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Black Box [Torture Garden/Leng Tch'e]
Naked City & John Zorn
Black Box [Torture Garden/Leng Tch'e]
Genres: Alternative Rock, Jazz, Rock, Soundtracks, Metal
  •  Track Listings (25) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (1) - Disc #2

This two-CD set was first released by John Zorn in Japan in the early 1990s. It couldn't be sold in the United States because of the cover art, now concealed within the Black Box. These are Zorn's most horrific inspiration...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Naked City & John Zorn
Title: Black Box [Torture Garden/Leng Tch'e]
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Tzadik
Release Date: 4/22/1997
Genres: Alternative Rock, Jazz, Rock, Soundtracks, Metal
Styles: Hardcore & Punk, Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Progressive, Progressive Rock, Death Metal, Thrash & Speed Metal
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 702397731221

This two-CD set was first released by John Zorn in Japan in the early 1990s. It couldn't be sold in the United States because of the cover art, now concealed within the Black Box. These are Zorn's most horrific inspirations--Torture Garden incited by the images of Japanese sadomasochist pornography contained herein, Leng Tch'e by photographs of a Chinese public execution involving extended torture. A key part of Zorn's aesthetic is to create a musical methodology that matches his subject matter, or, conversely, to find a subject that matches his compositional methods. Like Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty, William S. Burrough's cut-up method, or the cutting and pasting of collage, Zorn's methods mimic violence, creating new forms out of the torture and destruction of the old. Torture Garden and Leng Tch'e are, literally, the short and the long of it. Torture Garden consists of 42 tracks, the longest of which is a minute and 14 seconds, the shortest a scant 10 seconds. Musical genres are literally cut up and stuck together, snippets of free jazz, lounge, country and western, pop (ancient and modern), and classical colliding and overlapping in a kind of cultural shock treatment. The 32-minute Leng Tch'e is drawn out to excruciating lengths in its simulation of the agony (and ecstasies) of torture and death. Throughout the two discs, the execution is at a very high level. With Bill Frisell on guitar, Fred Frith on bass, Joey Baron on drums, Wayne Horvitz on keyboards, and vocalist Yamatsuka Eye of the acclaimed Boredoms), Naked City combines many of Zorn's most talented collaborators, and it inspires some of his most brutish and brilliant alto saxophone playing. The Black Box creates a literal connection between "hard core" music and hard-core pornography. To say that it isn't for the squeamish is understatement. --Stuart Broomer

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CD Reviews

Naked City ate my baby.
Lord Chimp | Monkey World | 08/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Naked City's post-modernist music belongs to every genre and to none, a baneful musical poltergeist that reassembles its surrounding into an web of chaos. As for the Blackbox collection, these are both definitive Naked City albums. If you could only own three Naked City albums, it would have to be _Absinthe_ and these two._Torture Garde_ features 42 tracks, only a few of which last longer than a minute. In these skillful collages, Naked City tightly binds together multiple genres and hops between with reckless abandon, usually played at breakneck speed. "Speedfreaks", the most extreme example, lasts 50 seconds and changes styles and tempos every second or two. Often heavy and loud, with John Zorn's alto sax screeching over blaring hardcore meltdowns or noisy free jazz terrors. There is also Yamatsuka Eye. He's basically just insane. He gabbers and gibbers and screams and shrieks and roars and flies into rabid fits of seizures that seem unrelenting until Naked City hops into something else. Overall, this is some of the hottest playing you'll ever hear. The liner notes come with some grotesque images: stills from Japanese S&M films (nothing very graphic, mind you), a WHACK paintings by Japanese artist Maruo Suehiro.Then there is _Leng Tch'e_..."Leng Tch'e" (hundred pieces) was an old Chinese torture ritual where the victim was pumped with opium to prolong his life while he was slowly dismembered. Picture such a dungeon in the Ninth layer of Hell, now imagine its soundtrack. This is one of my favorite John Zorn compositions by far. Of all Naked City songs, this is the most violent and painful, but disturbingly pleasurable like some dark fantasy. A horrible antipodal rapture and agony, it is breathtakingly simple -- a continuous build-up starting on roaring guitar feedback and gradually adding drums, and Yamatsuka Eye's tormented vocals, and finally Zorn's screaming sax, climaxing at a place very different from their starting point and yet constant in its agony. Musically stunning, minimal and gripping, _Leng Tch'e_ is music that seems to play itself, inevitably pouring from a crack in the wall of reality. Eye and drummer Joey Baron are absolutely amazing here, adding so much to the intensity of the music.Tzadik says: "A specially-priced double-CD reissue, Black Box couples two of Zorn's most extreme and violent creations with the controversial music and artwork intact. Torture Garden (1991) presents Naked City's intense and groundbreaking music combining free jazz, bebop, r&b, country, funk, rockabilly, surf, metal hardcore and grindcore -- usually in the same song! This avant supergroup has influenced scores of bands including Mr. Bungle, Dim Sum Clip Job and the Boredoms (whose singer Yamantaka Eye is a featured guest on these two albums). The rare, seldom-heard, Leng Tch'e (1992), released only in Japan, and long out-of-print, features Naked City in an agonizingly slow, brutal 32-minute assault."Your music collection can never be complete without a little Naked City."
Aural assault
M. Bergeron | Colchester, VT United States | 03/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Disc one is a repackage of earlier NC works..."punk-jazz/speedcore" mostly less than 90 seconds long. Explosive ejaculations of noise and fury.
Disc two (Leng Tch'e) was only available as a very expensive Japanese import before this set came out. The closest I can compare it to is the first 2 minutes of Lou Reed's "The Blue Mask" (the song, not the album), slowed down 25% and stretched out for 30 odd minutes. Wonderful!!(if you like this kind of stuff)"
Jazz musicians play hardcore
SPM | Eugene, Oregon | 08/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The first disc is a collection of Zorn's "hardcore miniatures" --- fast and loud songs clocking in between 10 and 90 seconds. Sometimes they turn on a dime from noise to jazz to rock. Sometimes they just scream bloody murder for 20 seconds. I can't think of a more intense CD than this one. It makes Slayer sound like Air Supply.The second disc is a single track half an hour long. The band builds slowly from scary thumping to a hurricane of throbbing sound. It makes you feel like a frog in a pot of water, rising to a boil so slowly that --- by the time you notice --- it's too late. If this was played by anyone else, it wouldn't work. It's too gimmicky. But these guys play so well, they make noise sound beautiful. There's a lot of control on this album. It's all carefully orchestrated for maximum effect.If I had to pick the ten best albums of all time, BLACK BOX would make the list. Easily."