Tigran Hamasyan
The Call Within


4.0
excellent

Review

by MiloRuggles CONTRIBUTOR (23 Reviews)
August 30th, 2020 | 67 replies


Release Date: 08/28/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Armenians As Leaders

When I saw Herbie Hancock and his outrageously talented band perform in 2019, I was astonished by the bold and brash atonal experiments that a man of 79 years was spearheading. Even Herbie himself, following a wry chuckle, freely admitted to the crowd, “You must think we're crazy.” As somebody who is ankle-deep in jazz history at best, I was reminded of something I had forgotten: that jazz has always been about looking forward, and that the stereotypical softening of musical sensibilities over time has less a place in jazz than perhaps any other genre.

Tigran Hamasyan is a contemporary jazz artist who is enough of a technical prodigy to have earned a hyperbolic Herbie Hancock endorsement, wherein he expressed that Tigran is his 'teacher' now. This praise is justified on many fronts. Tigran composes compelling songs without relying on excessive, intricate solos to showcase his flashy, but accessible, playing. Tigran has enough crossover appeal to attract the kind of listener that likes to leave comments commencing with the phrase, “Usually I'm a metal listener, but...”. Also, his name looks like the word tiger, but is pronounced with an Armenian gusto that makes the word tiger sound like shit in comparison.

Tigran Hamasyan's new album, The Call Within, operates on a pulsing cycle of tension and release, creating a maelstrom of nervous excitement that sometimes pulls back for a kind of musical wide-angle, allowing for moments of reflection in spacey, Armenian melodies before smash-cutting to another car crash. The way Tigran refracts and reflects musical ideas into interesting variants is his strongest quality, and is made all the more impressive by the way he arranges these musical experiments into distinct, self-contained journeys, filled with smoothly-flowing drama and catharsis. Fans of harmonic theory as it relates to developing progressions will find their hands unconsciously creeping toward their nether regions during many a cut on this album. The track that best exemplifies this phenomenon is album highlight “New Maps”, the structure of which only becomes more impressive with repeat listens.

The three track run that kicks off The Call Within showcases just about every trick Tigran Hamasyan & co. have up their sleeves. In “Levitation 21”, eerieness gives way to rapid fire piano runs, and the rhythm section gets the fuck down as soon as the opportunity presents itself; “Our Film” is a presentation of pristine production and giddy gorgeousity that veers into breakdown territory in its latter half; and “Ara Resurrected” is a winding, eight-minute epic of tonal vs. atonal warfare packed with hectic meter changes, containing closing minutes so ridiculously heavy that you'll forget that you're listening to a jazz album.

For those not sold on the style things could get a little repetitious in the album's middle section, particularly if you're not into djent-style breakdowns involving the piano's bassier keys. Weirdly enough, I think the album could have benefited from another interlude or bridging track to cement more of an 'album-as-experience' kind of vibe, while helping to diversify the flavours on display – yet this small criticism speaks to the efficacy of early, fuzzy interlude “At a Post-Historic Seashore”, “Old Maps” as a preemptive, motif-establishing cousin to “New Maps”, and spacious late-album wind-down “37 Newlyweds” in separating the more explicitly virtousic cuts. Better that I'm asking for more instead of less, in any case.

When a new listener asks for jazz recommendations, we tend to point them at “Davis, Mingus, the list goes on...” rather than sending them slowly backwards from contemporary works. Logical as this is from an historic perspective, I feel that with a genre as old and ubiquitous as jazz, a modern listener will have unwittingly have heard countless simulacrum of these classic sounds, taking away from the inimitable excitement that great jazz should inspire. Tigran Hamasyan's The Call Within is exactly the kind of riveting, forward-thinking release that will entrance listeners new to jazz, as well as impress veterans of the scene.

Don't believe me? Just ask Herbie Hancock.



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user ratings (69)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2020


960 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I had a whole rant prepared about clones of Jennifer Aniston that I wanted to tie into this, but I ended up liking the album too much to lace this review with stupid jokes about stiff nipples.



Anyhow, LISTEN TO THIS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mo7miuAHBbo

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2020


31708 Comments


Eyyyy this is nice! I love tigers!! Good work mdude, will hopefully check this in the soon

Digging: Fushitsusha - Live I

Blizzink
August 30th 2020


176 Comments


pretty fuckin' nice

alamo
August 30th 2020


3549 Comments


is this a yugioh card

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2020


16685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

rules.

LeddSledd
August 30th 2020


3088 Comments


loved Mockroot, will check this soon

Also that summary is gold

Digging: Orchid - Orchid

Evok
August 30th 2020


8310 Comments


Loving what Im hearing so far. Thanks for bringing this to light!

Mythodea
August 30th 2020


5573 Comments


Thanks for bringing this to light! [2]

I was recommended Tigran a couple of years ago, but never actually checked him out. This might be a good chance.

proton165
August 30th 2020


11 Comments


I've been looking forward to this all year. It doesn't disappoint. Tigran's natural feel for irregular time signatures is spectacular. Terrific review!

LunaticSoul
August 30th 2020


1587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The first single was absolutely bonkers. Tigran is a master, can't wait. Also great review

MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2020


960 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers team, good to see a few people coming out of the woodwork to support this one. I'm a relatively new fan of his myself, but have been listening pretty incessantly for a couple months now

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2020


12460 Comments


"... particularly if you're not into djent-style breakdowns involving the piano's bassier keys."

That's a thing, huh?

Nice review, will have to get around to this.

Digging: Yon - order of violence

Oneironaut
August 30th 2020


445 Comments


This review is so great! So many great lines, like this:

"fans of harmonic theory as it relates to developing progressions will find their hands unconsciously creeping toward their nether regions during many a cut on this album..." as well as the summary haha.

I've been heavy into piano driven music, but have never listened to Tigran properly before. I'm excited to tuck in after this review.

avery14th
August 30th 2020


100 Comments


wait what wait what i didn't know about this !! will read after listens

DaveTesseract
August 30th 2020


188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Many thanks for the review.

Had already feared that it would be forgotten on Sputnik.

Same as most tigran discog.

Digging: Svartidaudi - Flesh Cathedral

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2020


22942 Comments


Read on the forums this is your first feature? Unbelievable!

So grats brother Milo, long time overdue! This sounds amazing!

Digging: Typhoon (USA-OR) - Sympathetic Magic

MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2020


960 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I struggle with being timely haha, usually I really wait for an album to set in before finishing up a review, so I guess that mars my chances. Thanks dewi!

DadKungFu
August 31st 2020


877 Comments


This fucks. Need to check out the full Tigran discography

Scoot
August 31st 2020


20380 Comments


levitations is fucking insanity

Digging: Growth (AUS) - The Smothering Arms Of Mercy

Piglet
August 31st 2020


7987 Comments


thought the album cover was a yugioh card for a sec there



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