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John Zorn - Mysterium CD (album) cover


John Zorn



3.00 | 11 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars The second station on my seven-album beginner's tour through the voluminous discography of John Zorn finds the artist once again switching musical hats, something he does with a dexterity bordering on sleight of hand. This time he traded his Jazz fedora for a Neo-Classical chapeau, in three original pieces for progressively smaller ensembles, each opus resembling the soundtrack to an obscure European art-house film.

Zorn himself doesn't perform on the album, but his restless intellect is all over every note of music. The album opener "Orphée" might have been a selection from an alternative score to Jean Cocteau's 1950 screen masterpiece of the same name: a playful update of Greek mythology set in a swinging Left Bank art colony. References to Debussy provide an occasional respite of melodic grace, and the unexpected electronic embellishments lift the piece above the usual arid, orchestrated post-modern exercise.

The longer "Frammenti del Sappho" is a vocal arrangement for a female quintet, lovely stuff but following the same agenda, all but inscrutable to anyone unschooled in classical music theory and notation. And the final, three-part "Walpurgisnacht" (named for the annual witches sabbath in older pagan calendars) features a string trio scraping and plucking in careful syncopation, again suggesting a modern ballet score, minus the choreography.

Legitimate chamber music of such exquisite refinement doesn't really belong anywhere near a web site named ProgArchives, except perhaps as a link to parallel avenues of musical evolution. Add a heavy Prog Rock rhythm section and the same album would be a magnet for enthusiastic five-star accolades. Otherwise it would have to stand as an acquired taste for all but the most delicate palates.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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