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John Zorn


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John Zorn Elegy album cover
3.51 | 19 ratings | 2 reviews | 16% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Blue (7:08)
2. Yellow (2:48)
3. Pink (15:44)
4. Black (3:42)

Total Time: 29:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Barbara Chaffe / alto and bass flute
- David Abel / viola
- Scummy / guitar
- David Shea / turntables
- David Slusser / sound effects
- William Winant / percussion
- Mike Patton / voice

Releases information

CD Eva Records (WWCX 2040), 1992
CD 99 Records (2112), 1992
CD Tzadik (TZ 7302), 1995
CD Evva (33004), 1995

Thanks to Joren for the addition
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JOHN ZORN Elegy ratings distribution

(19 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(26%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (21%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

JOHN ZORN Elegy reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars JOHN ZORN's vast canon of avant-garde sounds is daunting if you happen to take a quick glimpse at his discography as a whole. As of 2019 he has released no less than 145 albums of disparate genres ranging from his more familiar avant-garde jazz motifs to highly experimental rock and chamber orchestral music to even grindcore. After introducing the world to his unique hyperactive form of saxophone squawking that fires off like an AK-47 during a road rage incident somewhere in the USA at any given moment, ZORN quickly proved to be quite prolific in not only his own incessant studio output but also as a collaborator with like-minded weirdos who apparently have nothing better to do than dream up and record the most bizarre musical expressions in the known universe.

While ZORN is mondo bizarro in his own right, add a couple members of Mr Bungle and i'm talking Mike Patton with Trey Spruance (penned here merely as "Scummy") and you are sure to have more fun than a barrel of monkeys dressed in drag and heading to Mardis Gras and enough weirdness to scare the bejesus out of Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa AND the Gerogerigegege for good measure. ZORN found a bit of notoriety as Patton's object of obsession and main inspiration and appeared on the first Mr Bungle album. Striking up a friendship only music freaks could ever understand, the two became best buds and Patton as a reciprocity, ZORN featured Patton on many of his own music works with this album ELEGY being one of the first.

While ZORN flooded the 80s with a series of avant-garde jazz releases in 1988 he created the experimental rock band Naked City and released a few albums under that moniker but starting with ELEGY he was back to solo releases, well sort of. While released as a bona fide ZORN album, this album of classical chamber music mixed with avant-garde jazz and the occasional drifting into everything from dark ambient and turntable music to even throat singing and choral chants follows in the footsteps of ZORN's 1987 album "Cuba" where he contributes no instrumental playing at all and instead steps back and provides the role of organizer and producer. Existing in an avant-garde playground of its own atonal and dissonant making, ELEGY showcases the talents of other musicians all united under the JOHN ZORN banner.

This album was dedicated to Jean Genet who was a French novelist, playwright, essayist and political activist whose main time in the spotlight was roughly from the 50s on. Equally known for his criminal activities as well as homosexual promiscuity (he was once a prostitute even), Genet provides the perfect subject matter for this dark terrorizing tribute in four pieces that each have a color as a title. Part avant-garde jazz and part 20th century classical mixed with strange outbursts of decibel maximizing after creepy acoustic build ups, ELEGY finds David Abel (viola), Barbara Chaffe (alto flute, bass flute), David Shea (turntables), David Susser (effects), Trey Spruance (as Scummy on guitar), William Winant (drums) and Mike Patton on vocals creating some extremely challenging musical motifs and yes this is defiantly some sort of music although it sounds like music from an alternative universe.

The four tracks, "Blue," "Yellow," "Pink" and "Black" all exude their own haunting charm but are quite varied in how they squirm around from mutated chamber orchestral music to freaky vocal perversions that remind me of Patton's avant-garde freakery on albums like "Pranzo Oltranzista." This is truly creepy music with unsettled flutes, violas and effects building up ghostly soundscapes that are sometimes accompanied by heavy breathing, sometimes ethnic tribal chants, throat singing or whatever Mr Patton can conjure up at the moment. Likewise the percussion and guitar strive to be as far outside of the box as possible and the scant few moments of recognizable music come from tribal drum circle type motifs but usually clamor on in bizarre irregular and often jittery cymbal abuse and jazzy interludes from the most avant-garde sector of the universe.

ELEGY, much like Genet's life, is a startling reality. Unnerving avant-garde musical scales create an unresolved feeling but in a quiet placid state of mind only to be unpredictably interrupted by cacophonous outbursts of drumming frenzies, turntables gone wild as well as all the instruments just completely freaking out totally. This would be one of many collaborations between ZORN and Patton but perhaps this is one of the most interesting as the dynamics are haphazard and the album definitely achieves the alienation effect without coming across as forced. This really seems like a series of compositions that are being expressed in some completely extraterrestrial tradition. While this album defiantly flaunts its avant-garde mastery unapologetically, the album is quite intricately designed and showcases ZORN's unique contributions to the world of avant-garde and experimental rock outside the context of his more usual comfort zone as sax squawker on speed.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Jean Genet was a 20th Century French writer. His life met with upheaval involving prostitution, theft, and imprisonment. Genet seemed to have a predilection for crime and homosexual eroticism (i wish to stress that i have no objection to the latter whatsoever), which illustrates itself in his ... (read more)

Report this review (#110337) | Posted by Reverie | Thursday, February 1, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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