Exposé Online banner

Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra (ZERO) — Money? What Money?
(Cordelia Records CD061, 2015, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2015-05-04

Money? What Money? Cover art

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.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Frank Zappa, Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra (ZERO)

Latest news

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Iona - Beyond These Shores – Three albums on now, Iona's latest release shows a higher degree of maturity and refinement overall. Still solidly in the Celtic folk-rock vein, they are in many ways comparable to bands like...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues