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Frank Zappa - Dance Me This CD (album) cover


Frank Zappa



3.94 | 82 ratings

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5 stars This album is fantastic. It might be Frank Zappa's best Synclavier produced album, I'm not kidding. This album is the last album Frank finished before his passing in late 1993, and the chronological follow-up to Civilization Phaze III, which was released in 1994. While CPIII was a blast of new sounds and directions, Dance Me This is completely different from anything Zappa released before. This doesn't sound like his previous Synclavier compositions. Having said that, the opening title track sounds like the 78 band with Bozzio, O'Hearn, and Tommy Mars jumped into the Synclavier machine and some Tulvan throat singers joined. The great thing about this track is we get to hear one last imaginary guitar solo from the man himself, however brief it is. From here on out, the album is like jumping into another world. I'm not going to lie, I did not "get" this album the first time I listened to it, but the album definitely reveals its beauty upon further listening sessions.

We are immediately brought into Pachuco Gavotte, and I'm not good at describing what these tunes sound like, but this one is crazy, and it leads right into the mammoth 28 minute composition Wolf Harbor, which is broken up into 5 parts, which are indiscernible from one another. First time I heard this, I thought it was one long drone, but I was not in the right mind set for this music at the time (and there is not really much "droning" going on.) I have gotten into World Music a lot in the last few years, and I've come to realize this piece (and the whole album really) is Frank's journey into exploring "world music" and other exotic sounds. There are elements of tribal, alien, earthy, ambient, and cosmic sounds all mixed together on Wolf Harbor, not to mention some weird sound effects. This is possibly the most intriguing piece of music I've ever heard from Frank Zappa, and that's saying something. Again, words are hard to describe this music, but it is relaxing, yet still challenging to the listener; you just might not want to listen to this while cruising down the highway, save it for a late evening with the lights off, or a cloudy/rainy/overcast day.

The second half of the album is a treat. The throat singers return on Goat Polo, and they are a main feature of this piece; and the music is very fast now, with a symphonic theme on top, lots of violin and flute. The throat singers are a very strange, but cool addition to the Frank Zappa world/canon. Rykoniki is a short piece, sort of sounds like Zappa's Envelopes piece, but has a different vibe overall, and I hear lots of tribal sounding instruments.

Piano is, well, a piano piece. Of course it's not a real person playing a piano, but man, Zappa really got the Synclavier to sound exactly like a real piano (Seriously, if you didn't know, you'd think it was someone playing the piano). Some drums and other instruments do come in a bit later on. A very avant-garde piece.

The last tune, Calculus, is once again, a move into a world unlike anything I've ever heard. The coolest stuff from the throat singers is on this tune. This one messes with time signatures pretty much the whole time, as well as constant tempo shifts, and even plain messing with the beat. This tune, along with the title track, are maybe the album's most "accessible" tracks, if you want to call them that. They're the most fun anyway.

This is not for a beginner of Zappa's music, but it is something that is progressive, forward-thinking, other-worldly, and rewarding for patient listeners. Frank was always about pushing his music into new directions, and he did so until the end of his life. He was always ahead of his time. This album make you wonder what he would have done next, where he would be in the 21st Century. Dance Me This was completed in 1993, and even with 22 years before it finally got released in 2015, it is still far ahead of its time. This album deserves 5 stars.

darkshade | 5/5 |


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