With the release of ‘Long Ago’, Italian guitarist Fabio Mittino and I are celebrating one of our most inspiring projects ever.
Our friendship goes back to 1998: Robert Fripp introduced us during a music convention in London. A few years later we found ourselves traveling back and forth between Milan and the US for rehearsals and concerts, and excited to work on our new music project: transcriptions and arrangements of music by Gurdjieff/De Hartman, arranged for two guitars.
Gurdjieff was a philosopher from Russian/Armenian descent. He had the remarkable gift of remembering music he had heard during his early travels in Asia and the Middle East. Many years later he sung and played the melodies to Russian composer Thomas De Hartmann; together they created over 300 pieces between 1918 and 1927.
The music of Gurdjieff and De Hartmann may seem simple, with short pieces that lack any pretension to elaborate formal construction, yet it often turns in unexpected directions, revealing itself as powerful, fascinating and deeply affecting. In the final words of his book ‘Our Life with Mr Gurdjieff’, Thomas de Hartmann says: “Listening to this music one was touched to the depth of his being…”
We selected acoustic Gibson arch top guitars, built in the 1930’s, to record ‘Long Ago'. These vintage instruments help create the authentic and intimate character of the album. No effects were added to the recordings: when you listen, it is as if we are playing very close to you, in your living room. The music on ‘Long Ago’ covers a vast territory: Armenian songs, Hindu melodies, Kurdish melodies, an Orthodox Hymn, and several Sayyid dances, … most of it never been played on the guitar before. Arranging and discovering this music was like opening a treasure chest. We immensely enjoyed discovering these hidden gems and we feel that this wonderful music deserves to be heard and played.
Bert Lams and Fabio Mittino