Maestro Echoplex is the pseudonym of a young Washington, DC-based singer-songwriter named Jonny Fontaine (it is also the name of an effects device which produces echo and delay, employed by countless rock guitarists over the years). Anyway, Maestro taught himself to play guitar at 19 and a couple of years later relocated to DC, where he began penning his distinctive modern folk ditties. Maesto's press bio mentions
Simon and Garfunkel and Neil Young, fair enough points of reference, as are English folk groups like Fairport Convention, but Maestro Echoplex will probably remind most listeners of the smart new breed of folk-inspired songwriters bred by the indie rock scene -- guys like Will Oldham, Jason Molina ( Songs: Ohia), and Bill Callahan ( Smog). Fontaine's songs are long on thoughtful, fragile vocals and gently strummed acoustic guitar, short on contrivances. Some numbers are complemented by a bit of banjo, cool organ fills, and some delayed (perhaps maestro echoplexed?) electric guitar, serving to give Maestro's introspective folk subtle accents of old-time country and electric blues. All told, very accomplished, impressive stuff. In addition to the cuts featured here, Maestro Echoplex's debut EP, Last Night I Saw God on the Dance Floor, contains a shockingly stark, creepily understated version of Shellac's "Prayer to God." That Fontaine had the balls to cover Steve Albini's most personal and cathartic song in memory is astonishing in itself, but the results are even more remarkable.
Last Night I Saw God On The Dance Floor