Thursday, 8 June 2017

Zappa’s Post Post-Modern Hellscapes (Tribute Show & Single)


Have you seen Frank Zappa conduct Varèse’s Ionisation? Have you heard him play with Johnny Guitar Watson? Zappa combined doo-wop and atonal serialism with soaring themes and perpetual motion, often calling it blues. He upheld the humor, freedom and risk of the jazz tradition, while forging his own contrarian musical language: meta-modern (post-post modern), really. Tiny Montgomery Records is releasing an outtake from Uncivilized’s recent live EP in celebration of our Zappa Tribute Show at Barbès on June 8th, 2017; listen here:


I wrote “Edna” (above) in my bathroom when I used to live on Avenue C in the village. There was a Pidgeon living on the ledge of the interior air tunnel of that building while I wrote the song. One day she left and there was an egg sitting on the windowsill for a few days (originally it was called “Eggna”). The piece features some folk-jazz chords (simple with a touch of dissonance) and a long form which moves into different meters and key centers whenever it feels like it (with some cross-rhythms driving us along). We premiered it at our first show at Barbès back in 2013 (as part of Oscar Noriega’s Palimpsestic Series) and it completely tanked because there were too many rhythmic changes and I had just finished writing the song. This single version from a big band show at the now-shuttered Tea Lounge in Park Slope was recorded right around the time we were getting into a bigger more lush sound (adding flute, electronics and strings to the mixture). I guess I’d call it a romantic collage piece. My favorite part: when Dominic Mekky cues up a public domain Thomas Edison speech right when we kick the outro into high gear. The live take is mastered beautifully by KRAMER at Noise Miami (Ween, Butthole Surfers), and is being released as a digital single in celebration of our Zappa show this Thursday. Artwork by my environmental consulting project ECO Z ( — big thanks to my partner CJ!).