Are human life and human music getting you down? Maybe you just need to be a prince among trout, swimming through the Caucausus’ Lake Sevan. Yerevan’s D.zúk has your ticket, in a debut from over the summer.

The LP “Ishkhan” is named for either the native trout species or the word “prince” or both. But the debut is ultra-chilled, entirely produced in Yerevan but out on LA’s Critique. Just like all the other vinyl, the physical is delayed, but it looks like it will be pretty and… the digital can give you that last lake-dip-of-summer feeling right now.

D.zúk aka Hovhannes Sargsyan. Image courtesy the label.

The Armenian connections are strong and obey no particular laws of geographic distance. Zach Asdourian from Critique found D.zúk while assembling a compilation earlier this year. (And yeah, you can preorder still more vinyl.) Calvert Journal picked up that release already; it includes a name or two you might mention, like the ultra-talented and prolific Lara Sarkissian who also provided direction.

Do trout dream of electric music? Images by xoromat, Khoren Matevosyan.

Ishkhan to me is at its strongest when it gets deepest into its reveries and abstractions. There’s the crisp, meditative focus of the opening “Mutq,” and ambling-cool “Impulse.” Wobbly electronic weirdness collides with duduks and whatnot – and maybe reach maximum fish-ness with “Poghpatits Sarer” (which features equally deep singing from Chara Dalian). Susanna Najaryan’s close-miked, intimate lyrics are perfect on “Nane.” “Tses” is ethereal and transcendent and odd and unexpected in all the right ways.

Maybe the easiest tracks to digest for me are the skippable ones, or at least make me wish the traditional instruments and drums might just be soloed separately. But I adore those times when there isn’t so much fusion as resynthesis. And throughout, there are fresh ideas – reserved grooves strolling astride plenty of great musicianship. As a debut, it shows great promise of things to come, too, and I hope creator Hovhannes Sargsyan continues to plumb watery depths soon.

Fishwave could have a bold future. Swim on.


Lyrics and Production: Hovhannes Sargsyan
Vocals: Susanna Najaryan (Nané), Root (Punge), Chara Dalian (Poghpatits Sarer), Arto Tuncboyaciyan (Revers), Meta (Sa)
Ethnic Instruments (Zurna, Duduk, Shvi, Pku): Grig Araqelyan
Mastering: Drop Records
Art Direction: Zach Asdourian
Illustrations: Xoromat

PS, for more Armenian musicianship, of course, I should also note the amazing Hayk joined the Glacier Music II release we just put out – more on that soon.