By Editor Kriss Perras And Heather Fuller
Opium Moon plays Kama Sutra music. Her violin weeps the notes of a love ballad. The bow is at times ecstatic and at others barely touching the strings. As she performs, we’re transported to another universe. There are overtones of Itzhak Perlman in her fingers, and Isaac Stern in her bow. Best of all, in her facial expressions you will find the plateaued emotions of her musical performance. Her whole body is into it, like a violent ballet. This is Lili Haydn with Opium Moon.
Haydn has joined forces with other master performers. The group consists of Haydn on violin and voice, Hamid Saeidi on voice and santoor, or Persian hammered dulcimer, MB Gordy on ancient percussion, and Itai Disraeli on dub bass. They hail from all four corners of the world: Israel, Iran and the United States.
Opium Moon performed recently in Topanga Canyon at the Corazon Performing Arts Center. This performance space is in itself something of an old style salon. There are cushions on the floor for seating, oversized couches to sit on where your feet won't touch the floor and big pillows for your back to keep you comfortable and traditional chairs. It is an intimate performance space. That night the space was sold out to hear Haydn and Opium Moon, and for good reason. Opium Moon is transcendental, lucid and ethereal. It is an experience to hear them play, not just a ticket to an event.
Opium Moon produces a sound that’s biblical yet carnal. Kama Sutra music brings you titillating pleasure to further explore connubial pleasure. Saeidi’s baritone voice is very captivating. He blends his vocals with Haydn’s electrified violin to create a sound something born from the underlying forces of sensuality. When Saeidi plays the santoor, he is similar to Haydn. His facial expressions and body language are quite evocative. There was an unspoken dialogue between Haydn and Saeidi, an alluring romance between the two instruments that drew the listener inward. Add to this the electrified bass and acoustic and ancient percussion instruments, and the sound becomes unusual and seductive. There were Buddhist overtones, even a poetic quality to the interplay between the players on stage. The group’s instrumentation is in part what produced these unique sound qualities.
The night also brought an instrument that sounded something like the ancient erhu. It’s called a Duduk (doo-dook). Its sound has a soothing meditative quality. The Duduk is a double reed instrument with ancient roots. It is believed to be of Armenian origins dating back to that of the Silk Roads. In antiquity, that instrument was made of bone, reed and cane. Today it is made of wood. The Duduk player started in unison with Haydn’s violin and voice, and then broke off into harmony with her, building on the thematic values they started. Here too there was a romance between these two instruments. The interaction between the instruments, voices, harmonies, melodies and audience was nearly orgy in quality.
The Persian hammered dulcimer is also an ancient instrument. The strings are stretched over a trapezoidal sounding board. The instrument is set on a stand where the musician holds small metal, or sometimes wood, hammers to strike the strings. Dulcimer means sweet song, and that is true of this instrument. The origins of this instrument is said to be from Iran about 2,000 years ago.
Opium Moon has just finished its first collaboration in the studio titled Ruminations. This work will be released early 2018. Haydn also has a recent success on her own. She is part of the Hollywood Music In Media Awards (HMMA). She was in the documentary Women Who Score, directed by Sara Neeson, produced by Naida Albright and Sara Nesson, original music by Lesley Barber, Miriam Cutler, Lili Haydn and LauraKarpman. HMMA nominees are chosen in specific genres for film, TV and videogame including dramatic feature, sci-fi/ fantasy, documentary and animation.
This group between them has pretty stellar credits. Haydn has played, sung and opened for Roger Waters, Herbie Hancock, Sting Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Josh Groban, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and George Clinton’s P-Funk All Stars to name a few. Saeidi has scored for more than 30 films, television programs, dance and theatrical presentations. Gordy has played with the LA Philharmonic, the National Symphony, Beck, Michale Buble, The Doobie Brothers, Guns N’ Roses, Green Day, Josh Groban and others. Disraeli has played with Jackson Browne, Larry Coryel, James Gadson and Nishat Khan, among others.
Itai appears in Opium Moon as a courtesy of his band Maetar.
The group says it’s name was inspired by a poem from the great Sufi poet Hafiz:
The birds’ favorite songs you do not hear,
For their most flamboyant music takes place
When their wings are stretched above the trees
And they are smoking the opium of
Pure freedom. It is healthy for the prisoner
To have faith
That one day he will again move about
Whenever he wants;
Feel the wondrous grit of life - less structured -
Find all debts stamped, cancel, paid.
I once asked a bird, “How is it that you fly in this gravity of darkness?”
She responded, “Love lifts me.”
On The Web:
Lili Haydn: http://lilihaydn.com/home
Opium Moon On Sound Cloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-868186193