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John Zorn - The Dreamers CD (album) cover

THE DREAMERS

John Zorn

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.15 | 11 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars John Zorn: The Dreamers [2008]

Rating: 6/10

The Dreamers is the fourth volume in John Zorn's Music Romance series. This series displays a different side of John Zorn musical personality. For the most part, these albums are focused on the more melodic side of his sound. Zorn is a man of many talents. While he may be best known for his ear-splitting free-jazz insanity, he is also capable of making harmonious - and, at times, downright pretty - music. Such is the case with The Dreamers. This is an eclectic release; it touches on melodic jazz, surf music, psychedelic rock, blues, and soft-rock. Although I greatly enjoy Zorn's melodic compositions, I was not particularly impressed with this release. There are a few excellent tracks here, but the album as a whole is bit too pleasant for its own good. It often feels like background music that would not be out of place at a cocktail party. There are tracks here that your grandmother probably wouldn't mind listening to.

"Mow Mow" opens the album with some pleasant surf-rock. Marc Ribot's guitar is excellent, but this piece is mostly uninteresting otherwise. "Uluwati" features a catchy main theme, but not much else. "A Ride on Cottonfair" is an excellent piano-centered melodic jazz piece ala Vince Guaraldi. "Anulikwutsayl" is a psychedelic guitar jam that overstays its welcome for about four minutes. Zorn breaks out his sax on "Toys." This piece is both melodic and cacophonous, with insane electric piano and vibes. It's quite an interesting listen. "Of Wonder and Certainty (For Lou Reed)" is another uninteresting surf piece. The soft surf/jazz continues on the needlessly repetitive "Mystic Circles." "Nekashim" is a boring track redeemed by fantastic vibe work. "Exodus" is the definite highlight of the album. It's a psychedelic jam with phenomenal organ drones. "Forbidden Tears" is another dull surf piece. "Rakassa" ends the album nicely with more searing guitar work from Ribot.

The Dreamers is a nice album, but it fails to provide any sort of solid substance. The light atmosphere, coupled with the needless repetition, brings this bit too close to musak for my tastes. The musicianship is superb, particularly from Marc Ribot, but the compositions don't normally give the musicians enough room to spread their wings. This being said, there are some great tracks to be found here. However, these good ideas are often extended beyond their reasonable capacities. There isn't much to hate on this release, but there isn't much to love, either. The Dreamers is nicely polished, but there's little to be found beneath the gloss.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |

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