John Zorn, ‘Kristallnacht’ (03/94)

John Zorn, “Never Again,” from Kristallnacht
For almost three minutes the sound of breaking glass is like a waterfall: that fast, that implacable. Then just the footsteps of someone running away; then Hebrew chanting; then a sort of Austro-Hungarian salon ensemble, discreetly summoning the dead soul of Central Europe. Despite the distant echoes, the true subject of this nearly 12-minute piece, recorded on 9 November 1992, seems as much the Germany of the present day as of 9 November 1938, when Nazis smashed the windows of Jewish shopkeepers all over the country. When the breaking glass comes back, and with it a mob unafraid of its own voice you’re sure of it. “Contains high frequency extremes, at the limits of human hearing & beyond, which may cause nausea, headaches & ringing in the ears,” Zorn warns. “Prolonged or repeated listening is not advisable.” Tell it to the thugs.


Artforum, March 1994


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