And where does that fit into that . . . into my part there?
This is the music.
This . . . whole thing is the music.
Uncle Meat is an album measured in heavy sighs. It’s one of Zappa’s highest concept albums. It’s the soundtrack to the Uncle Meat movie, a movie that didn’t exist at the time (and now only exists as a kind of patchwork). It’s made up of lengthy instrumental pieces, snippets of dialogues, weird brief songs and a lot more. And it’s kind of the ultimate example of Zappa being completely insufferable and unlistenable. Uncle Meat is the sound of Absolutely Free being set on fire and shoved into a blender. The music is almost totally dissonant, chirpy and annoying. Weird spoken word bits are edited into the music tracks. Sometimes there are minutes at a time of someone just banging without the slightest rhythm on a drum set. Look, I haven’t seen the sheet music (what a thing that would be to see), but I’m pretty sure that there are several tracks here where the instrumentalists are literally playing in different keys. They’re certainly playing in different rhythms, to different beats. I hear little in the way of music here; this album is two hours of noise. Not even noise music. Just noise. This is amore extreme version of the argument over Absolutely Free, so I don’t think I need to spend a lot of time really making the argument that this kind of self-conscious weirdness doesn’t really add up to much.
But two hours? It feels way, way longer than that. It’s an album that isn’t as rage-inducing as Absolutely Free. It’s a parade of sounds that eventually just becomes unbearably tedious. Hence the weary sighs. The Voice of Cheese: firstexplosive fart sound - *sigh*. Zolar Czakl: assault of clattering clanking racket - *sigh*. Louie Louie: spends more than a minute building up to the song, plays the song for exactly four measures, then smash cut to the insane honking of the worst saxophone solo in history - *heavy sigh.* You know, honestly, there’s a delicious sadism to bits of this album. Like this one. “So, I’m going to title this track ‘Louie Louie’ so you think we’ll actually play the song. Then I’ll burn like a solid minute just saying the title over and over and prattling on about nothing.” Then a stentorian BUM BUM BUM . . . BUM BUM. Then in comes the bass, drums & guitar in a glorious frenzy of one of the coolest musicl progressions ever: BOOM-BOOM-BOOM . . . BOOM BOOM. And then *smash cut* HONK TWEET TOOTLE HONK BEROO SNORT BEEP TOOT HONKITY HONK. Oh, that’s great. I think this is what people mean when they call Zappa a trickster. HA HA HA that is pretty funn - **** YOU. It’s not that Zappa wants to be experimental or subversive that’s the problem; it’s his steadfast, unshakeable certainty that ANYTHING that resembles melodicism or harmony or beauty or riffs be eradicated from his music with a merciless hand.
Then there’s the track of dialogue from the film and behind the scenes of the film. The nearly FORTY MINUTE track. Lengthy discussion of a woman’s sexual obsession with monsters. “Oh, manstah, can I have a bat of your ahpple. *heavy smacking* [orgasmic]OH MANSTAH[/orgasmic.]” - *very heavy sigh*. Realizing there is still half an hour of this track left - *extremely heavy sigh*. Lengthy dialogue in which a woman rubs herself with a hamburger in order to sexually stimulate herself/realizing there are still more than twenty minutes left - *weary sigh*. People repeat “I’m using the chicken to measure it” over and over for more than two minutes while others make clucking sounds - *sigh of utter desolation*. Still ten minutes - *literally banging head on steering wheel*. “Comedic” retching sounds - *weary sigh*. Then you get through that and you’re not even rewarded with the album being over. After forty-odd minutes of nonsensical dialogue and sound effects, you’ve still got eighteen minutes of King Kong to get through and boy that is not good at all. Minute three of King Kong IV - *incredibly heavy sigh*.
I mean, you guys, I have never, I would say, encountered a work of art (?) that tried my patience this severely. I struggled through this damnable thing four times. That’s probably the most times any one person has listened to this album in a week in years. Maybe decades . . . maybe EVER. All the people praising this album as some kind of a masterpiece really need to go back and listen to it, because I have a challenge. Listen to this album three times over a period of, let’s say, four days. Then think about listening to it again. Allow yourself to truly feel the emotions that wash over you. The dread. The boredom. The depression. Then force yourself; start listening to it again. When you get to the thirty-eight minute dialogue track, take a breath. Really think about the fact that the next thing you’re going to listen to is THIRTY-EIGHT MINUTES of abstract, surrealist nonsense. Allow yourself to truly feel the emotions. Do you want to continue? I didn’t think so. You may even feel a sigh coming on. Let it out. Then walk away. Feel the freedom of knowing that you will never listen to this album again. Feel, as I literally felt, an actual feeling as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders after my fourth time through. And this is how the journey ends: *contented sigh*. 0 stars.
tl;dr – a work of intensely abrasive, dissonant experimentalism; a soul-destroying, joy-sucking, tedious chore; music for people who don’t like notes; utterly without merit; God, what a racket. 0 stars.