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John Zorn - Chimeras CD (album) cover

CHIMERAS

John Zorn

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.02 | 7 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars John Zorn: Chimeras [2003]

Rating: 5/10

John Zorn has produced countless contemporary-classical albums over the course of his career, and none of them are known for their adherence to musical convention. However, Chimeras is certainly one of the strangest works that he has ever produced in the genre. It's not the most inaccessible; when compared to some of his other albums, this sounds like a Disney soundtrack. It's not the most complex, either; I often need to furrow my brow in concentration while listening to Zorn, but this album didn't bowl me over too much in that respect. When it comes to pure head-scratching bizarreness, however, Chimeras is a top contender.

This album consists of one 33-minute long piece divided into thirteen parts. This piece features multifaceted chamber music that frequently transitions from minimalistic brooding to flamboyant bombast. This is fairly normal Zorn fare, however. The vocals are what really make this album strange. Ilana Davidson gives a wailing operatic performance that is more technically interesting than aesthetically pleasing. Her vocal range is absolutely incredible, and the vast majority of that range is explored here.

Chimeras is quite an interesting listen, but it fails to be consistently compelling. The directionless nature of the music is both an asset and a hindrance. It keeps the music fresh, but it also results in truncated and unsatisfying musical ideas. A few musicians really shine here, though. Steven Drury gives an excellent piano performance; this is to be expected given the breadth of the man's talent. Tara O'Connor's flute work is also quite impressive. Her playing adds a sinister element to the normally melodious instrument. Despite these excellent performances, however, I find myself underwhelmed by Chimeras as a whole. It's not the worst classical album Zorn album has ever done, but it's far away from the best, either.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |

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