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John Zorn


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4 stars If one is interested in dipping their toes into the pool of John Zorn's more avant music, this would be a good place to start. At times boisterous and rowdy and at other times soothingly beautiful, Feminia encompasses all that's great about John Zorn the Composer. There is a good mix of the style of his more accessible Film Works series paired with the unpredictability of his "game pieces" (i.e, Cobra, Xu Feng). I'd also perhaps throw in a bit from his classical works as well for reference.

For this recording Zorn enlisted a small ensemble of talented women who should be familiar names to devoted followers of the Tzadik label. If you think you've got what to expect from this CD all figured out because of the title and the cast involved then you're going to be pleasantly surprised. I've heard some of these performer's solo works and I was still highly intrigued how their talents interacted with one another.

Feminia is only 35 minutes, but is filled with many more inspired passages than most CDs double it's length. This is definitely one of the better John Zorn releases of the two dozen or so CDs I have heard of his.

Report this review (#247890)
Posted Monday, November 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars My first meeting with Zorn's music was when I first listen to the successful Naked city Album and i was fascinated by his amazing ability to do so complicate music with metallic sound . for me ( and for many others for sure ) he is one of the pioneers in the avant garde and the Jazz realm .

His new cd Famina is something that better remind me more like a tribute to the Modern classical composers like Pierre Boulez or John Cage's Music (and someone said it's sounds like Hildegard von Bingen, Meredith Monk, Simone de Beauvoir, Frida Kahlo, Madame Blavatsky, Isadora Duncan, Hélène Cixous, Gertrude Stein, Abe Sada, Sylvia Plath, Louise Bourgeois, Margaret Mead, Loie Fuller, Dorothy Parker, Yoko Ono and the moon goddess En Hedu'Anna. it seems that he's main reason for calling this album Femina is mainly because the instrumentalists of this album are mainly women . The band consists of Jennifer Choi on violin, Sylvie Courvoisier on piano, Carol Emanuel on harp, Okkyung Lee on cello, Ikue Mori on electronics, Shayna Dunkelman on percussion, with Laurie Anderson opening the album with a few seconds of narration. the style of the music is more Classical and rely on other espects . this is not a regular John Zorn cd . it's seems to be more softy - but at the other hand you still can notice the "Harshy" sound that Zorn use to make . for me this album is very unique because the music seem to affected bu Chinese Traditional music . the on disadvantage that i have on this album that it is very short - just 35 minutes long ... BUT - It's still a fresh , Mystherious , Full of magic and Adventurous album . This album will not dissapoint any enthusiased Fan of Zorn , Nor Experimentalists , Very High recomanded !

Report this review (#251821)
Posted Thursday, November 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 35 minutes long John Zorn's minimalistic avant-garde release. Just four compositions, based on neo-classic minimalism, some characteristic "movie music", few touches of jazz and few more electronic explosions you usually expects from Ikue Mori participating.

Music is quite liquid, without special structure or rhythm. But usual Zorn's melodies and sensibility both are presented, so generally it is pleasant listening (for prepared listener). Very short for modern standards album is filled with ideas, so it is concentrated listening. It could be quite accessible even for newcomers (interested in Zorn's neo-classic avant-garde, not in much more accessible Masadas or soundtracks series).

One of strong Zorn's album in avant-garde field.

Report this review (#275805)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars In this album, the prolific composer John Zorn utilizes a small orchestra of musicians to perform his piece called "Femina" which is a tribute to the creativity and ingenuity of 52 specific women, some real and some mythological and fictional. Even though this album is split up into 4 tracks, each track has several short songs which are melded together into one whole. So, with a total run time of a little over 35 minutes, and with each of the 52 women represented in that time, you can expect this to be quite the collection of moods and short quick songs. And so it is. But believe it or not, it is very cohesive.

The music is very engaging and never really gives you much of a chance to get comfortable in one style or mood. John's music can be said to have attention deficit disorder in that it can jump around from a nice lyrical piece to a very dissonant noisy section in the blink of an eye. Yet, with that, the music remains accessible for the most part which makes this album a good introduction to his more classically-influenced music. You have a nice combination of acoustic, traditional instruments and electronic generated sounds and music all through the album. For the most part, this is a minimalistic composition, but don't get comfortable with that because it can change without warning.

I love the fact that Zorn uses both romantic and impressionistic styles together in this album. I always wondered why composers didn't like to mix the classical styles more often than they do and even asked a music professor that questions once. He told me that he really believed that to be the classical music of the future, but the composer would have to be very well versed in all styles to do it well. I really believe Zorn has accomplished that here because everything here works beautifully and it is amazing how the music flows together so well.

Most people reading this review might think this sounds too much like a soundtrack album. But I can assure you that is not the case. It would have been easy for Zorn to fall into this trap, but he has been careful to not let that happen here. And with all of his movie music that he has, he knows the difference.

Also, even though the music can jump around a lot, there are several passages that actually do extend past one minute in length, so it is possible to actually lose yourself in a melody, but as I said earlier, don't expect to get yourself too comfortable. And don't expect many repeats either. I think Zorn is allergic to repeated music or maybe his mind is so creative that he can't stop to rest on a single melody too long without getting bored. I don't know, but I do know that he has created a very engaging piece of work here and even with it's quick changes, it is still accessible, at least in terms of Zorn's music.

Expect a lot of beautiful, lyrical music here with nice thoughtful passages but also expect the instruments to get exploited to their extreme usage and expect crazy electronic passages that will be jolting in relation to the quiet passages. There is so much beauty and genius at work here, if you blink or get distracted, you can actually miss a lot even in a few seconds. This is a definite masterpiece of avant garde classical music that all serious listeners should hear. If this music is still too far out there for you, then you should really limit your time exploring Zorn's discography. But if you love surprises and unpredictability in your music, then you definitely need to continue listening to more of his music. I think anyone could actually find something that will be endearing to them if then search his music long enough, I guess it all depends on how much time you want to devote to the search. But to me, it's worth the time to find a masterpiece like this one. 5 stars.

Report this review (#1369228)
Posted Sunday, February 15, 2015 | Review Permalink

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