Other Minds is happy to present The Water Has Found its Crack, the debut album by composer Joseph Bohigian. Consisting of four new works written since 2018, the collection finds the composer expertly handling a variety of performing forces, from laptop ensemble to string quartet. Each piece engages with a different aspect of the California-born composer’s position as a member of the Armenian diaspora. These include the legacy of displacement since the 1915 genocide, maintaining culture in exile, and returning to the Armenian homeland, where Bohigian lived while writing the first three pieces on the album. Bohigian works with narrative, drawn variously through recordings of testimonies by Syrian-Armenian refugees resettled in Armenia, 9th-century Armenian musical notation, reconstituted folk song lyrics, and samples from pop songs. By drawing from a variety of historical and contemporary sources, the composer seeks to reestablish a relationship with lost elements of the past to better envision the future, initiating cultural reunification across time and geography.
While the work is narrative-driven, Bohigian makes a point to support the nuanced and difficult subject matter without resorting to flattening or simplification. As writer Sylvia Angelique Alajaji states in the liner notes accompanying the CD, Bohigian creates “music that is simultaneously past, present, and—crucially—future,” capturing the stories of every corner of the diaspora “in all their texture, complexity, and multi-dimensionality.” By necessity, Bohigian creates new musical languages from every source at his disposal. Melodies drawn from Armenian folk and sacred music blur with contemporary harmonic dissonances, genetic memory infused with the composer’s lived experience and knowledge, years of studying as a composer at institutions in the United States and researching at the Komitas Museum-Institute in Armenia’s capital city of Yerevan.
The Water Has Found its Crack is an impressive debut from a composer in the early stages of what will certainly prove to be a deep and multifaceted career. Conceptually and musically focused, the music found on this album is emotionally affecting and intellectually engaging.