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Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, Shahzad Ismaily

Love In Exile

Release Date: March 24, 2023

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Shadow Forces
To Remain/To Return (Visualizer)
Sharabi (Visualizer)
Eyes Of The Endless (Visualizer)
Haseen Thi (Visualizer)
Sajni (Visualizer)
1 To Remain To Return  
2 Haseen Thi  
3 Shadow Forces  
4 Sajni  
5 Eyes of the Endless  
6 Sharabi  
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Love In Exile asks you to step inside its sense of time, to stretch out alongside these delightful and unhurriedly unfolding songs. Profound impact is achieved with minimal instrumentation:  Vijay Iyer on pianos and electronics, Shahzad Ismaily on bass and Moog synth, and Arooj Aftab’s exquisite Urdu vocals. Subtle musical interrelationships build into moments of deeply felt drama. Shimmering keyboard melodies and stirring vocals, earthy basslines, and hypnotic drones: together they create an album of stunning gravitas and beauty. Love In Exile was recorded live in a New York City studio with minimal editing, and each listen reveals distinct aspects of this soundworld, sure as it will activate new feelings inside you.

Genre categories come after the fact. This album is startlingly present and emotionally open. Many listeners will find it easier to remember how each song made them feel and what each song did to their sense of attention rather than specific melodies. This is music as a meeting ground and a way of being alive to the world. All the intimacies and deep trust that we understand by the word love combine with all the strangeness and adaptability of exile. The outsiders stay open.

The trio’s work is graceful in the common sense: elegance and emotion accompany each movement here. Yet it also manifests the deeper, spiritual sense of grace: a beauty that is generous, free, and unexpected, tapped into a higher power, which it translates and extends.

By creating in real time, without any prior preparations, the three musicians make a collective moment for both themselves and the audience. Remembering their first show, Aftab says, “Vijay and Shahzad were so locked into each other, and it was unclear whether they were doing what I was doing or I was doing what they were doing. We were like a school of fish.” Sunlight dappled through deep water, fluid motions that dissolve individual boundaries and amplify communal energy. Ismaily calls it “a relaxing toward what is.” Love In Exile is the power of music, how it moves us and invites us to love. 

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