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John Zorn - Mysterium CD (album) cover

MYSTERIUM

John Zorn

RIO/Avant-Prog


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3 stars Worth for the track Frammenti del Sappho alone, a gorgeous piece for five female voices treated as instruments. Very soothing and calm, not something you hear very often from Zorn. The first track Orphee is a variation of Debussy chamber piece, succeeding in updating it with modern electronics. It’s generally led by a flute altered with viola while the harp, percussion, celeste and electronics create the background. The last composition for a string trio in three movements is decent enough to keep you interested to the end. The entire cd is short (clocking at 33 minutes) but it’s an interesting listen, nevertheless. Far from essential, though.
Report this review (#78710)
Posted Friday, May 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album contains no free-jazz, downtown hardcore or film music. The music there could be classified as contemporary (classic) avant and contains some instrumental minimalist pieces for chamber strings,percussion and flute, Ikue Mori on characteristic avant electronics and female small choir a-Capella.

All 5 compositions are quite different, but common and quite unusual for Zorn's music of any genre is quite soft sound and almost romantic atmosphere. Vocal pieces are enough classical a Capella compositions with nice female voices, instrumental pieces are more radical free form avant contemporary compositions with domination of strings and electronics.

All album being representative for some forms of contemporary avant garde music has no relations with any form of jazz or rock music though. Could be recommended to listen to Zorn's fans and everyone seeking for unusual music outside of prog rock/jazz frames.

Report this review (#371665)
Posted Monday, January 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The second station on my seven-album beginner's tour through the voluminous discography of John Zorn finds the artist once again switching musical hats, something he does with a dexterity bordering on sleight of hand. This time he traded his Jazz fedora for a Neo-Classical chapeau, in three original pieces for progressively smaller ensembles, each opus resembling the soundtrack to an obscure European art-house film.

Zorn himself doesn't perform on the album, but his restless intellect is all over every note of music. The album opener "Orphée" might have been a selection from an alternative score to Jean Cocteau's 1950 screen masterpiece of the same name: a playful update of Greek mythology set in a swinging Left Bank art colony. References to Debussy provide an occasional respite of melodic grace, and the unexpected electronic embellishments lift the piece above the usual arid, orchestrated post-modern exercise.

The longer "Frammenti del Sappho" is a vocal arrangement for a female quintet, lovely stuff but following the same agenda, all but inscrutable to anyone unschooled in classical music theory and notation. And the final, three-part "Walpurgisnacht" (named for the annual witches sabbath in older pagan calendars) features a string trio scraping and plucking in careful syncopation, again suggesting a modern ballet score, minus the choreography.

Legitimate chamber music of such exquisite refinement doesn't really belong anywhere near a web site named ProgArchives, except perhaps as a link to parallel avenues of musical evolution. Add a heavy Prog Rock rhythm section and the same album would be a magnet for enthusiastic five-star accolades. Otherwise it would have to stand as an acquired taste for all but the most delicate palates.

Report this review (#1463726)
Posted Wednesday, September 16, 2015 | Review Permalink

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