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John Zorn - Rituals CD (album) cover


John Zorn



2.25 | 5 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
2 stars John Zorn: Rituals [2005]

Rating: 3/10

As many of my previous reviews have indicated, I am finding myself getting a bit sick of John Zorn's contemporary-classical releases. He has released innumerable albums in this style, and many of them are virtually indistinguishable from one another. However, he occasionally creates classical pieces that truly manage to strike me; because of this, I find myself compelled to further explore this work in this genre. Rituals is a short operatic composition split into five parts. Zorn rarely includes vocals in his classical pieces, but when he does, the results are normally hit-or-miss. Unfortunately, the vocals fail here. They are unmelodious and irritating to listen to.

Zorn adds a few others new twists into the mix, as well. The typical classical/chamber-music instrumentation is complimented with, well, noise. Specifically: noise from wind machines, bowls of BBs, fishing reels, and other such assorted paraphernalia. Zorn has used wind machines before; "Cycles Du Nord" is a 19-minute musique-concrete piece primarily centered on them. Unfortunately, I find that to be an absolutely abominable piece in every way, shape, and form. Thus, I was quite displeased that he had returned to that style here. There is no musical value to be found in such piercing noise. Fortunately, the brutal whistling is balanced against the instrumentation. While not terribly interesting, the strings, piano, and flutes are competent and somewhat enjoyable to listen to. The wretched noise ruins most of it, however.

I respect what Zorn is trying to do here, but this isn't an enjoyable listen. It's unsettling and uncomfortable, but not in an artistic way; rather, it creates these sensations through randomly harsh sounds. There's some good music to be found here. However, it is buried under useless experimentalism. Once again, Zorn's insatiable need to be avant-garde sullies what could have been a vastly superior piece of work.

Anthony H. | 2/5 |


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