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John Zorn - Film Works XIX: The Rain Horse CD (album) cover


John Zorn



4.24 | 14 ratings

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4 stars Rating: B+

In his long career, John Zorn has done everything from extreme avant-garde to relaxing, trance-inducing music, everything from avant-garde classical to metal, from free jazz to klezmer, and all of these sides of Zorn I love. There's one side of Zorn, however, that I only discovered recently, and that's his soundtrack side. As it turns out, I love this free-wheeling, happy, and altogether accessible (which can't be said about much Zorn work) music as much as I love the rest of his stellar work. While I've so far only heard 2008's Filmworks XIX: The Rain Horse, I am certain that if the other eighteen are at all like this, they rank among Zorn's very best.

It was almost a shock to me when I first played this CD, hearing such sweet and beautiful sounds coming from the same man famous for producing some of the most tortured sounds ever to come from a saxophone (note: John Zorn does not actually play any instruments on The Rain Horse). This music is truly, stunningly beautiful. With light keyboard melodies, aching violin lines, and pulsing bass, The Rain Horse is an astounding work. As such, it's hard to pick any highlights - every track feels perfectly in place on the CD and each is excellent - but the four that really stand out to me are the opening "Tears of Morning," "Wedding of the Wild Horses," "Dance Exotique," and "Parable of Job."

"Wedding of the Wild Horses" is perhaps the most diverse song on the CD and is easily my favorite. It combines catchy, toe-tapping bass with jazzy keyboards and just the slightest touch of avant-garde in the violin and, occasionally, the keyboards as well. On the other hand, you have "Dance Exotique," which has a punchy, exotic rhythm that carries it for its (admittedly short) duration. And then there are the klezmer influences on "Parable of Job," which has always been a favorite of mine in Zorn works (klezmer, that is, which is featured some on Kristallnacht and his Masada series. as well as The Circle Maker, which just happens to be the best klezmer cd ever released).

All in all, this is one of Zorn's greatest achievements, and a clear highlight of 2008. It's forty minutes of music composed for an 11 minute film (Zorn says in the liner notes that he does not know which cuts will be used in the film), but it was composed with the soundtrack CD in mind, not necessarily the film. And, not surprisingly, the result of composing for the soundtrack CD is an amazing soundtrack CD. Anybody looking for an entry into Zorn's music who is afraid of his more inaccessible work should start here, as this is by far the most beautiful and easygoing I've heard him. And, being a John Zorn product, that this is excellent is a given.

Pnoom! | 4/5 |


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