Music Reviews



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Artist: John Zorn
Title: The Dreamers
Format: CD
Label: Tzadik (@)
Distributor: Tzadik
Rated: *****
Another AMAZING album from John Zorn.

I was tempted to leave the review at just that first sentence. But that might not be enough to pique everyone's interest. As it says on the album insert, The Dreamers is a follow-up of sorts to Zorn's The Gift. He employs most of the same brilliant musicians here, most noticeably Marc Ribot on guitar, Jamie Saft on keyboards, and Kenny Wolleson on vibes.

The Dreamers portrays a sense of, well, dreaming. Ribot's guitar and Saft's keyboard combine for lush textures and beautiful melodies. The compositions tend toward world music, jazz-fusion, and surf-rock, but don't fall neatly into any of these categories. Forcing these songs into genres isn't possible, but it gives you a sense of the feeling of the album. There is a complexity and subtlety in the arrangement of melody and harmony which pushes these songs beyond classification.

Fans of John Zorn's Electric Masada may recognize that this is the group performing The Dreamers. Along with Marc Ribot, Jamie Saft, and Kenny Wolleson, there is Trevor Dunn on bass, Joey Baron playing drums, and crowd favorite Cyro Baptista on persussion. Zorn himself joins in on alto sax.

Marc Urselli once again does an impeccable job of capturing the nuance of Zorn's detailed compositions and the performances of these exciting players. Scott Hull, as well, once again does a superb job of mastering so as to give this collection of vastly different songs and sounds a cohesive feeling and shine.

This album is a lot of fun to listen to. It's not an "easy" album per se, but it is a fun and rewarding listen.
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Artist: John Zorn
Title: Filmworks XIX: The Rain Horse
Format: CD
Label: Tzadik (@)
Distributor: Tzadik
Rated: *****
This is the best release of the year so far, and it'll be tough for anything to top it. (Though Zorn does have an upcoming release named The Dreamers, which just might do it.) This installment in the Filmworks series was composed for the animated film The Rain Horse, directed by Russian animator Dimitri Geller.

Zorn chose the trio of Erik Friedlander on cello, Rob Burger on piano, and Greg Cohen on bass. The trio is simply amazing. The way that they play off of each other is sublime. There's no other word for it really. At times they play complex runs around and through each other, but for the most part they leave room for one another to play astoundingly haunting melodies. Melody is the focus of the album. Zorn fans will know that this often not the case in his work. The melodies here are familiar somehow, but they're tough to place. Filmworks XIX: The Rain Horse has an Eastern European feel, as would be expected (after all, it was composed for a Russian film), but it's also got touches of Middle Eastern and Western influence.

What struck me most about the music is how emotional and romantic it is. As I said, the melodies are haunting, but they are also catchy. The songs have terrific pacing. Mind you, there is no percussion on the album. The piano, cello, and most obviously the bass create the tempo for these beautiful songs.

As amazing as the songs themselves is the story of the performing, recording, and mixing of the album. The musicians entered the studio in the morning and knocked out all 11 songs by 6pm. If that weren't enough, engineer Marc Urselli mixed the album in three hours. For an album of 11 songs of this caliber to be recorded and mixed in one day is a testament to the level of talent involved. The energy of the performances was captured perfectly - the sonics are great and none of the intensity is lost. Mastering engineer Scott Hull did an outstanding job. The sound is soft yet energetic.

The best album I've heard in a long time. I bow to thee Mr. Zorn and company.

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Artist: ZENI GEVA
Title: Maximum Money Monster
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
After years of unavailability, eighteen years since its original release on Pathological Records, here's surfacing MAXIMUM MONEY MONSTER by Zeni Geva. Merging free jazz, hardcore and repressed rage the Japanese trio open the album with a punch in the audience's face thanks to the sixteen minutes of "Slam king", a track based on a couple of chords that is able to hypnotize and devastate at the same time. "Blaze" and "Black out", instead, in less than two minutes are able to pick you up and make you do a roller coaster ride through hard rock psychedelia ("Blaze") and obsessive industrial core ("Black out"). Musically, is like listening to an extreme version of Black Flag on acid and by the way guitars are treated you can understand the reason why K.K. Null collaborated with Merzbow later. I saw Zeni Geva live twice at the times of "Desire for agony" and I assure you that their nihilism was throbbing and alive, on and off stage (the guitar player that time was so angry for some reason that he beat his head against a wall of the bathroom). Thanks to this new Cold Spring reissue you can check their live sound on the three bonus tracks: "War pig" and "Skullfuck" (coming from this album) plus "Dead car, sun crash".
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Drumpoems Verse 1
Format: CD
Label: Drumpoet Community (@)
Rated: *****
Drumpoet Community is a Switzerland label/community which collaborate with Compost Records to release their stuff. Their latest release is a label compilation titled DRUMPOEMS VERSE 1. It contains twelve tracks which have been previously unreleased or re-edited specially for this release. We have tracks by Foster (here with the original mix and the Quarion remix of "Quiet before the storm", a intriguing cinematic Detroit techno track with the peculiarity of having no drum), Manuel Tur & Dplay ("Rest your senses" is a lush house tune), Soultourist (here with the Dixon Edit of "Turn loose" and "Coming soon" providing us with two hypnotic house/soul tracks), Kawabata ("Movin on" is soulish and house while "Kadena" is more hypnotic with a certain lounge touch and a little bit of techno here and there), Sascha Dive (we have an obsessive and at the same time lushy Samuel Davis Deep4Life mix of "Deep"), Quarion ("Karasu" is a minimal house track which has a nifty tune and a driving 4/4 rhythm), Thabo ("Take root" is a cinematic techno house track with violins and a fat bass line) and The Lost Men ("Head:Unhurt" is a cool techno/hosue tune with a certain dark melody/touch. This one is a sure dance floor filler!). On this compilation lovers of smooth sounds as well lovers of techno house could be satisfied. Check some at http://www.myspace.com/drumpoet.
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anymore
Artist: MAJU (@)
Title: maju - 5
Format: CD
Label: Extreme (@)
Rated: *****
About a couple of months ago when reviewing the on-line free sampler just came out on Extreme, for the first time I've come into Maju and that song definitely put me on guard for my expectations for their forthcoming effort could have been to high, but here it is and it has blew me away as expected. I tend to be really sensible to japanese electronic music and I think Minamo, Neina, Yoshihiro Hanno, Sawako not to mention Ikeda (who's stile by the way is considerably far from this duo) did and are still doing some heartbreaking releases and yes, Maju can be unquestionably included in this list of "must have" if you're into modern-melodic-japanese-minimal-electronic music. If compared to the most of their country fellows they're probably more minimalistic (except for Sawako) but just cause they put the accent on letting every melody float as much as it takes for it to become narcoleptic. As many japanese artists playing this kind of music they create a dreamy ecstatic childlike dimension and even thought I'm the cynical bastard I'm, God bless the sons of the rising sun for having given us some melancholic but relaxing outputs like this. "Melody diluted in digital beauty" right as you're used to find when listening on labels like Spekk, Plop, 12K or in the likes, no surprise it has nothing to do with the rest of the boundless Extreme roster plus consider it's not even experimental. If you're not familiar with the rest of the material on this australian label or if you find the most of it's heavier than life, don't worry, this one may represent a sunbeam breaking a sky otherwise filled with black clouds (even if I'd better say "brain sticking materials"). Magnificence in simplicity.

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