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Top Customer Reviews
This, like the Interzone album, is an album devoted to William Burroughs, whose "cut-up" writing method was an early influence on Zorn's postmodernism. The performers here are an acoustic quartet: John Medeski on piano, Kenny Wollesen on vibes, Trevor Dunn on Bass and Joey Baron on drums. All four played on Interzone, but this is not really a "similar" album. Instead, the consistency of the quartet sound tends to rein in abrupt shifts of tone, making an album that is adventurous without being alarming, challenging without being wayward.
The opener, "Chemical Garden" is the first of the very game-influenced pieces, based on nerve-jangling modern jazz sprays of notes and fearless dynamics from the drums. It is as extreme as this album gets and a good test of whether you are going to find the rest of the album tolerable, but there are rewards for those who do.
"Port of Saints", while dark in tone, is more leisurely, with Wollesen conjuring up some splendidly atmospheric sounds. "Rain Flowers" begins as another angular piece of jazz, before settling on a gripping fast ostinato that provides the album with another early highlight and then sliding into sensuous but increasingly troubled supper-club jazz. This piece is a perfect example of Zorn at his genre-blending best.
"The Outer Half" is dreamy, almost hallucinatory, but punctuated with another of those abrasive little figures that become more prevalent still in the fierce minature "Dead Fingers Talk".Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The album opener "Chemical Garden" is a messy avant garde masterpiece. It starts with a spate of drum fury before the rest of the band comes in. The song is filled with quick stops as band members stop and drop out or come back in. It is the very model of modern, avant garde classical music scored for a jazz quartet. On the exact opposite end of the spectrum is the album closer, "Between Two Worlds" which is a piece of classic straight ahead jazz, deeply swung. Both satisfying for completely different reasons, those two tracks really exemplify the album for me. Jumping back and forth between styles, assonance and dissonance, improvisation and fully composed music, this album seeks to find a place in the not entirely classifiable.
At this point it is hard to imagine a band better suited to Zorn's compositions and musical styles than this one. Both on their individual strengths as musicians as well their longstanding associations with Zorn, they seem to understand what music requires and seem to have no difficulty moving through the often quite tricky compositions. Any fan of Zorn's composition will find something in this album to appreciate.