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Fred Frith - 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 5: Fred Frith / John Zorn CD (album) cover


Fred Frith



2.34 | 5 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Fred Frith/John Zorn: 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 5 [2004]

Rating: 3/10

John Zorn and Fred Frith share a well-documented creative friendship. Both men are artists with strange off-kilter sensibilities, so a musical partnership between the two is a match made in heaven. Zorn's collaborations with Frith have constituted large portions of his musical life. Thus, another collaboration album was inevitable when the retrospective 50th Birthday Celebration concert series was announced. This album consists of a 45-minute-long series of improvisations. Anyone familiar with either of these musicians' improvisational styles should have fairly good idea of what to expect here. Zorn rapes the saxophone in unholy ways, creating squeaks, squawks, screams, and screeches. Those who have watched Frith improvise know that it is often more entertaining to watch than to listen to. He abuses his electric guitar with various objects, from keys to drumsticks to brushes.

So, what we have here is a steaming pie full of brutal avant-garde insanity. Zorn inhumanly strangles his sax, and Frith makes noises that I can't even begin to understand, much less describe. There are occasional melodious moments, but the majority of this performance consists of extreme dissonance and atonality. It doesn't conform to "music" as most people understand it. This album is academically interesting, but it's an enormous strain on the ears. I consider myself to be a brave musical soul, but this was still a bit much for me. Enter at your own risk.

Anthony H. | 2/5 |


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