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Reviews 2084

Norway’s Jono El Grande wears his musical influences on his sleeve and a grand Zappaesque moustache on his top lip. He’s a self-confessed devotee of Frank Zappa, and "Neo Dada" has the same in yer face virtuosity and invention that typified the latter’s take on rock. "Ballet Morbido In A Dozen Tiny Movements" covers everything: nonsensical vocalising, frequent time signature changes, disconnected shifts to classical interludes and, of course, seemingly endless outbreaks of xylophone playing. But "Neo Dada" is far more than pastiche or tribute. The heavy riffing guitar on "Neo Dada" itself and "Three Variations On A Mainstream Neurosis" drag art rock into the present. His reputation in his native land owes much to dada-like performance, but he exuberance transfers clearly to the recordings.
The Wire (UK)

Zappa disciple Jono El Grande has, like his late mentor, a special genius for fusing together seemingly disparate musical forms and instrumental combinations into a very palatable whole. On "Ballet Morbido In A Dozen Tiny Movements", for example, we have a collision of atonal xylophones, honky tonk piano, quasi-medieval harpsichord and crumhorn sections, Beefheartian free rock and several other strains of musical lunacy that are hard to identify. It works and it´s brilliant. And although titles like "Three Variations On A Mainstream Neurosis" are very Frank, Jono is far from being a mere imitator. While there are moments that could have come from "Orchestral Favourites" or even "Lumpy Gravy", this is 21st century art rock, inspired by Zappa and many of Frank´s inspirations.
Prog (UK)

This is the kind of album you could stow away in a time capsule only for the generations to come to be baffled that it ever existed. Neo Dada is an aptly titled piece of modern compositional fusion that chops and changes between heavy duty prog-jazz, chamber music for strings and Frank Zappa-esque mutant pop. Jono El Grande follows his nearly-as-deranged Fevergreens album of 2003 with this impressively scaled-up sequel. Jono takes the role of composer, band leader, arranger and producer on Neo Dada, leaving much of the playing to an orchestra of followers faced with the daunting prospect of having to detangle their way through a barrage of ideas. Any given track presents a slew of manic identity shifts - take for example 'Oslo Coty Suite': at one stage electric guitar and violin shadow each other impeccably through a tricky modal solo, only for the jolting Henry Cow-isms to be halted by a string motif (with a whiff of Saint-Saens' 'Danse Macabre' about it) steering the composition in a different direction. There's more incredible string work to be found on 'Your Mother Eats Like A Playpus', a gleefully complex piece whose pranksterish title hardly reflects the level of craft and toil that informs the score and its execution. Highlights and ear-befuddling thrills are never in short supply on Neo Dada, but 'Ballet Morbido In A Dozen Tiny Movements' warrants a special mention; it shifts from honky-tonk piano riffing (as if it were a silent film soundtrack) into Jethro Tull-style baroque folk via romantic string quartets, playful 17th century harpsichord outings, analogue synth flourishes and very, very strange vocal exercises. All this takes place within eight minutes, perfectly illustrating the exhausting intricacy of this album and its manifold twists and turns. Marvellous and ridiculous in equal measure.
Boomkat (UK)

Mischievous composer Jono El Grande commences his third album with a flatulent blast of sax reed (courtesy of Erik Løkra), his own histrionic, lion-tamer vocals and a flurry of comedic, arachnid xylophones; and the rest of "Neo Dada" continues this crazy-paving trajectory in much the same, scatterbrained way. "Ballet Morbido In A Dozen Tiny Movements" is an itchy, scratchy waggledance and "You Mother Eats Like A Platipus" is a ducking, diving dervish for neurotic strings. Totally nuts, and therefore, another triumph for Norwegian label Rune Grammofon.
Plan B (UK)

Mr Jono El Grande leads a slightly temporally displaced chamber-prog ensemble, operatic somewhere between Gentle Giant and the lighter side of Univers Zero. Clearly in thrall to the genre´s salad days, El Grande mostly seems happy to resculpt those times in a politely academic manner, but there are oddities: "Big Ben Dover" fuses wibbly keyboard flourishes with the theme to a perma-tanned 1970s British afternoon game show... though intricate, lush and cleverly composed, with a strongly implied narrative feel, "Neo Dada" is at the same time reserved and cautious.
Rock-a-Rolla (UK) 

This Norwegian composer´s mini-art rock orchestra may have strong Zappa overtones yet it´s no imitation. Very melodic, incredibly quirky; imagine a score that´s as nuts as the surreal cinema of Jodorowsky.
Jazzwise (UK)

Med albumet "Fevergreens" viste Jono El Grande at det innenfor landets grenser befant seg komponister og musikere med ambisjoner og evner som gjorde det mulig å komme opp med grensesprengende rockemusikk som ikke sto tilbake for det som kom fra det store utland. At El Grande har en forskjærlighet for Zappa, var ikke til å unngå å merke seg ved gjennomlytting av "Fevergreens". På "Neo Dada", hans nyeste fremstøt på platefronten, henger fortsatt en skygge av onkel Frank i kulissene, men den er kanskje ikke fullt så tydelig som forrige gang. Men det er feil å si at El Grande "gjør en Zappa", for "Neo Dada" er så mye mer enn det. Siden forrige gang har horisonten blitt utvidet atskillige grader, og den musikalske sjangerblandingen er ganske så imponerende. I ulike deler og varianter dukker det opp innspill som henter inspirasjon fra Gentle Giant (noen riktig fine linjer og pianosnutter som hensetter meg til noe rundt "Aquiring The Taste"), Henry Cow (buldrete fagottlinjer over kompleks rytmikk), Magma (maskulin og tøff vokal på noe jeg antar er tullespråk), canterburyprog (det litt lett vimsete og småpoppete) og selvfølgelig Zappa (særlig i den eksellente bruken av melodisk perkusjon).....alt er lytefritt fremført uten at det noensinne er i nærheten av å bli sterilt. Det låter så lett, så lett, men er likevel akk så vanskelig å realisere uten inngående kjennskap til instrumentet sitt. "Neo Dada" er et album så proppfullt av gode ideer og innfall at det egentlig burde vært anmeldt etter flere uker med kontinuerlig gjennomlytting. Men jeg tar ikke munnen for full hvis jeg sier at dette helt klart er en av årets skiver, sine lyter til tross. I Jono El Grande har Norge en komponist og utøver som ikke lar seg stoppe av sjangerkonvensjoner og dilldall. Sett pris på det, og gi denne skiva en snurr i din CD-spiller.
Tarkus (NO)

Den selvlærte bråkebøtten Jono El Grande legger for dagen en imponerende musikalsk energi. Vel har det gått lang tid siden den snurrige «Fevergreens» (2003), men «Neo Dada» vil tydeligvis ta igjen tapt tid i ren eksplosjonsfare. Det tretten personer store bandet opererer et sted mellom frijazz, ironisk symfonirock, Frank Zappafusion og ren trass, og sørger for at de syv sporene på albumet glir uforutsigbart mellom underholdning og «vanskelig» knirking, hvining og uling. Det høres ut som om noen har satt opp en kabaret i helvete, med The Residents som produsenter og hele Rock in Opposition-gjengen som kreative konsulenter. Ekskursjonene i strykerbasert samtidsmusikk på «Your mother eats like a platypus» brekker brutalt opp albumet, før Jono igjen zapper av gårde i lekeverdenen sin på «Big Ben Dover». Når Jono vil, er albumet vakkert som et kaleidoskop, for andre ganger å forsvinne inn i sin egen navle.
Bergens Tidende (NO)

Jevnt over er "Neo Dada" en seier for kreativiteten og adjø til all sunn fornuft.
Oslostudenten (NO)

Jono el Grande macht uns den Zappa: 12 Musiker versammelt der Norweger für „Neo Dada“ um sich. Ein Album, das Jazzrock à la Herny Cow mit Neuer Musik, Folk, Hard Rock und viel Witz miteinander verbindet. Tollkühnes Teil.
Choices KD (DE)

Neo Dada reimt sich auf Zappa und für den ist in Norwegen keiner mehr zuständig als Jon Andreas Håtun, genannt JONO EL GRANDE, ein schillernder Gitarrendandy und fotogener Hutträger mit Kultstatus. Das Titelstück als Einstieg klingt mit dem Gesang von Hans Martin Austestad noch eher Samla-Mammas-Mannaesk, doch mit dem Zickzack des ‚Ballet morbido in a dozen tiny movements‘, beschallt von Keyboards, dem Sopranogebläse von Erik Løkra, malletbetüpfelt von Håkon Mørk Stene und mit humorigem Lalalachor gibt El Grande seinem schnauzbärtigen Inspirator alle Ehre.
Bad Alchemy (DE)













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http://www.arlequins.it   (interview)

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http://smuglesning.no   (intervju)

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