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John Zorn


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John Zorn Simulacrum - The Painted Bird album cover
3.93 | 16 ratings | 2 reviews | 19% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2016

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Snakeskin (7:43)
2. Plague (2:58)
3. Ravens (3:51)
4. Comet (3:20)
5. Cinders (3:23)
6. Nettles (3:06)
7. Night (5:19)
8. Spike (3:27)
9. Missal (4:19)

Total time 37:26

Line-up / Musicians

- John Medeski / organ
- Matt Hollenberg / guitar
- Kenny Wollesen / vibes
- Kenny Grohowski / drums
- Ches Smith / congas, Voudun drums

Releases information

ArtWork: Detail of Hieronymus Bosch (c.1450-1516) painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights"

CD Tzadik 8342 (March 18, 2016)
Digital album Tzadik (March 18, 2016)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to TCat for the last updates
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JOHN ZORN Simulacrum - The Painted Bird ratings distribution

(16 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

JOHN ZORN Simulacrum - The Painted Bird reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by admireArt
4 stars John Zorn's discography either as solo artist, band member, composer, performer/collaborator, director or producer is huge. It will take a life time effort to keep up with it, less write about each release under his blessing. This being the fourth CD in a 12-month period by Zorn's new ensemble (including long time accomplice John Medeski).

So, I do consider myself lucky of having acquired this 2016 "The Painted Bird" release in which traditional Jazz structures and modern Jazz improvisations are reconstructed via the heavy metal way. A clash of 3 musical worlds balanced throughly and to experimental perfection without any kind of condescending attitude towards neither of the styles.

A daring and flawless performance full of extremely well crafted details true to the nature of their roots yet always on the look out for unsuspected detours or musical expression options, as usual with the non-mainstream soul of this musician's projects.

Music composition wise its creative proposals go beyond the mere blending of styles, opposite to that it explores deeply into its own "crossover" encounters but never losing its balanced focus or becoming indulgent. It is extremely experimental yet at the same time friendly, in John Zorn's terms of course.

Anyway, serious fun to call it somehow.

****4 PA stars.

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars The music of John Zorn's umpteenth 2016 album (that's only a slight exaggeration) describes the point of impact where Jazz and Rock not only intersect, but totally obliterate each other in a matter/anti-matter annihilation of sound. If you're looking for one of his more polite neo-classical fusions, be warned: this ain't it.

The album instead presents a near-literal instrumental holocaust, and I don't choose that loaded word lightly. Zorn was (possibly) inspired by the notorious 1965 Jerzy Kosinski novel of the same name, which follows a Jewish orphan in the early days of World War II across "a Bosch-like world of harrowing excess", according to one source. Zorn extends the simile to his album cover illustration, likewise borrowed from Hieronymus Bosch: a detail from his sprawling triptych "The Last Judgement" (center panel, lower right).

Look at the canvas, listen to the music, and you'll discover parallel worlds of metaphysical chaos. The album mixes jazzy vibraphones (by Kenny Wollesen, as usual), grinding Hammond organ (from old pal John Medeski) and distorted electric guitars, with a crazed rhythm section adding drums, more drums, and a battery of bass guitar, because it wasn't necessary. And if you can't imagine the acoustic vibraphone as an essential tool of Heavy Metal, you obviously aren't familiar with the music of John Zorn.

Even the composer's own Tzadik record label describes it as "insane". Which would of course make it a perfect musical analogue of European history, circa 1940.

This was one of maybe a dozen albums released by Zorn in 2016, each in a different musical idiom (and with different sets of musicians), and none requiring the composer to wear a bucket on his head to get our attention. Over his decades-long career Zorn has done everything from classical chamber music to straight jazz to soundtracks and surf music. But sometimes he apparently just has to let all his demons off their collective tether, and crank up the volume.

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