Saturday, August 23, 2014

Frank Zappa - Boulez Conducts Zappa: the Perfect Stranger

Today (August 23rd) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Boulez Conducts Zappa: the Perfect Stranger. The album brings together experimental rocker Frank Zappa with the French composer Pierre Boulez.

The first side of the album was conducted by Boluz and features the Ensemble InterContemporain, a Parisian chamber orchestra. It opens with the nearly thirteen minute long instrumental piece “The Perfect Stranger”. It reminds me a bit of the types of musical scores I would hear on TV dramas growing up in the 70’s.

The musical question “Naval Aviation in Art?” is posed with the next instrumental piece. The woodwinds and the brass give this one a light and grounded layer respectively.

“The Girl in the Magnesium Dress” has a quirky title to match its melody. The synthesized xylophone gives it that sound.

Side two of the original vinyl album opens with “Outside Now Again”, the first of four tracks performed by Zappa on a Synclavier, a digital synthesizer.

Next is an erratic minute long interlude named “Love Story”.

“Dupree’s Paradise” is the longest track of side two, clocking in at almost eight minutes.

The closing composition is entitled “Jonestown”. It has a dark, mysterious mood to it.

The later CD releases (as well as what can found on Spotify and other stream sites) have tracks four and six swapped around in order. I can see why that was done since “Dupree’s Paradise” is a more natural flow off of the first half of the album.

A completely instrumental album was not at all what I was expecting from Frank Zappa with this 1984 release. Despite expectation, I found Boulez Conducts Zappa: the Perfect Stranger to be a nice change of pace. I recommend giving it a listen.

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