Naked City (band)

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Naked City
Naked City.jpg
Background information
OriginNew York City, New York, United States
Genres
Years active1988–1993 (brief 2003 reunion)
Labels Elektra Nonesuch, Avant, Earache, Tzadik
Past members John Zorn
Bill Frisell
Fred Frith
Wayne Horvitz
Joey Baron
Yamatsuka Eye

Naked City was an avant-garde music group led by saxophonist and composer John Zorn. Active primarily in New York City from 1988 to 1993, Naked City was initiated by Zorn as a "composition workshop" [1] to test the limits of composition (and improvisation) in a traditional rock band lineup. Their music incorporated elements of jazz, surf, progressive rock, classical, heavy metal, grindcore, country, punk rock, and other genres.

Avant-garde works that are experimental or innovative

The avant-garde are people or works that are experimental, radical, or unorthodox with respect to art, culture, or society. It may be characterized by nontraditional, aesthetic innovation and initial unacceptability, and it may offer a critique of the relationship between producer and consumer.

John Zorn American composer, saxophonist and bandleader

John Zorn is an American composer, arranger, record producer, saxophonist, and multi-instrumentalist with hundreds of album credits as performer, composer, and producer across a variety of genres including jazz, rock, hardcore, classical, surf, metal, soundtrack, ambient, and improvised music. He incorporates diverse styles in his compositions, which he identifies as avant-garde or experimental. Zorn was described by Down Beat as "one of our most important composers".

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Contents

History

In Naked City's characteristic early style, songs were often performed at astonishingly fast tempos, drawing on thrash metal and hardcore punk's emphasis on extreme speed. Many songs were quite brief, and typically switched musical genres every few measures. One critic described the band's music as "jump-cutting micro-collages of hardcore, country, sleazy jazz, covers of John Barry and Ornette Coleman, brief abstract tussles — a whole city crammed into two or three minute bursts". [2] This fast-change tendency was inspired in part by Carl Stalling — a Zorn favorite — who wrote music for many Warner Bros. cartoons, that featured frequent shifts in tempo, theme and style.

Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

Hardcore punk Subgenre of punk rock

Hardcore punk is a punk rock music genre and subculture that originated in the late 1970s. It is generally faster, harder, and more aggressive than other forms of punk rock. Its roots can be traced to earlier punk scenes in San Francisco and Southern California which arose as a reaction against the still predominant hippie cultural climate of the time. It was also inspired by New York punk rock and early proto-punk. New York punk had a harder-edged sound than its San Francisco counterpart, featuring anti-art expressions of masculine anger, energy, and subversive humor. Hardcore punk generally disavows commercialism, the established music industry and "anything similar to the characteristics of mainstream rock" and often addresses social and political topics with "confrontational, politically-charged lyrics."

Collage technique of art production using assemblage of different forms

Collage is a technique of an art production, primarily used in the visual arts, where the artwork is made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole.

Naked City's first album was distributed under Zorn's name by Nonesuch Records and featured a Weegee photograph of a dead gangster on its cover, along with macabre illustrations by Maruo Suehiro. There was disagreement between Zorn and the label over cover art on subsequent albums. Zorn wanted to use explicit S&M pictures, images from 19th century medical archives, and execution photographs, most notoriously of a Leng Tch'e victim; Nonesuch refused. Zorn ended his relationship with the label, releasing subsequent Naked City albums on Shimmy Disc and his own Avant and Tzadik labels.

Nonesuch Records American record label, owned by Warner Music Group, and based in New York City

Nonesuch Records is an American record company and label owned by Warner Music Group, distributed by Warner Records, and based in New York City. Founded by Jac Holzman in 1964 as a budget classical label, Nonesuch has developed into a label that records critically acclaimed music from a wide range of genres. Robert Hurwitz was president of the company from 1984 to 2017.

Weegee American photographer

Weegee was the pseudonym of Arthur (Usher) Fellig, a photographer and photojournalist, known for his stark black and white street photography. Weegee worked in Manhattan, New York City's Lower East Side, as a press photographer during the 1930s and 1940s, and he developed his signature style by following the city's emergency services and documenting their activity. Much of his work depicted unflinchingly realistic scenes of urban life, crime, injury and death. Weegee published photographic books and also worked in cinema, initially making his own short films and later collaborating with film directors such as Jack Donohue and Stanley Kubrick.

BDSM erotic practices involving domination and Sado-Masochism

BDSM is a variety of often erotic practices or roleplaying involving bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadomasochism, and other related interpersonal dynamics. Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practising BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent upon self-identification and shared experience.

On later releases, the band varied their stylistic approach and repertoire to include pieces from modern classical composers such as Alexander Scriabin, Claude Debussy, Charles Ives, and Olivier Messiaen, whose works are featured on the album Grand Guignol . Leng T'che featured a single heavy metal music piece, over 31 minutes in length. Torture Garden was made up of several "hardcore miniatures", and Absinthe was ambient and noise textures.

Alexander Scriabin Russian pianist and composer

Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin was a Russian composer and pianist. Scriabin, who was influenced early in his life by the works of Frédéric Chopin, composed works that are characterised by a highly tonal idiom. Later in his career, independently of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed a substantially atonal and much more dissonant musical system, which accorded with his personal brand of mysticism. Scriabin was influenced by synesthesia, and associated colours with the various harmonic tones of his atonal scale, while his colour-coded circle of fifths was also influenced by theosophy. He is considered by some to be the main Russian Symbolist composer.

Claude Debussy 19th and 20th-century French classical composer

(Achille) Claude Debussy was a French composer. He is sometimes seen as the first Impressionist composer, although he vigorously rejected the term. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Charles Ives American composer

Charles Edward Ives was an American modernist composer, being one of the first American composers of international renown. Previously, his music was largely ignored during his life, and many of his works went unperformed for many years, but later the quality of his music was recognized and he came to be regarded as an "American original". He was also among the first composers to engage in a systematic program of experimental music, with musical techniques including polytonality, polyrhythm, tone clusters, aleatory elements, and quarter tones. His experimentation foreshadowed many musical innovations that were later more widely adopted during the 20th century. Hence, he is often regarded as the leading American composer of art music of the 20th century.

Zorn discontinued Naked City after Absinthe when he felt "... the need to write music for other ensembles, in other contexts, with new ideas". [2] A brief reunion occurred in 2003 for a few shows at European jazz festivals.

Cinematic connections

The group covered numerous film soundtrack cuts, including work by Georges Delerue. Heretic was intended as the soundtrack for a film starring Karen Finley.

Georges Delerue French composer

Georges Delerue was a French composer who composed over 350 scores for cinema and television. Delerue won numerous important film music awards, including an Academy Award for A Little Romance (1980), three César Awards, two ASCAP Awards, and one Gemini Award for Sword of Gideon (1987). He was also nominated for four additional Academy Awards for Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), The Day of the Dolphin (1973), Julia (1977), and Agnes of God (1985), four additional César Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and one Genie Award for Black Robe (1991).

<i>Heretic</i> (Naked City album) 1992 soundtrack album by Naked City

Heretic is the third studio album by the band Naked City, used as a soundtrack for the underground S/M film Jeux des Dames Cruelles. The album utilises different combinations of band members in duos and trios with the entire band performing together on only one track "Fire and Ice".

Karen Finley is an American performance artist, musician and poet. Her performance art, recordings, and books are used as forms of activism. Her work frequently uses nudity and profanity. Finley incorporates depictions of sexuality, abuse, and disenfranchisement in her work Karen Finley is currently a professor at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

The tracks "Bonehead" and "Hellraiser", from Torture Garden, are featured in the opening sequence of Michael Haneke's film Funny Games and its 2007 remake.

Band members

Live members

Discography

Related Research Articles

Bill Frisell American musician

William Richard Frisell is an American guitarist, composer and arranger. One of the leading guitarists in jazz since the late 1980s, Frisell came to prominence as a stalwart for ECM Records. He went on to work in a variety of contexts, notably as a member of the New York City Downtown Scene where he formed a long partnership with John Zorn. He was also a longtime member of Paul Motian's groups from the early 1980s until Motian's death in 2011. Since 2000, Frisell's eclectic output as a bandleader has emphasized folk, country music, and Americana.

Wayne Horvitz American musician

Wayne Horvitz is an American composer, keyboardist and record producer He came to prominence in the Downtown scene of 1980s and '90s New York City, noted for working with John Zorn's Naked City among others. Horvitz has since relocated to the Seattle, Washington area where he has several ongoing groups and has worked as an adjunct professor of composition at Cornish College of the Arts.

Leng Tch'e is a Belgian grindcore band. The band describes their style as "razorgrind", a combination of grindcore with death metal, stoner rock and metalcore.

Yamantaka Eye Japanese singer

Yamataka Eye is a Japanese vocalist and visual artist, best known as a member of Boredoms and Naked City. He has changed his stage name three times, from Yamatsuka Eye, to Yamantaka Eye, to Yamataka Eye, and sometimes calls himself eYe or EYヨ. He also DJs under the name DJ 光光光 or "DJ pica pica pica", and has used numerous other pseudonyms.

<i>Naked City</i> (album) 1990 studio album by John Zorn

Naked City is an album by John Zorn, originally released on Nonesuch Records in 1990. The band which would become known under the same name included Zorn on alto saxophone with Bill Frisell on guitar, Wayne Horvitz on keyboards, Fred Frith on bass and Joey Baron on drums, and was established in 1988 as a "compositional workshop" to test the limitations of a rock band format.

<i>Grand Guignol</i> (album) 1992 studio album by Naked City

Grand Guignol is the second full-length studio album released by John Zorn's band Naked City in 1992 on the Japanese Avant label. The album followed Torture Garden, which was a compilation of "hardcore miniatures" from Naked City and Grand Guignol. The album is notable for the inclusion of cover versions of pieces written by classical composers, the guest vocal of Bob Dorough, and also, like Torture Garden, a selection of "hardcore miniatures" which are intense, fast-tempo, brief compositions, which feature the wailing of Zorn's alto sax, and the screams of Yamatsuka Eye.

Fred Frith discography Recordings by Fred Frith

Fred Frith appears on over 400 recordings. This is a selection from bands he was/is a member of, collaborations with other bands and musicians, and his solo recordings. The year indicates when the album was first released. For a comprehensive discography, see the Discography of Fred Frith by Michel Ramond, Patrice Roussel and Stephane Vuilleumier.

<i>Leng Tche</i> (album) 1992 EP by Naked City

Leng Tch'e is the fourth release from John Zorn's band Naked City. It consists of a single track, running at just over half an hour. It was first released on the Japanese Toys Factory label in 1992. Unlike Naked City's previously material, which was known for its fast tempo and rapid transitions between a variety of heterogeneous styles, Leng Tch'e is a more avant-garde take on sludge metal. It was reissued in 1997 along with Torture Garden in the double-disc collection Black Box.

<i>Radio</i> (Naked City album) 1993 studio album by Naked City

Radio is the fourth studio album by the band Naked City, and their first to be composed entirely by bandleader John Zorn. The album was also released as part of Naked City: The Complete Studio Recordings on Tzadik Records in 2005.

<i>Torture Garden</i> (album) 1990 compilation album by Naked City

Torture Garden is an album by John Zorn's band Naked City featuring Yamatsuka Eye on vocals. The album is a compilation of the "hardcore miniatures" that were also released on Naked City and Grand Guignol. The album was originally released on vinyl and cassette by Shimmy Disc and on CD by Toy's Factory in 1989. Following controversy over Naked City's album covers it was re-released in 1996 on Tzadik Records with Leng Tch'e simply as Black Box. The tracks were also released as part of Naked City: The Complete Studio Recordings in 2005.

<i>Naked City: The Complete Studio Recordings</i> 2005 compilation album by Naked City

Naked City: The Complete Studio Recordings is a five disc box set that contains all of the studio albums released by Naked City during their five-year history.

John Zorn appears on over 400 recordings as a composer or performer. This is a selection of recordings released under his name, bands he was/is part of, collaborations with other musicians, and significant albums to which he has contributed. The year indicates when the album was first released and any subsequent years if the following release included additional material.

<i>Spy vs Spy</i> (album) 1989 studio album by John Zorn

Spy vs Spy: The Music of Ornette Coleman is a 1989 album by American composer and saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist John Zorn, featuring the compositions of Ornette Coleman performed in the brief intense style of Zorn's hardcore miniatures.

<i>Black Box</i> (Naked City album) 1997 compilation album by Naked City

Black Box is a compilation album by John Zorn's band Naked City featuring Yamatsuka Eye on vocals. The album is a collection of the "hardcore miniatures" from Naked City and Grand Guignol that were originally released on Torture Garden in 1990 and the extended piece Leng Tch'e which was only released in Japan in 1992. This compilation was released on Tzadik Records in 1996.

This discography features albums released by guitarist Bill Frisell, released recordings of bands and projects he was/is a member of, and albums on which he appears as guest musician. Labels and dates indicate first release.

Avant Records was a record label in Japan that specialized in avant-garde jazz, avant rock, and experimental music. The label released more than 80 albums between 1992 and 2004.

<i>Absinthe</i> (Naked City album) 1993 studio album by Naked City

Absinthe is the final recording from the band Naked City. Unlike the band's other genre-mixing releases, the music on Absinthe is consistently in an ambient and noise style.

<i>Hypomanic</i> (album) 2010 studio album by Leng Tche

Hypomanic is Leng Tch'e's fifth full-length album and their first on Season Of Mist. A video was made for the song "Totalitarian" on YouTube, featuring a guest appearance by Barney Greenway of Napalm Death. The album received reviews by several heavy metal and hardcore-oriented magazines, with Exclaim! calling it "one hell of a brutal release" and noted a fine performance by new singer Serge Kasongo.

References

  1. Archived November 14, 2004, at the Wayback Machine
  2. 1 2 "John Zorn's Naked City". Scottmaykrantz.com. 1993-08-20. Archived from the original on 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2012-07-27.