Thursday, September 3, 2015
John Zorn - The True Discoveries of Witches and Demons
Zorn continues on a prolific progressive streak with his second album this year. Right from the opener it's very King Crimson which is fine since Fripp is back in the shadows somewhere. This album features not only Trevor Dunn but a few of the other Secret Chiefs as well as Marc Ribot, John Medeski and Matt from Cleric who appeared on the other album Zorn released. Things get more angular and "Red" like on"psychomagia" with Medeski's keys coating over the sinewy twists and turns of this wacky ride that rock harder than most of Zorn's other output. Ribot's solos tend to be phrased with more of a rock feeling to them. "Imaginary Stations" picks up where the previous song left off, it goes into the sound of chaotically throwing their instruments down a flight off stairs versus a more straight up Crimson like prog. There is more of a seventies prog feel to the organ dominated "The Power of Runic Symbols". The shifting groove works well and the drums are well played around it if they don't give you motion sickness trying to keep up.
"Dark Sacrifice" begins with a guitar solo and the other instruments simmering under it with spaced out dissonance. It remains largely abstract and only congeals at the end. I think there is a better combination of weirdness and musicality on "Sorcerer" that follows. In the rubbery groove of "Eccleiastes" there are some good punchy moments amid some of the dis harmonic wanking. "Gordian Knot" starts of with drums and converges into one of the more dizzying grooves. It even captures an darkly aggressive melody in the riff that is almost metal. "Phantasms" starts in a more abstract atmospheric place and then plays around in a disjointed free -form exploration, that the keyboards somewhat rescue in a similar manner to some of the Doors more acid crazed moments before the guitar's tender melody adds another layer of actual music to the noise. They end the album with a very straight forward jazz inflected song, that is melodic , but an odd choice considering what occurred earlier in the album.
This is one of those albums where sure it is easy to appreciate the musicianship that went into pulling all of this off , but at the end of the day where King Crimson who along with Frank Zappa are the real deal when it comes to this, both have the edge on Zorn when it comes to songwriting, though on "Naked City" he proved he can write a song amid the chaos. Granted vocals allow Crimson to back off realize they are actually playing for other people and not being over indulgent. With out that audience then its a arpeggio falling in the forest. I'll give this one a 6 off the basis of the skill and some of the grooves that they do lock into. If you just like instrumental prog then you can masturbate along side this one as you round it up all the way to maybe even an 8.