Exposé Online banner

Jono el Grande — Melody of a Muddled Mason
(Rune Grammofon RCD2175, 2015, CD / LP)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2016-04-12

Melody of a Muddled Mason Cover art

The Norwegian guitarist, keyboardist, composer, bandleader, and conductor (not necessarily in that order) Jono el Grande released his first album in 1999, and Melody of a Muddled Mason is in fact his sixth in sixteen years. Where have I been? Born in 1973, it’s pretty evident he’s given a lot of attention to the Frank Zappa albums from the decade before he was born. While his material is entirely original, it is heavily informed by Burnt Weenie, Weasels and Uncle Meat era FZ, but also classic prog rock from the British school as well (echoes of Gentle Giant, Van der Graaf Generator, various Canterbury bands), and the mix of all these influences makes for some brilliant compositions and arrangements. And he’s a mighty solid guitarist as well. The opener, “Bach’s Beach,” pretty much sums up all those influences in one tidy eight-minute piece, mostly instrumental save two brief sections of unusual vocals near the beginning and end (Beefheart anybody?). The band is a six-piece with guests, featuring saxes, flute, vibraphone, bass, drums, Fender Rhodes, a string section, percussion, and a lot of wacky effects (which might include a slide whistle) and for his part, Jono is credited with guitar, vocals, piano, percussion, and a Farfisa organ that makes a very strong appearance on that opening track. The title track is second up, a full minute longer than the opener, which has a dark and sinister Van der Graaf feel, with several absolutely insane solos for guitar and saxes, all followed by a grooving rock section that might be worthy of a place on Hot Rats. How does that prepare the listener for the minute-and-a-half Stravinsky-like string piece “Lament X”? Well, it really doesn’t, other than to affirm that there’s an unexpected surprise waiting at every turn along this six song, mostly-instrumental set. Very impressive throughout.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Jono el Grande

Latest news

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

David Pack - The Secret of Movin' On – Former Ambrosia guitarist and vocalist David Pack has become the quintessential example of L.A. pop music roadkill. Well past his peak of commercial success and fame and ten years since his last solo...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues