Mothers Of The World Unite! Inventively!
By Nick Auf der Maur
The great centre of collective American insanity, the West Coast, has for a while now been the main source of all those crazy things that make up the flourishing U.S. subculture.
The latest of these dubious, but highly entertaining contributions to be felt on the Montreal scene, is a typically far out West Coast group called the Mothers of Invention.
The Mothers claim to fame is a new musical form known as “freaking out” with “shock rock.”
To the listener, shock rock is a bit like electric shock and has an effect not unlike a musical lobotomy.
They've done to rock 'n' roll what the West Coast did for Kool-Aid – namely adding LSD, and presto, Electric Kool-Aid.
The eight-man group, led by Frank Zappa, a 26-year-old composer of such hits as Who Are The Brain Police?, Wowie Zowie, and The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet, is currently appearing here.
Zappa, who looks a bit like Rasputin, leads the group through a mad series of arrangements which includes Mozart's Symphony No. 40, Holst's The Planets, and a lot of Stravinsky a la Zappa.
The larger than usual rock group uses a wide range of instruments. Besides two sets of standard drums and the usual electric guitars, the Mothers of Invention manipulate kettle drums, something that looks like an electric piccolo, an electric clavichord, an electric bassoon, flutes, saxophones, tongs and finely tuned truck spring.
Each man is armed as well with 18 megaton amplifiers.
With the lot going at the same time, a song usually starts off at a fortissimo and then builds up.
Picking out the delicate but frank subtleties, can be an enrapturing experience. The three guitars, for example, create a transcendent quality which, if listened to inattentively, suggests they are playing three different songs.
Some of the lyrics are equally fascinating: ("Go ahead and scratch your pie, I don't love you any more.")
Listening to the Mothers is an adventure. It takes a few hours for the sound to get out of your ears after leaving the New Penelope.
Actually, explains Zappa, the Mothers of invention are musical satirist . . . “we're out to satirize everything.”
And “freaking out” is just the thing to do it.
Zappa defines freaking out as “a process whereby an individual casts of outmoded and restricting standards of thinking, dress and social etiquette in order to express his relationship to his immediate environment and the social structure as a whole.”
In effect, Zappa has become a sort of Marshall McLuhan of the rock scene. And like McLuhan, even he is not
quite sure what the electronic message is all about.
“In fact,” he says, “We're, not even sure who plays the drums.”
Read by OCR software. If you spot errors, let me know afka (at) afka.net