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John Zorn - Music For Children CD (album) cover

MUSIC FOR CHILDREN

John Zorn

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

2.05 | 6 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
1 stars John Zorn: Music for Children [1998]

Rating: 2/10

Keep your children away.

Music for Children is the first album in John Zorn's Music Romance series. One does not exactly have to be a John Zorn scholar to know that a Zorn album entitled Music for Children has absolutely nothing to do with the auditory entertainment of the prepubescent. In fact, an album with such a title is quite likely to repel children, as well as anybody with a delicate constitution. I knew this before I listened, but I must admit that even I was surprised at the level of unpleasantness that this album reaches. It is a very eclectic piece of work that covers various different genres such as jazzcore, exotica, contemporary classical, and ambient. It plays like a sampler of Zorn's different avant-garde styles. Thus, this album is difficult to judge because it has no stylistic constancy. I figured the most reasonable way to evaluate it would be to factor the styles given the most running time as the most important arbiters of the album's overall quality. The album dedicates about a fifth of its time to enjoyable music; the rest is devoted to utter wretchedness.

The album opens with "Fils Des Etoiles." This is a short xylophone piece. It's not terrible, but it isn't special, either. "This Way Out" is a short burst of super-speed longue jazz. It's good, but unfortunately only a minute long. The fourteen-minute title track is one of Zorn's most useless chamber-music pieces. It's nothing but haphazard strings with no musical direction whatsoever. After two brief bursts of jazzcore ("Bikini Atoll" and "Bone Crusher"), we get a complete sonic shift with "Dreamer of Dreams." This track is the definite highlight of the album. It's a slow-paced exotica piece, with plodding bass and excellent guitar. This good track is quickly dashed to hell, however, by the twenty-minute "Cycle Du Nord." This track is one of the worst things I've ever heard. It features twenty minutes of sound from wind machines and "acoustic feedback systems." I don't have any idea what an "acoustic feedback system" is, but I can assure you that the noises it makes are just as unpleasant as you can imagine. This wretched beeping is combined with horrifically shrill wind whistling. The result is one of the most absurdly intolerable musical experiences I've ever subjected myself to. I can say with almost absolute certainly that I will never listen to this piece again. The album closes with "Sooki's Lullaby." This is a short musical-box piece. It's unobjectionable, but it's also entirely unmemorable.

I was initially hesitant to give Music for Children a one-star rating. Not all the songs are bad; in fact, "Cycle Du Nord" is the only one that's absolutely terrible. However, the fact that that utterly horrendous track takes up almost half of the album's length tips my rating in favor of the extremely negative. While the other music on the album isn't nearly as bad, it's certainly not good enough to save the record from the interminable awfulness of that track. This "avant-garde for the sake of avant-garde" approach grows immensely tiresome. I find to it to be an incredibly immature way to approach musical composition. I could turn a fan on and record it for 45 minutes. Does that make it musical? No. This album is best avoided.

Anthony H. | 1/5 |

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