Allan MacInnis | Vancouver | 11/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is GREAT! (I'm spinning it as I type -- just bought it today). How could I have not HEARD these guys before? Anyone interested in a playful jazz cacophony with abundant quirky samples and a pinch of rock aesthetic (big, full, whoomping sound, occasional really catchy, almost surflike-hooks on the sax) will LOVE THIS MUSIC. I can think of no one to fairly compare it to; it could easily sit on the shelf with Zorn's first, "bestselling" Naked City release, but it has a very independent identity, isn't just an attempt to "do" Zorn. The tracks include Sousa's "Washington Post March," which Yoshihide says (in the English/Japanese liner notes) he used to think was just music to torture junior highschool kids to during sporting events, but which he learned to love when he heard Skeleton Crew (Fred Frith and the late Tom Cora) play it; a Massacre cut ("Bones"), speaking of Frith; a Victor Jara song; Gene Raskin's "Those Were the Days;" Mengelberg and Beresford's "Where is the Police" -- as well as a few Japanese songs that I don't know. Not exactly "My Funny Valentine" and "On Green Dolphin Street," if the word "standards" scares you. Kikuchi's sax is big and Ayleresque, Nasuno's bass rhythms are big and bouncy and pull you through the sheer density of the noisy bits; there are TWO drummers; and Yoshihide's samples are brilliant. Fair amount of guitar around, too, and a shamisen, and a djembe, and I-don't-know-what-all-else. Buy it, soon."
This is anything but standard!
J. Holmes | yokohama, japan | 10/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"anyone who has the slightest interest in experimental music should know the name Otomo Yoshihide. his work scans years and years of fruitfull bands and solo efforts whose albums contain some of the most striking and wonderful experimental music that is being created by any modern living composer. his roots lie in the improvisation of jazz and he chooses that as a basis for the language through which his music communicates. but the massive electronic elements are omnipresent as well as pop music and rock and roll.
Ground Zero Plays Standards is an album of cover songs. each tune recieves their own special noisy messy treatment and the results are astounding! i know that in most hands, the idea to do experimental versions of other people's music would fall flat. mostly because the beauty of the original version is too easily wipes away by noise. but with the skilled talent of Otomo Yoshihide, these songs come alive and turn into wild beasts of their own...without losing one iota of their original focus or beauty.
everything from Roland Kirk's version of "I Say A Little Prayer" to Massacre's "Bones" to the "Washington Post March" by John Phillip Sousa is taken, mangled, and strangled into new life through wild saxaphone playing, shamisen, layers of sine waves and electronic feedback, distorted guitar, and numerous samples (that, surprisingly, actually add to the tune's performance, rather than give it a kitchsy novelty feel). one song even utilizes water in a bathtub (can you guess which song?).
as a plus, the albums layout and graphic design is splendid...eye-catching, and captures the daring fun, and anarchic spirit of this album. also as a bonus are the liner notes written in both english and japanese, in which Otomo talks about each song and explains how they influenced different aspects of his creative playing and thinking."