Eileen Khatchadourian: Armenian You Can Understand

By Elie El Khoury

Daily Star
09/11/eileen-khatchadourian-armenian-you-can-under stand/
Nov 17 2009

Whoever said that music is the only universal language is a wise wise
man (or woman). On Friday November 13th, I had the chance to attend
the Beirut Rock Festival on its second night to witness Yan Tierson’s
opening act; Eileen Khatchadourian and her band.

The young Armenian vocalist performed songs mostly of her debut
effort "Midan" which literally translates to "Home". The album ia a
compilation of Armenian folk songs repackaged and reinterpreted with
a rock twist for a younger generation who is slowly phasing away from
its heritage.

The performance was truly impressive. The singer’s refined vocal
abilities were complemented by her band’s aggressive guitar riffs,
thumping kicks and hypnotizing synthesizer loops. The VJs projected
clips and abstract images added a visual dimension and inspired
various interpretations compatible to the music.

Khatchadourian was kind enough to translate every song’s title and
give the audience a heads up on the theme of each piece which rendered
the whole "foreign language" deal quite a plus since I was literally
feeding off the projected images and melodic progressions to paint the
picture in my head. My brain was accenting the picture at times and
mellowing it at others depending on the vocalist’s tone and delivery.

By the mere folk nature of the project, the track listing covered every
possible topic from the call to come back to the mother land with
"Caravan", the urge to rise up and fight the oppression with "Zarti
Vortyag" to the very sweet and soothing sounds of a lullaby with
"Oror" which served as the artist’s closing act.

As the final words of "Oror" were pronounced, the crowd’s roaring
masked the young artist’s thanks and wishes for a "truly inspiring

This experience was a true eye-opener for me. Whoever claims that
rock should remain in the west is definitely missing out on this
genre’s ability to serve as a powerful medium of translating people’s
struggle from an almost forgotten past to the ground shaking present;
a criteria that perfectly fits Eileen Khatchadourian and her band.


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