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Zorn continues his intense new rock direction with a second release by the dynamic all star trio from his acclaimed song suite Moonchild to present an intense and mysterious tale of magic and alchemy. Featuring the mad vocal wizardry of Mike Patton singing in preverbal language accompanied by long time cohort Trevor Dunn on electric bass and Joey Baron on drums, this is Zorn at his edgy and uncompromising best. An opera of unbridled madness and complexity that will make your jaw drop. Recorded and mixed by the radical posse of musical terrorist Bill Laswell.
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As any opera, "Astronome" is apparently designed to tell a story, although you'd be hard pressed without the included libretto (more on that in a minute) to make heads or tails of it, the music is very visual. On first listen, it appears to be pretty much an endlessly aggressive slice of Zorn-avant-hardcore, but the more I've listened to it, the more it's revealed itself to be startlingly diverse. While it is indeed dominated by fierce sections, there's quite a bit of oddly melodic and intriguing portions here-- for example about thirteen minutes into "Act Two", after building to frantic heights, the music settles into a fine groove and maintains a gentle atmosphere pretty much until the end of the track with Dunn's playing both deep in a groove and at times downright pastoral in sound.
This isn't to say, mind you, there isn't a healthy dose of noise and explosiveness-- Dunn's bass is distorted more often than not and Patton's range of vocal textures seem to emphasize a sense of franticness and torment more than anything else.
One thing of note is the packaging of this record-- contained in a small box, the CD is accompanied by two booklets-- one with a set of liner notes by Zorn the other a libretto for the album, with photographs accompanying each "scene" in the opera. It's really quite a fine package.
As a whole, while I found "Astronome" to be an interesting record with a lot of great material to offer, I've found it a bit less intriguing than "Moonchild" and haven't been coming back to it as consistently as I do with a lot of Zorn's other albums. Having said that, it's got a lot to offer and I'm curious whether my opinion of it will change over time-- there's an underpinning of subtlety here that isn't obvious on first dozen listens or so that I've noted as of late that I wonder if it will blossom into something more (as "The Gift" did for me).
At first, I laughed at the slurping sucking noises the vocalist was making thinking it was much like the embarassing noises section of a Monty Python routine - but, it's easy to forget that it's a human generating those noises and just think of them as instrumentation.
It's certainly genre stretching, and a lot of fun.
I like it best when it mellows out about 15mins into the second track (I'm thinking this is the medieaval laboratory segment)
It's a very warm interlude between exhausting vocalizations that seems much needed!
get ready it's all about to take off again!
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The musical themes lead very directly off from the previous disc, the opening bass-line harking right back to 'Hellfire' and the playing is, again, superb.
However, for my money, this is a much less cohesive and comprehensible affair; trading the concept in many places for the concise and ideas-packed music of Moonchild.
The vocals on this are particularly wearing at times (the slurping and gargling of a glass of water towards the end of track two is just gross and not atmospheric at all).
The music develops slightly slower, and in places is much more sparsh, but the atmosphere is never quite as convincingly captured, and it never gets quite as scary.
I would get Moondchild over this, then return here if you still want more of the same later.
John Zorn atteint comme toujours des sommets où se mélange le Free-jazz, le rock et tout ce que vous avez pu entendre de « curieux ». Mélomanes « normaux » s'abstenir. pour écouter ce disque, il faut "rester éveillé".
Comme le disaient Deleuze et Guattari, « l?artiste est celui qui pratique une fente dans l?ombrelle qui nous abrite, pour faire passer un peu du chaos libre et venteux, et cadrer dans une brusque lumière une vision qui apparaît à travers la fente ». Il s?agit de retrouver l?intensité perdue de la perception, « l?incommunicable nouveauté qu?on ne savait plus voir ».
C'et ce que fait john Zorn