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John Zorn - Ipsissimus (with The Moonchild Trio) CD (album) cover


John Zorn



4.36 | 12 ratings

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5 stars This is the fifth album which features The Moonchild Trio, which consists of Michael Patton, Trevor Dunn and Joey Baron performing John Zorn compositions, headed over by Zorn himself. Typically, Zorn doesn't play in any of the other albums by The Moonchild Trio, but this time around he brings his crazy saxophone along for the party along with guitarist Marc Ribot.

If you are already familiar with The Moonchild Trio, you already know what to expect here: Patton's crazy wordless vocalizations which would murder a normal singer to perform, Dunn's amazing bass work and Baron's progressive and unpredictable drumming. The music is anything but predictable or normal, can be rather chaotic and sounds like nothing you've ever heard, but this time around, with Ribot joining in, things get more angular, heavy and dark than ever before.

The first track "Seven Sigils" kicks off with simply the rhythm section, bass and drums churning out an ever changing riff, and you might be fooled into thinking you are listening to some great heavy progressive music, but then Patton comes in and everything just goes nuts. At one point, Patton's vocals soar up to unnatural heights, but when it comes down from the stratosphere, it's no longer Patton singing, but Zorn's strangled saxophone somehow got substituted without anyone noticing. That's how crazy it is. The insanity continues with Patton's tongue wagging sounds, Zorn's tortured sax and pounding bass and drums that will make anyone sit up and take notice. It's not always chaotic as things do get grounded from time to time, but soon goes off into left field again before you know it.

Ribot's guitar doesn't show up until the next track "The Book of Los". It brings the track in with a nice softer sound and Zorn brings in the piano to help out. Soon Patton starts to vocalize, but is using a lot of restraint this time at first. The rest of the band soon joins in and the main feeling is quite pensive and reflective, that is until about halfway in to the track when the guitar starts to go AWOL from this and Ribot demonstrates that he fits right into this crazy improvisation. At this point, Patton (not to be outdone) suddenly scares the listener to death with a crazy scream and then there is no return from the insanity after this.

It's this kind of thing you can expect from this album, a lot of crazy improvisational sections and also a lot of level- headed sections where things might resemble normalcy for certain brief sections. There are three tracks called "Apparitions" which are avant-garde improvisational tracks spread throughout the album and these are typically shorter tracks lasting about 4 minutes each of discord and such. You will notice, though, that this album a bit heavier than even most of The Moonchild Trio's albums, more in a metal vein than ever before. You'll notice this in "Supplicant" which might even fool you into thinking you are listening to extreme experimental metal. This one is probably the most accessible of the tracks, one that will win over the metal afficianados, with the heavy guitar and bass riffs and Patton's unusual growling/screaming/squealing. But then, you also hear the amazing songwriting skills of Zorn stand out on tracks like "Warlock" and "Tabula Smaragdina", the latter features a great bass and drum duet to open it up.

Is it possible that all of this chaos and noise can be considered a masterpiece? Yes it can. If you don't know how, then you have never heard Zorn and The Moonchild Trio, but this is probably my favorite album from them. There is so much going on here, and it's actually not hard to pick it out even if you don't like metal or avant prog. This album is quite amazing and can only be best explained by listening to it. I will say it may not be to everyone's taste mostly because of Patton's crazy singing, but you have to marvel at his talent if nothing else. I doubt if there are many people that can sing like this and survive with their voice intact. This is a masterpiece if there ever was one.

TCat | 5/5 |


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