Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra (ZERO) — Money? What Money?
(Cordelia Records CD061, 2015, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2015-05-04
If you ever listened to a Frank Zappa record and thought, “What this needs is more kazoo and ukulele,” then not only are you a very strange person, but you are in luck, because the Z.E.R.O. Ensemble has brought your wish to reality. Z.E.R.O. stands for “Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra,” but the name shouldn’t be taken any more seriously than anything else about the project. It’s the twisted brainchild of Kevin Crosby, with contributions from a large number of others both in Seattle and around the world, including Tubes drummer Prairie Prince; it’s the result of a joke among former members of the Seattle band The Squirrels, the joke being simply the idea of doing Zappa songs on ukulele. In keeping with The Squirrels’ tradition of mashing together unrelated pieces of music, attentive listeners will notice some non-Zappa quotes, including bits (presumably too small to require composition credit) of Yes, Devo, Jethro Tull, Dave Brubeck, and much more — listening to the album is like watching a Futurama episode and trying to catch all the pop culture references hidden in the backgrounds and dialog. Operatic soprano Juliana Brandon is the most common featured vocalist, and handing her lyrics like those of “Let’s Make the Water Turn Black” or “Idiot Bastard Son” is pretty amusing all by itself, unless you’re a hopelessly stuffy snob, in which case this album is not for you anyway. In addition to the vocal tunes, there are numerous of Zappa’s instrumental tunes covered, as well as a lot of the kind of collages that appeared on some of the early Mothers recordings, with goofy voices, animal noises, and recurring characters. The main thing to note is that, exactly in keeping with Zappa’s work, the silliness is produced with serious musical craft.
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more