12 April 2011: Frank Zappa & XAAL

Hot Rats is the second solo album by Frank Zappa. It was released in October 1969. Five of the six songs are instrumental (the song "Willie the Pimp" features a short vocal by Captain Beefheart). It was Zappa's first recording project after the dissolution of the original Mothers of Invention. In his original sleeve notes Zappa described the album as "a movie for your ears."
Because Hot Rats focuses on instrumental jazz-like compositions with extensive soloing, the music sounds very different from earlier Zappa albums, which featured satirical vocal performances with extensive use of musique concrète and editing. Multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood is the only member of the Mothers to appear on the album and was the primary musical collaborator. Other featured musicians were Max Bennett and Shuggie Otis on bass, drummers Aynsley Dunbar and John Guerin and electric violinists Don "Sugarcane" Harris and Jean-Luc Ponty.
This was the first Frank Zappa album recorded on 16-track equipment and one of the first of such recordings released. Machines with 16 individual tracks allow for much more flexibility in multi-tracking and overdubbing than the professional 4- and 8-track reel-to-reel tape recorders that were standard in 1969. While Zappa was recording Hot Rats The Beatles were working on their Abbey Road album, but were limited to 8-track technology.
The album was dedicated to Zappa's new-born son, Dweezil Zappa.  (from Wikipedia)
 On the Way (En Chemin) forges ahead into the French "zeuhl" music. Based largely on pioneers such as Magma and Univers Zero, Xaal's music has the rhythmic proficiency of both the aforementioned bands, and even some horn guest spots from former Magma-ites. But rather than re-live old glories, Xaal takes the sound into new directions. Their melodies are based around a heavy, riffing guitar and occasional keyboard backdrops. Occasionally they remind me of Voivod! Led by busy drumming and an active bass, the music contains the weirdness, inconsistencies, and drive that early Magma had, without the repetition that turns many people off that band. The creative level here is something right out of the seventies and hopefully this will inspire other nineties prog bands to become more self-indulgent. This was, IMHO, one of the strongest new releases in 1992. Highly recommended. (from New Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock)