Jono el Grande

Neo Dada (Rune Grammofon)

My favourite record label continues to make life easier for fans of progressive rock. No longer is it necessary to wait years between King Crimson sightings: now we need only plug into the Rune Grammofon pipeline's endless stream of wildly imaginative Scandinavians. (For more, see Scorch Trio, Motorpsycho, and the Low Frequency in Stereo.)

In terms of prog history, Norwegian wildman Jono el Grande leans more toward Frank Zappa than, say, Yes, which is a good thing. The two certainly share a taste for ring modulation, mallet percussion, and bogus pomp; Neo Dada's mock-operatic title track could easily have emerged from the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen, and the creepy woodwinds and twisted synths that grace “Big Ben Dover” also display a certain Zappa-esque flair.

Jono el Grande has a few tricks of his own, however. On the kaleidoscopic “Oslo City Suite” he writes gracefully for string quartet, then throws in moody Hawaiian guitar. “Ballet Morbido in a Dozen Tiny Movements” incorporates a gleefully absurd pirate-pixie-Viking chorus, skittering folk-dance rhythms, and several jagged yet memorable tunes. Whether he's referencing the prog past or coming up with entirely new sounds, the man known to his mother as Jon Andreas Hí¥tun is obviously the owner of a remarkable imagination, and the skills necessary to bring his dreams to vibrant life.