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John Zorn

Of chamber music, grindcore, and session musicians.

I’m so stuck on John Zorn these days that it’s incredible. I might even start to get jazz guitar lessons, grow a mullet and wear flashy multicoloured shirts like sessions musicians wear when they play 6-stringed fretless bass for some forgotten 80s pop star on TV. God, what am I on about? Let’s start with the master’s latest release, “Filmworks 10; In the mirror of Maya Deren”. Actually, I think that “Filmworks 11” is out already, but whatever. This piece of sheer genius features 15 tracks of circular dream played by cello, organ, Wurlitzer, keyboards, piano and percussion. Played with great musicianship, I should say, but it’s no surprise, since they’re all 45 years old. Zorn’s melancholic piano playing alternates with relaxing, Japanese-sounding percussions; Erik Friedlander, cello, performs both heroic, powerful solo/duo parts and obsessive picked bass lines. This is probably the most beautiful music I’ve heard in ages. It’s warm and comforting, nostalgic but not sad. The kind of record to listen to at home in your pyjamas on a rainy Sunday.

“Filmworks 5; Tears of ecstasy” is not quite the same kind of experience. The fact that it’s the soundtrack to some Japanese gay S&M movie says it all. The general mood here is a bit more… kinky. Few tracks last more than 50 seconds. Surf music is preceded by minimalist percussions and followed by Merzbow-style harsh electronic noise. Maybe not as moving as “In the mirror of Maya Deren”, but it certainly uncovers a wider spectrum of John Zorn’s musical playground.

And if, for the simple reason that you’re an Anal Cunt (fan), you think that Zorn’s musical pieces of art won’t seduce you, pas de probleme – you can still try Painkiller. Like your greasy (greasy hair, shirts, underpants, everything) gods of silly grindcore, this turbo-artcore act got released on Earache. Maybe it was for the simple reason that it features Mick Harris – yes, that guy who once played in Napalm Death – on drums. So, what does it sound like? Spazz with Zorn on the saxophone? Almost, almost. Sometime, I tell you, multicoloured shirts will be hip again.

John Zorn website