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Frank Zappa - Civilization Phaze III CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.78 | 152 ratings

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The Mentalist
5 stars If you're not familiar with the musical language of mid to late 20th century music, i.e. Webern; Boulez, Pendercki, Stravinsky, Messiaen, Varese, etc, this album will probably sound like incomprehensible rubbish to your ears. If, however, you are familiar with and like mid to late 20th century music, this album will blow you away. This is undiluted Zappa; Zappa the "brainiac" composer. Zappa the mad Scientist down in his basement/ laboratory constructing music of mind-boggling complexity, intense; beauty and "statistical density". The music is interspersed with dialog from the 'Lumpy Gravy' sessions. The conversations were recorded underneath a grand piano covered with a canopy -- the idea being that the piano strings would resonate in sympathy with the voices thus creating an unique ambiance. Zappa edits these conversations together so that people who weren't even in the same room on the same day end up conversing with each other. The conversations are worth listening to very closely, not for their meaning (which is intentionally gibberish) but for their form which reveals them to be compositions in their own right. The music, mostly performed by the Synclavier, is hauntingly beautiful. The timbres used are not dissimilar at times to Boulez's pallet or even Messiaen's. But for the most part the music reveals Zappa's life long love of the music of Anton Webern. Having said that, it is in no way derivative, it's still 100% Zappa. The highlight has to be the awesome 'N lite'; a twenty minute journey into the nether reaches of Zappa's imagination. This is an important album which, like the music of Charles Ives before it, will probably have to wait another 50 years until it's fully appreciated.
The Mentalist | 5/5 |


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