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JOHN ZORN

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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John Zorn biography
Born 1953-09-02 in Queens, NYC, USA

Although very few people would think of John Zorn as a progressive rock artist, his close relation to the genre can't be denied. Not only has he repeatedly joined forces with Fred Frith (Henry Cow, Art Bears), he has also collaborated on several occasions with Mike Patton (Mr. Bungle, Fantômas) and Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle). Maybe just as important is the fact that Zorn's side project Naked City is generally regarded as an important avant-rock/jazz outfit, and his Painkiller project takes things to even greater extremes with a mix of grindcore and free jazz. On top of that, there are several prog bands that mention him as a source of inspiration, and his Tzadik label has helped keeping avant-garde music alive by releasing albums of such prolific artists as Mike Patton, Maudlin Of The Well-offshoot Kayo Dot, Toby Driver, Buckethead, Fred Frith, Ruins, and many others. So, although not a "progrock" artist per se, Zorn's connection to the RIO/avant-prog scene is obvious and his discography is a valuable addition to the ever-increasing Prog Archives website.

Born in New York at September 2, 1953, John Zorn initially studied piano, flute, and guitar and learned contemporary art music through a program of self-study. He took up the alto saxophone (which was to become his major instrument) and began to study jazz at age twenty. Zorn has always been interested in many kinds of music, including such 20th-century composers as Igor Stravinsky, Anton Webern, Charles Ives, Edgard Varèse, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Harry Partch, John Cage, and Mauricio Kagel, but he is also very fond of free jazz musicians such as Ornette Coleman, film music composer Ennio Morricone, and Carl Stallings, who wrote music for cartoons. In addition, Zorn's influences include doo-wop and other pop music, including thrash metal/grindcore band Napalm Death. As a teenager, Zorn was already writing contemporary art music in the vein of the composers mentioned above, and the influence of two of them figures strongly in Zorn's later works (in which he experimented with aspects of chance, after Cage, and 'game pieces', after Kagel). His liking of extreme metal led to the founding (around 1990) of the groups Naked City and Painkiller. In addition to the aforementioned 'game pieces' (including "Lacrosse", "Pool", "Hockey" and "Archery") and avant-metal (including "Naked City" and Painkiller's "Guts Of A Virgin"), Zorn has released recordings of chamber mus...
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JOHN ZORN discography


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JOHN ZORN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

1.25 | 4 ratings
School (With Eugene Chadbourne)
1978
1.40 | 5 ratings
Environment For Sextet (with Andrea Centazzo, Eugene Chadbourne, Tom Cora, Toshinori Kondo, Polly Bradfield )
1979
3.00 | 6 ratings
Pool
1980
1.40 | 11 ratings
Archery
1981
1.50 | 6 ratings
Yankees (with Derek Bailey & George Lewis)
1982
2.42 | 17 ratings
Locus Solus
1983
2.60 | 10 ratings
The Classic Guide To Strategy, Volume One
1983
3.37 | 10 ratings
Ganryu Island (Michihiro Sato / John Zorn)
1985
2.13 | 8 ratings
The Classic Guide To Strategy, Volume Two
1985
3.16 | 28 ratings
The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays The Music Of Ennio Morricone
1986
3.91 | 30 ratings
Spillane
1987
3.20 | 24 ratings
Spy Vs. Spy: The Music Of Ornette Coleman
1988
3.10 | 12 ratings
News for Lulu (with George Lewis / Bill Frisell)
1988
2.67 | 6 ratings
Cynical Hysterie Hour (Film Works VII)
1989
3.50 | 18 ratings
Elegy
1992
2.68 | 22 ratings
Kristallnacht
1993
3.52 | 10 ratings
The Art Of Memory (John Zorn / Fred Frith)
1995
2.00 | 5 ratings
First Recordings 1973
1995
3.35 | 14 ratings
Redbird
1995
2.14 | 7 ratings
Nani Nani (Dekoboko Hajime / Yamantaka Eye)
1995
1.97 | 9 ratings
The Book Of Heads
1995
1.50 | 6 ratings
Film Works II: Music For An Untitled Film By Walter Hill
1995
2.71 | 7 ratings
Film Works III: 1990-1995
1995
2.20 | 5 ratings
Film Works V: Tears Of Ecstasy
1996
2.20 | 5 ratings
Film Works VI: 1996
1996
2.83 | 6 ratings
Hockey
1997
3.20 | 5 ratings
Lacrosse
1997
2.80 | 10 ratings
New Traditions In East Asian Bar Bands
1997
1.75 | 4 ratings
Film Works IV: S/M + More
1997
3.23 | 13 ratings
Duras: Duchamp
1997
2.50 | 4 ratings
Euclid's Nightmare (John Zorn / Bobby Previte)
1997
3.03 | 11 ratings
Angelus Novus
1998
2.50 | 4 ratings
Film Works VIII:1997
1998
2.71 | 7 ratings
Aporias: Requia For Piano And Orchestra
1998
3.50 | 10 ratings
The Bribe - Variations And Extensions On Spillane
1998
3.00 | 11 ratings
Music For Children
1998
3.71 | 14 ratings
Taboo & Exile
1999
3.33 | 12 ratings
The String Quartets
1999
2.67 | 6 ratings
Xu Feng
2000
3.56 | 9 ratings
Cartoon S/M
2000
3.00 | 6 ratings
Film Works IX: Trembling Before G-d
2000
2.20 | 5 ratings
Film Works X: In The Mirror Of Maya Deren
2001
3.78 | 17 ratings
The Gift
2001
3.84 | 10 ratings
Madness, Love And Mysticism
2001
3.00 | 7 ratings
Songs From The Hermetic Theater
2001
3.77 | 11 ratings
IAO
2002
3.83 | 5 ratings
Film Works XI: 2002 Volume One - Under The Wing
2002
2.80 | 5 ratings
Film Works XII: 2002 Volume Two - Three Documentaries
2002
3.38 | 8 ratings
Film Works XIII: 2002 Volume Three - Invitation To A Suicide
2002
3.71 | 5 ratings
Film Works XIV: Hiding And Seeking
2003
3.10 | 10 ratings
Chimeras
2003
3.53 | 14 ratings
Magick
2004
2.50 | 4 ratings
Naninani II (Yamataka Eye / John Zorn)
2004
3.00 | 7 ratings
Film Works XV: Protocols Of Zion
2005
3.63 | 8 ratings
Rituals
2005
2.50 | 4 ratings
Film Works XVI: Working Man's Death
2005
4.33 | 9 ratings
Sanatorium Under The Sign Of The Hourglass
2005
3.00 | 11 ratings
Mysterium
2005
3.00 | 4 ratings
Film Works XVII: Notes On Marie Menken / Ray Bandar: A Life With Skulls
2006
1.67 | 3 ratings
Film Works XVIII: The Treatment
2006
2.23 | 7 ratings
From Silence to Sorcery
2007
4.23 | 15 ratings
Film Works XIX: The Rain Horse
2008
3.59 | 19 ratings
The Dreamers
2008
3.00 | 5 ratings
Filmworks XX: Sholem Aleichem
2008
3.20 | 5 ratings
Filmworks XXI: Belle de Nature/The New Rijksmuseum
2008
3.25 | 4 ratings
Filmworks XXII: The Last Supper
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Art Of Memory II (John Zorn / Fred Frith)
2008
3.44 | 9 ratings
Filmworks XXIII: El General
2009
3.94 | 12 ratings
Alhambra Love Songs
2009
3.70 | 36 ratings
O'o
2009
4.21 | 15 ratings
Femina
2009
3.89 | 29 ratings
In Search Of The Miraculous
2010
0.00 | 0 ratings
a child's adventures in the realms of the unreal
2010
3.84 | 12 ratings
Ipsissimus
2010
2.71 | 7 ratings
Late Works (with Fred Frith)
2010
3.71 | 7 ratings
Dictée/Liber Novus
2010
3.98 | 17 ratings
The Goddess - Music for the Ancient of Days
2010
3.88 | 5 ratings
Filmworks XXIV: The Nobel Prizewinner
2010
3.43 | 7 ratings
What Thou Wilt
2010
4.69 | 16 ratings
Interzone
2010
3.19 | 8 ratings
Nova Express
2011
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Satyr's Play - Cerberus
2011
3.00 | 2 ratings
Enigmata
2011
3.40 | 5 ratings
At the Gates of Paradise
2011
3.14 | 7 ratings
A Dreamers Christmas
2011
4.08 | 16 ratings
Mount Analogue
2012
3.88 | 5 ratings
The Gnostic Trio: The Gnostic Preludes
2012
3.82 | 15 ratings
Nosferatu
2012
4.41 | 13 ratings
Templars-In Sacred Blood
2012
3.20 | 5 ratings
The Hermetic Organ
2012
2.25 | 4 ratings
Rimbaud
2012
3.17 | 6 ratings
A Vision In Blakelight
2012
1.50 | 2 ratings
Music And Its Double
2012
3.88 | 8 ratings
The Concealed
2012
0.00 | 0 ratings
Abraxas - Book of Angels Volume 19
2012
3.89 | 8 ratings
The Gnostic Trio: In Lambeth - Visions From The Walled Garden Of William Blake
2013
1.00 | 1 ratings
Shir Hashirim
2013
3.20 | 5 ratings
Filmworks XXV-City Of Slaughter/Schmatta/Beyond The Infinite
2013
1.00 | 1 ratings
Lemma
2013
3.29 | 8 ratings
The Gnostic Trio: The Mysteries
2013
3.77 | 4 ratings
On The Torment Of Saints, The Casting Of Spells And The Evocation Of Spirits
2013
3.89 | 9 ratings
Dreamachines
2013
3.36 | 11 ratings
Abraxas - Psychomagia
2014
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Alchemist
2014
2.33 | 3 ratings
The Hermetic Organ vol. 2-St. Paul's Chapel
2014
1.00 | 1 ratings
In The Hall Of Mirrors
2014
1.00 | 2 ratings
Myth And Mythopoeia
2014
3.67 | 3 ratings
On Leaves of Grass
2014
3.67 | 3 ratings
The Gnostic Trio: The Testament of Solomon
2014
3.00 | 2 ratings
Valentine's Day
2014
3.84 | 6 ratings
The Gnostic Trio: Transmigration of the Magus
2014
3.83 | 5 ratings
The Dream Membrane (with David Chaim Smith & Bill Laswell)
2014
2.33 | 3 ratings
The Hermetic Organ Vol. 3-St. Paul's Hall, Huddersfield
2015
2.96 | 4 ratings
Hen to Pan
2015
4.62 | 10 ratings
Simulacrum
2015
3.04 | 8 ratings
Pellucidar / A Dreamers Fantabula
2015
3.75 | 4 ratings
Simulacrum - The True Discoveries Of Witches And Demons
2015
3.83 | 6 ratings
Simulacrum - Inferno
2015
3.00 | 2 ratings
Cerberus: The Book of Angels Volume 26
2015
2.67 | 3 ratings
Madrigals
2016
2.75 | 4 ratings
The Hermetic Organ vol. 4 St. Bart's
2016
3.80 | 5 ratings
Flaga: The Book Of Angels Volume 27
2016
3.93 | 16 ratings
Simulacrum - The Painted Bird
2016
3.50 | 6 ratings
Simulacrum - 49 Acts of Unspeakable Depravity in the Abominable Life and Times of Gilles de Rais
2016
3.85 | 8 ratings
The Mockingbird
2016
1.95 | 3 ratings
Sacred Visions
2016
3.99 | 40 ratings
Simulacrum - The Garden Of Earthly Delights
2017
3.33 | 3 ratings
The Interpretation Of Dreams
2017
3.96 | 9 ratings
Midsummer Moons
2017
3.17 | 6 ratings
Insurrection
2018
3.33 | 6 ratings
Insurrection: Salem 1692
2018
5.00 | 1 ratings
Abraxas - Masada Book Three - The Book Beri'ah - Gevurah: Severity
2018
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Gnostic Trio: The Book Beri'ah Vol 7 - Netzach
2019
5.00 | 1 ratings
Sofia Rei & JC Maillard: Masada Book 3: The Book Beri'ah Vol. 1 - Keter
2019
3.04 | 4 ratings
The Hierophant
2019
3.60 | 5 ratings
Nove Cantici per Francesco D'Assisi
2019
4.00 | 1 ratings
Cat O'Nine Tails / The Dead Man / Memento Mori / Kol Nidre
2019
2.67 | 3 ratings
Tractatus Musico-Philosophicus
2019
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Hermetic Organ Vol.6 - For Edgar Allan Poe
2019
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Hermetic Organ Vol. 7 - St. John The Divine
2019
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Hermetic Organ Vol. 8 - For Antonin Artaud
2019
4.00 | 4 ratings
Encomia
2019
3.33 | 3 ratings
Virtue
2020
4.00 | 2 ratings
Calculus
2020
3.50 | 2 ratings
Baphomet
2020
3.00 | 1 ratings
Les Maudits
2020

JOHN ZORN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.60 | 5 ratings
More News For Lulu (with George Lewis / Bill Frisell)
1992
3.00 | 2 ratings
Downtown Lullaby (John Zorn / Wayne Horvitz / Elliott Sharp / Bobby Previte)
1998
4.68 | 3 ratings
50th Birthday Celebration Volume 2: Milford Graves / John Zorn
2004
3.50 | 4 ratings
50th Birthday Celebration Volume 3: Locus Solus
2004
3.40 | 5 ratings
50th Birthday Celebration Volume 8: Wadada Leo Smith / Susie Ibarra / John Zorn
2004
2.67 | 3 ratings
50th Birthday Celebration Volume 9: The Classic Guide To Strategy Volume Three
2004
2.12 | 6 ratings
50th Birthday Celebration Volume 10: Yamataka Eye / John Zorn
2005
1.25 | 4 ratings
The Stone: Issue Three (with Lou Reed/Laurie Anderson)
2008
2.50 | 2 ratings
The Song Project Live at Le Poisson Rouge
2015
5.00 | 2 ratings
Beyond Good and Evil: Simulacrum Live
2020

JOHN ZORN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.00 | 5 ratings
A Bookshelf On Top Of The Sky: 12 Stories About John Zorn (Claudia Heuermann)
2004

JOHN ZORN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.95 | 3 ratings
Film Works 1986-1990
1990
4.00 | 1 ratings
The John Zorn Radio Hour
1990
3.33 | 6 ratings
The Classic Guide To Strategy, Volumes One & Two
1996
5.00 | 1 ratings
The Parachute Years, 1977-1980
1997
3.35 | 8 ratings
Godard/Spillane
1999
5.00 | 1 ratings
Film Works Anthology - 20 Years Of Soundtrack Music
2005
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Dreamers-The Gentle Side
2010
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Song Project
2014

JOHN ZORN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Trip Coaster
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
Earache (split with Napalm Death)
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
A Dreamers Christmas
2011
0.00 | 0 ratings
Yoko Ono & John Zorn
2015

JOHN ZORN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Gnostic Trio: The Gnostic Preludes by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.88 | 5 ratings

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The Gnostic Trio: The Gnostic Preludes
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars John Zorn could arguably be the most diverse artists listed in the Archives. Not only that, he also has one of the largest discographies of all the musical artists out there. It can also be one of the most confusing, as he has his name attached to several different projects, and I would dare say that most of his discography doesn't even have his name listed as a performer. However, he is active in each of his projects as a composer, producer, and instigator of each one of them.

The Gnostic Trio is one of his many projects, but it is also a project within a project in a round-about way since the first one under this project name was originally included in a group of albums that he oversaw that had to do with mystically influenced albums. Since this original group of mystically-themed albums, Zorn has explored mystical themes quite a bit. Let's not get into that though, as you could write an entire book about it. Instead, let's focus on The Gnostic Trio which consists of the dynamic guitarist Bill Frisell, the vibraphonist Kenny Wollesen (who has collaborated with Zorn quite extensively) and the amazing harpist Carol Emanuel. These three musicians have formed the core of The Gnostic Trio and under this name have made at least 7 albums under Zorn's large umbrella.

The first album this project released is this one: "The Gnostic Preludes", released in 2012. This album is made up of 8 preludes, most of which are around 6 minutes long. The music is quite accessible, but it is also quite complex in it's own right. All three musicians are excellent at their craft, so the music is quite professionally done and easy to listen to, but also very enjoyable. But as simple as it sounds, it isn't due to the fact that it it necessarily has a typical structure. There isn't much dissonance in the sound, but there is some, however, it is some of Zorn's most accessible music, so don't expect anything really avant-garde, however, it is highly artistic and quite beautiful.

The spiritual/mystical aspect of the music is apparent in its laidback and exalting tone which is enhanced by Frisell's signature style, his laid-back tone and style, yet even with his status, he still becomes an equal partner in the trio's structure. The three musicians work together beautifully, each one working in supporting roles at times and at other times, each one taking the lead when needed. Simplicity in a folk-ish sense in the central feel of the music, yet the individual tracks still have their own personalities. The album does not fall into the trap that other albums with a similar, simple line-up might have, that of sounding too much the same throughout. For example, "The Middle Pillar" hints around at a Spanish flamenco sound while "The Book of Pleasure" leans more toward a jazz-inflected chamber piece. In "Music of the Spheres", both Frisell and Wollesen perform a fascinating interplay while Emmanuel provides a lovely background to their antics.

No doubt that this is one that most everyone will enjoy. It is also a great front-door to Zorn's work as it is quite intensive. However, if you are afraid of what you might have heard about Zorn's other works and projects, this one is quite safe, yet it has a very poetic and mystical feel to it. It is easy to forget that this music is made up of 3 instrumentalists as it seems so vast, not shallow like many new age artists that were around at the time. This is far from that, it is authentic and it is the heart that you feel in this music, that it is authentic and all the more interesting because of that. If you love your music simple, stripped down to a simple guitar, vibraphone and harp, that can still manage to challenge your deepest musical passions, then this is for you. It is definitely one that people should be giving more attention to.

 The Gnostic Trio: The Mysteries by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.29 | 8 ratings

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The Gnostic Trio: The Mysteries
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Heart of the Matter

3 stars Well, possibly you already know that John Zorn is as much a contemporay "serious" composer as a musical chameleon that goes through a wide variety of genres and styles from one album to another. And if he's capable of doing this, is because the ever rotating collaboration of the most amazing artists in each field of music.

In this album, the purely instrumental trio, in which stands out the guitarist Bill Frisell, takes us to a territory akin not to jazz, but rather (in my ears at least) to the hipnotic suggestion of kraut-rockers Popol Vuh, a soundscape generated by a crystal-clear exposition and continuous recombination of minimal melodic and rythmic cells that grow and evolve in a larger organism: first each track, then the entire record.

Not a "desert island record", but a worthy addition to the open-minded progger collection.

 Simulacrum by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.62 | 10 ratings

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Simulacrum
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

5 stars Trying to follow or understand John Zorn's discography can be quite confusing. The fact that his album history is quite extensive, which can be verified by looking up his name in the Archives, is one thing, but the fact that he often works with other established bands like "Secret Chiefs 3" or "Abraxas" or that he has assembled separate groups on his own such as "Moonchild Trio" (with Mike Patton) to meet standards to play certain compositions he has written makes it even more confusing. Add to that his many different album series like "Filmworks" and the "Masada Books", one can easily get confused. Each album is also a surprise as far as how it will sound as Zorn has pretty much touched on every genre out there, but he brings his own avant-prog style to everything he does, sometimes heavy on the improvisation and other times very structured.

"Simulacrum" is one of those bands that Zorn assembled in order to play some of his compositions. This band has released 7 albums under Zorn. The band consists of 3 musicians; John Medeski from "Medeski, Martin, and Wood" (organ), Matt Hollenberg from "Cleric" (guitar), and Kenny Grohowski from "Abraxas" (drums). This is the core band, however some of the albums they have recorded also have guest members such as Trey Spruance from Secret Chiefs 3. On the eponymous album however, only the core band is contributing. Zorn does not contribute any instrumentation, but instead, as in a lot of the albums listed in his discography, he is composer and producer.

The basic sound of this album seems to hover around the progressive metal style with some math rock and jazz fusion thrown in, but, if you notice, there is no bass. The organ tends to take on this role along with the fact that the organ also drives alot of the sound here, and that is what makes this whole thing unique. Hollenberg does take the lead on the guitar more often then not, but the mix with the organ is a sound in and of itself. Though the music is mostly from the metal realms, it isn't afraid to explore other territories.

From the beginning with the 12 minute "The Illusionist" we are thrown into an ever shifting kaleidoscope of styles, beginning with a chunky guitar laden sound with revolving meters to an almost psychedelic and atmospheric organ section that suddenly sees the organ and guitar working together to hold it all somewhere between chaotic feedback and guitar strangulation and jazzy, yet bluesy organ trying to hold it all down. Yet, it flows together seamlessly. And, of course, you can expect the unexpected with dissonant passages and enticing, unique harmonics, since, after all, this is John Zorn. We even slip into a uplifting "Deep Purple" style organ passage that ends up slipping right back out to a chaotic back and forth interplay with the guitar and organ while the drums try to fill in for the atmospherics, but soon gives up and just goes wild. It suddenly shifts at about the 8 minute mark and becomes peacefully flowing, but soon builds to a heavy rock sound again with a nice organ and screechy guitar chords behind it. The music continues to move from fairly standard heaviness to crazy over-the- top wildness without even taking a breath. Zorn is one of the best composers/musicians that can marry rock, metal, jazz and classical styles and he does it so easily while so many bands out there end up just stumbling around with the usual sounds that they have been trying to work with for decades. Zorn does it like a slap to their faces, and in the meantime, he goes mostly unrecognized and ignored by those that should praise his talents.

The next 4 tracks are shorter tracks lasting around 3 ? 5 minutes. All are instrumental, of course. "Mamarath" works off of a repeating guitar riff while other layers of guitar, organ and drums whirl around increasing and decreasing in intensity. The organ will suddenly run off the rails with everything, but after suddenly stopping, the guitar riff brings it all back to earth again. "Snakes and Ladders" is more atmospheric and mysterious sounding with the organ floating around, but then a sudden complex rhythm pattern brings in the guitar and things soon intensify again. The guitar and organ copy each other on a repetitive riff and then the guitar takes off again but is suddenly stopped by an abrasive organ. There's more "normal" jamming then sudden destruction with chaotic sections passing back and forth like its all natural. "Alterities" is like the melding of several short passages glued together and often interrupted by sudden pauses and crazy progressive phrasing, dissonant noise and such, at times becoming almost comical. "Paradigm Shift" starts with a droning organ, but is soon joined by a boiling guitar riff and crazy drum fills. As it goes on, the guitar and organ become more free to wander and provide sudden blasts of power.

The last track is the almost 13 minute "The Divine Comedy". The wild shifting of genres continues here, of course it is all over- seen by the metallic feel, but it amazingly slips from jazz to tech metal, sometimes even merging both, with hardly any effort at all. It's wild, it's chaotic and it's awesome. As I listen, my cat lays there looking at the speakers wondering, "How did that just happen?" If you are wondering if it is all just noise and chaos, you are wrong. The music still takes time to breathe, and even falls into a nice peaceful section in the middle that will make you think you suddenly got transported to church as the organ rolls along with minimal guitar. Suddenly the guitar and drums go on a tech rampage chewing all of this up and spitting it out. The most amazing thing about all of this is how it all just flows and fits together.

So, here we have another amazing collaboration with John Zorn and another group of talented musicians. There are to date six total studio albums with Simulacrum playing Zorn compositions and now a new live album released in January 2020, which should be pretty amazing if this album is any indication. It seems, however, that anyone can go into the Zorn discography and pull out something that will appeal to them. As far as Simulacrum, lovers of metal, fusion and avant rock will find something to easily love and be amazed at. The music is quite heavy and will appeal more to those that love the more complex sounds of post metal, progressive metal and dashes of classic prog and jazz fusion.

 In Search Of The Miraculous by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.89 | 29 ratings

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In Search Of The Miraculous
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The fourth way according to John Zorn.

Very much in tune with its respective sources´detached sobriety, John Zorn approaches this highly complex, straight forward & unresolved crossword puzzle, sound wise speaking of course, by facing its mysteries up front with heartfelt sonic understandings, which stand close to to its roots´ unpublished recreations, but nevertheless, leaving his own reactions intact. And when it comes to music composition and an original approach, well Mr. Zorn´s In Search Of The Miraculous (2010) , can actually do the walk it takes to do the talk.

Expecting great audiences for such a clean, faithful & spirited performance of, otherwise, ignored knowledge, would be like counting from one to two until you die & realize there was a three.

Music wise, expect an unsuspected modern Jazz, 4 piece ensemble (no guitar) & latin influenced, almost masterpiece, which grows deeper, as far as you get the clue where it is really heading and eventually, if hooked, can balance the thrill of why it ends up meeting such strange stylistic encounters, which if anything, will make you kind of think of the world as an upside down possibility, how universal and surprisingly odd it will eventually turn out to be & like it or not will be.

Even I , (who almost by nature have an involuntary allergic reaction against artificial latin moods), am really thrilled, if anything, this material is as close as anyone outside this vibe can come around to turn into his own, and as told , the world as an upside down possibility, as a figure of speach of course (lol), (Don´t worry, this stuff has survived the worst and still speaks for some few,... but more than enough) is still around.

Forget the talk, just let it flow, if not well..........more for us.

****/*

 Angelus Novus by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.03 | 11 ratings

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Angelus Novus
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars After a fairly fruitful musical career established in the 1980s, JOHN ZORN really got productive all throughout the 90s especially around 1995 when he released five albums. The ensuing years would prove to be equally or even more productive and ZORN was always eager to take detours from his avant-garde jazz comfort zone. One of the lesser known aspects of his musical career ZORN was also a classical chamber ensemble composer but many of these compositions remained in the vault for many years to come.

ANGELUS NOVUS which was released in 1998 (the second of eight released that year) was the first album in a series that documented ZORN's interest in the world of classical music. The album which consists of four lengthy compositions spanned three decades. 'For Your Eyes Only' the opening chamber symphony was originally composed in 1988, the piano torture of 'Carney' in 1989 and the title track the newest of the lot was crafted in 1993. The two part 'Christabel' dates back all the way back to 1972 when ZORN was just a student and was inspired by the romantic mystic poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

ANGELUS NOVUS is yet another album where ZORN steps out of the limelight as a musician and occupies the role of executive producer but has always been quite unique in the fact that he releases these albums under his own name. Stephen Duty is the conductor, producer, artistic director and pianist of the project while the other instruments are performed by the Callithumpian Consort of the New England Conservatory who mastered the spontaneous jittery angularities of ZORN's restless nature and pull it off flawlessly. 'Christabel' the oldest piece on board is a piece for five flutes and a viola and a clear tribute to the European 20th century classical masters.

'For Your Eyes Only' features a 20-piece ensemble and wends and winds through various obtuse passages with occasional bursts of cartoon music and also a snippet from the occasional melody from the classical history books. The track skirts along for almost 14 minutes but keeps things spiced up to give it various flavors that keep changing. 'Carny' is a 13 minute piano performance by Stephen Drury. This avant-garde piece exemplifies his mastery of precision and sounds like a mix of Chopin-esque technicalities with the dissonant abstractness of jazz virtuoso Cecil Taylor. This is definitely difficult listening if there is any but the rhythmic drive provides an underpinning of tangible compositional fortitude.

While the first half of the album is fairly engaging, the latter half is comprised of the title track divided into five different suites. It is very much a fragmented work that takes on many themes. It was dedicated to Walter Benjamin and encompasses both 20th century avant-garde classical flavors as well as inserting various traditional Jewish themes. It is a rather slow burner and the least interesting part as it sort of slinks around aimlessly although the execution is brilliantly performed. Overall it's just missing that extra magic that gives it an engaging run. The tracks seem to lack a cohesive connecting tissue that makes it all seem relevant. Still though not a horrible piece by any means.

While ANGELUS NOVUS is a grand execution of ZORN's compositional fortitude in the world of avant-garde classical music, i can't say this is his best works by any means. While it's above average for a jazz musician's ability to effortlessly take on a completely different genre of musical expression, the second half of the album just comes off as way too sleepy and ho hum to make this album absolutely essential however for diehard ZORN fans, this is surely a worthy addition to the collection of countless albums that he has cranked out. The first four tracks alone are interesting historical perspectives of ZORN's dabbling in this saxophone-free style of music. While this won't go down in history as one of classical music's crowning achievements, ZORN did successfully bring new perspectives into its purview and this does make great background music for when you're feeling really disconnected from reality.

 Elegy by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.50 | 18 ratings

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Elegy
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

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.

 The Hierophant by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.04 | 4 ratings

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The Hierophant
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A nod to traditional Jazz trios & a wink to Dave Brubeck´s legacy.

An uncommon fresh set of songs, The Hierophant (2019), a nine track release, is at mid distance from John Zorn´s usually iconoclastic works. Its concept is based on 9 of the Tarot´s deck major arcana figures.

Expect clean, adventurous and virtuosity splashed performances by Trevor Dunn on bass, Brian Marsella´s keys & Kenny Wollesen drumming, where as expected the piano is the frontman, nevertheless John Zorn´s compositions offer a fair share for all three musicians to display their undeniable skills.

As for the music itself it has its bright, mid dark and pitch black tones, all according to the card represented by.

The blend between John Zorn´s Avant Garde Jazz styling and its more traditional structures is well balanced therefore it all sounds and feels natural and coherent, thus the final result offers a rich variety of moods and colors.

***/*

 Midsummer Moons by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.96 | 9 ratings

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Midsummer Moons
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars One of John Zorn's more gorgeous albums was released, appropriately, near the summer solstice of 2017: ten exquisite and sometimes quite lively acoustic guitar duets, inspired by lunar imagery in the plays of William Shakespeare. As usual Zorn abstains from any performance credit (his greatest talent is a generous gift for collaboration), although he did of course write all the music, and also created the evocative collage on the inner CD flap: seaside castle ramparts and shadowy fishermen under a veiled full moon, with a skeletal arm rising portentously out of the surf.

The good news is that the album isn't one of Zorn's typically esoteric neo-classical algorithms. Each song instead recalls the elegance of his Gnostic Trio recordings, stripped to its otherworldly essence: 42-minutes of pure melodic beauty. The twin guitars can be soft as harps ("Silver'd in the Moon's Eclipse"), or reveal a surprisingly keen rhythmic edge ("Moon Take Thy Flight"). I would love to hear the same music interpreted by a sympathetic rock band: the results could be stunning, not unlike a resurrection of early Genesis. But the disarming simplicity of these unadorned instrumental arrangements, in the hands of two ace players, is reward enough.

The bad news is that the album might escape wider notice, buried as it is inside such a mammoth discography as Zorn's, itself likewise dwarfed within the expanding ProgArchives database. If Steve Hackett had released the exact same music (and he easily might have), I have no doubt these pages would be humming with admirers eager to extol its virtues.

In its own unassuming way the album would have to be counted among the best of the year: another quiet triumph for the tireless composer and arranger. The Bard himself describes it best, quoted inside the CD sleeve: "...pluck the wings from painted butterflies to fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes. Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies."

 Simulacrum - The Garden Of Earthly Delights by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.99 | 40 ratings

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Simulacrum - The Garden Of Earthly Delights
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars There aren't too many musicians as prolific as John Zorn when it comes to releasing albums year after year. I think he's released 3 so far in 2017. My only taste of Zorn's music was "Naked Gun" which just didn't do much for me. Fast forward to early this year and a buddy gives me a copy of "The Garden Of Earthly Delights" and to be honest I wasn't expecting much at all. My mind went "pop" when I spun this for the first time and I kept waiting to be disappointed as it played out but I was only deeply impressed with what has to be described as Avant-Garde Metal. The band that came to mind most often was KAYO DOT as in "Choirs Of The Eye" although this isn't that extreme and there are no vocals except for the angelic female ones on the final track. The big surprise is how prominent the organ is by John Medeski, so impressive. This is complex and challenging yet there is variety and plenty of non-metal pieces as well. So much atmosphere on this album as well.

"Angels And Devils" has this insane intro that will make your hair stand up with how avant and powerful that guitar is, so experimental with dissonant sounds. The organ and drums seem to come out of this insanity to lead the way, killer bass too. The guitar is lighting it up after 1 1/2 minutes. So much depth to the sound here as themes start to get repeated late.

"The Infernal Machine" is where they take a step back as we get plenty of atmosphere that is dark and haunting. Headphone music right here until the riffs kick in around a minute reminding me very much of KING CRIMSON. Drums follow then organ. Fuzzed out guitar before 2 minutes then another guitar starts to solo over top. Back to the riffs 3 minutes in then an all out assault follows. Nasty organ runs too. So good!

"The Dragon Tree" has such a great sounding rhythm section. I mean the bass and drums kill throughout this album but man they slay here. Avant guitar over top but this is all over the place including being heavy and extreme. Organ before a minute as it settles back yet there's so much going on. Intensity returns before 2 minutes, then the guitar rips it up, soon it's the organ doing the same. Love that calm late to end it. What a track!

"Paean To The Prince Of Hell" has relaxed organ to start before a catchy melody takes over of picked guitar, drums, bass and more. This is good. Soon the organ leads the way as the bass and drums also impress. I like the Symphonic vibe after 2 1/2 minutes then later before 4 1/2 minutes. In between we get a change after 3 minutes to an experimental sound that will turn powerful. A favourite.

"Music Of The Flesh" opens with atmosphere and picked guitar. A great headphone song with all those interesting sounds. Organ joins in around a minute. It brightens before 3 minutes somewhat as we get some picked guitar which impresses. Suddenly 4 minutes in we get a wall of sound. Insanity! The guitar is shredding big time 5 minutes in. Atmosphere, guitar and a calm end it.

"Eve And Adam" is a beautiful track with picked guitar, bass, a beat and an organ melody. This is really good. The organ leads briefly when the guitar steps aside. "Mirror Image" starts off sounding similar to the opening of this album with extreme guitar and more. Like taking a brief beating before it settles in with floating organ and a killer rhythm section. Man this sounds amazing here. Soon the guitar replaces the organ before 1 1/2 minutes. The organ is back as they trade off before joining forces.

"The Garden Of Earthly Delights" is dark with tons of atmosphere to begin with and it's quite eerie too. The speakers are vibrating big time right here and there's mechanical noises that scrape along. Soon the guitar starts to come out of the approaching storm. The guitar speeds up before 2 minutes. This is like a soundtrack for a movie where there's lots of suspense. The organ arrives around 2 1/2 minutes, experimental stuff. It becomes more stripped down late with guitar and atmosphere.

"The Circuit" is a short, just over 1 1/2 minute piece. Avant guitar and complexity beyond imagination. The organ comes in taking no prisoners. Some jazzy bass lines will follow as the outrageous sounds continue. "Out Of The Eternal Sphere" ends it and man what a way to end it! Gosh I'm so moved by this beautiful song. Sara is the guest vocalist here with vocal melodies. Gulp! Gorgeous guitar melodies, subtle bass lines and floating organ as Sara arrives with her moving vocals. She stops before 2 1/2 minutes as the organ replaces her and man how good is John Medeski? She's back before 4 minutes to end it. Nice.

Darn near perfect as far as I'm concerned. If Zorn has anything else close to sounding like this one please let me know. One of the best from 2017 right here.

 Simulacrum - The Garden Of Earthly Delights by ZORN, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.99 | 40 ratings

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Simulacrum - The Garden Of Earthly Delights
John Zorn RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by tmay102436

5 stars This is a continuation of John Zorn's "rock / jazz / metal / group / series" - and I am stunned by it. It has all aspects of a truly inspired work, with a beautiful mixture of composed / improvised / group effort ensemble play.

The recording itself is quite well done, and the individual members (especially that over talented - John Medeski!!!) bring their creative efforts into play, utilizing the abstract compositions of Mr. Zorn.

As another reviewer said, it would take your lifetime (and maybe the next!) to keep up with all of the recordings of John Zorn. But, these current group efforts are where I would recommend to start, as they're put together as though in the realm of the much hated and loved Avante / Prog / Rock - which I grow more and more fond of, as it's challenging and beautiful at the same time.

Thanks to Joren for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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