As an instrument of farce and slapstick humor, Norwegian Juno el Grande is far from being unacquainted with those traits so often hewn to imaginative show-play: spontaneity pushed into overdrive, suppleness, an ability to navigate a tightrope between insanity and offensiveness, and a certain predilection for polyvalent combinations all figure large in his stage-act.
With only a basic workstation synth, his musical debut, Utopian, conjured these characteristics, and on Neo Dada he does so yet again, leading one to wonder whether the music itself won't seem overly dependent on his theatrical background for sustenance. To his credit, this is not in the least the case, as the pieces presented here follow the laws proper to their own movement and, in so doing, climb joyfully, incalculably throughout their seemingly brief duration.
Many pieces may largely be about free expression, then, but the players are also sensitive to the history of jazz, rock, and pop, often returning to a developing melodic theme, even if it's enfolded in a roar of abstract thunder. Besides that, there is also a mutually reinforcing duality between the string and horn sections. The former generally have a swaying, seductive quality, whereas the horns are slightly spikier, riff-driven and more heavily percussive. Over the course of the work, these two elements give onto each other and get reworked and re-codified into a brand new alphabet.
When theatrics factor in, they do so in view of expanding the ideas and expressive range of a particular section. This is done through simple addition, as on "Ballet Morbido In A Dozen Tiny Movements", when a melodic baton is waved over the swinging strings and bathes the piece in a vivid glow, or a kind of fusion whereby the two realms feed into each other, as demonstrated, on "Oslo Coty Suite", by the squeaky, overly excitable vibraphone as it absorbs some of the strings less-is-more panache. The disc gives a bit of gaiety to nothingness, which has always been one of the supreme aims of all art.
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