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Frank Zappa - Jazz from Hell CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.43 | 254 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Of all of Frank Zappa's synclavier instrumental albums, Jazz From Hell seems to stand alone from the rest. Most of Zappa's synclavier stuff, in my opinion, is rather boring and I find it hard to enjoy when compared to his more contemporary works. But with Jazz From Hell, despite its flaws, has a charm to it that makes it different from the rest of the bunch. An odd note about this album, it is the first (and probably the only) instrumental album to merit a parental advisory warning, most likely for some of the more risque song titles. Anywho, what this album mostly is is Zappa noodling with the synclavier and utilizes a backing group to help flesh out some of the pieces.

In particular, G-Spot Tornado, the title track, and St. Entienne are the highlights of the album. The first is the most recognizable song off the album (and the only synclavier song from this album to get a live rendition, by the Ensemble Modern on the Yellow Shark album). It's teetering synclavier motifs and relentless pace really set the tone for what this album was all about, music that was nearly humanly impossible to play. The title track is a bit more off the wall, with oddly phrased notes and cascading melodies while retaining some sort of cohesion. St. Entienne is the only non-synclavier piece on the album, and it's probably my favorite. It's a classic Zappa guitar solo piece and he really belts out an unforgettable piece.

Jazz from Hell isn't the easiest album to listen to. Some may find it too cold and detached, very unlike a Zappa album, which usually are very lively affairs. However, those who can listen to music that has little potential of ever being played by a human being in terms of sheer density will probably find much to enjoy. I can't say it's near the best Zappa pieces, but it's certainly an interesting record and at the end of the day, pretty solid.

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |


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