A rising star, pianist Tigran Hamasyan's releases have been fueled by his Armenian heritage and prodigious skills rooted in jazz and classic music training though not limited by either discipline. His debut on Nonesuch Mockroot continues to showcase his many interests which combine voice, electronica, folk and contemporary influences.
Where 2014's stunning Shadow Theater (Sunnyside Records) featured an extended band, choral section, and rigorous production, Mockroot is no less captivating; Hamasyan in a trio setting with drummer Arthur Hnatek and Sam Minnie on electric bass. Inspired by family, nature, poetry, and a yearning for spirituality, the pieces evoke a broad range of emotion from wildly intense movements and heart tugging elegies in the tragic love story "Kars1" to a thrashing rock anthem with dual time signatures in "Double-Faced."
There's much that can be gleaned from the trio's cohesive bond and Hamasyan's brilliant pianistic feats yet it's his art as a storyteller who can capture the imagination that stands front and center. This is evinced in the haunting solo piano piece "Lilac" about the memories of the blossoming tree in his family's backyard in Gyumri or the tour-de-force mini-suite "The Grid" with its breakneck rhythm, synth-bass lines, and jazz scat-like vocalization.
There's a deeper message here and at times the music feels a tad too melancholic but this in no way weakens this thoughtful and invigorating album that once again gives light to Hamasyan's unique voice as a composer and performer.
Track Listing: To Love; Song for Melan and Rafiki; Kars 1; Double-Faced; The Roads That Bring Me Closer to You; Lilac; Entertain Me; The Apple Orchard in Saghmosavanq; Kars 2 (Wounds of the Centuries); To Negate; The Grid; Out of the Grid.
Personnel: Tigran Hamasyan: piano, voice, keyboards, synths, sound effects; Sam Minnie: electric bass; Arthur Hnatek: drums & live electronics; Gayanée Movsisyan: voice (5); Areni Agbabian: vocals (2); Ben Wendell: saxophones (2); Chris Termini: bass (2); Nate Wood: drums (2).
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