Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Library Sale CD Trove III

Reviewing my CD finds from half-price day at the Friends of the Multnomah County Library Annual Booksale.

The Art of the Duduk
Artist: Djivan Gasparyan

The duduk is, it turns out, an double-reeded Armenian woodwind instrument more or less halfway between a recorder and and oboe. It has a mellow and sorrowful tone. Djivan Gasparyan appears to be the grand old man of the instrument. You've actually heard him before, in fact, playing on movie soundtracks or behind the likes of Sting and Peter Gabriel. His playing on this recording swoops and soars as he pulls genuinely haunting and evocative tones out of his instrument. And that's the good news.

The bad news is everything else. Gasparyan is backed (on this 1996 recording) with early-1980s instruments playing stiff, unimaginative, and way-too-perky dance pop riffs. Stale synthesizer sounds and electronic drums sound a much too close to the demo setting on those cheap keyboards you can buy at department stores. This instrumentation is augmented on some tracks by what is either a fake string section or an especially wooden real string section. On the best tracks, the whole thing aspires to a low-rent version of Loreena McKennitt exoticism. On the worst, it's kind of like listening to John Coltraine soloing in front of a newly-formed Spiro Gyra cover band.

Prognosis: Well, you win some, you lose some. I'm glad to have learned about the duduk, but have no further interest in this particular CD. If you want to give it a whirl, it's yours.


Nichim said...

We have a duduk if you want to try it sometime.

Michael5000 said...

@Nichim: Now THAT is the kind of statement you need to unpack during DorkFest!

Also, awesome.