Thursday, February 9, 2012

Aram Bajakian’s Kef

(Tzadik) Having done droves of research on Los Angeles based Armenian American musicians in the mid-20th Century, who often found themselves playing behind belly dancers, wearing turbans, and at times even being billed as Turkish (the ultimate insult for an Armenian) it’s pretty delightful to hear this contemporary guitarist search for the middle ground between traditional melodies and styles and prog/jazz/weirdness. Ouds, the challenging traditional tempos, and the percussive playing found in the folk music are elements that are already unusual sounding, so it’s surprising how rarely we hear experimentation applied to the music of that region. This is genuinely more exciting than the music of my two favorite Armenian American acts prior to hearing this, Cleopatra and the Nymphs of the Nile, and the Chipmunks.

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