By Brian Zimmerman | Published February 2015
The commanding pianist Tigran Hamasyan, 27, displays remarkable versatility as a composer on his new album, Mockroot, showcasing a range of emotions across 12 original compositions. Some—like “Double-Faced,” “To Negate” and “Entertain Me”—are raw and explosive, flickering with intensity. Others—such as “To Love” and “Lilac”—are delicate and sincere. “The Roads That Bring Me Closer To You” unfurls with a deep sense of longing, and the multi-textured “Song For Melan And Rafik” exudes power and poise. Few pianists today could have made an album of such ambitious scope and inspired vision. But for the immensely talented Hamasyan, it seems to have come naturally. His use of synths and sound effects (as on the mesmerizing “Kars 1”) suggests inspiration from electronic dance music, hip-hop and indie rock, while his delicate touch on the keyboard on tracks like “Kars 2 (Wounds Of The Centuries)” hints at classical roots. On “Out Of The Grid,” his piano voicings and block chords are pure jazz, and his undulating melodies and percussive interludes call to mind the folk music of his native Armenia. Mockroot is something of a sonic collage, a piece of art that gets better the more time you spend with it.