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Monday, June 17, 2019

CD Review: Areni Agbabian - Bloom


Areni Agbabian (voice, piano); Nicolas Stocker (percussion).
(Review by Ann Alex).

The beautiful music on this CD is definitely not jazz, nor does it claim to be. It's closer to contemporary folk. The album comprises mostly original compositions around the theme of blooming and the natural world, including an Armenian sacred hymn, an Armenian folk legend of metamorphosis, a folk melody transcription, and a song based on a quote from the Biblical Song of Solomon.

 Californian-born Agbabian draws on her Armenian heritage to produce contemplative music which is sparse in the best sense, with many thoughtful walls of silence and beautifully sung fragments, usually wordless, accompanied by wistful piano riffs and skilled subtle percussion. For instance, Rain Drops, which was written by the CD producer Manfred Eicher, is just 33 seconds long and consists of a few illustrative notes on the piano. The folk tale Water Bride is spoken to the accompaniment of low chords from the piano and lightly brushed drums – very effective. The folk melody Garun a,
is sung wordlessly to a deep groove from the drums and a hypnotic bass rhythm. The River has the voice meandering along to tapping drums which sound like water going over pebbles.

 Ms Agababian's voice has a pleasing soprano tone used well to suit the tunes. I could go on, but readers will get the general idea if I list the titles of the other tracks: Patience; Petal One; Yearning; Petal Two; Light Effect; Anganim Arachi Ko; Mother; Sear; Full Bloom; Whiteness; Coloured; Seeing More.

Ms Agbabian came to international attention with the groups of  Tigran Hamasyan. This, her debut CD with ECM, was recorded in Lugano in October 2016 but not released until now. See www.ecmrecords.com
Ann Alex

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