Before I start this review in earnest, be warned - this is a DVD-A and Frank's going to use it to make you puke.
This collection of spaced out jazz-pop-rock tunes has been specially remastered for a DTS release because as it turns out, Frank Zappa had thought of surround-sound before most people had got used to stereo. Zappa called it 'Quadrophonic' and nobody paid very much attention - not that this stopped him of course, as he began to record in this 'four-way' method as early as 1970.
By taking Zappa's original panning maps and remixing them, Dweezil (Frank's son) has created a cinematic Zappa experience, with unexpected blasts of noise exploding all around you. For the uninitiated, the feeling can be frighteningly similar to seasickness. After a while though, it's impossible not to be mightily impressed. I don't want this review to simply reflect the format, but it does need to be mentioned because the surround sound of this disc brings this music to life. At times you feel like you're actually sat with Frank in the basement of his legendary Utility Muffin Research Kitchen studio, while he and his band are jamming all around you.
The track Rollo is one to benefit from this approach, Frank's guitar cutting through like a passing bomber whilst the song unfolds around you in 3D. Frankly, Rollo is the highlight of this collection, and makes this a must for anyone with a passing interest in Zappa and his legacy. Besides which, it's all you need to convince your respective other half that you really do need that home cinema system you've been after.
Dweezil's selection of tracks also must be noted as inspired. Not only is his mixing and sequencing of the tracks absolutely seamless, but these tracks hang together beautifully. This is something of an achievement, because these songs are culled from a period of eight years, and yet there is a distinct fluency between them all.
A lot of these songs are more of Zappa's jazz or big band workings, so those more familiar with the likes of Bobby Brown or He's So Gay may find some of the material a little bit challenging. The actual ambience and feel of QuAUDIOPHILIAc is such that only the sternest hearts would not be won over. Those hardy in the ways of FZ will delight in hearing unreleased material, and new mixes of some old favourites.
This recording raises so many questions about what Zappa would be doing today, not only was he dabbling in surround sound, but as one of the extras afforded on this disc reveals, he had been toying with the idea of downloading over twenty years ago - only to be held back by the technology of the day. The man was so far ahead of the game, that to imagine what sonic ideas he'd be creating at the moment is bordering on mind blowing. You owe it to yourselves to hear this.