Internationally beloved singer-songwriter/producer Azam Ali has unveiled a live video of her cover of Cocteau Twins’ “Shallow Then Halo”, a track on her first English language album Phantoms.
Azam’s career spans the chart-topping and ground-breaking international world electronic/ acoustic group Niyaz, whose music delves into the mystic poetry of the Sufi.
In Azam’s solo career, she has collaborated with Peter Murphy of Bauhaus, and members of Nine Inch Nails, among many others, and she is featured in some of the biggest feature film, television, and video game soundtracks.
Such work includes films and television shows such as Thor-The Dark World, Matrix- Revolutions, 300, Fight Club, Dawn of the Dead, True Blood, Alias, The Agency, and Prison Break. Azam has also contributed her music to video games such as Uncharted 3, Call of Duty, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, and more.
After relocating to America during her formative years Azam fell in love with darkwave, post-punk, and synth-driven music. Artists that comprised her teenage playlist such as Massive Attack, Portishead, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Joy Division, Dead Can Dance, Nine Inch Nails, and Ministry.
On her album Phantoms, to represent this musical fandom, Azam boldly chose to cover Cocteau Twins, another one of her favorite bands, as she explains:
“As my album began to take shape, I realized I was subconsciously tapping into so much of the music from the 80s and 90s that had inspired my musical journey. My reason for wanting to cover a CT song was out of sheer love for their music, the influence they had on my life and art, and a desire to pay tribute to artists who had shown me the profound potential of music to reach sublime depths. So it is from this place of reverence that I attempted not to cover the song per say, but to sing and produce it as if it were a part of me and my personal expression. I truly internalized it and made it my own. I also particularly chose one of their less popular songs as a silent nod to other hardcore CT fans.”
Azam’s cover is spellbinding foreign yet familiar while infusing the essence of the classic 4AD era track with distinctly Persian identity.
Watch a live performance of Azam Ali’s version of “Shallow Then Halo” below:
For those who ask the age-old question, “What the hell are Cocteau Twins Sayin?”, Azam’s lyrics to “Shallow Than Halo” are as follows:
“Winged water, Feathered river, Dirty rich soil, Strong and fertile, The then shallow she, Earth as we know it, The then hallow she, A sky for the sacred, Stars in my eyes, Stars in my face, Womb in the belly, Capitol place…”
Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde had this to say about the cover:
“Tackling a Cocteau Twins song is regarded by many to be either very brave or very foolhardy. I know there haven’t been many covers attempted of our songs that’s for sure, but any really great cover version of any song needs to shine a new light upon it. The original was written before my time, so I may not be the best to judge, but Azam Ali ticks all the boxes for me. Its greatest achievement is that it doesn’t even sound like a cover version. Brilliant music!”
Azam Ali’s Phantoms is out on the 13th of September via Terrestrial Lane Productions.