Black Rock

Djivan Gasparyan & Michael Brook

Released 06 September 1998

  1. To The River
  2. Fallen Star
  3. Take My Heart
  4. Together Forever
  5. Freedom
  6. Forbidden Love
  7. Immigrant's Song
  8. Dark Souls

Liner notes

Djivan Gasparyan is unquestionably one of Armenia’s greatest musicians —the foremostliving master of the duduk (an ancient oboe-like instrument) having received four Gold Medals in UNESCO’s worldwide competitions. A professor at the Yerevan Conservatory, he has educated a whole generation of duduk players and has brought the duduk out of obscurity and into the international music scene.

Canadian Michael Brook’s credits as producer, engineer and virtuoso guitarist have graced albums by some of the past decade’s most celebrated and forward-thinking artists. His own music, born of a love for Middle Eastern and Indian melodies, is an admixture of ethnic and electronic elements; its undeniable pictorial qualities have been recognized by the many directors whose films Michael has scored.

With these recordings, Djivan Gasparyan and Michael Brook have fashioned a uniquemusical hybrid. The duduk is prominently featured, as one might expect, but a surprise is in store for those not yet appraised of Gasparyan’s vocal capabilities; his singing is vibrant and assured, its timbral colours neatly dovetailing with the warm, slightly nasal tone of the duduk. Both instruments are displayed to best advantage against the varied arrangements drafted and performed by Brook, with help from the English engineer and multi-instrumentalist Richard Evans.

Michael Brook & Djivan Gasparyan, photo credit: Cristina Piza

Michael Brook on his collaboration with Djivan Gasparyan

Candian producer/guitarist Michael Brook discusses working with an Armenian duduk player.



  • In Gasparyan’'s expert hands, it [the duduk] possesses a deceptively malleable tone, eliding smoothly between notes to lend a heady, seductive sway to the eight pieces which comprise ‘Black Rock’. Brook, for his part, unerringly locates the inner rhythms of pieces like '‘To The River'’ and ‘'Take My Heart’' with hand percussion and repetitive guitar figures —no mean feat... The results are quite magical. The Independent (UK)
  • A near perfect meld of the ethnic and the technological Q Magazine (UK)
  • World music release of the month... An intriguing hybrid of tranquil moods and dark passions. The Times (UK)
  • Brook surrounds the soul-wrenching melodies Gasparyan coaxes from his double-reed wind instrument with earthy textures... Spiritual music taken to another dimension. Billboard (USA)
  • Gasparyan and Brook are both passionate sentimentalists who find a lot of common ground in their desire to sculpt sensuous textures in their music... the effect is contagious, and there are many spine-tingling moments. Sentimentalist it may be, but it works like magic. The Wire (UK)
  • World Album of the Month... Spacious, desolate and evocative MOJO (UK)
  • profound chemistry is at work... stately and haunting, it’s a perfect blend of the antique and the futurist. The Guardian (UK)



The Musicians: Djivan Gasparyan: duduk, lead vocals; Michael Brook: infinite guitar, bass, keyboard, programming; Richard Evans: guitar, bass, keyboard, programming; Jason Lewis: drums, percussion; Roel Van Camp: accordion.

Produced by Michael Brook with a lot of input from Richard Evans. Mixed by Michael Brook and Richard Evans. Engineered by Richard Evans; additional engineering by Jacquie Turner; additional assistance by Wendy Levin. Recorded at the ACATIFE studio in Lanzarote (‘the BlackRock’) in October ‘97 and at Real World Studios, Box, England. Mixing and additional recording at Hybrid Studios, L.A., USA. Mastered by Ron McMaster at Capitol Mastering, L.A., USA.

A Real World Design. Cover image & graphic design by Tristan Manco. Art direction by Michael Coulson. Photography by Cristina Piza. Additional photography and art direction by Martha Ladly. Lyric translations by Narine Gasparyan. Introduction based on text by Richard Henderson.

All tracks written by Djivan Gasparyan and Michael Brook except ‘Together Forever’ by Djivan Gasparyan, Michael Brook and Richard Evans. All tracks published by Real World Works Ltd/ EMI Virgin Music Ltd/ copyright control except ‘Together Forever’ published by Real World Works Ltd/ EMI VirginMusic Ltd/ copyright control/ Chrysalis Music Publishing.

Special thanks to Eva Skalla, Richard Chadwick, Ildefonso Aguilar, Samuel Aguilar, Bob Hunt at Emagic, Joel Rasmussen at Digidesign, Johnathon Jowitt at Drawmer,Sam Arutyunyan, Narine Gasparyan, Lia Wood.

Further Listening

  • Mustt Mustt

    Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook

    Released 12 November 1990

    The late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is today acknowledged as the great master of Qawwali who popularised this beautiful and inspirational music beyond Muslim peoples to a worldwide audience. Mustt Mustt is the first of two albums on which the singer collaborates with Canadian producer Michael Brook to place the music in a contemporary setting.
  • Assembly

    Hukwe Zawose

    Released 19 May 2002

    Canadian guitarist/producer Michael Brook (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Brian Eno, Youssou N’Dour…) works his magic with legendary Tanzanian singer/musician Dr. Hukwe Zawose. Gorgeous, melodic, driven by irresistible grooves, featuring Marie Dalne (Zap Mama) and Lee Thornberg’s Latin brass.

Further reading

Michael Brook on his collaboration with Djivan Gasparyan

Candian producer/guitarist Michael Brook discusses working with an Armenian duduk player.

Black Rock: Track by Track

Find out about the songs on Armenian Duduk player Djivan Gasparyan's collaboration album with Michael Brook.