Isn’t that a great word? Diasporaland! I wish I’d come up with it! Those who did are a new band in Argentina, Los Armenios. It does the heart good to see this sort of progress. I like what I heard so much that I’m venturing into uncharted waters, I’m actually going to pretend to be a music critic!
The eleven-song album bearing this title, translated as Republica Diaspora with a bright orange cd case contains a few old standards, including Giligia (with a an energetic beat), Yeraz (that haunting so of longing for a lost mother), and Yerevan, Yerepoonee. Even with these seemingly antiquated songs, things are interesting. Then they start one song off with a novel rendition of the sharagan “Ee Vereenn Yeroosaghem”, in the spirit of what the France based band Zartonk did with “Der Voghormia” in the late seventies.
The rest of the songs are the band’s own creations, as far as I know. They are proud paeans to Armenianness. Some lyrics might seem a bit too bellicose for those of us with hyper-tender or self-hating sensibilities, but they serve a purpose. They get the blood flowing and the brain thinking. Two aspects set this music apart from much of what passes for “new” Armenian music. The positive, culture affirming reality is that these songs are in Western Armenian, except one. Precious little is done with and in this half of our linguistic heritage, a dismaying sign of Turkish Genocidal success.
To have Armenian twenty-somethings expressing their national pride and cultural energies thus is nothing short of inspiring, uplifting, and hopeful. I’m thrilled. The other differentiating factor is the genre of this music. It is not the poorly imitated hip-hop or Persian/Arabic/Turkish sounding and frenzied rhythms that are the largest part of what’s being produced now. Sure we have the Rouben Hakhverdians of the world and those who continue and add to the tradition of patriotic/revolutionary songs, but these constitute a small proportion of what’s being played these days.
But, oh the content, the lyrics, are wonderfully substantial. Not some dimwit wannabe-gangsta-rapper’s oration of a pathetic wet dream, associated with an equally titillating video of busty females. The references to Navasart and our pre-Christian heritage are strong. The focus on liberation of Western Armenia is long overdue. The Diaspora finally gets its place of due honor in the Armenian universe. All this happens in the span of less than ten songs! On a side note, how I learned of this cd is a prime example of doing the right thing paying off.
Many of you have heard of Kotayknights, three guys who decided to help Armenia by promoting its beers. What they’ve done is organize their own events or publicize those of others where Armenian beers will be served. They’ve got a website. One of the band members found it and contacted the knights. A knight visited Argentina this past New Year’s season. He trundled a bottle of Armenian beer with him to be popped open with great pomp and ceremony at a concert before a non-Armenian audience by another band one of the Armenios plays with. Isn’t that great?
While not currently available in the US, enough inquiries and the passage of some time might bring Spiurkasdan out of South America and to the whole Diaspora and homeland. Let’s make it worth Los Armenios’ and our while to have this pleasant addition to the Armenian musical scene more broadly available. Get it, hear it, enjoy it. Their website is losarmenios.com, which is not fully up yet, with an e-mail address of firstname.lastname@example.org.