Last week we had a film festival on our little rock in the Atlantic; The Las Palmas Film Festival 2019. My general appreciation of the program was lukewarm, but there was one documentary that stuck out. It wasn’t even part of the official section but was screened in the margin of the festival as a private initiative of a local movie theater; The Monopol Music Festival
My wife picked a documentary about Frank Zappa. In the Eastern European countries, Frank Zappa used to have an almost god cult status. I never really understood, neither did I care. Till I saw this documentary and filled that cultural gap.
What were the most important things I learned?
- Zappa not only composed and played his music; he was also his own producer, stating that musicians could make more from owning their own businesses than from collecting royalties.
- Zappa composed and produced music for symphonic orchestras.
- Much of Zappa’s later work was influenced by his use of the Synclavier as a compositional and performance tool.
- All his work is part of an overarching project; unified by a conceptual continuity he termed “Project/Object”, with numerous musical phrases, ideas, and characters reappearing across his albums.
- He personally disapproved of narcotics but was in favor of their legalization.
- President Václav Havel was a lifelong fan of Zappa, who had great influence in the avant-garde and underground scene in Central Europe in the 1970s and 1980s (a Czech rock group that was imprisoned in 1976 took its name from Zappa’s 1968 song “Plastic People”).
To finish this post, I would like to refer you to;
EAT THAT QUESTION: FRANK ZAPPA IN HIS OWN WORDS
SYNOPSIS (excerpt from the Monopol Music Festival program)
Frank Zappa’s complex and fascinating world is a barely impossible task to tell, lest we be quiet and let Zappa himself doing so. Using Zappa´s music, his unique thoughts and testimonies of some of the few privileged ones who could be part (and be up to scratch) of his musical vision, filmmaker Thorsten Schütte approaches us to some of the keys which made Zappa a leading and one-of-a-kind figure.