John Zorn
Astronome


4.0
excellent

Review

by Channing Freeman STAFF
June 13th, 2007 | 31 replies | 11,638 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


If someone asked you what kind of music your grandfather listens to, your answer would most likely be that he listens to laid-back, relaxing, slow stuff. And if your grandfather made music, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to assume that it would probably also be similar: slow and relaxing. Well here’s something interesting: John Zorn is 53 and he composes some of the most hard-to-swallow shit out there. Far from the lazy old man stereotype, Zorn has stamped his name on hundreds of projects over the years and shows no signs of slowing down. On his 2006 composition Astronome, as well as the album prior to this (Moonchild) and the album after this (Six Litanies for Heliogabalus), his work is executed by vocalist Mike Patton, bassist Trevor Dunn, and drummer Joey Baron.

First off, this album isn’t accessible. I’m not presenting that as a con, just as a warning. If you’re going to listen to this, be prepared for some weird shit. Having already heard his latest album, I was luckily prepared for Zorn's other bizzare compositions. Anyone who’s ever heard vocalist Mike Patton’s various projects knows how versatile and slightly 'different' he is; he chokes, he screams, he screeches, he spouts gibberish, and offers respite in the slower parts with soft breathing and whispering. You remember Donnie from The Wild Thornberrys? He sounds like that a lot of the time.

Patton’s vocal work may offer the main entertainment, but Trevor Dunn and Joey Baron certainly don’t slack off in the music department. Dunn’s bass playing is all over the place, running a huge gamut of techniques. He plays jazzy riffs, scratches strings, and in the times when the sound isn’t meant to be so subtle, he just plays fucking loud. Joey Baron gives the ongoing craze a strong backbone with his fast fills and great cymbal work, as well as going balls-out insane when he needs to.

There are three pieces here, each lasting longer than twelve minutes, and split into different parts; however, there isn’t much of a way to know when one part ends and another begins. Because of this, Astronome might seem like a tedious listen, but Dunn, Baron, and certainly Patton skillfully keep things interesting for the duration of the album. Zorn achieves a rare thing with Astronome: it’s all over the place without actually seeming all over the place. In other words, it’s an absolutely crazy album, but it’s very structured and composed, and Zorn certainly knows how to balance soft and heavy equally. Now, when you hear the word “heavy” you probably think of heavy metal, but Zorn offers a different sort of heaviness that would put most metal artists to shame; it’s a heaviness that will frighten lambs. When the quieter parts come in and you can finally breathe again, Zorn plunges you back down into the depths.

You may ask, "Well, is there anything wrong with it?"

More than anything, Astronome is an experience, and because of this, it doesn’t offer much in terms of replay value. However, if a month or two has passed since you last listened to this, pull it out again and you just might be able to recapture that intense feeling you got when it first hit your ears.



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user ratings (29)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
June 13th 2007



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Here is my review for the random album game.

Special thanks to Eliminator for various pointers and edits.

MeowMeow
June 13th 2007



662 Comments


Wondeful review. I admit all I have by Zorn are Six Litanies, Moonchild, and the albums from his Naked City project. I sure as hell need this one.

btw, chan, if you haven't heard his Naked City stuff, I highly reccomend it.This Message Edited On 06.13.07

Iai
Emeritus
June 13th 2007



3553 Comments


Good review. I like Zorn, but to be honest, Patton's presence puts me off this.

Tyler
Emeritus
June 13th 2007



7928 Comments


Yeah, Patton has a tendency to just make puke noises when he works with Zorn.

Intransit
June 13th 2007



2797 Comments


Good work; Short and to the point. I will check this out

Iai
Emeritus
June 13th 2007



3553 Comments


To be totally honest, I haven't heard a non-FNM Patton project I've enjoyed. I've heard all the major ones apart from Tomahawk, I think.

MeowMeow
June 13th 2007



662 Comments


You don't enjoy Mr. Bungle? That's my favorite Patton project.

Iai
Emeritus
June 13th 2007



3553 Comments


Nah. I have their self-titled lying around somewhere, and I haven't listened to it yet, so I've set myself up to have another shot at them. But I heard California and it just didnt settle with me at all. Bits of it were impressive, but there didn't really see to be much point to the whole thing. I guess the same's true of every Patton project - I'm not gonna doubt that he puts passion into what he does, because obviously he wouldn't make as much music as he does if he didn't enjoy it, but it never translates for me. Most of it I just find boring.

He did stun me with "Mojo" by Peeping Tom, though. Awesome song.

PaperCities
June 13th 2007



199 Comments


Great short review. I haven't even listened to my assigned album yet :upset:
I still need the Naked City album, but this sounds great too.

metallicaman8
June 13th 2007



4677 Comments


Nice work, Chan :thumb:

italic zero
June 13th 2007



31 Comments


great review, but the intro would have applied better to Scott Walker

Iai
Emeritus
June 13th 2007



3553 Comments


Most grandfathers probably do listen to Scott Walker, though. Just not his newer stuff.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
June 13th 2007



3995 Comments


Dude my 82 year old grandfather brings the mosh so hard. Don't assume about old people.

iarescientists
June 13th 2007



5863 Comments


Whenever I go over my grandpa's house, he's always picking up those gnarly weeds.

PaperCities
June 13th 2007



199 Comments


Once over spring break my grandpa rode my cousin's dirtbike. It was fucking badass, he didnt even use a helmet.

Iai
Emeritus
June 13th 2007



3553 Comments


I can't wait till get old. I can be all like 'Hey, I just pissed myself, what are you gonna do about it?'

PaperCities
June 13th 2007



199 Comments


fuck getting old, I do that now.

antihippy
June 14th 2007



696 Comments


lol at the donnie reference.

good review.

ValiumMan
June 14th 2007



493 Comments


Good review. John Zorn is a fuckin' madman, but one who puts his manic energy into making great music.
This album is good, he should have gotten Yamatsuka Eye for it though, he can pull this kinda thing off ten times better than Patton.

Monticello
June 18th 2007



805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The ratings on here (good, average etc) do not apply to this album.



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