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Moonchild Trio - Astronome CD (album) cover

ASTRONOME

Moonchild Trio

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.10 | 23 ratings

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TCat
4 stars This is the 2nd album by John Zorn's 'Moonchild Trio' which consists of Mike Patton on vocal (mostly wordless), Joey Baron on drums, and Trevor Dunn on bass. You know with a line up like that, you are probably going to be getting into some deep Avant-Prog music. This album was actually the basis for an opera by theater director Richard Foreman. It is comprised of three acts, each act is a track on the album, and the acts range from 12 to 17 minutes long. Each section as noted in the Act titles are scenes. This is a noise opera and I have no idea how you would know what the story is.

On this album, the vocals are just another instrument in this small 3 person orchestra. Each instrument gets the spotlight, nothing on here is used as support or background, everything is important in the overall scheme of things. Overall, the album has quite a diabolical feel to it. Much of it is improvised, but it still seems like a tight composition, though most people just won't get it and write it off as noise rock. This is extreme experimental avant-prog like you've never heard before, even the most seasoned heavy metal or black metal lover will probably come out of this one with his or her ears smoking.

Act 1 is listed as 'A Secluded Clearing in the Woods/A Single Bed in a Small Room/The Innermost Chapel of a Secret Temple'. Right away, you get slapped in the face with a loud bass and soon everything else follows suit. Patton's vocals are wordless and quite insane. I don't know how in the world he can make the noises and sounds he does. No one else even comes close. The music is very heavy, for the most part, with a few quiet passages. After 5 minutes it calms down, yet it retains the chaotic feel. The bass builds and becomes heavy again. Screams, growls, yells and so on dominate. The meters are constantly changing. Another quiet section begins around 11 minutes, but it all explodes again at 12:30.

Act 2 is 'A Medieval Laboratory/In the Magick Circle'. It starts out ominous and subdued, but the bass provides loud chords and feedback, then Patton starts screaming. Crazy chaos ensues again. Certain thematic elements from the first act appear. There are some killer bass passages in this track, just amazing work whether you like the music or not. There are some nice quiet sections that are more prevalent through this track, especially in the last half, but that still doesn't mean its easy listening by a long shot.

Act 3 is 'A Barren Plain at Midnight/An Unnamed Location'. Bass and drums kick off the cacophony and Patton soon joins with his vocals and they go full bore for the first 2 minutes. Things break down a bit after that point and then build up again. How does he do those things without ruining his voice? Most people would blow out their vocal chords. Things get quiet and ominous at 5 minutes. The vocals in this section are amazing and surprisingly restrained, and the atmosphere is mysterious and interesting. At 9 minutes, there is a awesome bass and drum solo. Vocals soon return after a minute, and the entire thing ends on a chaotic and violent note.

No this is not something most people would appreciate. There is nothing typical about it at all. It is violent music to say the least. But it's thematically classical music with an amazing orchestra of 3 people. It is hard to believe three people can make this much noise and sound. Even in what seems like chaos, there are themes and structure, but there are several improvised sections too. In mixed company, I would advise listening on headphones, because you will probably end up clearing out a room otherwise. Yes, this work is genius, but it is hard to call it essential yet. Maybe with a little work, it could be, but with the amazing performances of the musicians and the excellent mixing and production, it isn't possible to give this anything less than 4 stars. This is Avant-Prog at its most complex.

TCat | 4/5 |

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