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by Stârâ
Photoillustrations by
Ladd McPartland
Web design by
Pete Darling

How to describe the art of this rare and unique musical collaboration? Perhaps as an alchemical jewel; the divine hierogamy translated into rare sonorous, mellifluous sound. It is music that-depending on context and interpretation-is both ancient and post-modern.

Vas is composed of two members, Greg Ellis and Azam Ali. Ellis' background is rhythm; a multi-percussionist fluent in transcultural rhythms. He is a reformed rocker. Ali was born in India, trained on the dulcimer, Farsi love poetry and Hildegard von Bingen. She sings in glossolalia, onomatopoeia, mantic utterances. No words allowed.

We have just finished touring their home/studio in an undisclosed location in the Beachwood Canyon enclave of LaLa Land. It's labyrinthine: three serpentine stories of resonant adobe, cathedral ceilings and hardwood floors opening out into Moroccan gardens and terraces filled with exotic plants and fountains. The inside is decorated with rich tapestries from Afghanistan, Persia, Morocco, and exotic instruments: tablas, four hammered dulcimers, santour, tambouras, udu frames, Middle Eastern frame drums, Nepalese gongs, singing bowls, Andean Flutes, Tibetan bells, mandolins, lutes.

The couple have collected all these instruments from around the world. Cross-cultural religious iconography and statuary abound in alcoves and on pedestals. Then there is the recording studio sitting in pristine Zen condition with what looks like all the necessary tech equipment; not too much, not too little. Sipping on excruciatingly tasty homemade cappuccinos, we look out through a buteh teardrop window. Babylon rages below but it seems distant from this little oasis...

Read the full story
In MONDO #18