Personnel: Heather Gardner (vocals); Jim Pugliese, William Winant (bullroarer, bowls, percussion, sound effects); Jennifer Choi Fischer (violin); Fred Sherry (cello); Tara Helen O'Connor (flute, alto flute, piccolo); Michael Lowenstern (clarinet, bass clarinet); Peter Kolkay (bassoon, contrabassoon); Jim Pugh (trombone); Stephen Drury (piano, celesta, harpsichord, organ).
Audio Mixer: Silas Brown.
Recording information: Hit Factory, New York, NY (10/2004).
Editor: Silas Brown.
Illustrator: Austin Osman Spare.
Though he's perhaps best known for the explosive, polystylistic cut'n'splice of cult groups like Naked City and Pain Killer, and the prolific and prolix Masada, John Zorn has remained deeply attached to the modernist roots he sprang from in the 1970s (the fact he has chosen to release music by thorny modernists such as Charles Wuorinen and Milton Babbitt on his Tzadik label is significant). If it weren't for the incorporation of some odd percussion instruments, including wind machines, you could be fooled into thinking that Zorn's "Rituals," a 25-minute work in five movements for soprano and ten instrumentalists, dates from the mid-'60s and not the late '90s. It's a well-crafted work, superbly performed (soprano Heather Gardner is exemplary, and special mention should be made of clarinetist Michael Lowenstern and pianist Stephen Drury) and recorded and mastered to perfection. Zorn has always sought to build bridges between genres -- one wonders how many people discovered Napalm Death and the Boredoms through Zorn's work -- and it's to be hoped that the traffic across this particular one will be two-way: devotees of The Big Gundown and Spillane might end up digging Donald Martino and Elliott Carter, and hardcore Princeton serialists might start tapping their feet to Bar Kokhba. ~ Dan Warburton