John Zorn

Book of Heads

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Composed in 1978 for Eugene Chadbourne, The Book of Heads was eventually released in 1995 as a recording performed by guitarist Marc Ribot. Inspired by Chadbourne, the album is also a tribute to his experimental swan diving in the world of guitar music. This series of études for guitar employs a variety of techniques, from playing with toy balloons, talking dolls, mbira keys, wet finger whoops, and bowing, to removing the strings from the bridge and playing with pencils and bits of rice, as well as a host of other approaches. The music ranges from the overtly weird to beautiful, little, classically-influenced morsels and deconstructed folk songs. There are 35 études in all, and as one might expect on a Zorn album, they all vary greatly. Ribot is obviously having fun on this release, and he has been praised by Zorn for the care he took in its execution. Such erratic work could be tossed off as mere noodling, but Ribot puts his heart into this performance and it shows.

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