Melody of a Muddled Mason
Jono el Grande is a self-taught composer, musician, conductor, painter, and prankster and remains an outsider on the far margins of the Norwegian experimental music scene. He released his debut mini-album Utopian Dances in 1999, a collection of absurdist instrumentals recorded at home using not much more than a workstation synth. 2003 saw the release of Fevergreens (RCD 2031CD), an album that drew upon classic progressive rock, film music, easy listening, and a variety of pop idioms and featured a nine-piece orchestra. The Wire noted that "the vitality of his writing keeps just the right uplifting balance between sweetness and acidity" and called it "a pleasant surprise." His following album, Neo Dada (RCD 2084CD/RLP 3084LP, 2009), was a masterstroke, brimming with creative ideas, odd turns, weird combinations of sounds and instruments, complex time signatures, and a healthy dose of pure musical joy, all mysteriously sugared with melodic hooks. The following albums, Phantom Stimulance (RCD 2106CD/RLP 3106LP, 2010) and The Choko King (RACD 107CD/RALP 307LP, 2011) were mostly made up of re-recordings, "lost" songs, pre-Fevergreens sketches, and various odds and ends, making Melody of a Muddled Mason the natural successor to Neo Dada. Some of Jono el Grande's finest songwriting can be found here, and he has refined his already considerable arranging skills to perfection -- just listen to "Bach's Beach" and the title-track for evidence. Jono el Grande lists movements like Rock in Opposition and the Canterbury scene and artists and composers like Frank Zappa, Stravinsky, Magma, Henry Cow, and Gentle Giant as sources of inspiration. With his releases and stage shows he has now established his own signature, with mature compositions, refined arrangements, improved guitar playing, and the introduction of subtle vocals.