Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, poet and political activist Serj Tankian is working on a new project, "Disarming Time Paintings", where he creates pieces of artwork based around his music and goes so far as to embed speakers and MP3 players within the artwork itself.
"I have a number of painter friends and… I hang out with them and they listen to music when they paint and I thought, 'How can I make a certain piece of music as original as a work of art?'" he told ABC News Radio. "So I thought, 'Why don't I write a piece of music and then create the painting for that piece of music?' And I did that."
The SYSTEM OF A DOWN frontman continued: "One of the primary common denominators of my artwork has been clocks without arms. This goes back for many years with some of my suggestions for the artwork for 'Hypnotize'/'Mezmerize' with SYSTEM and I’d gotten all these clocks that I had taken the arms off and written poetry on and given it to the guys and [producer] Rick Rubin years ago, so I had that concept in mind."
Serj also spoke about the unusual and improvised techniques he experimented with while making his paintings. "The first of that experiment was getting on a large step-ladder, filling water balloons with different color paint and starting to, kind of, splatter the canvas and then making something out of that," he said. "The other one was… I thought, I wonder if anyone's used the tires of a car as a paintbrush, so I put all these paints on canvas without mixing them and then ran over it with my car seven times to see how it would mix."
Tankian is releasing two albums this summer through his own label, Serjical Strike Records. First up on June 25 will be "Orca", Tankian's first true symphony, while July 23 will see the release of a collaborative jazz-inspired disc called "Jazz-iz Christ". Tankian recorded "Orca" in Linz, Austria last October with a symphony orchestra after a successful Kickstarter campaign helped fund the project.
Meanwhile, the 15 tracks on the mostly instrumental "Jazz-iz Christ" feature Tankian performing alongside guests like renowned pianist Tigran Hamasyan, flautist Valeri Tolstov, trumpet player Tom Duprey, former POLICE drummer Stewart Copeland and actor/musician Davis Alpay.
Both albums will be available worldwide on iTunes, Amazon and other digital distributors. Various limited deluxe physical editions will be sold through Tankian's official web site and the Serjical Strike web site.
The musician, who has dabbled in film scoring and writing a musical as well, told The Pulse Of Radio a while back that all these projects are part of his diverse musical interests. "I've made enough rock records, I think, for a little while for me to be able to kind of go, okay, you know, I wanna try different things," he said. "I write all sorts of music, from electronic to noise to experimental to punk to hip-hop to you name it, you know. I do a lot of different things, so I'd like to explore different genres."
Following a concert in Los Angeles on July 29, SYSTEM OF A DOWN will tour Europe throughout the month of August. After that, Tankian will launch a series of solo orchestral tour dates on September 19 in Kiev, Ukraine, with performances scheduled for Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities in Russia, along with stops in Rome, Florence and Padova, Italy.
SYSTEM OF A DOWN still does not have any plans to record in the near future.