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Moonchild Trio - Moonchild CD (album) cover

MOONCHILD

Moonchild Trio

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

2.80 | 17 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Man With Hat
3 stars The beginning of something great.

Moonchild is the first album written by Zorn for the trio of Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn, and Joey Baron. All three are experienced in the realm of avant-garde musics and having them play music composed by John Zorn is almost mouth-watering. Unfortunately, things would start kind of slow, as this album is not as impressive as the other works by the Patton/Dunn/Baron trio. But, never fear, this album can still pull its own weight, even if its a few pounds lighter than either Astronome or Six Litenies.

First it must be said that this music is not really progressive rock. In fact, there are times where this couldn't even be called rock, in any facet. At times this is avant-garde rock (not even avant-rock [yes, I distinguish between the two ;-)], but, for me, a majority of this disc would be classified as straight up avant-garde. Which is not a problem for me at all. However it needs to be stated that this isn't for the faint of heart (you could probably say that for most of Zorn's work though...). Thus, if you are put off my ample helpings of noise in your music stay away from this one.

For me Moonchild flows pretty well all the way through, at least musically. It would seem there is some sort of conceptual connection as well, though if there is it is honestly lost on me. The main focus here is atmosphere. Bleak, frightening, eerie, nervous, and ominous are the predominant feelings here. This is the music for a soundtrack for walking around a dark labyrinth, not knowing what is coming around each corner...sometimes there appears nothing but another dark room, other times a myriad of minotaurs jump and attach you from all angles. Most of this atmosphere is created by the excellent bass playing of Dunn and the (at times of suspense at least) tasteful, and careful drum beats of Baron. Likewise, most of the minotaurs are provided by the voice of Patton. (Though there are plenty of times where all three of them go at it with fifteen cylinders firing to create the havoc.) Admittedly, my favorite voice moments, for the most part, occur when Patton is adding to the atmosphere rather than injecting chaos.

The music seems to put a certain emphasis on the vocals, which has its ups and its downsides. It is doubtful that Patton ever says (or sings/screams/etc) a single English word on this album. This is really an excellent example of using a voice as a instrument rather than just a way to convey a message. (This should not come to a surprise to anyone familiar with Patton's body of work.) Again, it just has to be said...Patton can do amazing things with his voice. There are some moments on this disc where I just have to shake my head and am nearly convinced that something else must be making the noises this man can conjure up from his throat. Mainly this focus on the vocals is an upside because with the voice as the third instrument they work cohesively as a trio, instead of a duo with a singer. The main downside is both Dunn and Baron are not the emphasis, which is unfortunate because both of these man perform quite well throughout the disc. (Perhaps this fact is just to emphasize the atmosphere Dunn and Baron are creating.)

As I've stated earlier most of the music flows pretty well for me thus its hard to isolate particular songs that I enjoy more than others. Nevertheless, special mentions must be made for 616, Equinox, and Sorceress (which features some divine drumming from Baron...easily the best drum work on the album IMO). Lowlights? A few. The greatest criticism of Moonchild is a lack of diversity. Many of the songs are in the same vein thus there is some aire of monotonousness. Especially as songs like Moonchild and The Summoning are not as captivating as other parts of the album.

All in all this is a good release by the "power trio" of Patton/Dunn/Baron. However, this is not one of Zorn's best works and should probably be kept for the last album (out of this trio's three albums). I struggle a bit in deciding on a rating however. For my personal scale of rating albums (which is based solely on the music itself) this would be a solid 3 stars. However, this is prog-rock archives, and as I said this is pretty far from prog-rock. I'll rate this a three stars with a warning of for the purposes of this site its much closer to 2.5 stars than three. This is recommended only for fans of any of the main protagonists or avant- garde music in general, and of course avant-garde rock (but not really avant-rock). 2.5 stars, rounded up.

Man With Hat | 3/5 |

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