Thursday, May 03, 2012

John Zorn - Nosferatu (Tzadik, 2012)

Written as incidental music for a modern stage production of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the music on this album is filled with an enigmatic power and a great sense of mystery energy. Featuring John Zorn on piano, alto saxophone, electronics, and breath, Rob Burger on piano and organ, Bill Laswell on bass, Kevin Norton on vibraphone, drums, orchestral bells and Tibetan prayer bowls. The music fits in well with the story and the play with this music attached must have been something to see (and hear.) The music is filled with moody vignettes that give the feel of gas-lit streets shrouded with fog and menace. The highlight of the album for me goes in the other direction entirely, “The Battle of Good and Evil” is a torrid free jazz improvisation with scalding waves of saxophone over propulsive keyboards, throbbing bass and drums. Zorn has been focusing a great deal on composing lately, so it is great to hear him playing saxophone again and at a such a ferocious level. Laswell gets a showcase too, on “Stalker Dub” which surrounds his huge bass sound with massive reverberation. This was a mercurial and spooky album of music for close listening, a musical rumination about love and loss. Covering a wide range musical genres, melding jazz, classical music and music from the folk tradition the album hangs together quite well. Zorn appropriates musical representations of the book and the film and develops an aural montage. Appropriately, the album was released on the 100th anniversary date of Bram Stoker’s death and this is the appropriate shadowy and murky counterpart. Nosferatu - amazon.com

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