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Frank Zappa - Dance Me This CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.94 | 82 ratings

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Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars This is a bitter-sweet album from Frank Zappa. It is poignant in that, according to the liner notes, this "is the last album Frank Zappa completed before his death". It is sweet because, even twenty- two years after his all-too-early death, we still have "new" Frank Zappa music. Unlike many other artists whose posthumous releases have been pieced together decades after their demise from left overs, out-takes and unfinished sessions, Frank was well aware of his fate for some time, and created a number of finished albums for his family to publish for years to come.

Also of note, the opening track has an all too brief (only 10 to 15 seconds long) guitar solo from Frank himself, and again from the liner notes: "As far as we know that was the last time he played guitar". This title track is actually the closest thing to a rock song on the album. Although completely sequenced on his Synclavier (with assistance from Todd Yvega) , Frank has created a piece similar to those that he often used to open his shows, a light vamp with space for solos. This space in this case is mostly filled with the eerie sound of a trio of Tuvan throatsingers, who appear in a number of tracks on this album.

The second track, "Pachuco Gavotte"' while played on the Synclavier, has the feel of Zappa's classic "Black Page", and sounds somewhat organic.

The centerpiece of the album is the half-hour long, six-part exploration, "Wolf Harbor". This is an amazing work, an extension of the work of Edgard Varese, whom Zappa has quoted and imitated often through the years. While Varese was limited to analog tape effect to create his unearthly sounds, Zappa has, of course, his Synclavier to expand the palette extensively. Although Zappa was known for musical excess, here he uses restraint to give the percussion and sounds room to come to life.

The closing track, "Calculus"' is notable as it contains a process invented by Yvega dubbed by Frank as "burglar music". Burglar music uses an algorithm to take a number of short sequences and play each one concurrently at different time intervals. This Yvega would use to give possible intruders the impression that someone was in the studio working. On "Calculus" the track was finished with the Tuvans singing over the results. The track is actually astounding.

I will admit that this album is not for everyone. The album is adventurous, sublime, and also beautiful, but the experimental nature may scare some listeners away. Scaring listeners away was never a deterrence to the incredible Mr. Zappa.

Evolver | 5/5 |


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