Search - John Zorn :: Film Works VII: Cynical Hysterie Hour

Film Works VII: Cynical Hysterie Hour
John Zorn
Film Works VII: Cynical Hysterie Hour
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Soundtracks, Classical, Children's Music
  •  Track Listings (23) - Disc #1

The influence of cartoon music on John Zorn has always been apparent, but this disc captures the jazz saxophonist-composer actually scoring one of them, Kiriko Kubo's Cynical Hysterie Hour. It's a memorable trip filled wit...  more »


Larger Image
Listen to Samples

CD Details

All Artists: John Zorn
Title: Film Works VII: Cynical Hysterie Hour
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Tzadik
Original Release Date: 8/19/1997
Release Date: 8/19/1997
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Soundtracks, Classical, Children's Music
Style: Avant Garde & Free Jazz
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 702397731528

The influence of cartoon music on John Zorn has always been apparent, but this disc captures the jazz saxophonist-composer actually scoring one of them, Kiriko Kubo's Cynical Hysterie Hour. It's a memorable trip filled with some great diversity and great playing (courtesy of fellow seminal jazz musicians sitting in, including Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, Arto Lindsay, Bobby Previte, and Wayne Horvitz), all in the span of a half hour. Like all of Zorn's output, it's downright dreamy at times (just check out "Through the Night" or "Scary Moonlight") and, at other points, frenzied and full-volumed. A far cry from Raymond Scott, Cynical Hysterie Hour throws jazz, folk, punk, and even the sounds of video games together and (all the while) has fun. --Jason Verlinde

CD Reviews

Cartoon music for the deranged
Allan MacInnis | Vancouver | 10/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The fine people at Tzadik were kind enough to inform me that Sony still technically own the rights to this album, and have generously licensed it BACK to Tzadik so they could distribute it. The original pressing of this disc was Zorn's first major label release, made way back in 1989, and achieved some notoriety as such, which I'll explain presently... The disc is comprised of several goofy, cool bits of manic weirdness that have been grouped roughly together into four cuts, assumedly to match four separate episodes of series it was the soundtrack for -- a Japanese TV anime show called, as you may have guessed, THE CYNICAL HYSTERIE HOUR. Kiriko Kubo, the cartoonist/creator, even sings on some of the cuts, and writes some minimal lyrics (nothing intrusive or out-of-place, I assure you; stuff like the assertion, made against the diverse, cheerful, and bizarre background of the music, that she likes icecream -- said, of course, in Japanese). Sony somehow didn't NOTICE what a wonderful CD they had. Despite the presence of Zorn and other regular collaborators of considerable repute (Marc Ribot, Arto Lindsay, Wayne Horvitz, Bill Frisell, Robert Quine, Cyro Baptista, etc., etc.), they ISSUED THE ORIGINAL WITHOUT ANYONE'S NAME ON THE OUTER PACKAGING SAVE KUBO'S, and treated it "merely" as an anime soundtrack, of interest only to Japanese TV viewers. They didn't even market it outside Japan, and let it go out of print almost immediately. It then became, as Tzadik have dubbed it, "the Holy Grail for Zornithologists" until such a time as Zorn got the Tzadik label off the ground and acquired the rights to distribute it himself (for the time being). Really, it's too bad Sony didn't do more with this. The CD is some of the most accessible, listener-friendly, and flat out FUN stuff Zorn and co. have ever recorded, even more listener-friendly than the self-titled NAKED CITY CD or THE BIG GUNDOWN (which both seem pretty accessible to me too, for the record -- if they don't to you, you might want to bear that in mind). The disc's weaknesses, if it has any, lie in it almost being TOO playful for my ears -- I occasionally want to hear Yamantanka Eye shrieking and gibbering psychotically, in the midst of all the fun, or hear oblique references to S and M or death metal or torture or so forth, just to maintain a strong sense of the Zorniness of it all. But Eye isn't on it, and instead of occasional bursts of speedmetal hysteria -- on this album, you get jangly, delirous banjo parts courtesy of Bill Frisell. But really, borderline cute as it sometimes gets, it's all good fun, and well worth having. Anyone who simply loves cartoon music -- any Carl Stalling fans out there -- would doubtlessly grok it, too. Oh, yeah, I suppose I should note that it IS kind of short -- the whole disc runs less than half an hour -- but it's such a jam packed half hour that you won't mind, I promise."
Zorn's first all-out cartoon excursion.
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 08/15/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"In late 1988 and 1989, John Zorn recorded music to serve as a soundtrack for four seven minute cartoons ("Cynical Hysterie Hour") by Kiriko Kubo. Released for a moment by CBS then lapsed out of print, the album stayed that way until Zorn was able to successfully negotiate a deal with them to secure its re-release on Tzadik.

Featuring performances by any number of luminaries in the downtown scene (guitarists Bill Frisell, Robert Quine, Marc Ribot, and Arto Lindsay, keyboardist Wayne Horvitz, turntable pioneer Christian Marclay, percussionist Cyro Baptista, drummer Bobby Previte, and the enigmatic electronic musician Ikue Mori, credited here with drum machines), the music is Zorn's most overt tribute to the work of Carl Stalling, although there is a heavy surf influence on the pieces as well. Everything is composed in blocks, with brief, quirky moments full of personality ruling each section. It's quite interesting, and there's some great moments in both composition and performance throughout, although it feels a bit incomplete. This could be because Zorn doesn't do much in terms of self-referentialism on the piece-- typically his soundtrack performances reprise themes, this one doesn't and feels a bit less cohesive for it. Or it could be that this recording is only 25 minutes long.

Like all the filmworks series, the liner notes contain an essay from Zorn about the film it was attached to and about the music itself. This one also adds the amusing anecdote about how Zorn got the rights to release this.

In all, a fine, if brief recording, but Zorn's done better, both in soundtracks and outside."