Tigran Hamasyan, Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset, Jan Bang – Atmospheres (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 39:14 minutes | 1,48 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Booklet, Front Cover | © ECM Records
Recorded: June 2014, Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano
This far-reaching double album, recorded and mixed in three days in Lugano, introduces a new group with Tigran Hamasyan, Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang. The Norwegians had played in diverse configurations on ECM – Jan Bang on Eivind Aarset’s Dream Logic, for instance, and Bang and Aarset on Arve Henriksen’s Cartography – but with Hamasyan at the centre of the sound, bringing with him ancient folk melodies transfigured in the compositions of Komitas, other inspirations come into play. All four players are at a creative peak here, whether freely reflecting upon Armenian themes or spontaneously shaping atmospheric soundscapes together.
Assembled at the invitation of ECM label-founder Manfred Eicher, pianist Tigran Hamasyan, trumpeter Arve Henriksen, guitarist Eivind Aarset and electronic sampling artist, Jan Bang came together for less than one half of a week in mid-2014 to create the double CD Atmosphères. There is a fair amount of inter-group history, Hamasyan being more the outsider but having worked with Bang at the 2013 Punkt Festival. There is, not surprisingly, a pristine quality to the music that one would expect from the ECM label.
These are all players of great subtlety and that is where the music—at well over two hours—is challenging. Bang’s live sampling actually adds to the elusiveness of pointillism, as he feeds in, and out, the content of the other players as opposed using electronics as a stand-alone, instrumental variable. It requires patience and careful listening to uncover distinct soundscapes in many of these compositions.
The bass-less, drummer-less quartet is saturated in atmosphere (as the title would indicate) and the collection takes its time in building to a visceral impact. The mix of original compositions (mostly collective efforts) and traditional Armenian folk tunes opens with the classically framed “Traces I”; Hamasyan’s piano set against the drone of Bang and Henriksen. On “Tsirani Tsar,” Henriksen expertly mimics the Armenian flute leading to a more jolting “Traces II” where Hamasyan’s torrent of notes meets an avant-garde backdrop. Similarly, “Traces IV” finds the quartet in an ethereal environment dominated by Henriksen’s ethereal trumpet. The first disc closes with “Garun A,” a beautifully haunting piece that highlights the lyrical talents of the pianist and trumpeter.
The second disc of Atmosphères begins in a more adventurous spirit with “Traces VII.” At almost ten minutes, it builds to a swirling cacophony of delicately dropped notes from Hamasyan layered over his bandmates refined suggestions of discriminating technical artistry. Though more low-key, the subsequent “Traces VIII” has an off-kilter melancholy that is thoroughly engaging. “Shushiki” and “Hoy Nazan”—like “Garun A” from disc one—are compositions from an Armenian priest, musicologist and composer who came to be known as Komitas and whose history includes his exile by the Ottoman Empire during the time of the time of the Armenian Genocide in 1915. He is regarded as the founder of the Armenian National School of Music and is revered among the Armenian people and throughout Eastern Europe.
Within Atmosphères there is a sense of moving from the antiquity of Komitas to creative improvisation, neither completely independent of the other. Because the album successfully exists in two worlds, it has broad appeal and in equal measure for those with an affinity for either. Aarset and Bang’s contributions may not always be distinct on first listen but the guitarist provides a denser layer to the music while Bang adds a minimalis variation of orchestration. Atmosphères is warm and appealing without being emphatic. -Karl Ackermann, All About Jazz
1 Traces I 00:06:52
2 Tsirani Tsar 00:05:49
3 Traces II 00:04:32
4 Traces III 00:05:45
5 Traces IV 00:05:14
6 Traces V / Garun A 00:12:39
7 Traces VI 00:04:50
8 Garun A (Variation) 00:03:51
9 Traces VII 00:09:28
10 Traces VIII 00:05:58
11 Shushiki 00:04:41
12 Hoy Nazan 00:03:51
13 Traces IX 00:05:53
14 Traces X 00:05:56
15 Angel Of Girona / Qeler Tsoler 00:03:35
Tigran Hamasyan – Piano
Arve Henriksen – Trumpet
Eivind Aarset – Guitar
Jan Bang – Samples, Live Sampling