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HOCKEY

John Zorn

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars John Zorn: Hockey [1997]

Rating: 3/10

Hockey is the third of four early Zorn pieces that are commonly referred to as The Parachute Years. Like its three companion albums, Hockey is a "game-piece"; in other words, it's a controlled improvisation centered on extra-musical rules/guidelines. In theory, a game-piece is an innovative and intriguing musical experiment. In practice, however, I find most of these pieces to be absolutely impenetrable and unmercifully boring. They sound like nothing but haphazard spouts of noise.

Hockey, however, is a slight exception. Unlike the other three pieces in this series, it is possible to at least somewhat indentify the direction the music is attempting to take here. The album is divided into two sections: the electric version and the acoustic version. The electric version is a sci-fi ambient improv with all kinds of zany electronic sound effects. There are some good ambient parts here, but most of it sounds like straight noise. The acoustic version is a lengthy sequence of violin and percussive sounds. The sounds actually manage to form a perceptible sequence, and certain sections are fairly interesting, but the piece as a whole is repetitive and tiresome.

While Hockey is undoubtedly the best of these four releases, it certainly is not anything particularly aurally amazing. It is possible to listen though this whole thing without becoming interminably bored, and a clear musical goal can be perceived. However, these are fairly basic musical criteria, and just meeting them and them alone is not nearly enough to create a good album, much less a great one. While Hockey is a competent avant-garde release, its quality can only be appreciated when it's compared to its atrocious companions.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#512314)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | Review Permalink

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