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John Zorn and Ken Jacobs: Celestial Subway Lines/Salvaging Noise

In 2004, John Zorn and filmmaker Ken Jacobs collaborated on four nights of audiovisual improvisations at NYC’s Anthology Film Archives, a selection from which is presented on this bracing DVD. Jacobs uses a “Nervous Magic Lantern” to create strobing images that gradually bubble and morph, often resembling time-lapse close-ups of decaying fungus, molting bugs or churning human organs. Zorn, with Ikue Mori on laptop, crafts a responsive soundtrack. His clanging drones, restrained echoes and dense blasts of noise all seem to sprout directly from Jacobs’ throbbing imagery. The resulting mass of abstract art relentlessly attacks the senses (even the film’s opening titles warn off those prone to seizures), making this DVD an acquired taste. But for those so inclined, the work of Jacobs and Zorn is dense and enthralling, revealing new surprises with every viewing.

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