New trio Love In Exile is a manifestation of musical telepathy : NPR

A improvisatory supergroup tries to reply a riddle: What does listening sound like?

Love In Exile is (from left) Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily. The Trio simply launched its self-titled debut album.

Ebru Yildiz/Courtesy of the artist

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Ebru Yildiz/Courtesy of the artist

Love In Exile is (from left) Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily. The Trio simply launched its self-titled debut album.

Ebru Yildiz/Courtesy of the artist

This piece is customized from an extended interview that was printed within the All Songs Thought-about podcast. Click on right here to take heed to the complete dialog.

What does listening sound like? Pianist and composer Vijay Iyer typically poses this query to his college students, at Harvard and the New England Conservatory.

“It is nearly like a Zen koan or one thing,” he mentioned one latest morning, in a basement lair at Determine 8 Recording in Brooklyn. However, he added, the reply manifests clearly within the moment-to-moment interaction of Love in Exile, his almost telepathic collective trio with singer Arooj Aftab and bassist Shahzad Ismaily. “When Arooj is not singing, she’s listening,” Iyer identified. “What makes it work is the standard of listening, and that is mainly what we’re listening to.”

Aftab, seated subsequent to him, chimed in: “After I’m not singing, I am normally additionally ingesting wine … ” All three artists burst out laughing, as if a stress valve had been launched.

That they had gathered at Determine 8 Recording, which Ismaily owns and operates, to speak in regards to the trio’s entrancing self-titled debut album, which was simply launched on Verve. (A live performance tour kicks off this weekend on the Massive Ears Competition.) Seated in a semicircle within the smaller of Determine 8’s two studios, surrounded by analog synthesizers and classic drum machines, the three musicians typically picked up on and prolonged one another’s observations; their dialogue offered a chance to discover the identical best of listening and responding, in phrases as in music.


The interview touched on the origins of the trio, which felt immediately charged with non secular energies; the implications of the identify “Love in Exile,” with its play of diaspora and longing; the mysterious method {that a} tune kind can emerge out of group improv and “ritual time” as an expression of tempo ungoverned by style or market considerations.

Aftab, whose 2021 album Vulture Prince was a vital and cultural breakthrough, additionally pointedly pushed again towards any privileging of voice or lyrics throughout the music. “I am saying numerous random fragments of issues, as a result of I am making an attempt to make use of them as vowels to actually simply sing,” she mentioned. “I by no means get to do this. So this challenge is very attention-grabbing for me, as a result of I get to flex somewhat bit. I am not a really showcase-y singer in my different tasks, however on this one, I get to go to areas very freely with out duty, as a result of the duty of the music is shared.”

Love in Exile is a chronicle of that shared expertise, suffused with unfolding thriller and deep human connection. It is also an invite — a reminder that the artwork of listening is an open system, certainly not restricted to the musicians on the stage.


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