John Zorn
Astronome


4.0
excellent

Review

by Channing Freeman STAFF
June 13th, 2007 | 25 replies


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 (39)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
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

Tyler
Emeritus
June 13th 2007


7925 Comments


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

Intransit
June 14th 2007


2797 Comments


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

MeowMeow
June 14th 2007


662 Comments


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

PaperCities
June 14th 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 14th 2007


4677 Comments


Nice work, Chan :thumb:

italic zero
June 14th 2007


31 Comments


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

204409
Emeritus
June 14th 2007


3998 Comments


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

iarescientists
June 14th 2007


5865 Comments


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

PaperCities
June 14th 2007


199 Comments


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

PaperCities
June 14th 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.

spillane
June 18th 2007


85 Comments


Then why did you rate it

Monticello
June 19th 2007


805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm just saying the words that go with the ratings do not apply. The actual quality rating still does.

spillane
June 19th 2007


85 Comments


that made no sense

PaperCities
June 19th 2007


199 Comments


he means
3.5/5
but not "great"
I guess

Monticello
June 19th 2007


805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

PaperCities got it, but nevermind.

Kage
June 19th 2007


1172 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

He just means that he doesn't agree with the words assigned to the numerical ratings...



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