EIHN: Notes & Comments

Christopher Ekman's Review | Original Liner Notes

From: Patrick Neve
It's finally available and this is cause to celebrate. If you don't know what I'm talking about, march right over to the Zappa Family Trust Website and buy one of these tasty coasters for yourself!
Directions: From Zappa.com, click on "Barfko-Swill", follow the links and choose "New Stuff". You'll see it there. Or, to save the $25 minimum online order requirement, call them at 1-818-PUMPKIN.

Christopher Ekman's Review

From: Christopher Ekman (working-papers@worldnet.att.net)
Newsgroups: alt.fan.frank-zappa
Subject: EIHN review (long-winded)

You know, I'd have expected much more to have been written about EIHN by now. It is, after all, an album for which we've been waiting for years, and the first release in a long time of which nobody had heard a note beforehand. So where's the hoopla? Where's the exultations and the nit-picking? The feuds and recriminations? The blood feuds and the awful vengeance of the relentless Furies? What's happened to us? Can't we feel anymore?

Therefore, I'm trying to fill the void with this long-winded post. Perjaps I shouldn't be pretending to review this yet, since I only got the album yesterday. (I was so eager to hear it that, rather than waiting to hear it for the first time, I took it to the gym with me to listen to on my Walkman.
The nearby aerobics class drowned most of it out, but what the hell...) As the notes say, this is the kind of album that grows on you, so take these as first impressions.

Let's start by getting the requisite Barfko-Swill gripe out of the way. The album arrived nearly two weeks late. This wouldn't bother me much—they are a cottage industry, it was the holidays, and for a new FZ album I'd wait as long as I had to. But I ordered it the Monday before Christmas, and the
clerk assured me that "we'll process it Tuesday and ship it Wednesday." The ZFT has a bad habit of setting unrealistic deadlines and then staying silent as they pass—remember how they announced EIHN for Halloween '98 and the videos for December '96?—and it's absolutely suicidal business.

Anyhow. The packaging is indeed deluxe. For starters, I think it's proof of the ZFT's devotion to the fans that they tracked down where Johnny Velvet was and put him to work in their design department. The cover art, which is very well painted, has what looks like a cross between FZ and the X-Files' Fluke Boy giving us an extreme close-up of the most scarifying dentition since Uncle Meat. (In contrast to this grimacing rictus, the photo on the inside back cover has Frank displaying the warmest smile I've ever seen on him.)

The photos are striking. The liner notes are friendly, direct, and it's a bit of a relief that they're not overwritten, as FZ liner notes have tended to be lately. (Gail's note ends by praising the EM's ability to "morph itself into other dimensions. This is where you get to see into the future. Will it work? You betcha!" Might this refer to future Zappa projects by the EM, for which this might be considered a warm-up? Let's hope so!)

By the way, I heard some complaints about the sound. Why? True, you have to make some allowances because these are rehearsals, not concerts, but I can't hear anything intrusive.

And now, to the music.

Library Card: This is an inauspicious way to start off the review, but I can't get a grip on this one. There's nothing to be said about the words—the library card text is not too meaty, and the rest is muttered German—and I have no vocabulary with which to describe the improvisation. Except I
can't believe Frank's audacity in using, at around 2:15, those little novelty boxes that have tiny speakers or something in them that make cattle sounds when the box is turned upside-down. You know what I'm talking about. Do those things have a name?

From: Charles Ulrich
I don't know. But if you use one of those followed by a crybaby doll, it's definitely a case of moo waaah.

From: PWEI (murcury@hotmail.com)
It's actually called a 'cow in a can'-Frank actually used it to describe how he was feeling on the BP answering machine when he was starting to get really sick.

From: drumzspace (drumzspace@my-deja.com)
Hey...WOW, thanks for jostling a memory there. I remember that message back around 91 or 92...probably 91 given the cow-in-a-can and the date of EIHN. The message was something like "Hi, this is Frank. Yesterday I felt like this {mooohahhh}, but today I'm feeling like this {meoouuuuuahhhh}. CLICK"

From: Christopher Ekman (working-papers@worldnet.att.net)
Anyhow, this is totally unclassifiable, and I'll have to leave it at that.

(Note: didn't Zappa say the EM accompanied another reading, of a gruesome German cautionary tale for children? I don't remember where I read that anymore. I was a little surprised to find that it wasn't included.)

This is a Test (Igor): As has been noted here, this is a theme from L'Histoire du Soldat which Zappa repeats, overlaps, transposes, twists, changes the backing for, and generally fiddles with any way he can think of. It's nice and jaunty, and at a minute and a half, it can't wear out its welcome.

It reminds me of a madrigal. Like Nigey said, Frank always had a weakness for the medieval. One person here assumed this dated from the days of the original MOI, and it's a completely understandable mistake—I can imagine this being paired up with, say, Dwarf Nebula.

Jolly Good Fellow: I like the story about the title, but I can't help hearing "you... it had to be you" instead. This is pretty lugubrious, don't you think? It's interesting that both this, a conducted improv, and This is a Test, a through-composed piece, rely in a similar way on recurrences of a
main motif. The big finish is really funny.

Roland's Big Event/Strat Vindaloo: We start with a twiddly clarinet solo, delivered with assurance over the that's-not-really-a-raga beat. It's hard to believe, hearing this, that the EM was reluctant to improvise. At about 1:45, we switch to a Shankar/Zappa duel. Don't expect a duel like the one
from Packard Goose on Halloween '78, the kind that could make the listener cry blood—this is a lot more reserved, and neither player tries to grab the spotlight. They support each other nicely. Considering that Zappa was very sick and had hardly touched the guitar in 3 years, it's a wonder that he wrung any sound out of it at all...

Master Ringo: "it hurt like hell! but I didn't want the artist to stop."

Once I was able to listen to this without protectively cupping my scrotum, I had myself a thought. This track, and the others like it, could be described in art-speak as "spontaneously collaged musique concrete overlayed with an appropriated and recontextualist text." Tack "and a good beat" to the end of that, and doesn't it sound like something, say, DJ Spooky might be into?

T'Mershi Duween: the unexpected return of the Queen of the Desert is a nice treat. Yes, it gets a little ragged as it goes along, but wotthehell, it is a first reading, and the most troublesome part is in 23 over 24, as the liner notes point out. (You learn something new every day.) What makes it longer than other Duweens is the ending, in which various "objects" are played over a drone with a disco beat.

Nap Time: Jeezus, is this ever mellow! I know, everyone said so—"makes While You Were Out sound like Echidna's Arf," invent your own comparison—but nothing prepared me for this. It does sound very soothing, though I suppose you can't go far wrong given such a spare accompaniment and an instrument that only plays notes from the harmonic series.

This had been reminiscent of something, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Then today, a friend of mine said it reminded him of a record he'd once owned of whale song set to music. I hope that doesn't sound derogatory—I really do think this sounds like music of the deep.

(Say—at 7:17 a female voice pops in and sings a non-English phrase, then promptly disappears. What is that?)

I have the album playing now, and I'd better skip the rest of this track before I doze off at the keyboard...

9/8 Objects: THAT'll wake you up! My runaway favorite thus far. I could listen to this groove all day. My only regret is that Frank didn't live to use this as the foundation for something even more involved. Still, there is a lot going on in this, especially with the metric overlapping. I'd still like to hear somebody else adopt this and play with it some more, like maybe Steve Vai.

Naked City: I am familiar with John Zorn only by his (formidable) reputation, so I have to ask; is the title of this piece a reference to him? Maybe it's due to the sinister noirish riff that opens the piece. At first this is a showcase for the classical guitar, accompanied mostly by outbursts from the full ensemble; as the piece goes on, other instruments get to break out on their own as well. This strikes me as a very successful improvisation.

Whitey (Prototype): Is this the original all-white-keys version? I suppose there isn't any way to know without looking at the score. There isn't much to this other than what I guess you'd call the bassline and some sparse accompaniment, but it's only a minute and gives us a glimpse at the genesis of FZ's ideas.

Amnerika Goes Home: Gorgeous. It took me a moment to get over the fact that it is, necessarily, a smidge less precise than the Synclavier version. But only a moment.

My mother heard this and joked that, without the fidgety accompaniment, the melody could be a hit for Henry Mancini.

None of the Above (Revised and Previsited): I'll admit to being a bit disappointed with this at first, because I was hoping for this to be the whole 4-movement None of the Above suite. Instead we get another improv, a staccato, percussive You-Call-That-Music?-type affair that pretty much focuses on one sound at a time. It may yet grow on me.

Wonderful Tattoo!: A continuation of Master Ringo, but with a lot more music, and good music it is too. That makes the text more diffuse, which makes one wish that it had been pared down a little. But the best lines are to be found here, especially all that gas about the dawning of "ze qvint-es-sencial being," which sounds eerily like Dom DeWild/Biff DeBris' manifesto. Reinhard's delivery is perfect as ever. I was especially tickled the way he tried to pronounce "gynecologist." Dada lives.

Bottom line; this album is a bit frustrating, because, intriguing as this material is, one can imagine it becoming as truly mighty as the Yellow Shark itself if Frank had only had a little more time. Nevertheless, what we get is filled with spontaneity, enthusiasm and creativity, and I think we can
agree that this look behind the scenes was very much worth the while.

Chris Ekman

Original Liner Notes

Date: January 07, 2000 06:22 PM
Author: Lloyd W. Hillman (Lloyd_W_Hillman@prodigy.net)
Subject: Info on Everything Is Healing Nicely

Just got my copy of EIHN (Everything Is Healing Nicely). For the public
service here is a picture of the CD and the liner note. It is obvious
that the CD is so expensive because of the wonderful job in packaging.
The cover is a crimsom velt and imbossed.

Everything Is Healing Nicely

We discovered this gem in the vault. I did not know of its existence. I
had heard tapes of the sessions but had failed to realize that Frank had
mixed this work and that it lurked undisturbed and untitled until Spence
brought it to my attention. At first I thought 'None of the Above" was as
good a name as any choice from the list of tracks. But one day I received
a slide of a painting by Chris Brennanalso untitledand immediately, I knew
it was the cover and that this should be called Everything Is Healing
Nicely and, of course it is. Prior to this Spence had proposed the daring
mission to convert these mixes from an artifact to an album. I know Frank
would have done something very different. But as a result of Spence's
dedication and effort it is now possible for you to more fully understand
and appreciate the special nature of the Yellow Shark Project.

When Frank wrote The Real Frank Zappa Book he had not yet worked with the
Ensemble Modern. He did not yet know that they would be his last band. Nor
did they. Even though they are an independant organizationfor a brief time
FZ came to regard them as the perfect band and working with them as the
most extraordinary opportunity of his career as a composer.

At my request Ali N. Askin and Todd Yvega so very graciously submitted
their observations and we are all indebted to them for their generosity of
insight and spirit. They never had the opportunity to see and hear FZ in
concert other than in this instance. Todd doesn't realize for example that
FZ has used these techniques he describes with a number of
classically-trained musicians (notable among them, the Underwoods, Ian &
Ruth). But that doesn't matter because anything you need to know in words
is here in their notes and everything else is in and amongst the other
notesthe music.

This really belongs to The Yellow Shark. This is where all the research
happened. And all the experiments to see how swiftly the Ensemble Modern
could morph itself into other dimensions. This is where you get to see
into the future. Will it work?

You betcha!

Anything anytime anywhere for no reason at allthis FZ 'concept' is alive
in every track of this CD. In this instance it is showing us what happens
when you take one of the best classical ensembles for modern music in the
world, and let them work in an unconventional way, introducing ideas and
techniques which are rarely encountered in the world of
composer-writes-score-and-wants-it-executed-as-written. As Todd mentions,
these recordings are not finished and polished products of a long working
period, which includes months of rehearsals, touring and recording. They
are rather the documents of a first musical encounter, giving the listener
a rare insight into a very unique workshop which took place over a period
of two weeks in California, 1999.

Frank was using the same strategies and compositional tools as with his
bands. Written and rehearsed material was merged with improvised sections.
He taught the players 'objects', 'motifs', 'vamps', chord structures' and
gestures' (musical and theatrical), which were cued by him by hand signs,
funny faces, eyebrow movements, etc. In the same time he was checking out
every member of the ensemble, looking for hidden strengths in single
performers. And since he didn't seem to have any limitations in terms of
fob descriptions, it could mean that he would ask you to do things that
you had never thought of: If you were, i.e., a mandolin player, it didn't
mean that you could not be asked to improvise spoken text.

Or: although you were 'only' a keyboard player, you might end up reciting
text so funnyly that everybody would piss their pants. Or, even if you
might consider yourself a bad improviser, he would pick you and let you
'take it away' ... I myself ended up lying underneath a grand piano
muttering strange things in Bavarian and Turkish...

These sessions show how FZ was beginning to tailor music (and other stuff)
for this ensemble. But due to his illness a lot of the ideas started here
would not be developed fully.

Frank told the musicians to "prepare for the unexpected". But how does one
do so? I would say: relax, be awake and have fun while "air gets

Ali N. Askin 19 September 1999

IF you are looking for polished music, this CD is not for you. This album
is probably best described as an audio documentary. These are recordings
from Frank Zappa's rehearsals with the Ensemble Modern in preparation for
"The Yellow Shark".

Memorable and interesting notwithstanding, they are, after all,
rehearsals. I only make this hedge because it would be unfair to the
Ensemble Modern to present their rehearsal performance as if it were a
final production. I certainly don't hedge because there is anything
substandard about this music. Quite to the contrary, inspired music and
inspired musicianship have a way of shining through and surviving
less-than-ideal recording conditions. (Just as, conversely, even the very
best production values won't help uninspired music survive over the long
haul.) Simply put, this is the sort of album that will grow on you.

I had the illuminating experience of participating in the sessions that
ultimately formed this album. I wish I could say that I contributed more
to the project, but basically I just pushed the record" button and drank
the beer that the Zappas put out for the musicians. Apparently this has
qualified me to write these liner notes. Before getting into specifics
about each piece, there are a couple preliminary points I'd like to make.

About the Ensemble Modern: First of all, you don't need me to expound on
how skilled this particular ensemble is. Their skill and expertise is
already world-renowned. But I would like it to be known what a joy it was
to work with people exhibiting such a level of devotion and such an
exceptional work ethic. (These were folks who put up their own money to
fly outand rehearse with Frank. Some of them postponed their return
flights at their own expense just to be able to have a couple more days
with him.) During the rehearsals, It was part of my daily duty to go to
Joe's Garage four hours prior to the session to set up the equipment
(which had to be taken down the previous night.) I was so impressed that
upon my arrival each day, most if not all of the musicians were already
there diligently practicing. They weren't required to show up for another
four hours. They could have been out snapping photos of the Hollywood
sign. But they were personally driven to strive for that extra bit of
improvement. They wanted to do the very best they could for Frank and
exceed their performance from the previous day. This is not the sort of
attitude I'm accustomed to encountering among unionized Hollywood

Having just spouted all that praise, this album is not about the Ensemble
Modern, nor is it just about Frank Zappa or his compositions. I see it
more as documenting what was special about how Frank interacted with
musicians. Given access to a superb orchestra like the Ensemble Modern, a
great composer would write some great music, put it in front of them and
let them do what they do so well. There's certainly nothing wrong with
that. Frank however had the vision to want to take them beyond what they
already did so well, to push them into new and unfamiliar ways of working.
In this way they achieved results unexpected by all and with an
entertainment value beyond that of a great composition performed by a
great orchestra. And I think the musicians gained an extra level of
experience from this collaboration. So without further ado...


Frank assigned several musicians to improvise spoken interaction. The
Pianist, Hermann Kretzschmar, whipped out his library card to use as a
text. The distinctive timbre of his voice, the German accent, and the
humorous pace of his delivery obviously struck Frank as a vehicle to be
developed and utilized. You can hear how this idea flowered in Master
Ringo, Wonderful Tattoo! and ultimately in Welcome To The United States on
the album "The Yellow Shark".


Part of Frank's overall plan was to compose on the Synclavier for the
Ensemble Modern so the first order of business was to see how well this
plan would work. On the night before the first day of rehearsals, he asked
me to reorchestrate his Synclavier composition entitled Igor and arrange
it for the Ensemble Modern, preparing printed parts and a conductor's
score. Frank replaced the title with This Is A Test" right before printing
out the parts the next morning, just so that the musicians would know the
purpose of this short piece. As so often happens, the name stuck.

This recording is a first take performance by musicians who were
sight-reading music just handed to them. It illustrates not only the
technical skill of this orchestra but the fact that they managed to be
expressive and impart a style into what they played, even while struggling
to accurately render something they had never seen before. Needless to
say, the test proved successful and for the next two weeks each night was
punctuated by a frenzied and grueling effort to dig another piece out of
the Synclavier and convert it to dots on paper for the next day's

It's interesting to note that one of these tests was G-Spot Tornado. After
about an hour of rehearsing, Frank deemed it a failed experiment and put
it aside. The members of the ensemble however were determined to master it
and continued to practice it on their own. By the time the "Yellow Shark"
concerts took place, G-Spot Tornado served as the finale and the encore.
[FZ was no doubt inspired by the fact that Dweezil had been playing part
of) G-Spot Tornado on tour With z. It was impressive]


At the end of rehearsals with the entire ensemble at Joe's Garage, another
week was spent with smaller groups of the Ensemble Modern at UMRK. Each
evening featured what I would call a 'directed improvisation'. Unlike an
improvisation in which musicians spontaneously think up what they play,
these are compositions in that each musician was given instructions before
hand, both written and verbal. Then Frank would direct the musicians using
hand signals and gestures. It looked as though Frank was playing the
Ensemble like an instrument.

This style of conducting is quite unique to Frank. He was renowned for
training his rock and roll bands to respond instantaneously to a variety
of signals thereby enabling a spontaneous interaction with unpredictable
events during a concert. This concept of course is entirely foreign to the
controlled (stuffy?!) environment of the conventional classical music
concert. I think Frank was intrigued by what could be achieved by bringing
this propensity toward spontaneous interaction to classically trained

What strikes me as truly remarkable about [this manner of composing] is
that these pieces do not sound like improvisations. They sound uncannily
like compositions that were carefully thought out and meticulously
orchestrated in advance, It was as if each musician knew what the others
would play. Certainly a testament to the exceptional skill of these
musicians and the near-clairvoyance they had with each other as an

When recording unnamed pieces, it's often up to the engineer to note [for
housekeeping purposes] a tentative title on the spot. I noticed the
resemblance of the primary motif to the melody of For He's A Jolly Good
Fellow" and thus named the file Jolly Good Fellow thinking that an
appropriate title would be given to it later. Funny how these things
[Note Funny how later never cornes.l


Another practice common in jazz and rock music but almost unheard of in
the classical concert hall is that of improvising a solo. Frank spent a
good deal of rehearsal time pressing individual members of the ensemble to
improvise a solo as the rest of the orchestra vamped' (another concept
foreign to classical music). Most if not all of the Ensemble Modern had
never soloed before and there was some dismay that Frank was asking them
to do this. I've always felt that one of Frank's gifts is this tendency to
push people into trying things beyond their inclination.

This track features a memorable first solo by the initially reluctant
Clarinetist Roland Diry. He received an enthusiastic applause from
everyone (edited out for continuity). That particular day Frank had
Electric Violinist L. Shankar there to demonstrate Indian phrasing
techniques to the String plyers and to help get the musicians more into
the spirit of improvisation. Roland's famous solo is followed by Strat
Vindaloo featuring FZ and Shankar (whom Frank affectionately called Larry
—the "L." however, stands for Lakshminarayana).


No, this does not refer to the esteemed Ringo Starr. The results of
Hermann Kretzschmar's performance in Library Card prompted Frank to
introduce a substantially more colorful text for consideration. There
happened to be on hand an alternative magazine dedicated to genital
piercing and tattoos called PFIQ (Piercing Fans International Quarterly).
Of particular value were the letters to the editor in which readers
described their experiences with genital piercing. For example, there's
only so much enthusiasm an orchestral gesture might maken in response to a
regulation regarding the use of one's library card. However, when someone
describes the pain of having a needle pushed through his scrotum, then you
can really go to town triple-forte.

During that period, I was occasionally hired to work sessions for local
advertising agencies. These typically had a host of businessmen and
businesswomen present, accessorized with the requisite suits, ties,
briefcases and cell phones. Frank would encourage me to take the FF10
along so that during a break I could nonchalantly take it from my
briefcase and casually peruse it in front of everyone with a serious look
on my face. It's important to make a proper impression on the clients.


A stage band classic from the 70's. Frank named this after a character in
a story that Moon* made up as a child. Like This Is A Test the first half
of this track is also a first run through. Frank wanted to see how the
Ensemble Modern would handle the difficult 23 against 24 tuplets. The
second half was built up as a superimposition of many different
subdivisions of the meter. Each player was verbally given a part to play.
Frank referred to these 'subcompositional arrangements' [Todd's termi as
"objects". Once an object' was developed, a name and a hand signal would
be assigned to it so that "it could happen at any time..."


This features Michael Svoboda on Alphorn, Rumi Ogawa-Helferich on Slide
Whistle and Voice, Rainer Romer and Andreas Bbttger on Percussion. The
fact that the Alphorn only produces notes in the harmonic series, in
conjunction with the timbral quality of the Thai Gongs contributes to the
meditative nature of this piece. I like to think this direction was taken
because we were all feeling so worn out by that afternoon and we just
needed something peaceful and sedate. Others might disagree.
08 9/8 OBJECTS

Frank signaled the various sections of the orchestra to play different
objects' as the piece progressed. During the rehearsals Ali N. Askin was
on hand transcribing these objects as they were developed. The title is
taken from the top of FZ's manuscript indicating the time signature of
these particular objects. Yes, Shankar also appears.


The Classical Guitar played by Jurgen Ruck, takes a front seat to the rest
of the orchestra (as in a Guitar Concerto). The Guitar motifs were written
in advance as was the primary motif played by the orchestra. The rest,
including improvisations, [were directed and improvised under FZ's baton].


This is a brief excerpt of the initial rehearsal. I read in a review of
"The Yellow Shark" that the title Get Whitey was a reference to the Los
Angeles Riots of 1992. Too many journalists unconscionably state their
assumptions as facts. This piece predates the Los Angeles Riots by several
years and was whimsically named "Get Whitey" because it started off being
constructed solely from the pitches on the white keys of the keyboard. Not
nearly as interesting as the journalist's story, but sometimes the truth
is dull.


Amnerika in it's original but less elaborate form was first recorded for
"Thingfish". Here Frank utilizes the Synclavier to take hocketing' to it's
ludicrous extreme. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is a
compositional technique, used heavily during the Baroque period, whereby a
phrase is segmented such that two or more instruments play alternate
segments, each picking up where the other left off. Frank took the
standard 'melody and accompaniment" arrangement of Amnerika and
distributed each successive note to a different instrument. The result as
heard on "Civilization: Phase Ill" is striking. Easy enough for a computer
but it's extremely difficult for 24 humans each to place their respective
isolated notes at seemingly random intervals and have the whole thing
rhythmically mesh together. The performances from the "Yellow Shark"
concerts were still a little shaky and this composition was excluded from
the album. Spencer felt that through editing together the best parts from
each concert he could assemble a rendition with a right to exist.
Incidentally. I'm told that the Ensemble Modern performs Amnerika
routinely now and it comes off tight and flawless every time. It was just
a matter of having enough time to practice.


None Of The Above started out as a collection ot String Quartets composed
on the Synclavier for the Kronos Quartet in 1985. Some movements were
expanded to String Quintet [see FZ comments on "Yellow Shark" cd— you
might want to listen to Ill Revised also] for the Ensemble Modern, and
some were further expanded to Chamber Orchestra form (actually String
Quintet with Orchestral embellishment). The Orchestral sections are from
the UMRK rehearsals; the String Quintet rehearsals were recorded in
Frankfurt 1992.

[This is a twisted version of FZs Xenochrony (see FZ's THE REAL FRANK
ZAPPA BOOK in that written bits occur simuitaneously with real time
cowpositiosai elements Todd says that FZ suggested to Peter Rundel that
the EM could (now that they experienced the magic of improvisation)
supplement their income by scoring television shows—Rundel could conduct
and they could improvise while viewing. I love this idea—it would be such
a no-brainer for them. Fun and superior results guaranteed.]


This is essentially a continuation of Master Ringo. I can't think of
anything to say about Wonderful Tattoo! that wasn't already said about
Master Ringo.


Research, compilation and maintenance by Román García Albertos
This page updated: 2015-11-19