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John Zorn - Lacrosse CD (album) cover

LACROSSE

John Zorn

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

1.05 | 2 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
1 stars John Zorn: Lacrosse [1997]

Rating: 2/10

Lacrosse is the first of four early Zorn albums (recorded in the late 70s and early 80s) released in 1997 in a box-set entitled The Parachute Years. All four of these albums consist of "game piece" improvisations. Zorn is a pioneer of this particular experimental musical concept; he invented it, more or less. To my understanding, a game piece is a controlled improvisation. These pieces forego musical rules such a time signature in favor of various extra-musical guidelines. These rules include hand gestures, pictures, or shuffled file cards. Thus, the piece is both unpredictable and controllable via certain external factors. Game pieces can be compared to a sports game with rules, or a language with grammar.

So, what we have here is essentially an improvisatory exercise; it would be stretch to call this a music album. The music here consists of haphazard bursts of noise; that's the best way to describe it. It sounds how an improv such as this would sound: silence, brief squawk of sound, silence, repeat. Sometimes, the noise lasts longer than the silence. Other times, the silence lasts longer than the noise. And the worst part is: it's over an hour-and-a-half long. I'm not a trained improviser, so I don't know the rules that governed this piece. I don't know why it sounds the way it does. However, as a music listener, I do know that this is one of the least interesting and most unmercifully inconsequential "albums" I've ever heard. Beyond a simple description of the musical discipline at work here, there's very little I can say about Lacrosse. This isn't music, not even avant-garde music. There are instruments featured here, but they're not being played, at least not in the manner that's generally understood.

I have an academic respect for what's going on here. On paper, the idea of a game piece is interesting and creative. I can admire the goals that Zorn achieves with releases such as this. When brought to life, however, there's absolutely nothing here to appreciate musically. A musician well-versed in improvisatory theory would probably enjoy listening to 100 minutes of this, but I find it hard to believe that anybody else will.

Anthony H. | 1/5 |

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