The Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan is heavily influenced by the folk traditions and culture of his country. That is again evident on his latest album, called “Mockroot”, his sixth so far. But there is also a heavy rock influence here as well, particularly on the first four tracks. And then there is the common thread of humming the melodies and playing a lot of his lines and chords in hammering motifs.
“Double-Faced” is a complex, heavy piece with a lot of jagged and staccato playing. Deep stuff. But there is also another side to this great pianist, who can call Herbie Hancock among his mentors and fans: “The Roads That Bring Me Closer To You” is a beautiful and melancholic piece where the vocals sometimes get in the way, though. At times, it sounds a bit too esoteric to me. But there is a special haunting quality to this track and also the next, “Lilac”.
The mood is changed again with the explosive “Entertain Me”, which you might as well call a Heavy Metal Jazz tune. And then back again to the melancholy of “The Apple Orchard in Saghmosavanq” (which is a former monastery of the Armenian-Apostolic church) which again has a lot of folk influences. Accompanying Hamasyan are bassist Sam Minaie and drummer Arthur Hnatek who both have a lot to do here, jumping from cluttered jazz chords to heavy rock and pop patterns.
With all that is going on here on the album, it sometimes gets difficult to decipher the piano mastery of the 27-year old, but there are moments like in “To Negate” where he shines through. Only briefly though because the energetic rock influences are at the front here as well. Hamasyan experiments with electronics in the last couple of tracks, “The Grid” and “Out Of The Grid” with a lot of time changes and drama. And noise.