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John Zorn - Femina CD (album) cover


John Zorn



4.21 | 15 ratings

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5 stars In this album, the prolific composer John Zorn utilizes a small orchestra of musicians to perform his piece called "Femina" which is a tribute to the creativity and ingenuity of 52 specific women, some real and some mythological and fictional. Even though this album is split up into 4 tracks, each track has several short songs which are melded together into one whole. So, with a total run time of a little over 35 minutes, and with each of the 52 women represented in that time, you can expect this to be quite the collection of moods and short quick songs. And so it is. But believe it or not, it is very cohesive.

The music is very engaging and never really gives you much of a chance to get comfortable in one style or mood. John's music can be said to have attention deficit disorder in that it can jump around from a nice lyrical piece to a very dissonant noisy section in the blink of an eye. Yet, with that, the music remains accessible for the most part which makes this album a good introduction to his more classically-influenced music. You have a nice combination of acoustic, traditional instruments and electronic generated sounds and music all through the album. For the most part, this is a minimalistic composition, but don't get comfortable with that because it can change without warning.

I love the fact that Zorn uses both romantic and impressionistic styles together in this album. I always wondered why composers didn't like to mix the classical styles more often than they do and even asked a music professor that questions once. He told me that he really believed that to be the classical music of the future, but the composer would have to be very well versed in all styles to do it well. I really believe Zorn has accomplished that here because everything here works beautifully and it is amazing how the music flows together so well.

Most people reading this review might think this sounds too much like a soundtrack album. But I can assure you that is not the case. It would have been easy for Zorn to fall into this trap, but he has been careful to not let that happen here. And with all of his movie music that he has, he knows the difference.

Also, even though the music can jump around a lot, there are several passages that actually do extend past one minute in length, so it is possible to actually lose yourself in a melody, but as I said earlier, don't expect to get yourself too comfortable. And don't expect many repeats either. I think Zorn is allergic to repeated music or maybe his mind is so creative that he can't stop to rest on a single melody too long without getting bored. I don't know, but I do know that he has created a very engaging piece of work here and even with it's quick changes, it is still accessible, at least in terms of Zorn's music.

Expect a lot of beautiful, lyrical music here with nice thoughtful passages but also expect the instruments to get exploited to their extreme usage and expect crazy electronic passages that will be jolting in relation to the quiet passages. There is so much beauty and genius at work here, if you blink or get distracted, you can actually miss a lot even in a few seconds. This is a definite masterpiece of avant garde classical music that all serious listeners should hear. If this music is still too far out there for you, then you should really limit your time exploring Zorn's discography. But if you love surprises and unpredictability in your music, then you definitely need to continue listening to more of his music. I think anyone could actually find something that will be endearing to them if then search his music long enough, I guess it all depends on how much time you want to devote to the search. But to me, it's worth the time to find a masterpiece like this one. 5 stars.

TCat | 5/5 |


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