You are holding in your hands one of the rarest items in my discography - a CD I've been trying to release for years. I tried every possible approuch to try to get the rights back from CBS Sony but to no avail. Then a funny thing happened... MASADA was scheduled to perform at the Knitting Factory the ten days of Hanukah - December 1996 and a week or so before the dates I got a phone call from Michael Dorf [owner of the KF]. Apparently Sony wanted to rent the Knitting Factory space for a private party one night smack in the middle of the run. Would I consider giving up one of the nights? Of course my first response was "NO WAY-TELL THEM TO FUCK OFF," and then I remembered this recording. If I've got something they want (this night in December) - perhaps they'd give me something I want. Absurd you say? Ridiculous? Never happen? That's what I thought, but I took a chance and laid a deal in Michael Dorf's lap: a night for their party of squares in exchange for the rights to CYNICAL HYSTERIE HOUR, which had dropped out of print six months after its 1990 release. Dorf seemed positive he could do it--and can you believe it--he really did! Without him this music would still be one of my highest-priced collectors items. Thanks again, Mike.
It was at Yuji Takahashi's house that I first became aware of Kirikp's work, in Tokyo about 1984. I was immediately struck by the quaint and quirky originality of her vision, and impressed by the sureness a cleanliness of her line. We quickly became friends and when COBRA was recorded she kindly agreed to draw the cover designs. A few years after she began the ambitious project of animating her strips. The first tests were quite encouraging (and are available on Filmworks III) so she went on to create four seven minute cartoons, inspired by the classic Warner Bros. work of the 1940's.
I am particularly proud of this music. As a long time fan of cartoon music it was extremely intimidating for me to try to voice myself in this genre that I have championed and that has influenced me so deeply. I was determined to create an original sound world to go with Kiriko's images and characters, one that appealed equally to children as to adults, and I found one with the aid of some of the most exciting musicians on the scene. A basic theme and set of chords tie the varied episodes together, but the instrumentation is slightly modified for each seperate cartoon, focusing on punk rock guitars, dark forboding strings or upbeat percussion.
There are beautiful moments in all the tracks, but some of my favorites
are: Bill Frisell's bajo solo on YAKISOBA (5), Quine and Ribot's punk guitars
on PUNK ROCK HERO (8), Ribot's beautiful and melancholic banjo solo on
SCARY MOONLIGHT (15), Jill and Maxine's beautiful string blends and comping
on THROUGH THE NIGHT (12) and of course SURFING SAMBA (23) where Cyro's
beautiful and complex percussion orchestra perfectly highlights Frisell's
Astronaut-style surf guitar. All in all this is a real treasure, and thanks
to Michael Dorf it is no longer a hidden one. The next step is to see them
synched with the cartoons.
John Zorn NYC 1997