Few artists have ever merged and transformed genres with the raw energy and freedom of Don Van Vliet, who under the alter ego of Captain Beefheart (and his Magic Band) merged Chicago blues, backbeats, free-jazz reeds, and lyrics that mingled science fiction, news stories, memoir, surreal folk humour, and free association. Fast ’n’ Bulbous is a band devoted to largely instrumental versions of Beefheart’s compositions, emphasizing the often startling juxtapositions of rhythms and phrases that characterize his best work, and having a stage-band horn section engage in often volatile improvisations. The septet, led by Magic Band guitarist Gary Lucas and saxophonist-arranger Phillip Johnston, first recorded together in 2005, and their ease and fluency with Van Vliet’s work transposes its manic humour to another dimension. Witness the macho-rock parody of “You Know You’re a Man,” the strange dirge at the start of “Trust Us,” the polyrhythms of “Smithsonian Institute Blues,” and the brilliant recirculating patterns of “The Past Sure Is Tense.” Van Vliet texts occasionally appear—as in the speech text of “The Blimp” and in singer Robyn Hitchcock’s guest appearance on “China Pig” (a moral quandary about killing a piggy bank)—but the instrumental transformations are enough to convince one of the music’s inherent worth and the band’s special ability to extend it, from Johnston’s arrangements to the sometimes explosive soloing of Lucas and of baritone saxophonist Dave Sewelson.