Jono El Grande

Neo Dada

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Six years after Fevergreens, Jono El Grande finally followed suit with Neo Dada, an album that builds on the wacky Zappa-goes-Latin recipe of its predecessor to reach new Dadaist heights. El Grande (aka Norwegian composer Jon Andreas Hatun) writes very precise pieces of avant-progressive rock music that proudly wears the combined influences of Zappa, Gentle Giant, Henry Cow, and even a bit of Magma (Attahk-era in the title track's chorus). The album is rather short (42 minutes) but packed with ideas and extremely fun if you are into this kind of seriously-non-serious complex meter music. El Grande is backed by a 13-piece band whose instrumentation is a hybrid between a chamber music ensemble (string quartet, bassoon), and Zappa's 1988 band (especially in the keyboard sounds and heavy use of mallet percussion). The opener, "Neo Dada," is a stunner: fast-paced, restless, and silly in pure Jono El Grande style, distilled to hit single length. If you can't stand it, leave at once; if you dig it, please step inside, there's a lot more to be enjoyed! Like what? Like the bassoon intro to "Oslo City Suite," the deranged string quartet that is "Your Mother Eats Like a Platipus," and the full-motion-Zappa feel of the third part of "Three Variations on a Mainstream Neurosis" (plus handclaps!). Neo Dada is late-era Zappa minus the scatological routines, plus an intentionally cheesy Latin element (think Señor Coconut). And if Fevergreens was already a strong effort, this album is better written, more assured, and extremely well executed. Highly recommended.

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