1/  In the Temple of Hadjarim                  (Zorn)                        5.12
  2/  Sacrifist                                  (Zorn)                        4.50
  3/  Mayim                                      (Zorn)                        3.27
  4/  Koryojang                                  (Zorn)                        6.21
  5/  Bulls-Eye                                  (Zorn)                        1.08
  6/  Leraim                                     (Zorn)                        6.19
  7/  Thaalapalassi                              (Zorn)                        24.00
  8/  Makkot                                     (Zorn)                        2.59
  9/  A Tiki For Blue                            (Zorn)                        6.59
  10/ The Possessed                              (Zorn)                        6.17
  11/ Oracle                                     (Zorn)                        4.24
  12/ Koryojang (End Credits)                    (Zorn)                        2.25

          Recorded at Avatar, February to June 1999
          Engineers: Jim Anderson, Dan Gellert, Robert Musso and Jason Baker
          Produced and arranged by John Zorn
          Associate Producer: Kazunori Sugiyama
          Mastered by Allan Tucker at Foothill Digital
Jamie Saft: piano (1,6), organ (1,11); Cyro Baptista (1,4,6,11,12): percussion; Mark Feldman (1,3,6,8): violin; Erik Friedlander (1,3,6,8,11): cello; Greg Cohen (1,3,6,8,9): bass; Fred Frith (2,7,10): guitar; Marc Ribot: guitar (2,7,9), rhythm guitar (5); Bill Laswell (2,7,10): bass; Dave Lombardo (2,7,10): drums; Joey Baron (4,12): percussion; Mike Patton (5): voice; Robert Quine (5): lead guitar; Chris Wood (5): bass; Sim Cain (5): drums; Roberto Rodriguez (9): percussion; Miho Hatori (9): voice.

          1999 - Tzadik (USA), TZ 7325 (CD)


I don't know what Music Romance Volume One was, but Taboo and Exile is its successor apparently. Actually, if anyone out there has any background on this record generally, please fill us in. Meanwhile, here's what we know about it...

Amid all of Zorn's recent chamber-orientated work, or, of course, his ongoing Masada excursions, T&A stands out as, as it were, 'old school' Zorn: a genre-busting, jump-cutting rollercoaster of a record, which, while eschewing the more overtly collagist tendencies of, say Spillane or The Big Gundown or the early Naked City material, nonetheless crams a whole world of sound and styles into something resembling an imaginary film soundtrack. Along for the ride is a host of regular associates, a virtual roll call of New Music luminaries, arranged in various groupings - duos, trios, quartets and quintets. Stand up: keyboardist Jamie Saft, percussionists and Cyro Baptista and Roberto Rodriguez, guitarists Fred Frith, Marc Ribot and Robert Quine (how's that for a Holy Trinity?!), bassists Bill Laswell and Chris Wood, Slayers' awesome drummer Dave Lombardo, violinist Mark Feldman, cellist Erik Friedlander, double bassist Greg Cohen (the star of a recent evening at London's Barbican centre, onstage all night in the Masada String trio, Bar Kohkba AND Masada, and still smiling at the end of it!), Mr Bungle and Fantomas frontman Mike Patton, drummers Joey Baron and Sim Cain (of Rollins Band fame) and vocalist. Miho Hatori. I don't think I've left anyone out. Oh, Zorn himself, of course, on alto.

So... This isn't Zorn at his most groundbreaking for sure, but what the heck, the guy's gotta let his hair down sometime! And note-for-note, it's one of his most enjoyable releases of late, a blast from end to end.

Simon Hopkins (courtesy of the Motion website)


Like the first volume of the series, Music Romance, Volume Two: Taboo and Exile deals with issues of lost innocence. The first of the Music Romance series had more overt references to childhood, with lengthy literary references and a title which gave it all away: Music for Children. Here the images are a little bit more subtle and a lot darker. The outer sleeve is black, with ritual objects represented in the fiery colors of orange and red. The liner notes contain a photo of poppies as well as more ritual objects, including one which seems to be bathed in blood. The front of the booklet has a photograph of a naked young girl that presents her in a way that is half sexualized, half innocent. There is just one piece of text this time, "A white room with white curtains hides the face of a sleeping child, barely a child, barely asleep, leaving nothing but an image, the sky's double, to rediscover one's innocence."

All of this is mere packaging -- a name, some images, some words, but they prime the listener for the experience of the music, for understanding what this recording is all about. And what it is all about is that painful moment between innocence and experience, that blood-filled time where the world cracks and reforms itself, when a line has been or is being crossed. The music itself is achingly beautiful -- the first track, "In the Temple of Hadjarim" sets a hypnotic mood for the rest of the album, with the sensual piano playing of Jamie Saft wrapped up in the atmospheric strings of Mark Feldman, Erik Friedlander, and Greg Cohen. By the second track, things have turned discordant, aided by Fred Frith, Dave Lombardo, and Bill Laswell. Indeed, the list of talented musicians on this project is enormous, which lends itself both to quality and diversity of sound. This is not a piece of classical movements; rather, it is like a film with constantly changing scenes. Before the end of the album, images are evoked of slow, metered tribal ritual, escape on an open road, cabaret, desert and dance. This is one of Zorn's most complex and beautiful pieces, showing that he is still constantly evolving as a composer.

Stacia Proefrock (courtesy of the All Music Guide, via the Get Music website)


This is the second volume in John Zorn's Music Romance series. The first album, _Music for Children_, was a diverse work expressing the dark aspects of childhood. Naked-City-style pieces, music box themes, eerie chamber music, wind machines, and more were featured, all musically exploring the album themes. Despite the musical diversity, it fit together quite nicely. _Taboo & Exile_ seems to have a theme presented by the packaging that may or may not be reflected in the music, I have no idea at this point. Beneath the dark album jacket is a bizarrely sexualized photo of a little Japanese girl, even though if you stop and think about it it's not actually sexual in any way in and of itself. So it's a rather striking way of distinguishing between innocence and maturity-adulthood-experience. Actually, reading that Jazziz review Amazon gives us on this page informed me about the "image of Saveur St. Cyr's temple skull tied to a small chair with whip" and I will have to look into that. In any case I haven't made any connection between the package and the music yet. Musically, the album is exotic, darkly sensual, and sad (hmmm). Some of the songs highlight a sense of contrast. For example, "Zeraim" is a remarkable Mediterranean-esque piece for piano, percussion, and strings. Here Zorn shows an ability to hide great complexity and rhythmic variation in melodies that remain pleasant and catchy. "In the Temple of Hadjarim", with mellow free piano and primitivist percussion, is like the integration of intersubjectively foreign Jazz concepts, East meets West. There is "The Possessed" also, a slow, assaultive which conveys great aggression despite its often-minimalist, rapid melodic fragments. The build-up on this one is very intense, and it is the only song Zorn himself plays on, and he contributes some vicious sax. On "Sacrifist", Lombardo's thrash-metal speed comes in handy for an urgent percussion backdrop for the roaring, monster guitars of Fred Frith and Marc Ribot and thick bass feedback from Bill Laswell. This song is quite noisy and frightening yet completely enslaves your attention because it is AWESOME. "Thaalapalassi", with the same lineup as "Sacrifist", is an eerie, primal buildup from pointillism to beastly screeching. It then retreats into the Hellish realm from which it came. Another reviewer on this page described it as "ambient heavy metal" and I wholeheartedly agree with that. "Makkot" and "Mayim" are scored for Eric Friedlander on cello, Mark Feldman on violin, and Greg Cohen on bass -- they are very twisty Masada-esque pieces and they are very good. "Oracle" is a strange, mellow track with a Cyro Baptista percussion loop being run under plucked cello, feather-light organ, and childlike Japanese vocals from Miho Hatori. "Koryojang", a hypnotic percussion duet between Cyro Baptista and Joey Baron, appears twice -- once in its full six-minute form and once as a short reprise with the added tag "end credits" for the final track. End credits for WHAT, I have no idea. From these descriptions (assuming they are coherent), you would be right in thinking this album is very diverse. However, it hangs together _very_ well, much like _Music for Children_ did. But maybe it's more of a metaphysical link than a musical one. "Bulls-Eye", with Mike Patton screaming over a catchy rock groove, doesn't seem to fit but I still like it. Oh, and for anyone who has _Music for Children_ and thinks "Cycles du Nord" was the worst thing ever, you will be happy to know there are no sound sculptures or other whack avant-garde compositions on this album. (Hey, I actually *like* "Cycles du Nord", but anyway you cut it, it IS a song made of wind.) Okay, bad enough that this review is all one paragraph, it probably doesn't even make SENSE. But really, For Zorn newbies and the hardcore fan, this is beautiful, excellent stuff. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

5 stars out of 5

Lord Chimp (courtesy of the website)