With Black Rock, Canadian composer Michael Brook applies the same approach he used in his two Real World collaborations with Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn (Mustt Mustt and Night Song) to a new relationship with Armenian duduk specialist Djivan Gasparyan. This partnership proves to be more consistently fruitful than the first, producing a record of dazzling eclecticism and uncommon soulfulness. Gasparyan's duduk, an ancient instrument similar to the oboe, has an extraordinary range of expression: It exudes a heart-rending plangency on the mournful "Fallen Star," seductive sensuality on "Forbidden Love," and languid serenity on "Together Forever." Gasparyan also sings on the record, lending the gentle warmth of his voice to the textured instrumental work. Brook's arrangements -- consisting primarily of keyboards, light drums, and evocative ambient electric guitars -- bring a contemporary edge to the ancient mystery and emotiveness that characterize Gasparyan's work. Black Rock is open to the same criticisms of cultural exploitation that plagued the Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn albums, but one hopes that this fascinating cultural hybrid will be accepted on its own terms as a rich and expressive new creation.
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AllMusic Review by Evan Cater