The Needle Drop

20 Years of Tzadik (Favorite Releases)


Ha-Yang Kim — Threadsuns (2014, TZ9008)

Ha-Yang Kim's sophomore album Threadsuns, a transcendent piece for string quartet, is absolutely among the most beautiful and impressive classical works of the past decade or two.

Haino Keiji/Yoshida Tatsuya — Uhrfasudhasdd (2008, TZ7265)

While it may be tamer than guitarist/vocalist Keiji Haino and drummer Tatsuya Yoshida's previous team-up New Rap, which contains some of the most unhinged noise rock you'll hear in your life, you still better hold onto something while listening to Uhrfasudhasdd. Otherwise its off-kilter avant-prog riffs and kaleidoscopic explosions of sound might knock you right on your ass.

Ruins — Hyderomastgroningem (1995, TZ7202)

From Tatsuya Yoshida's legendary drums/bass duo! Again, you're gonna want to grab a hold of something when you blast this.

John Zorn — Bar Kokhba (1996, TZ7108-2)

Of course Zorn's greatest chamber jazz and klezmer work had to make the cut.

Harry Partch — 17 Lyrics of Li Po (1995, TZ7012)

Finally, my favorite Tzadik release. Cellist Ted Mook and baritone opera singer Stephen Kalm bring to life for the first time the complete 17 Lyrics of Li Po, an early piece from microtonal composer Harry Partch written for adapted viola and intoning voice and based on the texts of 8th century Chinese poet Li Po. It simply does it for me.

And there you have it. If you're digging what you're hearing, it's my hope that you'll delve into the label's back catalog, which I've neglected to say is arranged into several series. Clearly I have a little bias toward the "Composer" and "New Japan" ones, but you might get more out of the others, including "Spotlight," which features up-and-coming bands, or the newly launched "Spectrum," which will be covering a wide array of sounds.

At any rate, thanks for reading! John Zorn. Downtown. Tzadik. Forever!