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John Zorn - 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 9: The Classic Guide To Strategy Volume Three CD (album) cover


John Zorn



2.00 | 2 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
2 stars John Zorn: 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 9: The Classic Guide to Strategy Volume Three [2004]

Rating: 3/10

This ninth volume in John Zorn's 50th Birthday Celebration sequence is not only the most unapproachable album in the series, but one of the most difficult albums Zorn has ever released. This is quite a statement, considering that Zorn is responsible for some of the most challenging music ever created. Tzadik fittingly describes this album as "the basic building blocks of Zorn? revealed in their rawest possible state." As a sequel to Zorn's two The Classic Guide to Strategy albums, this 45-minute performance features Zorn and Zorn alone. He unmercifully rapes his alto sax throughout the entire album's duration without any musical accompaniment whatsoever. Even before listening to the album, anybody familiar with the man's style knows just how brutal such a thing would be.

This is a difficult album to evaluate. On one hand, I have an immense academic respect for what Zorn is able to do here. He gets sounds out of his sax that most people wouldn't think possible: atonal squeaks, low-pitched bellows, full-on screams, animalistic squawks, and other indescribable sonic quandaries. There are points where it honestly sounds like he's playing underwater. In order to consistently create sounds like this throughout an entire concert performance requires an extraordinarily knowledge of how a saxophone works. Zorn clearly has an intimate understanding of the instrument, and albums like this truly show just how creative and boundary-defying that understanding is.

On the other hand, however, I cannot ignore my own subjective impressions. This album is a strain on the ears, plain and simple. Listening to these noises is my idea of a pleasant musical experience, and I don't think that I'm the only one who thinks so. If I asked you to make a list of basic musical terms, chances are that very few of them will be relevant here. Thus, while I have quite a bit of respect for what Zorn is doing on this release, I do not enjoy it at all. Only the bravest musical souls should even consider approaching this, and even they will walk away a bit frazzled.

Anthony H. | 2/5 |


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