Sunday, March 19, 2017
ARMENIA: Tigran Hamasyan - An Ancient Observer (Nonesuch 2017)
An Ancient Observer's songs—two of which are based on Armenian melodies—were written over the last four years. Some of the pieces are through-composed and completely written out, while others are composed with ample space for Hamasyan to improvise. Many include vocals layered into the mix. As with most of his compositions, Hamasyan cites a wide range of influences, from Baroque dance to hip-hop, with pedals connected to a synthesizer on a few tracks—while the sounds of his native country also are present, as always.
Hamasyan has returned to Armenia, where his daily life inspired these new pieces: "I gaze out of my window and see the biblical mountain Ararat with perpetual snow on its peak, with electrical towers with wires in the foreground cutting the picture, and satellite dishes melted onto old and modern houses—ancestral smoke coming out of their chimneys—and birds hovering above the trees along with occasional airplane trails in the vast sky. It is a dialogue, this interaction of God-given ancient nature with our modern human achievements," he says. "For me it is an awakening, and a beautiful feeling, to be able to observe the magnificence of this sleeping volcanic giant, which has existed for millions of years and was observed by the Ararat Valley Koura-Arax culture through to the present day citizens of the Armenian republic. I can see and observe the same birds, animals, rivers, and mountains that the craftsman of 4,000 years ago painted on a clay vessel. He was observing the same thing I observe now, and what remains is his or her beautiful work of art."