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Mike Keneally — Nonkertompf
(Exowax EX-2403, 1999, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2000-05-01

Nonkertompf Cover art

Mike Keneally’s mastery to create an amusing stream of conscious should be undisputed upon hearing this disc. The man jumps from hot guitar lick to jazz groove to shrill weirdness and movie themes using a keen vision not solely bound by discipline. Nonkertompf is as much an ode to Zappa as it is to an extension of his deceptively complex work (including the critically acclaimed Sluggo!). Keyboardwise, there are many strong attributes to plug including his organ playing, and acoustic and electric piano arrangements. Specifically, the composer’s acoustic piano playing is getting to be as much a staple of his work as his axe-grinding and very enjoyable. Guitarwise, the man is a demi-god: Note the shred solo on “Show More of Yourself.” Enough said except to emphasize that there is more up-front acoustic guitar on this album. While holding many of his 70s influences on his sleeve (Rundgren, Gentle Giant), Keneally fuses the impenetrable as on his lead solo for the eerie “Blue Jean Baby.” Unfortunately the album has no vocal tracks so there is a loss of focus for a listener in need of a hook or chorus. It’s also a detriment to entitle track intros and outros since they serve to push listeners rather than luring them in by the nose. Regardless, the man is a genius and this entertaining album gets my highest rating for “onion worth peeling” which improves with repeated plays.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 19, 1999 releases

Related artist(s): Mike Keneally

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