RCD 10542 Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger
Produced by Frank Zappa
Released on 1984
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
RCD 10542 cover  

I ’m not buying any more Frank Zappa albums with dogs on the cover. The two I own (this and Francesco Zappa) left me nonplussed, and Zappa’s releases cost too much not to enjoy. At least I’d concede Stranger the lead in that Dance of the Despised, as Francesco made the mistake of trying to fix something that wasn’t baroque in the first place. The Perfect Stranger is (despite Zappa’s labeling as “preposterously non-modern”) pretty modern, similar to the discordant, spiky stuff that Stravinsky and others experimented with in the 20th century. There is a nod back to Francesco’s meatless boneyard (“Outside Now Again,” perhaps based on a theme from “Outside Now,” which I haven’t heard) and a spooky “Jonestown” that suggests the German electronic composers of the ‘70s. The rest of the material is, at its most skittish (and that’s most of the time), suggestive of Jazz From Hell, at its warmest (which isn't very often) Orchestral Favorites. The scenarios that FZ paints for each piece points to program music, although I don’t believe a word of it. I can imagine the composer sitting in his room, adrift in the scent of stale coffee and cigarettes, placing black notes in calculated interrelationships to one another like some mad numerologist, but I don’t see his snarly muse being subverted to a linear storytelling style this time. Again, the liner notes from Frank would confound the critic, cautioning that the music is entertainment rather than art, begging the question: Who if not artistes would find thirty-five minutes of dissonant modern classical music entertaining? I’ve noticed that the composer tends to get cranky when his “serious” side is exposed, as if undermining his true intent might shield him from criticism. And far be it from me to critique this music, since I can’t put up the minimum ante (probably a degree in composition) to sit at this table. But I do feel that the price paid for music like this should at least be tax deductible, since it amounts to a charitable donation to the arts.

TRACK LISTING

  1. THE PERFECT STRANGER    12:42
  2. NAVAL AVIATION IN ART?    2:43
  3. THE GIRL IN THE MAGNESIUM DRESS    3:09
  4. DUPREE'S PARADISE    7:52
  5. LOVE STORY    0;55
  6. OUTSIDE NOW AGAIN    4:05
  7. JONESTOWN    5:27

    All selections composed by Frank Zappa

CREDITS

THE BARKING PUMPKIN DIGITAL GRATIFICATION CONSORT --
PIERRE BOULEZ -- conductor
ENSEMBLE INTERCONTEMPORAIN --
Didier Arditi -- recording engineer
Spencer Christu -- 1992 remix & EQ
Bob Stone -- mixing engineer
David Ocker -- computer programmer
Steve DiFuria -- special software
Donald Roller Wilson -- cover

return to FRANK ZAPPA discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US 1984 Angel LP    
US 1992 Barking Pumpkin CD D27424 remixed version
US Apr/May 1995 Rykodisc CD RCD 10542 digital remaster

 

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