Review Summary: Jazz meets grindcore. Get it now.
Chances are, you've never heard of John Zorn. John Zorn plays the saxophone, and is normally an avant garde jazz artist, but has also done quite a few noteworthy things, such as producing the Patton-lead Mr. Bungle's self titled release. You've also probably never heard of Yamantaka Eye, vocalist for Japanese Noise/Avant-Garde/Punk group The Boredoms. However, both of these men are held high on the experimental platform.
Now, I've never been huge on Grind, sans some of Napalm Death's material, and the only jazz I really own is Herbie Hancock and a handful of Zorn's material. Why did I bring these two genres up? Why did I talk about Zorn and Eye? Because of this album. Naked City's "Torture Garden" is a combination of the two genres, and is the brainchild of these two men. Strange? Yes. Conventional? No. Does it work? Yes.
Unconventional song structures, howling vocals (I'm actually not completely sure if the album has any real lyrics), loud and chaotic instrumentation. That about sums up Naked City. With the two longest songs clocking in at 1:18, this album is pure chaos in the most blissful form. This music is freeform to the extreme, working in chaotic grind guitar riffs, pounding drums, inhuman screams, random keyboard breaks, and saxophone styles just as chaotic, if not more so, than the rest of the instruments.
This music is DEFINITLEY not for the casual listener. If you find most your music over the radio, you're probably not going to like this. However, for lovers of bands like Mr. Bungle, Melt-Banana, or any noise/avant-garde group… welcome to heaven. You'll be addicted to this for a while.
This is not to say this album is without flaws. One major thing is that, well, there's no real stand-out tracks. The only things really different on the record are the ambient opening to the album opener, "Blood Is Thin" and the fairly mellow "N.Y. Flat Top Box". This is most definitely an album made for listening all the way through, rather than a few songs at a time. Hence the 42 songs clocking in at just 26 minutes.
Other downfalls include the fact that songs don't really seem to have any direction. While this may not bother some listeners, it just feels like it's mixing the two genres to become something different. Of course this is if we're being nitpicky.
So, let's recap, shall we?
-Great mixture of grind and jazz
-The saxophone is kicking just as much ass as the guitar
-Some parts are very technical
-Something completely different for people to try
-Takes a bit of time to grow on you
-Hard to tell when the songs change
-The vocals may annoy some
-It sounds like he just made a fart noise with his mouth
Naked City is:
John Zorn: saxophone, voice, composer, bandleader.
Bill Frisell: guitar
Wayne Horvitz: synthesizer, piano
Fred Frith: bass guitar
Joey Baron: drums
Yamatsuka Eye: voice
Mike Patton also makes a few appearances and does all live vocals.