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  • Jonathan Widran

ARMIK, Alchemy

Armik’s effortless facility, great success and empowering impact with flamenco guitar these past 25 years might have you believing that he inherits the passionate melodies, complex harmonies and intricate rhythms in direct lineage from his heritage.

It’s wonderful to realize instead that transcendent musical soul connections can transcend one’s birth culture. The multi-talented musician and composer – who has scored 32 albums, including 28 Top Tens and three #1’s on the Billboard New Age Albums chart – is Iranian born, of Armenian descent, and discovered his love for flamenco seeing the legendary Paco de Lucia during his travels to Spain in the 70’s.

Initially finding an audience during the Nouveau Flamenco heyday of the mid-90’s, Armik has been releasing hit after hit on his own label, Bolero Records, since 2002. Finding an artful balance between fiery rhythmic energy, breezy melodic flow and occasional touches of caressing romance, his latest album Alchemy is another exquisite collection showcasing his masterful string approach.

We might expect tracks with titles like “Cruising to Moorea” and “Alchemy” to be wild romps driven by dynamic percussion/guitar chemistry and a kaleidoscope of harmonic colors. Yet reflective of Armik’s overall focus on up-tempo, danceable/toe-tapping grooves, even tunes with romantic titles like “Sueno” (dream/sleep) and “Dreamscape” are snappy, buoyant, quick paced affairs.

Another romantic-themed song, “Tonight,” blends an overall sensual, seductive swaying vibe with steady, hypnotic percussion and occasional cool stops and starts. Armik’s string work eases from free flowing elegance to a shimmering tremolo. Two other standouts are the brisk, snappy and wildly rolling “Flamenco Dreams,” whose blistering energy and inviting rhythms perfectly capture the magic of Armik for those who may be new to his multi-faceted sonic world; and “My Heaven,” a gentle, introspective guitar-only meditation that closes the album with a soulful grace that tugs the heartstrings even as it inspires deep relaxation.

Here's a taste:

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