In the liner notes for First Recordings 1973, John Zorn mentions that his parents had him under psychological observation from the ages of eight to 16. Listening to these recordings made mostly when Zorn was in his late teens makes the listener wonder why the observations ceased. Perhaps he had crossed the Rubicon of insanity and his parents had lost all hope -- the point of no return. Many experimental musicians' first recordings are documents of their hesitant, musical toe-dipping -- they stay pretty close to the mainstream and only show hints of the creative weirdness yet to surface. Not John Zorn's. The recordings showcased here are all-out festivals of oddity -- a mixed bunch in terms of quality, but definitely indicative of what was to come. What makes them remarkable is two-fold: they show amazing creativity for an artist so young, and they seem light-years ahead of their time. The pieces display a kind of aesthetic noise that wouldn't be heard commonly for another ten years. Zorn calls this collection "the craziest stuff I've ever done," and he could be right, with the possible exception of the Painkiller albums, which are perhaps just louder rather than crazier. That said, this work is, predictably, not Zorn's best, but it holds value for fans as an embryonic example of his innovation and style.
AllMusic Review by Stacia Proefrock