Following a performance at the 2013 Punkt Festival in which pianist Tigran Hamasyan collaborated with live sampler Jan Bang, ECM boss Manfred Eicher felt there was great potential for further music from the pair and this group, expanded to a quartet with trumpeter Arve Henriksen and guitarist Eivind Aarset is the result.
It is a strikingly effective mix. All four have strong musical characters of their own but are also generous collaborators, enhancing each other’s contributions, adapting and assimilating themselves into a four-way combination. Their own expansive musical “countries” become something even bigger – a whole world of music with its own distinctive atmosphere.
Many of the pieces feel like spontaneous group improvisations, a feeling confirmed by the composition credits which are often the names of all four. These loose-limbed pieces, sometimes slowly developing and ambient, sometimes spikier in free improv fashion, are interspersed with slightly more formal, structured interpretations of Komitas, the Armenian priest/composer. Hamasyan is particularly fascinated with his fellow countryman’s music and his album of choral sacred music Luys i Luso was recorded three months after Atmosphères.
The pianist’s distinctive touch, his melodic invention and the strong folk traditions of his melodies and those of Komitas sit gorgeously in the centre of the electronic soundscapes created by Aarset and Bang. Henriksen’s ability to suggest the tones of the Armenian duduk with his trumpet enhance the music still further.
A magical sounding double CD release which manages to sound both of the moment in its electricity and yet ancient in the motes and grains of its cool, airy atmosphere.
Categories: CD review