"49 Acts of Unspeakable Depravity in the Abominable Life and Times of Gilles de Rais" is the fifth CD by Simulacrum, an organ trio of unparalleled power that brings the sounds of heavy metal, blues, funk and jazz together with modern classical music. Tighter than ever and able to stop and start at breakneck speed, Medeski, Hollenberg and Grohowski are at their raging best as they blaze through Zorn’s wildest flights of fancy—a ten-movement suite evoking a sick and decadent descent into madness. Driven by an intense and powerful fury, this CD contains some of the craziest sounds you are ever likely to hear as genres, noise, instrumental colors and driving rhythms collide head-on. A jaw-dropping visit to a new musical world where absolutely anything is possible!
This 1997 duet recording between drumming ace Bobby Previte and saxophonist John Zorn is indicative – pretty much – of what Zorn's music was like at the time: There are plenty of hard bop linguistics mixed in with film noir themes and screeching, burning skronk. There are also short, lucid moments of melodic tranquility that prefigure much of Zorn's work from 1999 on. But mostly, this series of duets reveals something else, that two players from similar backgrounds, who have played in the same bands together and can understand each other on an almost symbiotic level, can still approach the same musical problem from two different sides and come up with the same answer.
One of the most talked about and well attended shows of Zorn’s 50th Birthday month was his much anticipated duo concert with Boredoms mastermind, Yamataka Eye. Close friends and musical associates since 1985, their love, respect and telepathic interplay was augmented on this occasion by electronic technician Sawai Taeji, who responded to Eye’s sensor movements via powerbook. Jewish Alchemy meets Japanese Shamanism in this ritual performance of music and magic from two of the world’s most unusual and unclassifiable adepts. Included as a bonus is a Quicktime video of the performance accessible on your computer.
In the late ’70s and early ’80s Zorn presented yearly retrospectives of his game pieces at various Downtown venues. He called these events his Olympiads. This long awaited CD presents three of his classic pre-Cobra game pieces in multiple versions by the fabulous Brooklyn-based guitar quartet Dither. Here you will find the building blocks of Zorn’s trademark musical language—virtuosic extended techniques, surprising contrasts, fast group interaction and razor sharp changes. Featuring the first recording of Zorn’s legendary compositions Fencing and Curling, these fabulous realizations will keep you on the edge of your seat from first note to last!
With The Urmuz Epigrams Zorn returns to his roots, using the recording studio as instrument to create an intensely personal suite of compositions in the style of his legendary File Card compositions and Zoetropes. Dedicated to the visionary Romanian writer Urmuz whose small, scattered body of work predated Dadaism by decades, The Urmuz Epigrams is a suite of surrealistic miniatures more akin to philosophical aphorisms than actual music. The pieces are presented here in two iterations, as a set of “rare 78rpm records” complete with surface scratches and limited dynamic range, and as a modern reconstruction of same with the full blown studio sound presented in all its perplexing glory. Some of the craziest music in the Zorn catalog!
The second disc of Bill Laswell and Buckethead's project Praxis is much less of a band effort and much heavier in tone. Laswell calls in some of his associates for various tracks, which makes this more a revolving-door project. Many tracks are speed/thrash metal at their noisiest; most notable of these is "Rivet," which combines Buckethead's ultra-heavy guitar riffs and shredding solos with sounds of shattered glass for an unbelievably aggressive experience. There's also a short dub interlude ("Iron Dub") and a hip-hop freakout with lots of scratching and high-pitched shrieks ("The Hook"). P-Funkers Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell (both also featured on the first disc, Transmutation) each contribute one lengthy track: "Deathstar," with Bootsy's free-form bass explorations, and "Crossing," featuring Bernie's psychedelic improvisation on a distorted Hammond organ.