Freitag, 17. Dezember 2010

John Zorn - Mycale


"Mycale" is a beauty of an album. In John Zorn's ouvré it holds a special place. Zorn rarely writes music for voice only and "Frammenti Del Sappho" from the album "Mysterium" released in 2005 is one of the even fewer record pieces for voice only. It's a quite traditional madrigal with a beautiful harmonic structure. "Litany IV" from the 2007 release "Six Litanies for Heliogabalus" gave Mike Patton a solo spot. This was of course drastically different from Zorn's other voice only pieces but nevertheless the overall impression for many people in recent years was, that Zorn's becoming mellow and too melodic. His vocal only work was never heard over the course of a complete album and due to that didn't change opinions.

People thinking Zorn becomes tame are still proven wrong by the evolving Moonchild project, the great contemporary classical record "What thou wilt?" and the comeback of the file-card composition with "Femina", "Dictée/Liber Novus" and "Interzone" being some of Zorn's most interesting experimental records of the past decade.
Still some may continue to doubt Zorn's recent melodic work. The Dreamers and it's many facets are a hit and miss affair for most. A lot of the Masada related music even more so.

Now there is "Mycale". It's both. It's beautiful and very melodic, it's based on Zorn's Masada music. Still it's experimental using different vocal techniques, sounds and even languages. It's a first for Zorn's A Cappella work and every first for Zorn after all these years putting out a few to many albums a year is worth examining.
Zorn records that intertwine beauty and experiments in the past decade tend to be best, when there's a certain feminity about them. "Femina" released in late 2009 was dedicated to women in contemporary arts and plain said important thinking women in the history of mankind.

"Mycale" seems to evoke all that and mix in more middle-eastern folk influences, instead of the classical approach of "Femina". Instead of lyrical string sections and percussive breakdowns and improvisations this set of A-Cappella pieces seems more human. "Femina's" approach wasn't any less sensual, but more intellectual challenging, more sophisticated. The beauty of "Mycale" speaks to your heart and soul, but it indeed speaks utilizing nothing but the human voice, where "Femina" drew images out of visions and dreams for you to interpret. 

"Mycale" is a record full of passion and spirit. There are no prejudices, just the bare, naked emotions evoked through the beautiful sound of female voices. It's cosmopolitan music. It speaks French, Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino and Arabic because you can't stick to just one language if you're mind is open and you want to reach everyone hearing this music. World music in the truest sense, accepting no borders in influences and languages utilized and celebrated.

Basya Schechter, Ayelet Rose Gottlieb, Malika Zarra and Sofia Rei Koutsovitis are the vocalists on this album and their performances are all outstanding. Without their down-to-earth teamwork "Mycale" would be good, but they deliver exactly that on every single track, making it a highlight of not just Zorn's 2010 releases but of this decade.

The only downside for some people might be the short duration of just 33 minutes. To everyone complaining about that I can only say one thing. Most musicians spent their whole career searching for the level of musicianship and beauty presented on "Mycale".

Cd time: 33:51
Personnel:
Ayelet Rose GottliebVoice
Sofia Rei KoutsovitisVoice
Basya SchechterVoice
Malika ZarraVoice

Standout tracks:
All of them. This record has an impressive flow that
shouldn't be disrupted.

Links:
Mycale on:

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