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John Zorn - Mysterium CD (album) cover

MYSTERIUM

John Zorn

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.02 | 6 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars John Zorn: Mysterium [2005]

Rating: 5/10

John Zorn is a not a musician known for resting on his laurels. This man has produced avant-garde interpretations of virtually every musical style imaginable. He is constantly changing direction, both as a musician and as a composer. When a new Zorn album is released, one has little idea what to expect. However, after listening to a large portion of the man's voluminous contemporary-classical albums, I often feel as if I am stuck in a musical rut. Many of these albums blend together; I have trouble distinguishing one from another. The style is relatively uniform: dissonant classical compositions with jangling strings and brooding minimalism. However, Zorn occasionally creates a piece that adds a new level of freshness to albums like these. Such is the case here; there is one fabulous piece to be found, but the rest of the album is tired and uninteresting.

The album opens with "Orphee", a flute-centered piece with no sense of musical direction whatsoever. The complete lack of compositional coherency makes this a weak piece. 'Frammenti Del Sappho" is an absolutely gorgeous a-cappella piece that saves this album from mediocrity. The vocal layering here is nothing short of astounding, and the melodies are beautiful. The three-movement string-quartet "Walpurgisnacht" concludes the short album. Zorn has made about a thousand pieces like this before. There's no need for me to describe it.

"Frammenti Del Sappho" is quite an intriguing piece. It easily stands as one of my favorite of Zorn's classical compositions. However, the rest of the album consists of nothing but glorified noodling. Perhaps I'm merely failing to grasp the academic worth of these pieces; I don't know. What I do know is they're not entertaining in the slightest. There's nothing there for me to grab on to emotionally. Mysterium is worth looking into merely because of the aforementioned piece; otherwise, it is unessential in every sense of the word.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |

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