Saturday, October 31, 2015

Field Recordings in Ghana: Drums of Death (1997, CD)

"Not the sort of thing one would immediately identify with John Zorn, this superb recording was nonetheless issued on his Avant label in 1997. It consists of field recordings made the previous year by Mark Seidenfeld during a funeral procession of the Ewe people in central Ghana, and is a hugely exciting helping of riveting, passionate drum work. There are seven primary drummers accompanied by many villagers on small percussion and occasional vocalizing. While five of the drummers maintain traditional (and usually quite complex) rhythms, the two manning the largest drum are free to improvise, one on the skin, one on its wooden sides. The firestorm these musicians are able to conjure up can be nothing short of incredible, with intricate rhythmic matrices getting subsumed into passionate pounding that explodes orgasmically. The disc leads off with six intense, shorter pieces before concluding with a 23-minute marathon that will leave the listener breathless. The rhythmic and timbral richness in works like this should be required listening for any aficionado of "the beat" -- here is the beat in all its uncluttered, raw splendor. Highly recommended." via Allmusic

Hear it.