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Baker's Dozen

Self-Confident Weirdos: Kavus Torabi's Favourite Albums
Matt Evans , August 5th, 2014 11:39

With Knifeworld's second album The Unravelling just out, Matt Evans gets the top albums rundown from the band's leader and prolific multi-instrumentalist


The Mothers Of Invention - Burnt Weeny Sandwich
The thing with Zappa is that he's so divisive. Like a lot of people, I don't enjoy the sneery, smutty side of Zappa. And beyond the '60s stuff, I don't enjoy his social commentary either. But it's such a small hill to get over because of his completely unique approach to music. If, like me, you're inclined to that kind of composition then you have to overlook it. There's a piece called 'Jumbo Go Away' on You Are What You Is, and lyrically it's just vile misogyny, but in the middle there's a section that sounds like the fucking universe collapsing in on itself. But Burnt Weeny Sandwich was my way in, and doesn't have any of that. 'Holiday In Berlin, Full Blown' is everything I love about Zappa. It's incredibly emotional and beautiful music, and his arrangements are so extraordinary. He casts such a long shadow over experimental music.

I know few musicians involved in whatever this world of funny music is who wouldn't cite Zappa as one of their chief inspirations. The notes he uses, the modes, the way he phrases things… it just seems unprecedented. For all that he talks about being influenced by Stravinsky and Varese and Webern, it really was a massive leap between them and what he was doing. His stuff continues to have an enduring effect. And he's so prolific that you can meet other Zappa fans and discover you've only got three or four albums in common. There's still loads of his stuff I haven't heard yet.

He was one of the very few people I didn't know where I had a blub when he died - him and Joey Ramone. I think it's because he was still at the top of his game. That last album, The Yellow Shark, was one of the best things he ever did.