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Electric Masada - 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 4: Electric Masada CD (album) cover

50TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION VOLUME 4: ELECTRIC MASADA

Electric Masada

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.55 | 9 ratings

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ProgressiveAttic
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

ProgressiveAttic | 4/5 |

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