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John Paul Jones Forms New Group, Preps Album

John Paul Jones
Simone Joyner, Getty Images

While Jimmy Page delves into the Led Zeppelin vaults for an upcoming series of reissues, his former bandmate John Paul Jones is forging ahead with a brand new project.

Called the Minibus Pimps, Jones’ latest venture is a collaboration with Helge Sten, widely known among dark-ambient fans for his work as Deathprod. According to Fact, the duo’s upcoming LP, titled ‘Cloud to Ground,’ “will be a compilation of tracks recorded at a series of different live shows, exploring themes which connect the dots between ’70s prog-rock and the Norwegian new-music movement.”

Fact’s article adds that Jones and Sten worked with Kyma, a programming language and hardware system described as “a supercomputer for sound,” in order to “transform the sounds into clouds of seismic drone.” (The title track, for example, is described as a “monstrous duet for icicles and cathedral organ.”) Sten is quoted as saying the music contains “composed and improvisational elements on an equal scale.”

Jones has rarely recorded as a solo artist since Led Zeppelin’s breakup, releasing only a soundtrack (for the 1985 film ‘Scream for Help’) and a pair of albums, 1999’s ‘Zooma’ and 2001’s ‘The Thunderthief.’ But he’s been active in collaboration with other acts — both as part of official partnerships, such as his 1994 album with Diamanda Galas and his work with Dave Grohl and Josh Homme in Them Crooked Vultures, and in a long list of appearances with artists including Heart, Brian May, Alice Cooper, Gov’t Mule and Peter Gabriel.

While it’s unknown how Jones’ work with Minibus Pimps will affect his ongoing opera project, it’s definitely of a piece with his overall approach to recording. As he told Happening Magazine in 1999, “I’m really not that interested in writing song-based rock.”

Asked why he decided to record ‘Zooma’ as an instrumental LP, Jones explained, “Obviously I don’t really sing myself and I don’t write songs, per se. I also knew that if I got a singer involved, I would stop being an instrumentalist and a composer and that I’d quickly turn into a producer and an arranger. I knew that’s what I’d do just by pure instinct and that my music would just fall by the wayside in that situation, and I just didn’t want to do that. . . . Also, right now, nobody else is doing instrumental rock at the moment, so I kind of have the field to myself.”

‘Cloud to Ground,’ which will be available on 180-gram vinyl as well as additional formats, is scheduled for a March 3 release.

Next: Top 10 John Paul Jones Led Zeppelin Songs

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