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Cucamonga: Alter Huevo

Album Review

Still missing Frank Zappa? Then we may have the answer.

It’s hard to flesh out much biographical detail about Cucamonga, except that they’re a spirited five-piece from Argentina with a thing for fellow South American innovator, Hermeto Pascoal. And, it seems, Frank Zappa, after whose Inland Empire locale and studio they have taken their name.

There’s zonk-loads of Zappa in the music too, particularly the jazzier spectrum of his Hot Rats-to-Waka/Jawaka fusion period. The arrangements are exhaustingly busy, full of deliriously dizzy variations on bebop-rock, with Bruno Rosado’s tenor sax and Adriano Demartini’s rubbery bass runs. Demartini is also credited with ‘funny voices’. 

Some of these open-ended, free-spinning songs such as Cerrazon En El Teyu Cuare and Variaciones Sobre Tu Hermana are engaging, though too often they appear to be ladling on the arch-weirdness for the sheer bloody hell of it. The cosmic cackles on Tetascotch wear thin, while there’s way too much musicianship and not enough hooks or the kind of melodies that take root in the memory. 

A promising start, though. If only they could harness all that combined talent and produce something Zappa might have gotten into a real läther about.

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