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John Zorn - Ganryu Island (Michihiro Sato / John Zorn) CD (album) cover


John Zorn



3.26 | 6 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars John Zorn: Ganryu Island [1985]

Rating: 5/10

Ganryu Island is a very interesting improvisational record from John Zorn and Japenese musician Sato Michihiro. Anybody familiar with Zorn knows that he is a bit of a Japanophile, and this album is an early example of this interest. Ganryu Island is an unorthodox fusion of Zorn's squeaky brand of avant-garde jazz and Sato's acoustic oriental folk. Sato plays the shamisen, a three-stringed Japanese instrument with a distinct twang. These two wildly different musical styles combine to create a unique improvisational sound.

Zorn's early albums all feature elements of creativity and unconventionality. I appreciate such things in music; however, many of these albums fail to be musically engaging or even interesting. Ganryu Island works, however. Sato's shamisen is hypnotizing, and Zorn's blaring sax provides a fitting contrast to the twanging. As cool as this is, however, it grows rather tiresome over the course of the album's duration. An interesting idea can become quite the opposite after forty-five straight minutes of it. This album would have greatly benefited from more variety. Additional instruments, particularly some sort of percussion, would have made this a much more interesting listen. Regardless, this is indeed a cool album, and I applaud these two musicians for trying something different.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |


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