John Zorn

Music Romance, Vol. 1: Music for Children

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Neither as calm and serene as it could be, nor as frightening as one might expect, John Zorn's Music Romance, Vol. 1: Music for Children combines pieces of radically different moods -- a kind of musical pendulum swinging back and forth -- in a collection that, remarkably, hangs together fairly well. The title is mostly ironic. While the CD contains truly gentle songs like "SooKi's Lullaby," which is beautifully performed on music box by Anthony Coleman, the chamber piece "Music for Children," nearly as beautiful, contains intermittent percussive sounds that sound like nothing more than a good spanking. There are three Naked City pieces, performed by the Boston-based group Prelapse, which are as chaotic and insane as any of Zorn's other Naked City works (though it is easy to imagine them as the soundtrack for a hyperactive toddler running around a house, his face smeared with sick glee). Disjointed and sexualized dolls comprise the cover art -- a reminder of just how perverse childhood really is. The text pieces printed in the liner notes orbit around themes of imagination, nightmares, and lost innocence. The adventurous parents who actually play this music for their child may be horrified to discover how much the little baby genius actually likes it. For those who are childless or simply less brave, this volume provides fascinating candy for adult ears.

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