Tuesday, 25 March 2008

BLACK MOON (the dark side of musick)


Original Issue: 1993 Avant (AVAN004)

Margot-meter: 5 moons / 5

1 Val De Travers
2 Une Correspondance
3 La Fée Verte
4 Fleurs Du Mal
5 Artemisia Absinthium
6 Notre Dame De L'Oubli (For Olivier Messiaen)
7 Verlaine Part One "Un Midi Moins Dix"
8 Verlaine Part Two "La Bleue"
9 ...Rend Fou



from Amazon:

This is the most abstract and weird of Naked City's albums. On previous works, Naked City amalgamated nearly every style of music under the sun. Here they engage what is virtually the only genre left untouched, producing a masterpiece of avantgarde ambient music.

One might conclusively associate Naked City with one-minute lunatic songs that wildly rebound across myriad genres. While that is what most people certainly KNOW them for (I think), I feel that this is the most important and definitive album they have done, capturing the pure, underlying essence of their music -- for the first time free of prodigality and embellishment.


I have to warn you about listening to this in the dark: it is a very disorienting, uncomfortable sensation, leaving you feeling trapped in an all consuming gargantuan maw of emptiness and fear. The album itself is not very long, but still long enough for unease to grow into panic -- for panic to augment into terror -- for terror to bloom into desperate agony.
You listen to this, and you understand...DAMNATION.

Exaggeration? NO! Well, a little. Whatever one's subjective reaction might be to the sheer DARKNESS of this album, one cannot deny that it is meticulously composed, beautifully recorded, and full of interestingly bizarre instrumentation (from the official description: "Joey Baron plays bags of dry leaves, fishing reels and buckshot, Bill Frisell solos on a microtonal guitar, Wayne Horvitz samples everything from crickets to Giacinto Scelsi, Fred Frith does what he does best, and Zorn doesn't even touch the saxophone").

The songs...err, "pieces" are all flawless and invariably compelling. "Val de Travers" is the first nightmare, darkly exquisite and frightening. "Une Correspondance" has a lot of clanging metallic clanging sounds and weird effects that makes me think of an evil blacksmith's shop in Dis, with an ending that sounds like a demon wizard enchanting a sword of black steel with dire spells. "La Fee Verte" sounds like the soundtrack to a trip down the River Styx through the Underworld. "Notre Dame De L'Oubli" edges the most closely towards beauty -- a tranquil piece of ghostly sustained guitar crying over a pulsing heartbeat. "Fleurs du Mal" is little more than distant rumbling sounds that modulates in agitation. "Verlaine" part One is structurally the most conventional Naked City pieces, hazily drifting between bizarre blocks from strange vocal mutterings from Zorn, to phased-out piano ostinati, to eerie gamelan textures of weird percussion and sounds. Part Two is microtonal guitar pointillism coming through a soupy film of sound. "Artemisia Absinthium" sounds like strange insects buzzing around the Dark God of the Machines while He slumbers. "...Rend Fou" is six minutes of carefully composed, layered static -- it might sound dumb to some people but it is one of the most intense, quietly frightening things I have ever heard.

"Radio" and "Naked City" might be the most fun. "Torture Garden" and "Leng Tch'e" might be the most brutal. But "Absinthe" is the Naked City album that sears an impression on your soul that is with you from the first listen.

"Absinthe" is a masterpiece that no hardcore music fan should be without.

Lord Chimp


Margot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

thank you!!!

Maurice Rickard said...

Absolutely one of my favorites. I've actually bought several copies and given them out. More people need to hear this.

Kevin said...

I haven't heard this in years. Thanks very much.

Ronny Wærnes said...


joseph. said...

big naked city fan. this is awesome.

Anonymous said...

There's good things on this blog ! thank.

Anonymous said...

your review of "absinthe" is charming - i always thought that it is the hidden treasure in the small naked city catalogue, so silent and subliminal - one really have to LISTEN to get into it (though i have to admit, not all tracks on it work for me!).

you post some dark and unsettling stuff here, i guess. don't know much of it, but of what i heard and read - i put you in my feedreader! ;)

Anonymous said...

haha - feedreader, right? you disabled feeds... kinda neat! so i have to bookmark you, or put you in the linklist on my blog - but only if that's alright with you?!?


Anonymous said...

Thank you Margot. Another nice surprise. Steve

madshad said...

im looking forward to hearing this. tanks!

Margot said...

Thank you folks for all these interesting comments. By the way, I've to say that the review is taken from Amazon but it is in line with my perception of the CD.

Anonymous said...

margot - no, i meant YOUR little review just before the amazon one - your words where so enthusiastic!! i love that in people... :D

Jeff Gee said...

Naked City's "Grand Guignol" blew a lot of circuits in my brain when I heard it years ago. This one sounds nothing like that one, but I think it blew out whatever circuits I had left. Thanks!

rick said...

Margot, you make me work so hard sometimes. You never cease to amaze me with your selections. As always thanks for these eye openers, or should that be ear openers?

Margot said...

Thank you my friends,
it's refreshing to see that I've spent all these years listening to good and important musick.

Keep the Third Ear open.


CouCou said...

Well if u say so, Margot it's time fo me to dive in the deepest ocean of darkness

greippi said...

Been a fan of Naked City - Absinthe for a long time... it's one of the most unsettling albums I've come across. Especially the insect buzzing... aural delirium at its finest!

barbelith said...

Been away and just got this last night.

Listened this morning. Fantastic - a real experience.

Thank you Margot

snap said...

Big Thanks Margot.....I've always admired Zorn's work, but truth be told it was always a bit jarring for me, particularly because I like to work with music on, and Zorn's other projects were just too intrusive. But this, it's perfect, as it has texture and mood and is very subtle.

Lonely Driver said...

thanks man!
great blog