Aram Bajakian – Music Inspired By ‘The Color of Pomegranates’ (2015)

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No source for creativity is off-limits to Aram Bajakian, whether it’s Texas blues, New York punk, the exotic modalities of Middle Eastern music or the nearly-forgotten folk music from the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. The latest project for this insatiably curious guitarist involves an underground classic Armenian film from the Soviet era, and we’ve already been treated to a couple of morsels early this year.

Music Inspired By ‘The Color of Pomegranates’ — slated to go on sale November 10, 2015 — is quite up-front about what Bajakian wanted to accomplish for this particular endeavor: offer up an alternate soundtrack to Sergei Parajanov’s 1969 speech-free, avant-garde chronicle of the life of the Armenian poet Sayat Nova.

Every note on this record was plucked from a stringed instrument by Bajakian, and everything else concerning this disc, from recording to designing the artwork, was done by his hand, too. He builds a series of vignettes around simple figures, and it’s not hard to envision them corresponding to specific scenes in the movie.

The guiding principle seems to be setting gentle, impressionistic sketches that mirrors the mood of the movie, and the extended techniques used are just tools selected to attain that goal. Trills, arpeggios, glissandos, free form and plain ol’ strumming are heard on these twenty-one short form tracks that could be more accurately described as motifs rather than full songs.

While most of the performances use acoustic guitars, with lead parts often dubbed over rhythm (like, for example, “Kotcha”), electric guitars play a role as well, heard in the fuzz tone drones of “Life Has Abandoned Me” and “The World Is Like An Open Window.” Other cuts, like “Land Of the Dead” evoke ghoulish moods, while the staggered “Sacrificial Lamb” requires chops as much as concept. “Laz Bar” is provocative for its dissonant undercurrent upon which Bajakian picks a Mediterranean styled melody virtually simultaneously.

The Bolsheviks were less than enamored with Parajanov’s movie, branding him a subversive and years of persecution followed as a result of this and other motion pictures made under his direction. As a subversive within the musical realm, Aram Bajakian connected with the director and like the film, effectively said much without any words at all.

*** Purchase Music Inspired By ‘The Color of Pomegranates’ ***


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron

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