Tigran Hamasyan ‘Shadow Theater’ (Verve) 4/5

tigran-hamasyan-shadow-theaterHere is a major new talent who is just beginning to emerge on the international scene. A solo piano a couple of years back only hinted at the highly idiosyncratic and individualistic musician on offer from Tigran Hamasayan. His latest album brings together classical, folk and rock elements with jazz and yet still sounds distinctively Tigranesque. On ‘The Poet’, a circus ground feel permeates the intro and then the piece develops into a contemporary jazz trio piece with female vocals. The string led ‘Lament’ is a fascinating number and is the kind of composition that Kate Bush might have conjured up while the wordless vocals of the sensitive piece ‘Sea farer’ builds into a crescendo with a simple, repetitive, yet ultimately compelling riff.
Elsewhere operatic influences come into play on ‘Erishta’ and even jazz-funk on ‘Drip’. Tigran does not easily fit into any category. His music is certainly folk influenced, but not world roots. Elements of pop music are discernible and there is a classical undercurrent. It is precisely that diversity that is a major part of his appeal and artists such as him help break down musical boundaries.  

Tim Stenhouse