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Pat Metheny - Zero Tolerance For Silence CD (album) cover


Pat Metheny


Jazz Rock/Fusion

1.77 | 46 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
1 stars Legendary Work Up for Worst Album, err, Biggest Stones in History

I am surprised this album hasn't gotten more reviews because it has a very interesting place in history. It has the enviable position of being one of the albums up for the worst album ever. It probably does win the award for biggest head scratcher of all time. The basic uncontroversial fact is that smooth jazz giant Pat Metheny made a record of multitracked solo electric guitar playing seemingly random noodling on top of itself for an entire album. The tone used is itself shocking for those who know Metheny's work. Instead of smooth and almost too slick, the guitars here are dirty as the Mississippi Delta. The first track contains minute after minute of fast strumming on the distorted guitar with occasional possibly related solo guitar overdubbed in a very elementary fashion. Metheny's own description was that he wanted to make something basic and flat, "What I usually do in 3D I did this time in 2D." Whatever that means.

The controversy is "What in the heavens was he thinking?" The most popular theory is that the album is a big middle finger to his then record company, for whom this album finished a contract. Metheny has adamantly denied this, giving the above cryptic remark and saying he would never do anything so unprofessional. (Which admittedly jives with his normal behavior). There are some in noise circles who think this album is a work of genius (including Thurston More of Sonic Youth whose support is what forced the record company to release the record) and others who say it is a sad attempt by someone far outside his genre.

Frankly, what it sounds like to me, is something in between. The guy had a record owed to his company, drank a good number of his favorite vintage, and let the tape roll on what in his drunken state seemed like the most "out there" stuff he could come up with. He then tried to put some "outside" solos over the top, and walla, the owed album is done. Unfortunately, like many of us, he got tricked into thinking his altered explorations were better than they were. I suspect Metheny thinks there is some kind of magic hidden in this din, and some avant fans agree with him.

Myself, I can tolerate some very experimental music. But this is just too much not to call Shenanigans. I actually bought this album on a record club when it first came out in 1994, and was astounded when a poor unknowing record store owner bought it back about 5 years later. I went back and tried out what few samples are available on the net just to make sure before writing this review, and my memory was not mistaken.

This is Plan 9 from Outer Space. So bad it has a place of interest in history. St. Anger is a pale pale example compared to this, the most brazen assault on sensibility ever put out by a major artist on a major label. I actually hope this review gets a couple of avant fans to try it out and offer dissenting views, because the artist and the album deserve more than my input. Explore at your own risk and giddiment. Normal Pat Metheny fans, don't even go there.

Incidentally, I will be shortly submitting a probably 5 star review for Metheny's unbelievably perfect album The Way Up soon.

Negoba | 1/5 |


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