Review Summary: The Crucible shows John Zorn's inventive nature and succeeds greatly.
At this moment, a copy of Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time
sits in a plastic crate in my basement. Even after several reads, the originality that, at first, was apparently the cause for the long time it took to be published, remains intact. Most works do not have such lasting innovation. However, L’Engle captured not only creativity within her magnum opus, but she also acquired a large fan base that still lingers today. Libraries have this work on their shelves. Children still read it for classroom assignments and even for leisure. Nevertheless, it is not the foundation for young-adult vampire-based romance novels. Its publication brought forth a sense of imagination that had never before reached such a large audience. Sadly, it seems that works like John Zorn’s The Crucible
will not reach the ears of so many.
Zorn has made quite the name for himself in the avant-garde community, and rightly so. Taking part in numerous projects, he’s constantly been one of the many infamous creative forces behind some of today’s best-known vanguard material. While bands like Naked City and Electric Masada have certainly earned him a cult following, that following in all probability, will never transfer to the mainstream. This is truly sad, because after decades of experimental material, Zorn shows on The Crucible
that he hasn’t lost a step. Complete with all the experimental-infused jazz bliss that one could wish for, Zorn has again created jumpy music that is damn near impenetrable.
Tracks like “Hobgoblin” combine grindcore attributes with that of jazz in a discordant way. Visceral screams are placed beside a flurry of saxophone notes. An odd combination indeed, it works to the album’s advantage. Pushing musical boundaries as far as they will go, The Crucible
dabbles in post-rock, reggae, death metal, noise, and a shocking amount of other miscellaneous genres, as seen on the aforementioned track. “Maleficia” shows the juxtaposition at its most ominous. The high-register shrieks are timed to perfection against an energetic, technical, instrumental composition. However, this is not the only track to do so. This may be a byproduct of the members that Zorn worked with to create an album with undying creativity.
Mike Patton, Joey Baron, and Trevor Dunn (a.k.a. The Moonchild Trio
) are mainstays on this album. Sure, guests like guitarist Marc Ribot make dazzling performances throughout. However, Patton’s relentless shrieks and quaint, disturbing vocalizations run amok. Baron works his magic behind the kit. Constant fills litter the album. Alongside them are: jazzy cymbal crashes; blast-beats; noisy, staccato snare hits; and far too many more techniques to mention in this writing. Dunn also shines with a few difficult patterns here and there. His contributions provide The Crucible
with a far more dense feel than could be produced otherwise. Together, this quartet, including Zorn, create sharp, shocking songs that combine all sorts of styles in a fascinating way. A surplus of creativity is evident, and each track is intriguing. If works like this were revered in later times as L’Engle’s work is today, we’d be living in a society that acknowledges more innovative music rather than the genericness that we suffocate in today. Until then, a select few will be graced by Zorn’s prolific nature. Surely he will create more releases such as this.