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

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

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


Previously in Exposé...

Three Shanghai Bands – These three bands hail from Shanghai, a city known for avant-garde music, and they certainly fit that categorization; they share members, several of whom have also worked in other prominent Shanghai...  (2011) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues