apoc seed: B’s

6 B’s
originally an auto-body shop; old tools and a rusted track still remain scattered throughout the space
now it’s the local watering hole for the broke and dispossessed
you can feel/hear an unsettling, psychic thrumming throughout the bar in the hour before sunrise

B’s is the diviest bar in Newtown; if the decor doesn’t make this clear, the patrons certainly do. B’s serves moonshine, brewed in the back, and whatever pest has been captured and cooked today. The place is lit only by rotwax candles, and the walls are covered in fragments of cracked mirrors to reflect the flickering flames. The tables and chairs are entirely improvised — milk crates, busted electronics, sacks of gravel. The swill is distilled from crabcorn, the only cereal that grows in blighted Newtown.

zdbd – Brown Shoes Don’t Make It

A monster of a tune. A whole music-hall musical in 7.5 minutes. Throughout this epic, we’ll be introduced to a number of ‘normal Americans,’ as well as an array of instruments and rhythms. Hardly two lines go by before the whole song changes.

We open on a funky riff and a chorus of voices, including, if I’m not wrong, Captain Beefheart’s, before a weird plinking verse. Soon the song incites us to “be a jerk / and go to work,” perhaps Zappa’s most damning invective against doing something you don’t enjoy.

Soon enough, with a literal breaking point, a thumping, eerie verse takes over: “a world / of secret hungers.” Dissonance with multiple voices and slithering instruments grows and grows as elements drop out. A voice hacks and spits in isolation until warped and warbling brasses creep in.

Deep in the psyche of City Hall Fred, everything is twisted. Alice in Wonderland is referenced and inverted in with one choice word.

Lethargic guitar accompanies our return to the real world, while strings follow the fantasy.

Throughout, different people and voices sing and compete with one another, telling conflicting tales simultaneously.

A grand fanfare with strings and trumpets takes over, but its energy and celebration can’t be sustained, and soon power done. A smooth lounge-lizard takes over on the piano, winking at the audience. A big chorus takes the stage, and you can practically see them kicking like the Rockettes.

A theremin-type sound reminds us that things are not all so grand, and an oily voices muses that “if she were my daughter, I’d…” but his not-to-subtle trailing off is picked up by the voice of a young girl asking “what would you do, daddy?” The musing grows more lecherous before another fanfare breaks out, in a cheesy, country-western style. City Hall Fred’s imagination is running away with him. All the same, the rhythm of this part is undeniable, with sticks and spoons and cowbell.

We circle back to characters from the opening of the song, and some of the musical themes are revisited with embellishment and evolution. The end of the tune is a charging, dramatic affair, with pulsing strings and echoey reverb. Instruments from throughout the piece clatter and conflict, screeching and competing for audiospace.

Inevitably, the fantasy collapses.

apoc seed: mari

5 Mari
originally a street urchin, begging for change in marketplaces
now a wanderer, forging her own trade routes
she aspires to buy the very Crown Jewels belonging to King Shit, and thereby ascend to the monarchy
voice: hushed, conspiratorial, frequently expounds on the virtues of her wares

Mari has unflagging energy for buying and selling, and travels incredible distances to make profit. She wears her thick, curly black hair loose, and shaved to the scalp on one side. A worn leather neck guard protects her throat right up to the chin — underneath is a purplish scar given by the gallows. She has a distinctive, wry chuckle that always suggests she knows more than you do.

zdbd – Son of Suzy Creamcheese

This song comes in under 2 minutes, and throughout it’s an energetic, aggressive, bassy affair with an undeniable hook. I love the falsetto “yeeah-yeeaah” that occasionally punctuates the chorus, and the unyielding thrust of the verse carries me through the 93 second runtime.

Almost reminds me of some of the more upbeat Desert Sessions tracks.

Also, the hook is a direct parody of another famous song, I think, but I can’t place it. I want to say Louie Louie, for all of Zappa’s fondness/distaste for that riff, but I don’t think that’s right. Leave a comment if you know! (And if it’s not, then man, Zappa really knows how to write a riff.)

apoc seed: a pre-poc toolkit

4 a pre-poc toolkit
originally a starter-level toolkit from a mid-tiered department store
now it’s been hidden away, protected so well its location was lost when its owner was
under all the tools, in the box, is a handwritten note, pleaing for help, with GPS co-ordinates added in a shaky hand

This steel toolkit is dented but in good condition. Rust eats at the hinges but the lid stays flush when shut. It’s filled with all manner of basic tools, suitable for the beginning carpenter or handy-person. There’s even a bottle of oily lubricant, still half-full.

zdbd – Uncle Bernie’s Farm

Uncle Bernie’s Farm jumps right out of the gate, building on the strong finish of Status Back Baby. Zappa sings this one, in his speak-sing style, and the content — a peculiar, warped suburban America — recalls Let’s Make the Water Turn Black.

Halfway through, the bouncing tune stops for a quick bridge, then returns to the verse. “Plastic” is a recurring theme, and Santa Claus is characterized as “the creep who makes the toys.” Commercialism, childrens’ playthings, bombs and brass knuckles all jumble together.