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Reviews Written by
Douglas S. Benson "dsbenson.com" (Burlingame, CA USA)

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Black Box
Black Box
Price: CDN$ 30.60
17 used & new from CDN$ 14.53

1.0 out of 5 stars Not recommended except for grindcore fans, April 27 2004
This review is from: Black Box (Audio CD)
I've got about 30 Zorn albums, but sold this one. I love the many sides of John Zorn, but this has way too much of the hardcore grinding for my tastes. I prefer more variety like on the first Naked City album--in which the short screaming punk pieces are punctuation between more listenable (even if loud) tracks. This however is just ear torture--not quite ListenProof, but not music that I want to spend my time hearing. Not on my recommended Zorn list, despite the praise of other reviewers here.

First Recordings 1973
First Recordings 1973
Price: CDN$ 21.79
16 used & new from CDN$ 12.06

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the less listenable of the Zorn albums, April 27 2004
This review is from: First Recordings 1973 (Audio CD)
I've got about 30 Zorn albums, but sold this one. I love the many sides of John Zorn, but this is definitely of the Listen-Proof genre that he gets into on some albums. There's not a lot of 'musical' content here. But if you like the listenproof stuff, go ahead. Otherwise, if you're a newbie pick any of the Filmworks albums for a good cross-section of his work.

Songs from the Hermetic Theate
Songs from the Hermetic Theate
Price: CDN$ 22.61
17 used & new from CDN$ 12.00

1.0 out of 5 stars Not recommended, April 26 2004
I've got around 30 Zorn CDs, but sold this one on eBay (thanks, whomever you were!). Gotta say, I wanted to like this one--the cover art and liner notes made it sound like other Zorn albums that I love. Unfortunately, um, no.
I'd have to put this in the listen-proof category. Not that it's grindcore or anything--just that the sounds are very unstructured and unpleasant. It's like an electronic-avant garde student effort, where the student is trying hard to make folks leave the room. Much like I did, when I was a student. But I woudn't want to listen to me either.

Yankees
Yankees
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 73.95

1.0 out of 5 stars Listen-proof Zorn, April 26 2004
This review is from: Yankees (Audio CD)
Sorry, this is of the Listen-Proof variety to me. I've got around 30 Zorn albums, but sold this one.
If you like his really, really difficult music, then you might go for this one. It's improv, and there's little structured musical content here. Not hardcore--just not pleasurable.

The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays the Music of Ennio Morricone
The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays the Music of Ennio Morricone
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 37.95
7 used & new from CDN$ 9.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Zorn album-- one of his best, April 26 2004
I reviewed the rerelease of this album, and suggest you buy the remastered version for the clarity of the remastering job. Not that the original was bad--far from it. It's a fantastic recording--weird and wonderful.
This is one of my favorite Zorn albums, though it's a challenging listen on some of the pieces.

Elegy
Elegy
Price: CDN$ 18.29
18 used & new from CDN$ 11.13

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely and weird sound collage, April 26 2004
This review is from: Elegy (Audio CD)
I've got about 30 Zorn albums--I'd put this one around middle. It's got a definite unifying theme, and is very listenable though not particularly melodic.
But it's not one of the albums I gravitate to regularly--not as many opportunities for this kind of listening for me. Got to be active listening for this one--it's not background music.

Spy Vs. Spy: Music of Ornette Coleman
Spy Vs. Spy: Music of Ornette Coleman
3 used & new from CDN$ 11.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Not recommended for either Zorn or Coleman fans, April 26 2004
I've got about 30 Zorn albums, but sold this one. As others have said, it's a punk hardcore thrash-jazz take on Ornette Coleman's pieces, at about 200 mph.
If it weren't for the incredibly angry drums recorded very high in the mix, it might have worked for me--as is, I get too aurally tired listening to this. Not fun. If you want loud, go for Naked City. Here, there's too much sameness from piece to piece.
Listenproof, in my opinion.

Radio
Radio
2 used & new from CDN$ 44.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the first Naked City, but great, April 26 2004
This review is from: Radio (Audio CD)
I've got about 30 Zorn albums, and I'd put this one on the must-have list for anyone who likes the harder side of Zorn, even though it's not of the Grand Guignol/Torture Garden variety. In fact, I think this album is easier to listen to than the first Naked City album.
That being said, the first Naked City album is far better in my opinion--it just hangs together and has many truly unforgettable pieces--in comparison, Radio is great but has many *forgettable* pieces. It doesn't stick in my head when it's not around like the first album.

I.a.O.
I.a.O.
Price: CDN$ 15.74
18 used & new from CDN$ 11.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Very different from a lot of his work, but excellent, April 26 2004
This review is from: I.a.O. (Audio CD)
I've got about 30 Zorn albums--this one is of the 'not too melodic' varieties, but definitely not listen-proof. I like this album a lot--it's very meditative and strange, but beautiful and wonderfully recorded.
Thematically it's like many of Zorn's pieces, as described in other reviews here. Sonically it's different--very different soundscapes.
I wouldn't put this at the top of my must-have Zorn list, but it's definitely ON the list. I listen to this one regularly, and it's great on headphones.

Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht
Price: CDN$ 21.54
13 used & new from CDN$ 11.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Great and scary album; beware the second track!, April 26 2004
This review is from: Kristallnacht (Audio CD)
I've got about 30 Zorn albums, and this is one of the greats. Not one of the more listenable albums, though there are some great Klezmer-inspired pieces here. The second track is like being inside the breaking glass of Kristallnacht, and it's not a listening experience that I can recommend more than once or twice--in fact, it's the only piece on the album that didn't make it to my iPod.
But the rest of the album is chilling, effective, and terrific.

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