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John Zorn - Spillane CD (album) cover


John Zorn



3.92 | 31 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Avant-Jazz-Film-Noir never sounded so good

John Zorn is definitely an artist that can't be taken lightly or listened to lightly. He's one of the most diverse and difficult artists I've ever listened to. However, it seems that once you get a taste of his greatness, it never lets go of you. After experimenting with the art of improvisation with his infamous "Game Pieces" and the off the wall Locus Solus, Zorn moved onto this album. Of the four tracks on the album, the one that is worth the purchase of the album alone is the title track, the 25 minute opus that takes the listener on a journey (almost literally).

The piece that defines this album is the opener. It's a mix of lounge-jazz, freak out music, and film noir that adds up to success. The song has a gritty feel and you can almost visualize the story unfolding just from the music that is played (the track is largely instrumemental with brief breaks for the film noir narration). As I've read, this album is dedicated to mystery novelist Frank Morrison Spillane, which would explain this song. This track is the main reason why you'll want this album, it's the focal point and it really carries the album to the end (although you're only halfway done with the album when this song is over).

The other two songs combine blues guitar variations (Two-Lane Highway) and Japanese influenced avant-garde (complete with Japanese narration) music. These two songs are pretty well conceived and they show the diversity that John Zorn was always able to convey and present to this audience quite brilliantly. In particular, Two-Lane Highway is especially noteworthy for guitarists, as the solos from bluesman Albert Collins can certainly make your jaw drop with their beauty.

Spillane is probably one of Zorn's easiest albums to listen to, but still it's a challenging listen. I can't give it full marks, but I can surely tell you behind Naked City (which should be the essential starting point for someone interested in John Zorn) Spillane is the easiest and arguably the best entry-point into the expansive and dense catalogue of John Zorn. Like the title suggests, Avant-Jazz-Film-Noir never sounded so original, new, fresh, and most importantly, excellent.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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