Lumpy Gravy

By Miles

International Times, July 12 - 25, 1968


With the guile and cunning of a Zaptieh, Zappa presents his first ‘solo’ record: a ballet, an opera, a collage of all the elements then present. (It should have been released 16 months ago when it was recorded.) A shifting of the musical grid, blending Cage's ‘Fontana Mix’ with John Carisi’s ‘Moon Taj’ (Into The Hot – Impulse A9) with that degree of lyricism and cynicism peculiar to Zappa alone.

Music Verite – real-life recordings of conversations and monologues from the Kustom Kulchur of Stomberg 97’s and Nerf Bars to giggling acid Koffee Klutches. The conversations sound loaded but Zappa’s excursions into ultimate reality are masterpieces of editing, viz. the phone call on ‘We’re Only In It For The Money’ or Jimmy Carl Black’s recurring introduction. A non-vocal, sheer-amazement and strangeness record with many wonderful pieces.

Louis Malle parodied his film ‘Les Amants’ in ‘Zazie Dans Le Metro’ with an overhead shot of a couple with a siring quartet sound-track. Zappa does likewise with a Muzak, Nightclub (with bongos) version of ‘Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance’ thus elevating recorded music from reproduction of 'as was’, little time-traps in plastic, to an art form complete with self-criticism and parody WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF ITS OWN MEDIA.

This was pioneered by Zappa in his treatment of early Rock & Roll ‘classics’ and styles in the past in which he stripped off all the nostalgia leaving???? (Inevitably) The Beatles also used this technique with their, ‘She Loves You, Yea, Yea....’ refrain at the end of ‘All You Need Is Love’. Seen from this angle, it is no longer suprising that Zappa never uses electronically realised sounds. If he did, his ‘electronic music’ pieces would lose the juxtaposed time elements which are so essential to his structures. He is manipulating the media itself and as he looks over his shoulder he sees that its already getting good in the back.

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