Electric Masada
At the Mountains of Madness


4.5
superb

Review

by username345 USER (52 Reviews)
June 30th, 2008 | 19 replies | 4,990 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A fantastic jazz album with incredible musicianship, perfect atmosphere and just the right mix of vicious heavy sections and calm melodic sections.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Electric Masada is an offshoot of saxophonist John Zorn’s group ‘Masada’, which blends traditional Jewish klezmer music with free jazz. Keeping mainly the same members (including the hugely talented guitarist Marc Ribot who has played with Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and many others) and two drummers, they combined the experimental free jazz of Masada with noise, rock and metal influences to create some of the most ferocious and exciting free jazz ever recorded.

All of the songs on the album are live recordings taken from a collection of Zorn’s klezmer-based compositions called the ‘Masada Songbook’. With over 200 songs in the songbook it could be criticised for only containing a few and even repeating some of them on the album, but this really shows the huge talent of the band members in improvising - the same song sounds almost completely different each time so you probably wouldn’t even notice you’ve heard it before.

The music here goes from slow spacey jazz to vicious noise and everything in between, often switching between them suddenly. For most of the album it is perhaps best comparable to Miles Davis’ ‘Bitches Brew’ but sounds much more modern. Because of the heavy drumming and electronics the album always has a very rich textured sound. As previously mentioned, a lot of it is improvised but it always works well, keeping the album unpredictable but never meandering pointlessly like a lot of improvised music does.

One of Zorn’s other bands, Naked City, plays grindcore, and this obviously influences some of the heavier parts. One of the songs is actually a Naked City cover. These are usually the weaker points of the album however. There’s one part especially in ‘Metal Tov’ with a horrible piercing whistle that seems to have been placed there just for the sake of it that ruins the whole song. The whole album is so gripping these points are hardly noticeable though.

The musicianship is absolutely incredible throughout. Guitarist Marc Ribot and keyboardist Jamie Saft play some beautiful memorable melodies but are capable of being much more aggressive when needed. John Zorn’s saxophone playing is amazingly varied, ranging from having a smooth and warm tone to frantic high-pitched shrieks. Ikue Mori is in charge of the vague sounding ‘electronics’, meaning that she is adding different random sounds in through her laptop. This actually works quite well, never getting in the way of the music but adding to it by removing the moments of empty spaces.

The rhythm section in particular is incredible. The very complex and precise drumming of Joey Baron and Kenny Wollesen with some fantastic bass-lines from Trevor Dunn drive the album forward, keeping it constantly interesting and hold it together when the other members go off improvising in completely different directions.

As a double album lasting over 2 and a half hours it may be too overwhelming to listen to it all in one go, but it is easily gripping enough to listen to one disk at a time. Recommended not just to jazz fans, but because of the fusion/rock influence, rock fans also.



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user ratings (34)
Chart.
4.3
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
joshuatree
Emeritus
June 30th 2008



3743 Comments


i was looking for a link for this the other day, couldnt find anything though

good review, pos'd

foreverendeared
June 30th 2008



14678 Comments


dido.
except

Even for jazz, the musicianship is impressive

i understand what you mean to say, but this reads the wrong way to me

username345
July 1st 2008



594 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, you're right. I removed that bit.

Mendigo
November 23rd 2008



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I finally got this today, after you've recommended it so often. I have only listened to the first half of disc one yet but I believe I can already say that this is really amazing and really sick stuff.

Cerbyrus
April 25th 2009



568 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is amazing.

ziroth
September 20th 2009



1252 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is so crazy

irontusk
October 18th 2009



109 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good Review but I think Zorn would cringe at the use of "Klezmer" through out. Fantastic Album.

salival13
July 11th 2010



264 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Mhmm tasty acid jazz

conesmoke
February 18th 2013



5198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My mate just bought this on cd and suggested i listen.

YankeeDudel
April 5th 2013



9311 Comments


John Zorn is a top shelf person

Digging: Rites of Spring - Rites of Spring

wacknizzle
April 24th 2013



12962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Aww, let down. You had me under the impression there was a pressing of this on vinyl Graham. I'd buy it in a heartbeat if there was.

Digging: Amenra - Mass V

Spec
April 24th 2013



27135 Comments


douche to this

Digging: Rinoa - An Age Among Them

wacknizzle
April 24th 2013



12962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

douche or touche or both?

YankeeDudel
April 24th 2013



9311 Comments


this is SPLENDID

wacknizzle
April 24th 2013



12962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Indeed

Spec
April 24th 2013



27135 Comments


douche

conesmoke
August 9th 2013



5198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Extreme jazz prog/

conesmoke
August 9th 2013



5198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Seriously the fact that these songs are live recordings is ridiculous. Air tight

conesmoke
November 5th 2013



5198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

absofuckinlutely air tight EXTREME jazz



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