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Boomkat Product Review:
Peerlessly evocative and painfully sad material from Armenian duduk maestro Djivan Gasparyan, originally released on Brian Eno's All Saints imprint in 1993 and now finally remastered. Huge recommendation.
This is the one! Djivan Gasparyan's second album was produced by Brian Eno collaborator Michael Brook, who struck up a lengthy creative partnership with the duduk legend that resulted in a run of incredible material. Brook's recording is the icing on the cake here; Gasparyan's material was already heartbreaking and his playing is unmatched, and what makes "Moon Shines at Night" so crucial is that the physicality of Gasparyan's performance is finally completely chewable. Early evidence comes with 'Sayat Nova', a track named after one of Armenia's best loved poets - the subject of Sergei Parajanov's cult movie "The Color of Pomegranates". The character of the duduk is completely evident here; a double-reeded instrument, it's capable of sustaining a continuous drone (providing the player can master the circular breathing technique) while simultaneously being used to play evocative "vocal" lead sounds. And Brook's recording - almost without reverb and certainly with no additional mixing trickery - lets us bask in the instrument's mournful romance.
On '7th December 1988', a track memorializing the day Armenia was rocked by a disastrous earthquake, Gasparyan alternates between duduk and his own vocals, highlighting the interchangeability of each sound. The duduk's character is already so remarkably human, and playing with illusion in this way, Gasparyan only makes the connection even more obvious, and the sadness even more tangible. It's a technique he revisits on the album's slow closing track 'Mother of Mine', a piece that will leave you in no doubt of Gasparyan's rare talent. So, so good.