Atmospheres is based on such a kind of configuration that present a beautiful collection of jazzy, moody, and, yes, atmospheric tone poems. Recorded in June of 2014, this double album from pianist Tigran Hamasyan, trumpeter Arve Henriksen, guitarist Eivind Aarset, and sampler Jan Bang. Hamasyan plays some careful piano in the vein of Keith Jarrett, while Bang and Aarset provide some slowly morphing sonic textures and Henriksen adds in some long held notes.
As the young Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan made plain from the start, his ancestry would always anchor his music however eclectic and westernised it became. Hamasyan’s folk references (notably to Komitas, Armenia’s legendary composer-priest) bring a timeless lyrical lilt to the contemporary sound of this new electro-acoustic quartet, which features the luminous trumpet sound of Arve Henriksen, guitars by Eivind Aarset and cutting-edge electronics from Jan Bang.
The pairing of Hamasyan and Henriksen, meanwhile, brings an unexpectedly song-based seductiveness to an all-improv session including such hi-tech experimenters as Aarset and Bang. Throughout the collection, Henriksen doesn’t play his horn like he’s the leader of a peppy band, instead, he plays slowly and carefully, holding his notes until they become like someone wailing over a lost love. Hamasyan plays like he’s contemplating every mode, often just hitting one note and then waiting, sometimes for a few seconds.
But while much of Atmospheres is dark, moody, and, yes, atmospheric, some of the songs mix things up, including some of the “Traces” tracks. Most of the songs were written by Hamasyan during the recording of his widely aclaimed 2015 album Luys i Luso with prominent references to Armenain folk music and culture, genocide and the music of Komitas. While the album does have a coherence — thanks to all of the songs sharing both the same instrumentation and style in which those instruments are played — there are times when the things are still atmospheric, just not as darkly so.
Atmospheres | Tigran Hamasyan Arve Henriksen Eivind Aarset Jan Bang | ECM 2014