Friday, August 24, 2012

Trance Fusion

Trance Fusion
This is by far the best release since LATHER. And the sound quality is amazing, particularly for a Zappa CD. There is breadth, depth, "space" between this instruments, etc.. In fact, The Zappa Family Trust should task Mr. Ludwig with remastering all of the pre-1993 catalog, most of which sounds like its had the life sucked out of it by Mr. Stone's previous remastering efforts. Think I'm kidding? Just compare the depth/quality of sound on any vinyl Zappa album to that of the same release on CD and you'll see what I mean. The sound of those pre-1993 albums on CD is pretty awful.

Now on to the music. There is some truly diabolical string-mangling on this gem of a disc!! This is an excellent sequel to the "Shut Up N' Play Yer Guitar" and "Guitar" releases. Be forewarned, however, that 2 tracks (the first and final) feature Dweezil, NOT Frank as soloist (while there is a bit of noodling from Frank toward the end of "Chunga", its Dweezil's solo that is the focus of the piece). That said, sandwiched between those two bookends (which are pretty good themselves) are some moments of pure sonic delight. Check out "Ask Dr. Stupid", which features the Coliauta lineup from the late 70's: the solo is taken from a performance of "Easy Meat", and Vinnie's drumming turns the piece into a somewhat deranged permutation of a "cha-cha" while Frank "puts the eyebrows on it"!! Most of the other solos are from the 1988 and 1984 tours. As with the previous "Guitar"-oriented releases, its interesting to note the very different sounds of the various lineups represented, particularly in the drums. While Chad Wackerman is an amazing drummer, his sound on all of Zappa's releases always comes off as somewhat mechanical, particularly when contrasted with Vinnie's much more "organic" approach. Vinnie and Frank always seemed to have some sort of "mind meld" happening when Frank was soloing, with Vinnie somehow able to anticipate what Frank was about to play most of the time. That quality simply isn't there with Wackerman (or Bozzio, for that matter), giving the Coliauta lineup's output a slight edge over the others (in my opinion). Maybe we'll be fortunate enough to get an official release of some of Mr. Coliauta's live work with Jeff Beck from this past summer (2006) so we can find out if he's still the same type of musician that played with Frank so long ago.

Other highlights are "Light is All That Matters", "Bowling on Charen", and the title track. But its ALL good stuff! And its VERY HARD to find anyone else around these days who can hold a candle to Frank's sheer brilliance on guitar and his mastery of so many varied tones/moods (Jeff Beck and Nels Cline come to mind, but that's about it). So go out and get this thing, crank it up, and annoy the heck out of your neighbors!! After the great 'Imaginary Diseases' the Zappas hit another ball out of the field with 'Trance Fusion'. This is an album that Frank himself prepared for release, but it has been sitting in the vaults for more than 13 years. It was about time! The Zappas got it right. Comes in a jewel case (not like those digipacks that cant be replaced if broken), with a great art cover and the sound is to write home about. They gave the tapes to Bob Ludwig, who remastered among other things the Virgin Stones catalogue, and this material sound very very good. Zappa playing is in his own class, and it is nice to have more solos from the 88 tour, probably one of the tightest bands ever put together by Frank. Highly recommended.

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