The All Centre label established by DJ Pitch has been putting out stellar two-track releases since it appeared last year, with a roster that includes BLEID, Alec Pace and BFTT among others. The latest release, from San Francisco-based Lara Sarkissian (aka FOOZOOL), is a wonder. The title track is a thunderous rampage of drums over cavernous effects, swamped in reverb before being joined by Armenian woodwind (the ancient duduk instrument). It builds towards a hypnotic piano section performed by fellow West Coaster Mesrop. It’s almost jazzy, slinky and wry, yet falling as it does over those careening drums it feels positively apocalyptic. “BTWN EARTH + SKY (Parts 1 & 2)” opens with similarly propulsive percussion, thumping beneath the detuned vocals of Armenian singer Anahit Manukyan. The vocals then drift in at the correct pitch, offering an entirely different sonic mood to the previous track. Wild, groaning noises pull away at the fabric of the sounds on display, making way for a vocal performance that is simultaneously beautiful, cheesy, emotive and unexpected. The sound of her voice is gentle and calming, but the lyrics add further depth and wholesomeness:
“I will not be sad in this world,
As long as your spirit lives, I feel no pain or worry;
You are my gilded cup of immortality”
Originally written by 18th-Century Armenian poet Sayat Nova, they are sung here by seemingly obscure singer Manukyan. “I just randomly heard this song in a dance performance I had seen, And it took me sooooo long to track down,” Sarkissian told us. Apparently there is a large number of Armenian women singers who release one or two albums and then vanish. Using her voice here is one way for Sarkissian to help preserve what could otherwise be lost. It’s another example of the artist using her Armenian heritage in her work to striking effect. Disruption, the stunning tape she released on the Club Chai platform she runs with 8ULENTINA, featured similar moments of Armenian vocals and instrumentation being placed alongside drums, synths and other tropes that are standard in electronic music. Rather than pilfering sounds from black American artists, as is still the case in many sub-genres of house and techno, Sarkissian has reached into her own culture, and thus ours can also expand.
Part 2 of “BTWN EARTH + SKY” then moves into a lush, new age section, made up of lapping water and blissful sustained tones from synthetic flute sounds. Truly beautiful and so far removed from the raucous yet restrained percussion of “PENINSULA”, and even a total shift from the track’s opening section. Disruption may have been a longer release, but PENINSULA encapsulates her sound, style and approach in two powerful tracks.
Lara Sarkissian – Peninsula is out now. Buy here.