Friday, September 24, 2010
John Zorn Spillane
"Using his 'file card' technique to create the title piece 'Spillane' (whereby musical ideas written on note cards form the basis for discreet sound blocks arranged by way of a unifying theme), John Zorn forges an impressionistic narrative out of stretches of live-music jazz, blues, country, lounge, thrash, etc., and a variety of samples and spoken dialogue inspired by Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer detective novels (recited by John Lurie). Like he did on his Ennio Morricone tribute The Big Gundown, here Zorn blends a disparate array of sound sketches into a pleasing, if not especially determinate or always logical whole. (In his self-penned and expansive liner notes, Zorn says that the text and his overall conceptual take on Mickey Spillane's work form the thematic structure of this piece.) Clarity aside, 'Spillane' comes off as an exciting and atmospheric evocation of the clipped prose, seedy dives, and back alleys found in hard-boiled Spillane books like Kiss Me, Deadly. Sticking to the disc's tribute theme, Zorn uses Japanese actor Yujiro Ishihara as the inspiration for 'Forbidden Fruit.' Working with the Kronos Quartet, turntablist Christian Marclay, and Japanese vocalist Ohta Hiromi, Zorn concocts an exotically frenetic, atonal cut-up piece to evoke the actor's films from the '50s. And bringing things back home, so to speak, Zorn features Texas blues guitarist Albert Collins on the lengthy and slightly abstract blues jam 'Two Lane Highway.' Helping 'The Iceman' out are organist Big John Patton, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson, among others. In addition to these veterans of past Zorn recordings, the likes of keyboard player Anthony Coleman, guitarist Bill Frisell, and drummer Bobby Previte contribute to the Spillane disc as well. Spillane is not only one of the highlights in Zorn's catalog, but also makes for a fine introduction to the composer's vast body of work." Fans of Zorn's "Naked City" know what to expect. The first title track is like a long movie trailer for a Mike Hammer movie, except with all the visuals taken out--truly a surreal experience. The second track, Two-Lane Highway, divided into two parts is a brillant blues-odyssey-through-Texas track starring the great Albert Collins, not only does it feature his brilliant guitar playing, but humor, too. the last track is my favorite, Forbidden Fruit, which has a Japanese woman speaking over the Kronos Quartet's moving strings and Christian Marclay scratching string records. John Zorn is a true original and listening to Spillane feels like listening to a radio with the station always changing. sure, the tracks are long, but if you can't sit through one section of any of these songs, you should have yourself treated for A.D.D. Zorn is famous for saying "if you don't like my music, wait a few seconds 'cause you don't know which direction my music is heading next". Grab a couple of dirty martinis and take a wild trip. Way recommended.
1. Spillane 25:12
2. Two Lane Highway: Preacher Man/White Line Fever/Nacogdoches Gumbo/East 13:30
3. Two Lane Highway: Hico Killer/Long Mile to Houston 4:46
4. Forbidden Fruit 10:20