For whatever reason, we don’t often see the collision of pop music and art rock anymore. Maybe the heterogeneous spread of the various music worlds, each into their own listening silo, makes such recipes impossible.
Pianist Tigran Hamasyan isn’t really a pop musician, though the music on Shadow Theater visits a lot of sonic haunts, from pop to jazz to electronica to Armenian Folk. On “Erishta,” we get the kind of expansive pop and art rock stew not often heard on the popular front since the heyday of Queen.
The track begins with Tigran’s piano wrapped in an electronic pulse. We’re off into pop/opera-land when vocalist Areni Agbabian begins shadowing that lovely descending melody. Just before the two-minute mark, the jagged rhythms kick in, giving the song a more art rock vibe. This is ambitious stuff. I’m also reminded of some of Joe Jackson’s later work, particularly from the concept album Heaven and Hell.
Will the silos ever disappear? Will people ever be exposed again to music outside of their comfort zone? Probably not, but my ears tell me that a song like “Erishta” might make a nervous listener take notice.