Don Preston

Vile Foamy Ectoplasm

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Great title, and an intriguing mass of cuts, clips, and sketches that build up into precisely the kind of portrait you'd expect from such a storied contributor to the Frank Zappa story. Expanding out from its original 1993 Germany-only release (eight bonus tracks have been salted throughout), Vile Foamy Ectoplasm is musically intriguing even when you find it melodically challenging, a smorgasbord of sonics, sounds, and madness that rounds up 20 tracks ranging in length from 15 minutes to nine seconds, and drawn from a bewildering variety of sources. Spoken word clatter from the streets of New York City dates back to 1967-1968 and the Mothers' visits to the Big Apple, but "Loki" is pure Preston magic, a modular synth solo taped in 1968 with Zappa "engineering the gong segments." Weird and wonderful. Other cuts hail from various '70s and '80s excursions, including a quartet of tracks by the post-Mothers Grandmothers jazz convention, but the meat of the moment is the 15-minute "Death Lights," a dramatic collage that again dates back to 1967-1968 and could easily have been sliced even further to bring fresh texture to any period Mothers project. It's not at all easy to listen to all the way through, but you probably wouldn't want it to be, would you?

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