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Thursday, February 7, 2008

John Zorn - Filmworks XIX - The Rain Horse (Tzadik, 2008) ***½

Film music has some other characterstics than normal record music : it requires easy to remember themes that are often repeated, and an immediate creation of mood that can accompany and reinforce the images on the screen. It is no different for John Zorn's Filmworks series. His latest, the 19th already, features three of his stalwart musicians : Erik Friedlander on cello, Rob Burger on piano and Greg Cohen on bass. And the result is good, one of the more accessible and aesthetically beautiful Filmworks he's made in recent years, which will possibly appeal to a broader audience. Some of his Filmworks are a little flat or bland, mainly due to the functional limitations of the genre, maybe also due to the speed at which he works : on the liner notes of one of his preview records in this series (I can't remember which), Zorn writes that he composed the score in less than three hours. Three hours of compositional work for one hour of music, not a bad result. This is probably not the case here. Although the usual klezmer inflections are in the music as might be expected, he introduces other styles too, with "The Stallion" starting like the best Michael Nyman theme, and the title song, "The Rain Horse", brings in tango elements and mediterranean influences, and of course the versatility of the three musicians add flavors of classical music with chamber jazz. As usual with the series, the musicianship is excellent. Fans of chamber jazz will love this.



Dan said...

I dig this release, too... while his Filmworks releases aren't as consistent, they are usually very enjoyable. I do find it funny when reading the Tzadik PR blurbs for each release... "more accessible and aesthetically beautiful Filmworks he's made in recent years" pops up more often than not. It's good for a chuckle... I guess it's to notify fans that, "no, this isn't a Moonchild release"... :)

Kreilly said...

"Film music has some other characterstics than normal record music."

This is an interesting remark. Do you find that to be true of Krzysztof Komeda's soundtrack work? Or someone like Jerry Goldsmith who wrote almost exclusively for film, listen to his superb music for the soundtrack to the original "Planet of the Apes". Do you notice a difference between the Art Ensemble of Chicago's work for film, Les Stances A Sophie, and the rest of their recorded output?