here's what people have to say about Atash and republic of love:
"With their debut, Republic of Love, flexing sinewy rhythms, Atash are at the forefront of ATX's vibrant world music scene."
--Margaret Moser, SXSW Festival preview, AC, March 2004
"Atash's Republic of Love is Texas' No. 4 album of the year 2003!"
--David Lynch, Austin Chronicle, December 2003
"Atash now leads the way in promoting the exploration of various global disciplines in music."
--Damon Williams, Feedback Magazine, Fall 2003
"[Atash's] musical power is unlike anything you'll hear!"
--David Momphard, Taipei Times, September 2003
"Stunning release by one of Austin's premier world music ensembles!"
--Austin Chronicle, August 2003
"'We have fallen to a place where everything is music,' (Rumi, 13th century). Recent world events may have inspired Republic of Love, but as the quote from the Sufi mystic suggests, when war disrupts the world, thank goodness it's music that emerges from the ruins. And what glorious music it is on the sensational debut from Austin-based world-music masters Atash ('fire' in Farsi). Where to begin? With curvaceous Indian-Middle Eastern melodies that serve as the group's foundation? Addictive percussive rhythms? The delightfully seamless infusion of Western jazz, rock, and classical music traditions, or Mohammad Firoozi's captivating vocals? And don't forget the lyrics. Sung in Farsi (translated into English in the liner notes), they are lyrical love poems to the world: 'I read the books of Moses, Jesus and Mohammed, slept beneath the tree of Buddha, but still did not find answers. When Love came to rule me, then I became a believer.' Profoundly spiritual lyrics and exceptional musicianship sends listeners into a swoon rivaling Neruda. Though singing in Farsi, Firoozi's voice is understandable in any language. Having been trained as a boy to sing azzaan, the Muslim call to prayer, Firoozi's richly seasoned voice rises from tenderness to shimmering ecstasy. Together with accomplished musicians Roberto Riggio, Dylan Jones, John Moon, Jason McKenzie, and Alseny Sylla on violin, viola, tamboura, upright bass, djembe, and percussive instruments from East and West, Republic of Love spirits listeners away to a place where music is bread for the soul."
--Belinda Acosta, Austin Chronicle, August 2003
"Austin is known for its diverse and talented underground music scene, and its reputation holds with world-music ensemble Atash.... Mohammad Firoozi's haunting Maghreb style of chanting Farsi looms over diverse sounds of Arabic Gypsy violin, lute, tamboura, dumbek, riq and the jazz infusion of upright bass and drumset.... REPUBLIC OF LOVE is a response to global events and reflects what atash, the ancient symbol of fire, represents: truth and life energy. Atash spreads its colorful world-music wings!"
--Amy Dalness, Santa Fe's Pasatiempo, July 2003
"In a time ripe with fusion revolution, Atash stands out among the ranks with a powerful and original sound. The band sets the driving elements of rock, the improvisational elements of jazz and the music of India over a foundation of Middle Easternesque compositions...their show will charm your mind and lick your soul."
--AC, Metro Santa Cruz (CA), July 2003
"Atash is an incredible group!"
--Gypsy, host and producer of Giramondu, KUSP radio,
Santa Cruz, California
"Atash's members are seekers of love's eternal mysteries from a more spiritual plane. Connecting South Asian, Middle Eastern, and North and West African motifs with the rock-jazz realm, these globally minded Austinites have the fire-and-ice thing down pat. Their soul-center is Mohammad Firoozi, whose gruffly ecstatic Farsi vocals yearn with an unquenchable thirst."
--Tom Cheyney, LA Weekly, July 2003
--Sarah Dashew, pop singer, July 2003
"Atash-A five-person Middle Eastern ensemble whose fierce vocals and rhythms demand attention!"
--Rachel Proctor, Goodlife Magazine, July 2003
"I love Atash's 'Republic Of Love' CD! It's one of the best I've ever heard."
--Derek Sivers, CDBaby, June 2003
"If you have not yet done so, you must see Atash play live. If you have, go see them again. I have never heard a more beautiful mix of Jazz and middle eastern music."
"Atash came to the new Moma De Louvre studio in summer 2001. Their music, played live, sparked the Galactic Goddess Painting Series."
--artist Moma deLouvre, www.momadelouvre.com, 2001
"The night gets going with Atash's modal music transported from Arabia, India, and Texas right into Pusod's garden. Their melodic tones and overtures present the evening with time-traveling to a place of ancestral prayer and sounds for the soul."
--Marlon Sagana Ingram, Pusod -- A Center for Culture, Ecology and Bayan, Berkeley California; www.bwf.org, 2001