Pain Killer

Collected Works

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John Zorn teams up with Bill Laswell and Scorn's Mick Harris to form Painkiller, who take Naked City's jazz-thrash template as a launching point, and then leap into the outer reaches of dub and improvised free jazz. This set, as advertised, contains the early EPs, Guts of a Virgin and Buried Secrets, their sole full-length, the double-disc Execution Ground, and a live concert recorded in Osaka in 1994 and featuring Boredoms vocalist Yamatsuka Eye on several tracks. Disc one is a curious exploration of the disparate strands of music that the trio would spin into improvisatory gold on Execution Ground. The hardcore blast jazz of Guts and Buried Secrets are interspersed with longer improvisations that span from ambient to dub, all anchored by Laswell's solid bass. "Purgatory of Fiery Vulvas" is a highlight of this type of material, being one of few studio tracks featuring the unique vocals of Eye. Its brief 24 seconds contain the fury of Midwestern hardcore and the avant-garde sensibilities of SoHo jazz, but completely, recklessly out of control. Disc two contains longer-form improvisations, covering all of the bases that were laid down on the earlier EPs but extending the ideas out, exploring them, even jamming at some points. Disc three is just two tracks, ambient remixes of two tracks from Burial Ground, "Pashupatinath" and "Parish of Tama." Similar in tone and execution to Laswell's work as Divination or Harris' work as Lull, the ambient dirges on disc three fit safely and uncomfortably in the isolationist genre. "Parish of Tama (Ambient)" is reminiscent of Laswell's collaboration with Pete Namlook, Psychonavigation, stretching the original track, taking it into ambient dub territory, eschewing the ebb-and-flow of the original. The live disc is the only exclusive material to the set, and makes the entire set worth a go for fans who purchased the albums as they came out. On opener "Gandhamadana," Mick Harris' nimble drum work, traversing from his hardcore roots over to subtle jazz and back again, coupled with Laswell's signature bass triplets, form a fluid and sometimes grooving base for Zorn's patented squeal/skronk sax. "Bodkyithangga" sounds somewhat like Slayer covering John Coltrane's Interstellar Space, with Eye growling and chattering utter gibberish over the top. The encore, "Black Bile/Yellow Bile/Blue Bile/Crimson Bile/Ivory Bile" is a hilarious duet with Zorn and Eye that brings to mind the sound effects from Bugs Bunny cartoons scored by Carl Stalling.

Track Listing - Disc 2

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Track Listing - Disc 3

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