On May 9 I had the privilege of seeing Rock group MDP (which stands for Manic Depressive Psychosis) perform at the Avant-Garde Folk and Jazz Music Club located on Pushkin Street near Sakharov Square. The band was formed in 1990 by four students attending Yerevan State University. Since 1993 they have made nine recordings, including a live concert released on DVD. For a few years the band was based in Russia, where they recorded and performed, but now they are living in Yerevan once again. Their sound has been described by one British music critic as being “unexpected rock,” yet falling under the “prog-rock” category.
Essentially it is true that the listener, especially the novice, of this band’s music will not know what is to come during a particular song as the melody is unpredictable. Songs do not really have any given structure nor are they based on a basic blues riff. Instead the songs’ complex harmonies and ever-changing tempos are tinged with improvisation, which adds to the thrill of the music. Their sound is definitely hard, but cannot be compared with what can be heard from “System of a Down”—in fact I would argue that MDP is a much better band musically speaking. In order to appeal to a wider audience, the songs are all written and sung in English.
Naturally, given the bands national identity some songs have a slight Armenian melodic influence, where during one of the songs both bassist and guitarist played simultaneously a melody resembling perhaps a zurna solo performance. The band members are Edward Abrahamian on vocals and keyboards, Henry Grigorian on guitar, Vardan Grigorian on bass, and Mesrop Gyulnazarian, who is an exceptional drummer.
It is impressive and refreshing to see an alternative youth crowd that is anti-Rabiz and more “street-punk” in appearance, even in manner. For some reason rock music in general is not widely embraced here, and rock bands in Armenia enjoy only cult status. But the kids in the audience love to rock, and rock they did during an excellent, thrilling 90-minute performance.
The band’s Web site can be found at: http://www.mdp.am/
An interview with Edward Abrahamian and band manager Arman Padaryan conducted by photojournalist Onnik Krikorian can be found here