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John Zorn - Archery CD (album) cover


John Zorn



1.40 | 11 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
1 stars 'Archery' - John Zorn (2/10)

Recommended to me on the basis that this was one of the worst albums ever conceived, I happily strode in to listening to this album by the legendary avant-garde composer John Zorn. While avant-garde music can at times be incredibly dense and challenging, there is a point where the inventiveness gives way to intolerable indulgence, and this is what transpires in 'Archery'. While there is an interesting musical idea at work here, Zorn and co. drag it out beyond any conceivable measure of enjoyment, to the point where the music becomes physically painful to listen to after a while. At first, the musical experiment comes as a pleasant shock, but wears very thin by the twenty minute mark. This becomes even more of an issue when one takes into consideration that, in full, the album is three hours of the same bloody thing.

'Archery' is one of what are called Zorn's 'game pieces', a compositional technique that throws conventional musical notation out the window in favour for a musical direction at the hand of things like random hand gestures, playing cards, and the sort of things that would never typically find their way into a serious musical venture. Think of it like a dissonant, jarring, psychotic brand of family game's night. This fringe concept translates into a very unmusical onslaught of claps, radio static, ambient radio dialogue, instruments being tuned, and a miscellaneous category of sounds I cannot interpret. Throughout the four 'main' tracks on the album, there is usually plenty of stuff going on at the same time. There are plenty of high pitched sounds, and cringe-worthy textures for a listener to analyze to their heart's content. Admittedly, as unpleasant as it is to listen to (and read about), 'Archery' does hold my attention for around ten minutes at a time. There is something about the wholly unmusical quality of the 'sound' that challenges every perception I have about music. Where 'Archery' goes badly, horribly wrong is that the nightmare goes long past the ten minute mark, to the point where I would boldly dare a listener to even attempt to sit through all of it.

In short, the damned thing goes on for three hours. Even one of these six tracks is bound to have 90% of the listeners throw in the towel, and as albums must be judged hollistically, it's basically impossible to recommend an album that I cannot finish in one sitting myself. Interesting for the first ten minutes, regardless of what point in the album you start listening to it. There is one twisted idea here that gets raped, stretched, and replicated to the point of insanity. I feel exhausted writing about it.

Conor Fynes | 1/5 |


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