Destination Out

David Dacks, Exclaim!, May 1, 2007

There’s no shortage of solo drum or percussion ensemble discs. However, very, very few of these attempt to explore their subject matter in an electro acoustic way. This marks Tombak as an important building block in what will surely become more commonplace in years to come. Recorded live with no edits or overdubbing, Tombak shows Tabassian in total control of his instrument. He is well known in Quebec as a proficient player, in the traditional sense, of this single headed, goblet shaped drum, but here he eschews pattern-based regular rhythms in favour of scraping, scratching and advanced tonal manipulation of this incredibly versatile instrument. Perhaps a solo record on tombak works better than on some other percussion instruments due to its inherent versatility. Tabassian capitalises on the quick and sensitive response of the tightly bound drumhead to create everything from pure bass pulses to wind-like howls. The dampening effect achieved by using one’s hand inside the cavity of the drum is also imaginatively deployed. Further sonic ingredients are found in Tabassian’s ability to brush the body of the drum or create distorted effects simply with his hands. All these sonic inventions are interesting but his formal technique also plays a major part in his ability to generate abstract sounds — consider the drum flurries in Varashan, which sound more like smears than precisely metered riffs. The last tune on the album, Danse mon tambour, does give it up and turn it loose with some addictive rhythms and sparkling colours.