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Frank Zappa - Civilization Phaze III CD (album) cover

CIVILIZATION PHAZE III

Frank Zappa

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.66 | 95 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

infandous
5 stars Wow. The best thing I can say about this album is that it should be approached with extreme caution.

I bought this not long after it came out, in 1995 or so. I had no idea what it was, and had only heard 3 or 4 Zappa albums up to that point (and only owned two; Hot Rats and Live Roxy). Those who are familiar can imagine my utter confusion and surprise upon hearing it. But in the store it looked really cool (the packaging is fantastic and quite ahead of its time), and I knew I liked a couple Zappa albums and even though it was pretty expensive I took the plunge. And what a plunge it was.

Even now, I can't really say I enjoy this. This music is as difficult as any I have ever heard. As other reviewers mention, you need some background in 20th century orchestral music to appreciate this. I have almost none. In the years since I bought this in 1995, I have listened to the entire thing probably no more than 6 times. The first 5 were a wash. Even on the most recent, I couldn't really understand what was going on, but I listened more intently this time, and tried to focus on the things other reviewers here have pointed out.

In the end, I can't deny the musical genius required to create this. I may not understand it, or be able to really enjoy it, but I'm enough of a musician and music listener to realize that this is an incredible piece of work. Certainly the best synclavier compositions ever recorded. Zappa has always equally impressed and baffled me. Much of his music I love, and the rest I have grown to appreciate. This album is so far beyond anything else he did (with the possible exception of Yellow Shark and maybe Jazz From Hell), that it's no surprise I find it hard to enjoy. But I don't find it hard to appreciate.

So you are probably asking yourself how I can give an album I don't really enjoy a 5 star rating. Basically, I'm taking a page out of Reviewer Micky's book, and acknowledging that whether I enjoy it or not, it's impossible to call it anything but a masterpiece. I will, of course, keep pulling it out every couple of years to see if it clicks for me. I still need to explore more of Zappa's vast catalog and try to discern more of the road that led to this monster. But I've spent enough years listening to Zappa, and music in general, to know that this is a transcendent musical work that will only be fully appreciated when enough people's musical IQ's (including my own) catch up with Zappa's. That may never happen, but it doesn't take anything away from the brilliance required to create such an album as this.

infandous | 5/5 |

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