Saturday, May 17, 2008

Naked City - Strange Cargo

Take Hasil Adkins, Ennio Morricone, Carl Stalling, Dick Dale, Charles Ives, Ornette Coleman, John Barry and Napalm Death, throw them in a wood chipper and spew it all against a bathroom wall at Lincoln Center and you might have a reasonable metaphor for Naked City. The band did most of its work from 1988 to 1993 and the lineup of John Zorn (Masada), Bill Frissell (Bill Frissell Trio), Wayne Horvitz (Pigpen), Fred Frith (The Residents), Joey Baron (Stan Getz), Yamatsuka Eye (Boredoms) and Mike Patton (Mr. Bungle) is like an avant-garde dream team.

Their music is a deft, high-speed, quick change bulldozer that ranges through about forty different musical genres, is always on the one and is not without moments of swing and melodic beauty. Naked City is easy to appreciate but must qualify as difficult listening.

This tune, from an unspecified live performance, is decidedly and anomalously sedate (and long, many of their tracks come in under one minute):

The next video will give you a better idea of what Naked City is usually about (from a gig in Amsterdam, 1992. Sorry about the crap sound.):

I often find it impossible to listen to Naked City, but at times, it's the perfect soundtrack for my life. They maintain a substantial presence in my "pissed off" playlist.


Alan Evil said...

When I saw the headline I thought there was going to be a John Zorn/William Orbit collaboration. It made my head hurt to think about it.

I often use Naked City's pieces as bridges when I'm doing dj sets. Nothing like five musical styles and a screaming Jap all in 25 seconds.

Crow said...

Mucho gusto, on our best nights and for only seconds at a time, the Tards were in the same zip code, back in dear olde Savannah.

Alan Evil said...

You should have mentioned why only one album is available in America: the album covers. Zorn refuses to change the artwork which usually involves cadavers.

I'd never even thought of covering William Orbit's stuff but I guess you couldn't ask for a more accomplished bunch of musicians to do it.

John M. said...

I still listen to them now and again, but I was actually surprised to find out that they haven't been playing together for 15 years.