Creative Loafing Podcast: Interview with Saira Raza
Chad Radford, Creative Loafing, July 29, 2019
Cellist and singer Saira Raza, aka Sister Sai, in June, unveiled a five-song album titled “Broad Street Sessions,” showing off a more structured side of her atmospheric and deeply mystical musical footprint. Throughout these recordings, captured at the Broad Street Visitors Center in November 2018, older numbers such as “High Tide,” “Inertia,” and “Gilgamesh,” move away from their avant-garde beginnings to embrace a more realized neo soul vibe. This more refined take on each song is the result of contributions from an ever-changing cast of musicians who played in Raza’s ensembles between 2016 and 2019.
Music Features: Five Bands to See at This Year’s Cloud Recordings Festival
Gabe Vodicka, Flagpole, November 14, 2018
A luminary of Atlanta’s active experimental scene, composer Saira Raza has been praised for her solo sets, which center on cello loops that Raza layers and manipulates with various effects, transforming the classical instrument into a tool for mindful innovation. Starting from a melodic template established by contemporary pioneers like Arthur Russell, Raza draws from world, folk and electronic influences to create a hypnotic sound that’s all her own.
Interview on Culture on the Cobb Podcast
Sewell Mill Library & Cultural Center, July 31, 2018
Frosty w/ Sister Sai
Celsius Drop, Dublab, May 11, 2017
Here it is, highly honed and happening for YOU. On his weekly Celsius Drop show, dublab co-founder Frosty guides you through an exploration of the vast Future Roots music spectrum. Tune-in to grasp your destiny.
In the 11am hour Frosty welcomed Sister Sai onto the airwaves for a live performance and interview. Sister Sai is the moniker of multi-instrumentalist and producer Saira Raza. Her latest LP Inertia, included in Creative Loafing Atlanta’s 40 Best Albums of 2016, 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.
Inside the Mind of Sister Sai: Review of ‘Extempore’
Chad Radford, Creative Loafing, April 12, 2017
From song titles such as “Devotional” and “Glossolalia” to “Wanderer” and “Incarnate,” the album taps into a deeply mystical musical trajectory that reveals itself through the sounds she makes, and the seamless motion of each song drifting into the next. The album is comprised mostly of a one-take, largely unedited session of mind-melting cello loops that, with each listen, reveals layers of depth at work within cellist Saira Raza’s natural musical instincts. Embracing her unorthodox sense of repetition is key to zeroing in on the zoned-out head space that each of these songs occupy.
REVIEW: SISTER SAI – EXTEMPORE
Russell Rockwell, Immersive Atlanta, March 27, 2017
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.
VIDEO PREMIERE: SISTER SAI – “INERTIA”
Russell Rockwell, Immersive Atlanta, November 21, 2016
More than simply the title track from her last LP, “Inertia” is an exploration of stasis and a reminder of our cosmic relativity. “While we are standing still, the world is still moving,” Raza explains via email. “From afar, the earth can seem slow and lumbering, but up close, there is frantic motion happening everywhere.” This wisdom is translated by the Johnson’s vibrant video collage; a sensory wellspring that is neither hurried nor sporadic, but rather perfectly cued to knock the viewer into Sister Sai’s orbit.
Your Sacred Life: The Mysteries of Saira Raza’s Inertia
Ali McGhee, Sensible Reason, January 23, 2016
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.
Interview:Saira Raza hones the power of ‘Inertia’
Chad Radford, Creative Loafing Crib Notes, January 5, 2016
From the staccato ambiance of ‘Gilgamesh,’ to the spacious boom of ‘Mercurial Mirror’ and closing number ‘Breadcrumbs,’ Raza raises the bar high with an album of cavernous beauty that settles in on the outskirts of jazz, ambient, and experimental music.
EXCLUSIVE: SAIRA RAZA – INERTIA
Russell Rockwell, Immersive Atlanta, January 5, 2016
Inertia is somewhat of rarity in that it is conceptually unified, but musically diverse. Throughout the record, Raza traverses various interpretations of jazz, from the psychedelic to the ambient, with a lavish dose of exotica. However, in its truest form, Inertia is a folk album. In a broad sense, traditional folk provides cultural insight and lessons without preaching or lecturing, and that is precisely what Raza reinvents throughout the course of the record. Here, Raza is the performer and the audience, and the listener is drawn into her internal village as she wrestles with the collective truths of her past.
10TH LETTER ENSEMBLE – OPEN CIRCUIT SESSION: LIVE AT AISLE 5
Russell Rockwell, Immersive Atlanta, December 1, 2015
Jeremi Johnson, the writer and producer behind 10th Letter, gently guides and directs the album through a variety of synthesizers and Ableton Live. However, it is his fellow performers who innovate on Johnson’s themes and paint over his lines, turning musical suggestion into a colorful universe. Saira Raza, one of Johnson’s most frequent collaborators, plays vibraphone in her trademark ethereal fashion alongside Dan Friedman (guitar), Gage Gilmore (bass) and Eric Grantham (drums). Together they explore new directions within Johnson’s songs, inundating the album with spirited surprises.
Atlanta’s 10 best albums of 2014
Paul DeMerritt, Creative Loafing, December 23, 2014
Saira Raza’s debut EP exists in its own universe. In just five songs, the cellist and multi-instrumentalist seamlessly blends elements of Bollywood, jazz, folk, and classical music, and wraps them all up in a psychedelic package that transcends classification.
Saira Raza thrives in transience
Paul DeMerritt, Creative Loafing, November 19, 2014
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.