John Zorn - Baphomet review



Reviewer:
N/A

1 user:
5.00
Band: John Zorn
Album: Baphomet
Release date: June 2020


01. Baphomet


I've spent the last week getting into John Zorn. Let's see if I'm finally prepared to review his music.

You don't need me to tell you that John Zorn is a prolific artist, and trying to summarize his career in one paragraph is futile. But since we're on a metal website we probably don't care about the avant-garde jazz stuff he did, him playing the music of Ennio Morricone or Ornette Coleman, him composing chamber jazz inspired by Jewish folklore, the spiritual jazz of Masada or the easy listening jazz of The Dreamers. Instead we might be interested in the many times he collaborated with Mike Patton (though a lot of those are free improvisation stuff that is pretty unappealing here), or the pre-Neptunian Maximalism colossal jazz of Electric Masada, but most importantly the grind, hardcore, sludge, drone stuff mixed with jazz in Naked City and Painkiller. However all of those were put to rest a long time ago, and what metalheads have most to be excited in John Zorn's music currently is Simulacrum.

You see, this isn't really a John Zorn album in the traditional sense, since he isn't really performing on it, quite in the same way that someone like Hans Zimmer or Steve Reich don't necessarily perform on their albums. Instead, John Zorn composed, arranged and conducted the album. Simulacrum are just the band who perform the actual music. We can have an entire debate about who the actual artist of an "art music" recording is, since an orchestra recording Beethoven pieces can be considered a Beethoven album, but a singer recording Bob Dylan covers cannot be considered a Bob Dylan one. Regardless, this isn't the first time John Zorn assumed the role of "director", nor his first album with Simulacrum, with this being their seventh since 2015.

But there is reason to be excited. Simulacrum is a trio of John Medeski on organ, Matt Hollenberg of Cleric on guitars, and Kenny Grohowski of Imperial Triumphant on drums. Baphomet is a single forty minutes track of avant-prog. Which basically means it's progressive rock that is on the harsher side, though not necessarily metal. There are parts of it that border on progressive/avant-garde metal, especially some of the riffs, but it's closer to something like Magma, Ruins or Happy Family, or a little closer to home, like Merkabah, combined with some of the mellower moments of Camel or Return To Forever. The organ is the instrument that seems to get the most attention here, but with a band with three virtuosos directed by another virtuoso, it's clear that there's a lot of interesting sounds going on in each of the three instruments, sometimes in tandem, sometimes in opposition. There are a lot of loud and quiet dynamics and shifts, which do indicate that perhaps this wasn't captured in a single take, but there's clearly a very fine equilibrium between how much of it is improvisational and how much of it is controlled.

This isn't as ambitious of a record as many in John Zorn's discography, and at this point in Simulacrum's run, there may be even better and more ambitious albums, but Baphomet is without a doubt a great exercise in progressive rock, with all its history since 1969. I am quite curious how a solo Simulacrum album would sound like, but the synergy they have with John Zorn seems to work fantastically.


 



Written on 27.12.2020 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments

Comments: 4   Visited by: 41 users
27.12.2020 - 23:52
quieted_darkness
Is there a place to listen to this? I cannot find it on YouTube or Bandcamp.
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"If people kept things simple, there would be no discoveries in the world. If scientists said, "The brain is just a brain" and not take it by small segments and labeling it - We would not have come as far. Labels are necessary. Music is sci
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28.12.2020 - 00:04
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by quieted_darkness on 27.12.2020 at 23:52

Is there a place to listen to this? I cannot find it on YouTube or Bandcamp.

You're on your own.
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Jusqu'ici, tout va bien...

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29.12.2020 - 13:44
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Getting into article about his all albums would be good
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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29.12.2020 - 13:46
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Bad English on 29.12.2020 at 13:44

Getting into article about his all albums would be good

And complete suicide
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Jusqu'ici, tout va bien...

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