My second published work as Turbulator, a cover of Magic Fingers, is available on the following linked compilation of Frank Zappa covers curated by Andrew Greenaway.

>>Would You Like A Snack

You can now hear this track on Spotify.

>>Magic Fingers

The theme of the Would You Like A Snack album is Frank Zappa's 200 Motels project, released in advance of the 50th anniversary in October 2021. I say project, because, according to various sources, the soundtrack album was released on October 4th and the movie wasn't released until October 29th. So there might be some debate as to which date is the 50th anniversary, the soundtrack release or the movie release. Don't soundtrack releases usually come after the movie?

Magic Attack

Andrew asked me back in September 2020 to contribute. My notes on the album say I worked on this from September 2020 through April 2021, but obviously not continuously as I continued to work on my own projects and there were three or four short, but intense bursts on this track during that period. Back in September I had already transcribed the main themes at least a decade previously and had often thought about doing my own version, hence my desire to choose this piece.

My first step was printing out parts of those themes for bari and alto saxes. I was not able to play them well on sax at that time so I included them in my regular practice for the following few months. Until the sax parts were ready, I continued with my other work, occasionally thinking about an arrangement and at one point I transcribed Zappa's guitar solo as an exercise and to get the feel of the piece deeper into my psyche.

I had no interest in performing his solo verbatim, or even producing one in a similar style. I have only ever studied his solos (and those of others) out of interest and always aimed to develop my own guitar style. The point was to absorb the feel of the original song as entirely as possible. The solo section that eventually evolved, is based on a multi tonality chord progression that I created early in 2021 and is a nod to at least four different guitarists.


Fast forward to February 2021 and after a variety of arrangement ideas had emerged and were scrapped in turn, I finally settled on sticking to the exact overall original form, but with a much contrasting orchestration. That form is A A B A B C D E F. A has the main theme and the "red balloons" lyrics. B has the "pop it in the meter" theme and the mini guitar breaks. C is the guitar solo section. D is the guitar solo coda. E is the singing duet section and F is the creepy spoken hotel room section that concludes the piece.

The only built in sampled instrument I used was for the bass guitar. Everything else is either me playing the drums, rhythm and lead guitar and bari sax or sampled instruments that I created and developed myself using samples of my voice or objects found around the house and in my engineering workshop (equipment and materials for repairing and making stuff for around the house and garden).

A is covered by the bari sax leading on the opening riff, and wherever it's repeated, doubled with my own sampled instruments, whereas, I play an electric guitar arrangement of the vocal themes. B is covered by more sampled instruments and my sampled voice and the guitar breaks are played by a sampled instrument. The B theme ensemble also performs the D solo coda. In both B and D the lead breaks and accompaniment are very closely based on the originals. The C solo section is my guitar solo over my own rhythm guitar part. E is covered by me on lead guitar, imitating the Flo and Eddie vocal duet.

F is a musique concrète section built entirely from samples of objects found around the house and my voice and is meant to invoke the hotel room section but allow you to use your own imagination. It's intentionally creepy because that stuff doesn't appeal to me and I think that it is pretty creepy.

The background drone stems from a sample of a beard trimmer motor and the percussion from the glass door of a bar fridge using a vibe mallet - the centre produced a root tone and two other positions a fifth and an octave above. The voices are recordings of me laughing. The coughing is that random Cage element again. I didn't intend to record any coughing sounds, but making one of the high pitch sounds triggered a coughing fit, so I decided to use that as well. The wailing sounds are from several samples of different screeching sounds from the hinges of the old shower door in our ensuite before it was renovated. I record stuff like that, not always knowing how I might end up using it and when I re-listened to that hotel room scene for this project, those sounds jumped straight into my head. Ironically, I hadn't previously made the association until working on this track, because I normally skip that part, as I'm sure most will do with my version.

At the time, I was three and a half years into my five year plan of building my skills, and the notable watershed here is that my progress on the drum kit was such that, for the first time, I was able to work out the parts directly on the kit. Up until then I'd composed my drum parts using my sampled drum kit and then printed out the score and spent the next few weeks practicing it on the drums until I could play it along with a recorded backing track.