A virtuosic jack of all trades."
The Village Voice
"Bajakian playfully fragments melody, evoking surf rock and downtown noise."
The Wall Street Journal
FOR THE BOOK OF TRANSFIGURATIONS
"One of the most artistically adventurous albums released in 2017, a recording that grows more compelling on repeated listening...Dálava's palette is blended from a wide range of musical colors, and by not trying to produce an album that fits neatly inside jazz, world music, or new classical category boundaries, they are more free to innovate and explore. The Book Of Transfigurations is one of least cautious albums I've heard in years. The opening fragment of an archival recording is immediately followed by two loud, punk-art-rock songs, which in a way belies the overall tone of the set. The emotional center lies in the quieter, more sparsely arranged tracks in the middle of the album; listeners really need to hear it all the way from beginning to end without distraction to appreciate the complicated task the musicians have undertaken." More. -Mark Werlin, All About Jazz, December 2017
"The album is not so much a fusion, more an exciting collision of tradition with experimentation, one that will equally appeal to fans of folk, avantgarde improv and jazz." Jo Frost, Songlines Magazine, July 2017
"Whether the arrangements are delicate or punishing, though, the beauty of the songs comes through powerfully." More. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, July 2017
"In concert, in either band or duo format, Bajakian and Ulehla create a sound that is achingly intimate. Their love for the music and for each other is beautifully evident, and not in any kind of saccharine fashion: it’s as if they share a mutual incandescence." -Alexander Varty, Musicworks, #128 Summer/Fall 2017
"It’s an album that manages to be thoroughly rooted in its Moravian past while stillpushing ahead into the 21st Century, a complete, radical reinvention of Moravian music. Ulehla is the linchpin, with a voice that can seduce like Lorelei on the rocks one moment, then turn strident and martial, passionate and sinuous; while guitarist Aram Bajakian, whose credits include working with John Zorn, offers an instrumental counterpoint. The rest of the six-piece band deserve equal billing, not just for their playing, but also for their invention. These are songs to disturb and to lull, of past and family. Mysterious, yes, but also filled with a curious beauty." Chris Nickson, fRoots, July, 2017
"As Bajakian masterfully crafts an ancient sound-world where ghostly folk and proggy finger-picking wizardry nod to his avant-garde and free-improv roots, Ulehla takes center stage with soaring and meditative pipes that run the gamut from arresting whispers to operatic howls." More. Brad Cohan, The Observer, The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2017 So Far, June 2017.
"Somehow, the old songs retain their deep connection to the landscape that produced them, even when recast in expansive new avant-jazz and prog-folk trappings." More. The Georgia Straight, 50 Albums That Shaped Vancouver, May 2017
"It’s astonishing music—and the story behind its creation is emblematic of how Old World traditions can be born again, thousands of miles and several generations away from their roots." More. Alex Varty, The Georgia Straight, Julia Úlehla finds new musical path through her extraordinary folk heritage, March 2017
"Úlehla’s voice is haunting, there is a compressed urgency and a folksiness that doesn’t quite settle into, or leave, your ears... Such contrasts of old and new, and stylistic juxtapositions make the album compelling, while the language leaves many listeners simply hanging onto the expressive emotion of Úlehla’s voice rather than the meaning - the translations, invoking timeless themes, are provided within the accompanying booklet." More. Paul Acquaro, The Freejazz Collective, May 2017
"Tender and haunting..., The Book of Transfigurations is an intimate and elegant paean to Ulehla's ancestral heritage. It is far from a mere retelling of a historic cultural expression destined for museums. On the contrary, what makes the album unique is its vivid and soulful rendition of this slice of popular art, thus preserving it by exposing its enduring relevance." More. Hrayr Attarian, All About Jazz, May 2017
"An utterly captivating and addictive recording." More. Stuart Derdeyn, The Vancouver Sun, April 2017
"The Book of Transfigurations is full of songs of moving beauty. Singer Úlehla sparkles and each song gets a fitting, tasteful and exciting musical performance...a unique and beautiful album." More. Opduvel, May 2017, Translated from Dutch,
"Ulehla provides beautiful vocalization, and while all the lyrics are in Czech, the inflection of her voice exudes emotion. Her singing portrays shades of sadness and happiness that flow with the instrumentals. There is a hazy ambience underlining the music that mixes instruments ranging from harmonica to drums. What jumps out the most however is Bajakian’s guitar work. Throughout the record, the guitar emits everything from wavy distortions, to low dreamy tones. Reflecting at times off the drumming, Dálava toss in jazzy progressions, or turn up with rock intensity...The fusion that takes place from Ulehla’s singing and instrumentals make for a spiritual journey...Dálava have created a unique work that captures a sense of culture and history that is intriguing. Its range of instruments and radiant singing generate an intimate reaction to the music, connecting the listener into the atmosphere. It is a work that presents just enough to guide one on a journey to learn more about the magic found in other parts of the world." More. Michael Pementel, New Noise Magazine, April 2017
For there were flowers also in hell:
"Every track singular, every track strong. A MINUS"
Robert Christgau, Expert Witness, Vice, November, 2015.
"The record reveals Bajakian as a sardonic composer, a masterly improviser, and a purveyor of excellent tones who finds new wrinkles in one of the most traditional musical forms."
Adam Perlmutter, Premier Guitar, August 2014
"One of the best instrumental rock records of recent years, hands down."
New York Music Daily
"Mind-bogglingly fierce in its punk rock ingrained assault."
Brad Cohan, New York CIty Jazz Record
"The gorgeous 'Loutone' is a buzzing, shimmering, and ultimately blazing tribute to Lou Reed....’Rent Party' may be the most infectious song of all - a dark groove, blues-like changes, and a serious dose of sludgy post-rock all in the span of 5 minutes.”
FreeJazz, 4.5 Stars, Paul Acquaro
“Bajakian is the next Marc Ribot, but most critically, he’s like Ribot in the sense that he’ll often do something that other guitarists wouldn’t even think about doing…sometimes even Ribot himself.”
Something Else, Victor Aaron.
“A wonderful in your face stew of rock/blues/twang guitar with a furious bass and blues backbeat...Requiem for 5 Pointz” slows things down to an atmospheric and elegiac tone poem that has some sparks of energy shooting like comets against the evening sky.”
Tim Niland, Music and More
“Flowers” is an instrumental album, but Bajakian doesn’t need any lyrics to tell his stories. He blends noise, rock, jazz and many other elements without even really trying, or at least hiding it well if he is.”
Andrew McNally, Post Grad Music Reviews
With Lou Reed:
“The Velvet Underground’s “White Light, White Heat” beats everything, with Bajakian whipping out a fast solo with infectious pleasure, as its careening garage-rock blasts off; a thrilling end to an uncompromising night.”
Independent UK, Review of 8/12/12 Lou Reed Performance at Royal Festival Hall.
With Diana Krall:
"The best part of the show was Mr. Bajakian's Wes Montgomery-style solo on "How Deep is the Ocean"
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Review of 4/9/13 Heinz Hall concert.
“By the third song, There Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth The Salt Of My Tears, Krall and co. had settled into a solid groove with guitarist Aram Bajakian working his magic in the first of many electrifying moments to come.”
Toronto Sun, Review of 2/21/13 Massey Hall Performance
“Aram Bajakian brought forth wild, enthusiastic, angry solos, giving a new dimension to these beautiful songs of yesteryear.”
Le Soir, Belgium. Review of Diana Krall’s 10/29/12 Brussels Performance
For Aram Bajakian's Kef:
“Few guitarists out there today think out of the box like Aram does.”
Something Else Reviews
“Brooklyn guitarist Aram Bajakian is yet another in New York City's long line of masterful
experimentalists, mixing rock, jazz, noise, and world music into an indecipherable avant-garde blend.”
Scott Morrow, Alarm Press
“Touch this pot with caution, lest you melt your fingers.”
Chris May, All About Jazz
“Bajakian's piece “Scabies” may be the record’s masterpiece... It’s noisy, but as was the case of the great
1980s quartet Last Exit (whose gloriously loud jazz the track resembles),
you can really tell the musicians are listening to each other.”
Troy Collins, All About Jazz
“The interlocking guitars of Marc Ribot, Jon Madof and Aram Bajakian parry and feint with
fervent intensity across the album. The visceral charms of such force are undeniable..”
Chris Nickson, All Music Guide
“Aram Bajakian plays his guitar like a percussion instrument, in the East Village no-wave tradition,
shooting sparks rather than notes or chords.”