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Artsruni (Armenia)
Overall View

Discography:

2002 - "Cruzaid"
(47 min, "Musea")
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2002 - "The Live Cuts 2000 / 2001"
(53 min, "Musea")
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2002 - "Cruzaid"
(47 min, "Musea")
******

Tracklist:
1. Abiton 5:51
2. Barev 4:51
3. The Lost Symbol 6:11
4. Cruzaid-1 6:31
5. Cruzaid-2 6:06
6. Im Ser 6:18
7. Anush Garun 6:37
8. Call of the Wind 5:01

All music by Vahan Artsruni.
Lyrics (in Armenian) by V. Artsruni (on tracks 6 & 8).

Line-up:

Vahan Artsruni - acoustic & electric guitars (+ vocals on 6 & 8).
Vahagn Amirkanyan - electric guitar
Arman Manukyan - flute
Artur Molitvin - bass
Levon Hakhverdyan - drums
Lilianna Hakhverdyan - percussion

Produced by Arman Padaryan.
Recorded & mixed
at "Naregatsi Art Institute Mobile Studio", Yerevan, Armenia.
Mastered by Levon Hakhverdyan.

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2002 - "The Live Cuts 2000 / 2001"
(53 min, "Musea")
******

Tracklist:
1. Aditon 5:14
2. Anush Garun 6:06
3. The Lost Symbol 5:09
4. Barev 7:00
5. Im Ser 6:10
6. Yes Em 3:12 (previously unreleased)
7. Patranque 3:49 (previously unreleased)
8. Call of the Wind 6:16 /orchestral version/
9. Ethnophonica Suite - Part III 7:42 (previously unreleased)
10. Salahatak 2:50 (previously unreleased)

All music by Vahan Artsruni. 
Lyrics by V. Artsruni (tracks 5 & 8),
David Drambayan (6, 7, & 10),
& David Harutyunyan (9).

Line-up: same (see "Cruzaid")

With:
Naira Abrahamyan - vocals (on track 8)
"Artsruni Chamber Ensemble" (on 6, 7, & 10)
Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra (on 9)

Produced by Arman Padaryan.
Recorded by Sergey Melkumyan live
at Yerevan's Chamber Theatre. 
Mixed by Lilit Tumanyan
at "Naregatsi Art Institute Mobile Studio", Yerevan, Armenia.
Mastered by Vahan Artsruni.

Prologue. Artsruni is a new Progressive Rock band from Armenia (former USSR, presently CIS) that was formed by a mature and very established composer and musician Vahan Artsruni in the beginning of 2000. All of the other band members are relatively young musicians. In fact, Vahan had many of the completed compositions before the Artsruni band was formed. There are only four tracks on the band's live album that aren't featured on "Cruzaid". As for the other Live Cuts, only Call of the Wind sounds noticeably different than its studio version. So I will describe the live album not as a whole, but only those five tracks that are featured on the second half of it (see track lists of both albums). By the way, all of them could've been easily included in the band's official debut album at least as the bonus tracks. While writing this review, I'll be regarding them exactly so.

The Album. When I was listening to Armenia's Artsruni I wasn't surprised to hear a distinctly original and in many ways unique music. I am well familiar with the USSR / CIS Progressive Rock movement, so, as well as some of you, I know that the originality and uniqueness are on the whole typical for it. (There are lots of reviews of the albums by Soviet and post-Soviet progressive performers on ProgressoR, and here is just another one.) On the whole, "Cruzaid" is an album of a unified stylistic concept. The last track on the album, Call of the Wind (8), is the only real song here (lyrics are in Armenian). However, the instrumental arrangements that are featured on it were created in the same vein as those on all of the other tracks. The vocal part that is heard in the beginning of The Lost Symbol (3) is very short to regard this composition as a song. According to the press kit of this album, "it is based on the Armenian melodies with the elements of Jazz-Rock and Classical Music". And here is my description of the music of Artsruni on "Cruzaid" (i.e. "Crusade"). Overall, it represents a unique blend of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock of the European school and Prog-Metal. Whereas the distinct Armenian motifs (and they're of an Eastern character), are present only on two compositions - namely, Cruzaid-2 and Anush Garun (tracks 5 & 7). And of course, there aren't any Jazz-related elements on the album. While there are a few episodes on "Cruzaid" that can remind of Classical Academic Music. The first three tracks: Abiton, Barev, and The Lost Symbol are on the whole more than merely excellent pieces. Structurally, they are typical for the album as a whole, though they're a bit less complex than all of the other tracks on the album. Although the aforementioned Call of the Wind is a real Classic Art-Rock song, it slightly surpasses any of the four of the remaining compositions, as well as all three of the first tracks on the album, though. Cruzaid-1, Cruzaid-2, Im Ser, and Anush Garun (tracks 4 to 7) are the true masterpieces. For them, as well as for all of the other tracks that are featured on the album, are typical the interchanges of heavy and soft structures, diverse interplay between solos of electric guitar, bass guitar, and flute, and passages of acoustic guitar. The heavy guitar riffs and the powerful work of drums and hand percussion instruments accompany most of the arrangements on the album. However, these four best compositions differ from the other tracks on the album by truly intricate arrangements, all of which are just filled with the essential progressive ingredients, including the frequent changes of theme, tempo, and mood, complex time signatures, etc. All of the band members are real virtuosos. By the way, the masterful and tasteful solos of bass guitar play a very significant role in all of the arrangements on the album. What's interesting is that with the exception of Im Ser, which begins with the solos of bass, all of the other tracks on the album begin with the 'classical' passages of acoustic guitar. Really, all five of the last tracks from "The Live Cuts" album could have been used as the (excellent) bonus tracks on "Cruzaid". The first and the last of them, Ys Em and Salahatak, are structurally similar to each other. Firstly, both of them are rather sorrowful songs that were performed without any percussive instruments. Diverse and very feeling interplay between passages of acoustic guitar and solos of cello and flute are featured in the instrumental arrangements of Ys Em. While on Salahatak, the trio of soloing instruments represents an acoustic guitar, flute, and bass guitar. Patranque and Ethnophonica Suite - Part III are the orchestrated instrumental pieces. Both of them contain the motifs of Armenian music, though on the whole, they most of all remind me of Classical Academic Music. Unlike the original, the orchestral version of Call of the Wind is mostly based on Vahan's vocals and the wonderful operatic vocalizes Naira Abrahamyan. However, the instrumental arrangements are very rich and intensive throughout the song.

Summary. Musically, both "Cruzaid" and "The Live Cuts" are incredibly original and refreshing albums. This is especially true with regard to the current status (state, to be precise) of both of the Symphonic Art-Rock and Prog-Metal genres, which became niches mostly for the secondary ProGductions. So the appearance of such innovative bands as Armenia's Artsruni is a very important event for today's progressive scene.
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VM. April 22, 2002
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Related Links:

"Musea Records" web-site: http://www.musearecords.com/


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