The music called jazz has met at many intersections over the years and the incorporation of popular music into this creative format knows no limits. Tin Pan Alley, Brazilian, Rock, and Hip-Hop music have all been reconfigured into this most passionate music.
When John Zorn sought to combine his saxophone with the hardcore scene of the late '80s/early '90s, he attracted hard core fans to the music of Ornette Coleman with Spy vs. Spy, spun crazed, jump-cut film music with the band Naked City, and drew from hardcore/dub/metal for Painkiller. This trio, with bassist Bill Laswell (no stranger to hardcore and jazz from his Last Exit and Material days) and Mick Harris (of Napalm Death) fame, fit Zorn’s plan nicely.
As the covers of all Painkiller discs suggest, this music is about intimidation and fury. This 1994 live date is taken from the trio’s tour of Japan, where apparently Mr. Zorn is considered a minor God (especially given his part-time residence there). The centerpiece of Talisman is the 32-minute reign of fire “Batrachophrenoboocosmomachia.” The band unleashes an unrelenting attack of noise that is commanded by Laswell’s thunderous pulse and the inventive drumming of Harris. With plenty of reverb to go around, the head nods as the pulse quickens. If you prefer the 20-second Naked City songs, hold on. This is a marathon.
For his part Zorn plays his all-too-familiar saxophone blasts, squeals and squawks. As opposed to his other bands of this time (News For Lulu, Naked City, and Spy vs. Spy) and later, Masada, Zorn was able to stretch out here with extended high-energy outpourings. This exorcism of sound isn’t for the weak of heart; it is noisy for noise's sake.