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John Zorn - Dictée/Liber Novus CD (album) cover


John Zorn



3.09 | 3 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars John Zorn: Dictee/Liber Novus [2010]

Rating: 6/10

Many of my previous reviews of John Zorn's classical music have indicated slow-building fatigue. To be honest, I don't consider the man to be a particularly good classical composer. Zorn's prowess within the avant-garde/jazz realm is nearly unparalleled, but I don't feel like this talent is properly represented within the majority of his classical compositions, at least not throughout all of the numerous albums that he has released in the style. Fortunately, Dictee/Liber Novus shows Zorn taking a refreshing approach to the genre. Tribal music takes precedence here, with exotic wind instrumentation and driving percussion passages. Ambient soundscapes also creep in. These interesting styles compliment the chamber-music well, but the final product sounds likes a bit like mishmash. The different styles are so disparate from one another that it impedes the music's flow, giving it a stop/start feel.

'Dictee', the first of the two title pieces, is a 23-minute collage of tribal chamber-music. This is a solid piece, but it's inconsistent. Ethereal ethnic flute passages soar gorgeously, but other sections drag on needlessly. An overabundance of dull minimalism slightly mars what could have been a better piece. 'Liber Novus' is an ambient piece with various sound effects, including animal growls, thunder, and horse neighing. This piece has a terrific atmosphere, but it suffers from the same type of avant-garde fluff.

These are two very good compositions. Both feature numerous interesting ideas, showcasing Zorn's immense ability to create musical atmosphere. However, I can't shake a feeling of inconsistency here. I cannot consider this an excellent album; experimental filler pops up far too frequently. Still, there's plenty of solid stuff to be found here. Zorn is never content to rest on his laurels, with albums like displaying just how enormous his creativity can be.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |


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