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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

BAMBIR

By PAUL-ÉMILE COMEAU
Published May 31, 2006

Quake: Avant-Garde Armenian Folk Music
Pomegranate

Bambir is a legendary folk-rock band from Gyumri, Armenia that formed in the 1980s but didn’t release Quake until 1999. The group’s only album (on its own label) never really circulated beyond Armenia until now. This remixed and remastered reissue should give both album and group new life. Featuring a mixture of folk, instrumentals by the great Komitas, and a four-part rock opera called “Earthquake”  (dedicated to victims of the 1988 Armenian earthquake), the instrumentation features two vocalists, guitars, a flutist, violinist and bass player. The group has an original sound described as Celtic-Armenian, although also bringing to mind medieval sacred music via the Kronos Quartet, and Jethro Tull. While the four-track composition called “Earthquake” could easily have come across as overly bombastic, it’s actually an impressive tour-de-force. It’s unusual for an album to appeal to fans of such disparate genres as world music and progressive rock, but Quake could very well do that.