John Zorn : The Goddess—Music for the Ancient of Days (Tzadik, 2010) ***½
The band is Rob Burger on piano, Trevor Dunn on bass, Carol Emanuel on harp, Ben Perowsky on drums, Kenny Wollesen on vibes, and Mark Ribot on guitar.
John Zorn : Dictée/Liber Novus (Tzadik, 2010) ****
The band is Sylvie Courvoisier on piano, French narration, Okkyung Lee on cello and Korean narration
John Medeski on organ, Ned Rothenberg on shakuhachi, bass flute, and clarinet, David Slusser on sound Effects, Kenny Wollesen on vibes, percussion, and "Wollesonics", John Zorn on Foley effects, samples, German narration, Stephen Gosling on piano.
The second track, "Liber Novus", is based on the book by Carl Gustav Jung, with Freud one of the fathers of psycho-analysis. In this book, Jung claims that he encountered figures in his active imagination : "The figures, according to Jung, "brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life". Which is a quite frightening concept too, although also an illuminating one. The music is again out of the ordinary, with Medeski's organ as the unifying and predominant instrument, with lots of ambient sounds, varying levels of intensity and calm, and with a whole zoo of animal sounds to cheer you up, and juxtaposed joy and horror, and somehow ending in resignation.
A strong album.
John Zorn/Fred Frith Duo : Late Works (Tzadik, 2010) **½
For those who have forgotten what Zorn and Frith sound like: