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John Zorn - Redbird CD (album) cover

REDBIRD

John Zorn

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

2.75 | 8 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
2 stars John Zorn: Redbird [1995]

Rating: 3/10

A whole lot of nothing.

Redbird is one of John Zorn's most puzzling works. As is the case with many of this solo releases, this is an album of contemporary classical music. This genre term is rather misleading for those unacquainted with Zorn's music, however; don't expect luscious strings and rich harmonies while listening to a John Zorn record. This man approaches his craft in countless different ways, but rest assured that the approach will always be a difficult one. In the case of Redbird, Zorn has gone down the road of minimalism, and when I say minimalism, I mean MINIMALISM. I literally forgot that music was playing during certain points of this album. The album is a tribute to abstract-expressionist painter Agnes Martin; I'm fairly certain that the album cover is a one of her paintings. A glance at this woman's artwork gives a clue as to just how little is happening on this album.

Redbird consists of two pieces: one relatively short, the other a whopping forty minutes long. The first piece, "Dark River", is one of the most head-scratchingly useless things ever put to tape. It is nine minutes of low, barely-audible rumbles. That's it; there's nothing else to say about it. The second self-titled piece has a bit more to it, but not much more. Basically, this piece is centered on a harp/cello/viola sequence that is repeated with slight variation for forty minutes. I cannot discern exactly what this sequence is, nor can I properly indentify its variations. It's hard to tell that this is even a musical piece.

Zorn wanted to create a minimalistic album with Redbird, and he certainly did succeed in this regard. However, this doesn't make the music is interesting or engaging. I have trouble forming an opinion about this album, because there are barely any musical ideas to form an opinion on. However, two things prevent me from giving this a full-on one-star rating. First, the title track does manage to create a somewhat decent atmosphere at points. Second, I have an academic respect for what Zorn is doing with this piece, despite the fact that I don't enjoy it or connect with it on any sort of emotional or artistic level. Those interested in extreme minimalistic composition may want to look into Redbird; everyone else can rightly avoid it.

Anthony H. | 2/5 |

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