Posted on July 16th, 2013 (7:42 am) by Michael Mangarella

Musician, author, artist, activist, and a truly polarizing figure when it comes to critics and fans alike, Serj Tankian is a slippery, little eel when you get right down to it. With all of that swilling around the tank, his prolific musical output over the years is only exceeded by the variety of genres he has explored. From the psych-metal of System Of A Down, his often symphonic solo efforts, to his soon-to-be released jazz-inspired effort, Jazz-ist Christ, Tankian has been painting on a canvas of his own devise.

On his latest, Orca, his first full-fledged foray into classical music, he has created an absolutely beautiful four part composition of music which, love him or hate him, forces the listener to respect the talent put forth. Recorded live at Brucknerhaus in Linz, Austria with the Das Karussell Orchestra, Werner Steinmetz conducting, Orca, begins swimming in a sea of beauty, and continues unabated throughout.

The ominous opening piano notes of “Act I - Victorious Orcinus,” gives way to a playful exchange of winds and strings, the soft thunder of percussion holding it all in check, dictating the direction of this strong, regal piece. “Act II - Oceanic Subterfuge,” quickly plays out on a field of violins and cello with occasional bursts of brass lending muscle to well-timed crescendos. Such distinction in the ebb and flow of the piece give it a grand soundtrack feel. The emotional feel of “Act III - Delphinus Capensis,” takes hold with the delicate exchange of piano and violin building to a military march of brass and cello, which melds seamlessly into a gracefully repetitive piano conclusion. It is simply, a beautiful composition. “Act IV - Lamentation of the Beached,” features Varden Grigoryan on duduk, an often used, but seldom recognized, double reed woodwind indigenous to Armenian music tradition. Trading off, between the mournful sound of duduk and violin, occasionally picking up the pace to a presto movement, it settles into a dirge-like sound, possibly, a homage to his Armenian roots and their sad history of genocide and displacement.

That grinding sound you hear is the gnashing of teeth by Tankian’s detractors and possibly “fans,” many of whom would much rather hear more System of a Down than orchestral movements. Well poo-poo on them! On Orca, Serj Tankian has taken the bull by the balls and with Das Karussell and Werner Steinmetz has delivered a resplendent array of classical music that the test of time will acknowledge as possibly the best of his career.

Track List:
1. Orca Symphony No. 1: I. Victorious Orcinus
2. Orca Symphony No. 2: II. Oceanic Subterfuge
3. Orca Symphony No. 3. III. Delphinus Capensis
4. Orca Symphony No. 4. IV. Lamentation of the Beached

Serj Tankian, Das Karussell, Werner Steinmetz, classical, duduk
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

83 / 100
© Inyourspeakers Media LLC