Tigran Hamasyan
Mockroot


4.5
superb

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (113 Reviews)
February 12th, 2018 | 11 replies


Release Date: 02/03/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The formidable meeting of peace and turbulence, expressed through very unconventional means.

What kind of jazz would you expect from someone who wanted to be a thrash guitarist growing up" Well, despite the progressive rock influences Tigran Hamasyan brings to his work, I still don’t think something like Mockroot would have been the expected result. Whatever compelled Hamasyan to choose the piano instead for the remainder of his career, I’d say it’s for the best if these results are any indication. Mockroot is one of the most unique takes on modern jazz I’ve heard, a near-seamless blend of surgically-precise technical craft and vivid imagery. it practically washes you in its repetition, providing hypnotic meditations that are just as inspired by classical and Middle-Eastern folk as they are by their jazz/prog roots. It must be noted, too, that the instrumental setup is shockingly simple. Instead of oversaturating the production with horns and overall bombast, Mockroot gives us a simple piano/bass/drum trio format. But really, when you hear the ingenious interplay between the musicians, you end up accepting this fact pretty quickly. The real key to getting everything you can out of this album is listening closely and observing the subtle changes in rhythm and mood. Hamasyan’s piano does lead the charge, sure, but the entire trio basically plays as one unified rhythm section as they shift through each intricate passage like disciplined chameleons. This is fleshed out even further by the odd polyrhythms and Phillip Glass-esque minimalism within the trio’s interplay, making the experience even more dense and mystifying.

What’s important, though, is that the band never fail to give us a reason for these oddities. As far as I can tell, it’s all done to strengthen the album’s unique atmosphere, which is a fascinating mix of the spiritual and the natural. The jazz brings out a homely, earthen vibe that's given a fresh new dimension by the inspiring and somehow intangible feel of the Middle-Eastern folk. It sounds very mystical, especially in songs like “To Negate” and “Song for Melan and Rafik” which like to use traditional Armenian musical - and even vocal - stylings to drive home the presence of world music that embellishes the album. There are other songs that really bring out the progressive rock side too, such as the highly complex piano runs of “The Grid” and the amazing tempo/dynamic shifts that define the aptly-titled “Double-Faced.” The real beauty of Mockroot is that it plays with so many sounds and styles, and yet never loses its focus when it deviates to those different genres. In fact, I’d argue that the best aspect of the record is that every song has some progressive rock, some jazz, some Middle-Eastern folk, and some classical; it’s just all in varying doses each time. So basically, different things are emphasized each time while still being consistent with the overall experience. And some parts are just flat-out gorgeous; just listen to the incredible female vocals at the climax of “The Roads That Bring Me Closer to You” for proof of that. Or there’s “The Apple Orchard in Saghmosavanq (what a title, huh"), which uses the piano in a more varied and less repetitive manner to flesh out one of the most elaborate and contemplative pieces on offer. Listen to how the different vocal octaves compete with each other over the peaceful piano lines underneath; truly breathtaking. As weird as it sounds, Tigran Hamasyan reminds me a lot of the French death metal band Gojira. He’s able to take catchy-yet-technical grooves, squeeze every bit of emotion and power out of them by an effective use of repetition, and then subtly shift out of grooves before they become stale. The difference is that he’s doing so in a jazz context. And, to be honest, that’s just awesome.



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user ratings (118)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
GMBass (5)
The Folk Jazz album for Metal Heads... never did armenian post bop sounded so heavy with a jazz trio...



Comments:Add a Comment 
SoccerRiot
February 11th 2018


5335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I swear I'm gonna review something new one of these days; my internet's been slow, so I can't listen to any new stuff at the moment :[

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2018


712 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thank god you've reviewed this

SoccerRiot
February 12th 2018


5335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lol yeah, I kinda got tired of seeing the other review for this. Tigran definitely needs more exposure on here though, I'll say that much

Butkuiss
February 12th 2018


4545 Comments


Tigran is definitely my favourite contemporary jazz pianist. His sense of rhythm is fucking insane. I wish I could play a tenth the way this guy does - in my mind, he's right up there with Kapustin.

SoccerRiot
February 12th 2018


5335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah man, he's up there for me too. I've tried to play his stuff before on piano, but it's really hard to nail all that counterpoint stuff with both hands

SoccerRiot
February 12th 2018


5335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

There are a lot of people who seem to compare Tigran's stuff to progressive metal, which I can honestly see despite the lack of any metal on here. Many similarities in the compositions

Butkuiss
February 12th 2018


4545 Comments


Eh, not really. This is one of my least favourite releases of his; it's obviously been composed with a metal aesthetic. Nothing off An Ancient Observer., Luys i Luso or Shadow Theater come close to metal tho. That's part of the versatility that makes him so flooring tho.

SoccerRiot
February 12th 2018


5335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

True, Ancient Observer is really different in particular. I love the more stripped down and classically-inspired material on that one

SoccerRiot
February 12th 2018


5335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sorry, I was thinking about The Fable, actually

Relinquished
February 12th 2018


37938 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, glad I directed you towards this

SoccerRiot
February 12th 2018


5335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah man, I really appreciate it. This guy's starting to become one of my favorite modern jazz artists



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