Test Spin: Shoghaken Ensemble

After more than 2000 years of mixing, editing, and Sprite commercial negotiations, the Shoghaken Ensemble has finally put out its long awaited Traditional Dances of Armenia. Borrowing ancient tunes from various pagan, Zoroastrian, and Christian rituals, the nine-member group sings and performs a great sample of what this small Eastern Anatolian region has to offer. “What does it sound like?” you ask. If the Medieval Minstrelz of 11th-century Brittany released a record featuring the Acid Persian Project, it would basically be the album in question. Yet, no jokes, it brilliantly delights the senses and imagination with a lively and melodic variety of dances, which are simultaneously primitive and ageless.

For those who have not done their research, the liner notes provide an excellent explanation of the songs and a brief history of the culture from which they originate. Exotic instruments, ballads in an ancient tongue, fire-marriage circle dancing, and the perfect counter to your neighbor’s Ludacris, all from a people who survived Noah’s arc crashing into their mountains, genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, and the Soviet era. What more could you want? There is no excuse not to purchase this album.

Archived article by Chris Kakovitch
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer