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Naked City
Grand Guignol (Avant)

A Musical Oddity

Originally released in 1992 this album can only be described as a sadistic listening pleasure. From the album art itself (see above), which is apparently an archive photo from somewhere, along with the rest of the albums art work of severed limbs and the like. Even the name itself, which is taken from a french theatre which opened in 1892 and run until 1962 showing all manner of grotesque horror, this alone may give some sort of idea for what to expect from the content of the album.

The brian child of John Zorn an avant Jazz composer, who says he was influenced by the works of Tex Avery the animation legend responsible for Daffy Duck, Porky Pig et al, particularly due to the way the soundtrack would switch direction so dramatically to keep up with the action on screen. This then is why the album seems to touch down in pretty much all musical camps at some point throughout its hour plus run time. Like a hyper active child getting bored and disposing of the last thing as quickly as its picked it up.

Opening with the title track which is a 17 minute 49 second epic which has a horror film atmosphere punctuated with flourishes of rhythm section, guitar riffs that sound like they could be lifted straight from a spaghetti western and even a pneumatic drill! This track is followed by 7 covers of classical composers. But its after these almost somber affairs that things take a turn for theā€¦insane. These tracks are followed up by 33 "hard-core miniatures" which range from 13 seconds to a whopping 1 minute 19.

Its these hard-core miniatures that really brought them to the appeal of the napalm death and heavy metal crowds, with Yamagata Eye's (From the japanese band Boredoms) screams that sound like a man going insane and the saxophone bursts that actually sound like screams of pure terror. Through out the album there are touches of straight up jazz, classical and even surf rock. But mainly its a trashy thrash, jazz mess of album. It sometimes feels, particularly on tracks like speedfreaks, a little like spinning the dial of a radio and never stoping on one station for more than a few seconds. The most famous (sic) track on the album is probably "bonehead" which was featured on the soundtrack for Michael Haneke's 2007 film funny games, and just like the film its a work of twisted genius.

This album can only be compared to watching a grotesque horror film, the kind of thing you don't think you should be enjoying but at the same time hard to look away, and also if you introduce it to your friends they probably think you're a bit weird and wont like you much any more.

Phill

Upside Down
Creation Records

Written by: Steve Tay

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