Sister Sai is the moniker of multi-instrumentalist and producer Saira (pronounced sī’ rǝ) Raza. Her work displays a wide range of musical influences including jazz, folk, electronic, and classical. In her recordings, Saira employs any and all instruments within reach including vibraphone, guitar, bass, dilruba, found sounds, synths, but she primarily performs with her first love, the cello. Her album Inertia was included in Creative Loafing Atlanta’s 40 Best Albums of 2016. She recently released a new project Extempore, which reflects the experimental loop-based style of her live solo sets.
Sister Sai has two different live incarnations. For solo sets, Saira creates live improvisational compositions by layering loops of cello and vocals, combined with effects and a sampler. Listeners have described her solo sets as meditative and trance-inducing.
In contrast, Sister Sai also performs as a full band, with Saira at the helm on cello and vocals in addition to bass (Kimb Collins), guitar (Chris Edwards), drums (Dylan Banks), and vibraphone (Jeremi Johnson). Full band sets are energetic and dynamic, showcasing the amazing skills of each musician on stage.
Jade Petals, from Extempore, released March 2017
Inertia, from Inertia, released January 2016
Ganga Hymn, from First Flight, released September 2014
“Sister Sai’s ability to write and perform with a wide variety of instruments has allowed her to continually grow and evolve as a musician, but the striking simplicity of Extempore isn’t a step backwards, as much as an opportunity for Raza to return her focus to her first love…As a result, the genius of Extempore can’t be reduced to its simplicity, rather it must be tied to Raza’s ability to coax the wildest, most alien responses from her cello while creating music which is equally intense and inviting.”
Review: Sister Sai – Extempore
by Russell Rockwell for Immersive Atlanta
“Saira Raza ‘s new LP is a lovely, meditative, experimental album that explores themes of transformation and stillness on the individual as well as the planetary level. It’s the rare kind of album that reveals its secrets slowly, unfurling more with each listen until you feel profoundly, deeply touched.”
Your Sacred Life: The Mysteries of Saira Raza’s Inertia
by Ali McGhee for Sensible Reason
“Raza’s songs…are cinematic, evoking vivid images of secluded forests, empty fields bathed in starlight, and abstract landscapes of a different reality. What listeners might not realize about Raza’s music is that nearly every instrument, save some percussion and textural elements courtesy of 10th Letter, is played by her. Banjo, guitar, bass, vocals, vibraphone, found sounds, and even percussive uses of the cello are all coming from the same mind.”
Saira Raza Thrives in Transcience
by Paul DeMerritt for Creative Loafing
Experimental / Jazz / Ambient