More selections from the Armenian Diaspora (1971-1982).
Darone Sassounian is an Armenian-American DJ, selector, and producer in Los Angeles who spent three years tracking down artists, labels, publishers, and family members of displaced Armenians who formed diasporan communities across the globe in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide. His research took him to the Middle East, Europe, and parts of North America to uncover lost gems that represent the beautiful fusion of sounds and cultures produced by the survivor’s children.
Sassounian’s work culminated in the excellent Silk Road: Journey Of The Armenian Diaspora (1971-1982) compilation released on Miami-based label, sound system, and record shop Terrestrial Funk. Released in 2020 amidst continued turmoil in Armenia as Azerbaijan and Turkey invade the country’s borders, the album includes this poignant message from Darone:
“This record is a tribute to not only the Armenian Diaspora, but the diaspora of all communities that have been directly affected by systemic racism, slaughter, and injustices. The diaspora is responsible to carry the weight of their culture, history, art, and music. Under appreciated and undervalued, the rhythm of all diasporas must continue.”
Silk Road has been sold out for the better part of a year now, but we just got word that a repress is landing very soon. We’ll have copies in the shop! Below, Darone shares five more discoveries from the Armenian diaspora and a few notes about the artists behind the music.
Araksia Varderessian – Dou Im Yerkn Es (Tr: You’re My Melody)
Female singer who released a few albums in the ’80s in Los Angeles. This one was only released on tape. Interesting Synth Pop track with Funk backing bass. (“Dou Im Yerkn Es” translates to “You’re My Melody”)
Vram Grigorian – In The Mountains
Drum machine up tempo “contemporary” jazz fusion from 1989/1990. Cool keyboard work on this one too. Artist is from Uruguay, but this was recorded in the USSR.
Hrair – Partzer Sarer (Tr: Big Mountains)
Great fusion of folk and funk. Hrair is a great, if not the greatest, Armenian drummer alive. He was Paul Baghdadlian’s drummer for quite awhile. Interesting to hear him sing and arrange on this record, as he’s a drummer by training. This has that “classic” late ’70s / early ’80s Armenian “LA Sound”.
Tovmas Gevorkyan – Bossa Nova
This one has the famous Armenian jazz and big band sound from Armenia in the 1970s, but the Bossa Nova twist to it is very refreshing and boundary pushing for the time and place that it was recorded.
Harout Pamboukjian – Khighj (Tr: Conscience)
This entire record is a holy grail and super difficult to find on wax. However, rarity does not trump the quality of a record, in my opinion. This record is Harout Pamboukjian’s first LP that was completely arranged and written with Avo Haroutiounian. Avo was asked to work with Harout after the release of his first and only LP, Sunrise. The entire record has the elements of AOR and funk, mixed with styles such as folk, spiritual, and soundtrack/score. There can be an essay written about this LP, from pre-production to it’s release.