Monday, April 13, 2015

John Zorn - The Hermetic Organ Vol. 3 (Tzadik, 2015)

This is the third entry in John Zorn’s Hermetic Organ series, where he performs solo on massive pipe organ, this time the music was recorded live in St. Paul’s Hall in the UK, with the recital appropriately starting at midnight. “The Fall of Satan” begins with a massive slab of sound coming from the organ. The sound swirls and casts a shadow in an ominous, foreboding fashion. He is able to shift gears, getting some light almost flute-like sounds, before turning the music back into something like a warning signal as if to say danger ahead. Zorn then pulls all of these ideas together, evoking feedback like sounds, heavy curtains of organ which surround you with eerie claustrophobic fear. There is a ghostly air to “Spectral Angels” where Zorn is able to provide a kaleidoscope of sounds, which build upon each other ratcheting up the tension. The music drops into a haunting fantasia, where he employs a lighter touch but the atmosphere doesn’t let up. Lonely and ethereal, the music moves back into a heavier, shadowlike presence at the end. “The Revelation of Saint John” regains the high pitched warning sounds, but he is able to modulate the sounds into smears of powerful wind, building like a snarling beast that he has a tenuous grip on. The massive beast creaks and groans in a threatening fashion, building dynamically, mysteriously and finally pummeling the listener with relentless waves of sound. This is a very intense experience, Zorn takes much of his compositional strength from spiritual texts and that is clear within the music. It sounds like a dark night of the soul, questioning the very nature of faith and the Universe around us. This is scary stuff to be sure, but it is also epic and powerful. Hermetic Organ 3 -

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