By Greg Cahill | From the November-December 2021 issue of Strings magazine
This follow-up to Opium Moon’s self-titled 2019 Grammy-winning album finds the four-piece ensemble doubling down on its joyful, mysterious New Age jazz. The four musicians—violinist Lili Haydn, bassist Itai Disraeli, santoor player Hamid Saeidi, and percussionist M.B. Gordy—derive their ensemble name from a Sufi poem. The members have deep roots in the Middle East (Iran and Israel) and Eastern mysticism. They have recorded and scored numerous stage and film works, and have shared the bill with top U.S. symphonies and pop and rock acts. Canadian native Haydn has performed with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Sting, and the late Pakistani qawwali master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Opium Moon’s music is silky and sensual. Night + Day consists of a pair of song cycles reflecting the passing of time throughout a single day. The atmospheric arrangements revolve around a tight ensemble sound, but the musicians also improvise, though there is no showboating. Gordy propels these scintillating tracks with a treasure trove of Middle Eastern percussion, including the daf and doumbek drums. And while Haydn has recorded six solo albums and been described as “the Jimi Hendrix of the violin,” on Night + Day her electric violin lithely snakes its way through Opium Moon’s sultry melodies. She is a master of subtlety, possessing a warm, inviting tone and spinning hypnotic, lyrical lines.