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Fred Frith - 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 5: Fred Frith / John Zorn CD (album) cover

50TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION VOLUME 5: FRED FRITH / JOHN ZORN

Fred Frith

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I guess you had to be there.

Sounds like crazy Zorn strangling his horn with atmospheric Fred sodomizing an electric guitar (thanks to Dali for inspiring the Frith comment). I didn't have any Zorn in collection, that I know of, but have long been a term Frith fan. I've read some good things about Zorn, so I thought "this could be interesting" and ordered it without hearing it first. Yikes! Well, now that I've heard it, I guess my opinion is now "this could be interesting".

Actually, the more melodic parts, and there are a few, sort of remind me of some of Mel Collins era King Crimson. And speaking of Crimson, this is a more enjoyable listen than Thrakattak, which probably isn't saying much. It's a live show of the duo doing improvisations and some of the track titles are particularly apt for the music contained within: Off Topic, Cruel Abstraction, and let's not even mention Cord Trouble And Tuning.

Well, the audience certainly seemed to enjoy the show and judging from the applause I hear after each track, I don't think too many of them ran away in terror. Either they knew what they were getting into or were very brave souls indeed. This music is not for the faint of heart. Might be useful in keeping you up if you're driving late at night if doesn't cause you to run off the road.

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Send comments to Slartibartfast (BETA) | Report this review (#175432)
Posted Thursday, June 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars One more live album from Zorn's 50-th anniversary series. All series releases illustrate different sides of Zorn's music during decades of his activities. And all releases are very different.

This one, John Zorn and ex- Henry Cow, Massacre guitarist and Naked City bassist Fred Frith duo is free form avant jazz. Pure improvisational music without structure, fixed form and rhythm section at all. Just crazy Zorn's screaming sax and strange aerial, sometimes fast Frith guitars. Nothing else. As you understand yet no melodies for sure.

Free music in free space. How many people could enjoy such music? 0,00001% of Earth population? I think possibly 0,00001% of music fans. Is this music so bad? Don't think so. How many people can enjoy Malevich paintings? Far not everyone. But he's a great painter, isn't it?

This album could be interesting for free jazz fans. Not like it's a free jazz masterpiece, but it's interesting to listen two really great musicians in their live free form improvs.

Music lovers believing that right music should have structure, orchestral arrangements and melody should avoid this album even as free gift. Newcomers to free avant jazz should start in other place as well just to avoid first unpleasant experience.

My rating is 2,5 rounded to 3.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#295796)
Posted Sunday, August 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Fred Frith/John Zorn: 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 5 [2004]

Rating: 3/10

John Zorn and Fred Frith share a well-documented creative friendship. Both men are artists with strange off-kilter sensibilities, so a musical partnership between the two is a match made in heaven. Zorn's collaborations with Frith have constituted large portions of his musical life. Thus, another collaboration album was inevitable when the retrospective 50th Birthday Celebration concert series was announced. This album consists of a 45-minute-long series of improvisations. Anyone familiar with either of these musicians' improvisational styles should have fairly good idea of what to expect here. Zorn rapes the saxophone in unholy ways, creating squeaks, squawks, screams, and screeches. Those who have watched Frith improvise know that it is often more entertaining to watch than to listen to. He abuses his electric guitar with various objects, from keys to drumsticks to brushes.

So, what we have here is a steaming pie full of brutal avant-garde insanity. Zorn inhumanly strangles his sax, and Frith makes noises that I can't even begin to understand, much less describe. There are occasional melodious moments, but the majority of this performance consists of extreme dissonance and atonality. It doesn't conform to "music" as most people understand it. This album is academically interesting, but it's an enormous strain on the ears. I consider myself to be a brave musical soul, but this was still a bit much for me. Enter at your own risk.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#571092)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 | Review Permalink

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