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Electric Masada biography
After almost decade of John Zorn's free-jazz and klezmer musical exploration in a form of Masada band, this great musician decided to try mixing lyrical qualities of the Masada songbook with raw power of Naked City and the improvisational madness of Cobra. A true downtown supergroup, this is Zorn at his very best. The group includes , beside Zorn himself, Baron from original Masada line up (on drums), Ribot and Wollesen from Bar Kokhba, Cyro Baptista from Bar Kokhba Sextet, and few regular Zorn?s collaborators: Trevor Dunn (bass), Jamie Saft (keyb.) and Ikue Mori (laptop/electronics).

Drawing on Zorn's wide ranging stylistic influences, the band takes the Masada songbook into a whole new direction, reminiscent of jazz fusion and noise rock. Zorn uses hand signals to conduct the band, allowing for him to make up different arrangements on the spot. During Zorn's 50th Birthday Celebration at Tonic in September 2003, Electric Masada was recorded live. Released in May 2004, 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 4 became the group's first official recording. This was followed by At the Mountains of Madness recorded in 2004 in Moscow and Ljubljana.

Slava (Snobb)

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ELECTRIC MASADA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ELECTRIC MASADA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.55 | 9 ratings
50th Birthday Celebration Volume 4: Electric Masada
4.67 | 17 ratings
At The Mountains Of Madness (Electric Masada)

ELECTRIC MASADA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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


Showing last 10 reviews only
 At The Mountains Of Madness (Electric Masada) by ELECTRIC MASADA album cover Live, 2005
4.67 | 17 ratings

At The Mountains Of Madness (Electric Masada)
Electric Masada RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars This, second album from John Zorn's Electric Masada project, was recorded during two concerts in Ljubljana and Moscow somewhere in the end of their European tour. All musicians are the same as on project's debut, and all they are great musicians!

Double set is quite long release, but you wouldn't be bored. Zorn's use there his best techniques - combines all possible and impossible music components in hot eclectic mix. What means if you don't like spacey electronic loops of Ikue Mori on the front of the sound, in very few moments they will be changed by hardcore Marc Ribot electric rocking guitars, and you will forget about them.

All concert long this scheme is used, and it works perfectly. Unpredictable changes of sound, genres and rhythms will keep your attention till the very end. In all, this music is quite characteristic for Zorn mix of punk-jazz hardcore, klezmer world fusion, electronic avant and very melodic and easy accessible avant-pop, strongly flavoured by free jazz techniques.

Many times listened to Zorn's Masada series albums, I was attracted, but missed some electric sound and energy in acoustic hot klezmer/free jazz mix. And I got it there, in Electric Masada, where classic Masada's music is strongly mixed with Naked City's hard core energy and electric guitar sound, excellent electric keyboards passages, electronic noise of Hemophiliac and plenty of jazzy sounds from Bar Kokhba. And all the mix is prepared in very inspired, energetic live version, with enough space for long improvs.

As old fan of Zorn's music, I am often asked by newbies, how to find the right key to Zorn's music. The answer isn't easy, but possibly really good answer is - start from this album! Not because this work is Zorn's best ( I think it possibly isn't), but because there Zorn demonstrates in the best possible form almost everything he played for few decades. OK, there are not presented some his interesting series (as movies/soundtracks music, or neo-classical music), but you will find there his hardcore, free jazz, klezmer and free-jazz moments in their best.

If you are new to Zorn, and you want to have his only album, possibly this one is the best choice!

My rating is 4,5 rounded to 5!

 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 4: Electric Masada by ELECTRIC MASADA album cover Live, 2004
4.55 | 9 ratings

50th Birthday Celebration Volume 4: Electric Masada
Electric Masada RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Debut release of real NY down town supergroup. Besides of many John Zorn different projects, Electric Masada stays at very special position: band's members are most powerful avant-jazz musicians ever played with Zorn, including excellent guitarist Marc Ribot and electronic-avant guru Ikue Mori. And , differently from his many other projects, John Zorn plays there himself as well.

Musical mix you will hear there on this album in fact isn't new at all - it's same combination of klezmer and free-jazz you could listen in any Masada's album. The main difference is there are presented just two regular musicians from Masada quartet - drummer Joey Baron and John Zorn himself. All other musicians are regular Zorn's collaborators as well, but outside of Masada - in Hemophiliac, Bar Kokhba Sextet or Zorn solo recordings. And this time Masada has a guitarist and goes electric!

I believe this album contains all the best Zorn played for years - starting from Naked City-like sax speedy hardcore to electric guitar avant-jazz free rocking, and all based on hot klezmer melodies!

Very often in the past when listened to great Masada's albums, I thought how great it would be to add in that music guitar and some electric rock drive. There it happened - on this live album, John Zorn's 50-th birthday celebration series' release!

There are no traces of Zorn's movies soundtracks series, and some other works, but this album is very representative for big part of his music from last few decades. And happily it's not a collection, it's electrified live show with great musicians, great material and as often - with many surprises for listener.

One of great Zorn's release, very recommended. My rating is 4,5 rounded to 5!

 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 4: Electric Masada by ELECTRIC MASADA album cover Live, 2004
4.55 | 9 ratings

50th Birthday Celebration Volume 4: Electric Masada
Electric Masada RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by zorn1

5 stars The double wild battery Of Joe Baron and Kenny Wollesen with the percussions of Cyro Baptista on a background of broken glasses, the distorsions of the guitar of a gigantic Marc Ribot, the Rhodes of Jamie Saft they introduce the entrance in scene of the contralto of Zorn, in one of the fiercest, hypnotic and impressive attacks of the history of the jazz rock and free music. An alone equal devastating impact to the entrance in scene of Michael Henderson's bass in the most famous attack of oN the corner in the same disk of Miles davis. The 50 birthday of the saxofonista is so celebrated with an album of rare musical power, with the sax of Zorn as a gone crazy bird, free on a dreadful rhythmic section for aggressiveness and precision. You break down post industrial, jewish-arab atmospheres , calls to the tradition jazz rock of the years 60 70(Davis, Mahavishnu), the all played with an expressive power difficult to find in other albums of this discussed author. After the beginning with Tekufah and Iadalh Abal the disk develops him with more classical dynamics of the jazz rock tradition, damping the initial ferocity The lower part of Trevor Dunn it also suits very well him for inevitable calls metal, in a rhythmic wealth that I remember only in its collaboration with Patton and dave Lombardo of the Slayer. A non easy disk to a first listening, to feel and to hear again, to tall volume and and with a simple shrewdness: it is not proper for the ears of your wives or girlfriends, assure to be you alone in the house....
 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 4: Electric Masada by ELECTRIC MASADA album cover Live, 2004
4.55 | 9 ratings

50th Birthday Celebration Volume 4: Electric Masada
Electric Masada RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by ProgressiveAttic
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars INTENSE!!!

After listening to this album the meaning of the word intense changed for me. Here you have one of the craziest albums of all time (or at least that I've ever listened to), to really enjoy or at least be able to listen to it you have to be open minded and expecting the unexpected. This one was my introduction of John Zorn after a long time of hearing about him and since I love free jazz, rock, avant-garde music and was starting to get into jazzy klezmer, this seemed the best place to start. But believe me, you cannot be ready for this kind of albums.

John Zorn definitively achieved his goal of taking Jewish music to the 20th/21rst century and then to make it electric. The klezmer style is present throughout the entire concert (it is a live album by the way) and is central to the music but it ain't all you are going to get. When they say that this is a mix of free jazz, avant, rock and klezmer they are being very accurate. The music is 100% improvisational and you get full blown rock delivered in a very original fashion with lots of experimentation.

The percussions are what join the music and different tracks together, they are delivered in a very skilled way with really impressive results product of the joint work of the two drummers and percussionist. The breathtaking rhythm section, also joined by a very capable bass player, gives an outstanding foundation and background to the music, while at the same time allowing complete improvisational freedom to the rest of the band.

The first two tracks provide of more than 20 minutes of avant noise with banging percussions and a very noisy sax courtesy of Zorn, which are joined by some rocking heavy guitar riffs ala Jimmy Hendrix (specially during the second track). The overall sound is sometimes reminiscent to King Crimson's improvisations around 21rst Century Schizoid Man in the Ladies of the Road live album, probably due to the interaction of heavy guitar and sax with avant percussions in a free style environment. This was a very weird and probably unnecessarily noisy introduction to the album, but very enjoyable at the end.

Hadasha continues the bluesy nature of the guitar playing with a very apt rhythmic accompaniment. This piece shows the capabilities of Ribot on the guitar and he is a very very talented guitarist. Ribot is sometimes joined, very tastefully, by Saft on keyboards or Zorn on sax, who would take over the main spot for a considerable section of the track. This is easily one of the most enjoyable tracks on the album highlighting the guitar, sax and drum work.

One of the excesses of the album is Hath-Arob, a dispensable and forgettable, although somewhat fun, electronic experimentation.

Yatzar represents a change in the mood of the concert with a quieter and calmed atmosphere, centered on bluesy electric guitar soloing backed by "ambiance" percussions until the middle of the piece when the guitar fades out. The track continues with the always present percussions in a more experimental way joined sporadically by some subtle keyboard and sax interventions (it kind of reminds me of the intro to Larks' Tongues in Aspic part I) in a very repetitive way for about 4 minutes which tend to be boring. Llin is a follow-up of Yatzar in the same calmed and experimental atmosphere of the last half of the previous piece but more proactive and not at all boring with Zorn's sax and Saft's keys alternating the main role and backed by the constant drumming and great bass work.

Kisofim continues, as the last two tracks, in a calmed atmosphere with heavy reliance on the guitar and sax backed by the usual percussions. Here the klezmer sound is more dominant than in the other tracks where the experimentation or rock take over.

This is a magnificent, highly enjoyable, original and really intense album. It sounds like nothing I've heard before and would've reached the masterpiece status if it weren't because of the forgettable experimentation that is Hath-Arob, the sometimes boring experimental sections and, to a lesser extent, the unnecessary noise of the opening tracks. Other than that the musicians are top notch, not a single one of the three percussionists/drummers gets wasted and the guitar and sax couldn't be better. My favorite tracks, as you may have assumed, are Idalah-Abal, Hadasha, Llin and Kisofim.

That is how a birthday is celebrated!!!

4 stars... almost 5

Thanks to snobb for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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