. . . of Jason Meredith Ball, spawn of Halifax
now languishing in Toronto & abetted by conspirators in both cities;
This ragtag assembly did wittingly unleash a lush, irreverent hullabaloo
Upon the world with their 2002 shiny blue eponymous debut,
Setting all enlightened tongues awag, from far to farther.
Yet nary a wink were wunk twixt sentinels
At the Gilded Canadian Music Citadel
Thus the brazen siege fell wayside, even as though unmarkèd.
And so with follow-up, Metatasking, searing-hot in hand,
The brave insurgents took the Isle of Indie Pop head on — this time, making land!
For fleetingly they caught the roving ear of agents within Public Radio,
And elicited a summons to attest their vision, in the form of Song Commission,
Unto a purpose called Song Quest — the rarest of CBC Radio 2 invitations,
Upon the occasion of that Esteemed Institution’s 2010 Compilation.
Upon fruition, the Composition was deemed acceptable for inclusion,
As well, upon the latest album — solo-effort-cum-collusion,
Insurrection — by the aforementioned Monster In Question:
Beautiful Island (2013), by times turbulent and serene,
Is a psychotropical whirligiggle from jaunty top to gloomy middle!
Piano clusters, brooding strings, bright guitars & glockenspiels & tiny, bristling things
Lead the listener through a dream, the third verse in an epic riddle.
('Round the web, the whispers whiffle: the fourth forthcometh in 2019!)
RIYL: Zombies, Kinks, Beach Boys, Elephant 6, Sufjan Stevens, of Montreal, Le Morte D'Arthur
Hopeful Monster began as a recording project at songwriter Jason Ball’s Nervous System studio in Seabright, Nova Scotia. Jason and studio partner Paul Aucoin of The Hylozoists spent the first few months of 2001 recording two albums: Hopeful Monster and The Hylozoists’ La Nouvelle Gauche, both released on Halifax's Brobdingnagian Records. In 2002, Hopeful Monster began playing shows in Halifax, and showcased at Pop Montreal and CFNY Nu Music Night at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. Jason and Paul (on drums) were joined by Dale Murray on electric guitar and pedal steel, Andy Patil on bass, David Christensen on organ and flute and vocalist/vibraphonist Damien Moynihan.
In June 2003 Jason toured Norway and UK to promote a European release of Hopeful Monster on Norwegian indie label Hype City Recordings, traveling and performing with Sufjan Stevens, Emil Nikolaisen of Sereena Maneesh and label owner Frode Stromstad. While in Oslo, he was invited to play at the wedding party for Of Montreal's Kevin and Nina Barnes.
In 2004 Jason returned to Europe as a member of The Heavy Blinkers, opening shows with solo Hopeful Monster sets in Germany, France and UK. When his wife Catherine became pregnant with their daughter Zola in 2005, Jason stayed close to home, playing keyboards in the Hylozoists and with chanteuse Lily Frost, as well as harmonizing with fellow songwriters Andrew Rodriguez and Jason Kent in vocal pop trio The Wilderness.
Then for two years, the Ball family lived quietly in the Nova Scotia countryside. Jason branched out, teaching audio at a Halifax college and taking up the job of organist in a remote seaside church. In July 2007 the Balls hosted the first Mourning Dove Festival in their yard and living room.
Early in 2008, Jason and family moved to Toronto. A second Hopeful Monster album, Metatasking, was self-released at Toronto 's Horseshoe Tavern, in a limited edition, hand-decorated jute jacket. A new band line-up was introduced, featuring By Divine Right front man Jose Contreras on guitar, bassist Jeremy Little, drummer Gavin Maguire and keyboardist Jeff Heisholt. Metatasking was re-released in Canada on Gooseberry Records in 2009, and consists of tracks recorded with the original Halifax band members, as well as tracks recorded in Toronto with Jose and Gavin and members of The Wilderness and The Hylozoists, and harmonies by Catherine.
Following a fall 2008 solo tour of the UK (booked by Jason via MySpace), Hopeful Monster began appearing around Toronto in a variety of configurations, with Jason and Jose plus several others, swelling at times to a ten piece mini orchestra. In fall 2009, Jason embarked on a fruitful, six month hibernation, writing and arranging nearly two dozen songs for the third Hopeful Monster album. At the core of the recording are Jason on piano, Jose on electric guitar, violinist Randy Lee and cellist Alex McMaster.
In October 2010, Hopeful Monster was chosen to represent Nova Scotia in CBC Radio 2's Great Canadian Song Quest, for which an artist from each province and territory wrote and recorded a new, original song about a stretch of road selected by Canadians via the Song Quest website. Hopeful Monster's song "The End Of Road (Can't Believe It's Over Now)" celebrates Highway #1, which runs through Nova Scotia's Annapolis valley.
In September 2012, the final mix sessions for the third Hopeful Monster album were concluded at Jose's Chicano Power studio in Caledon, Ontario. The core chamber arrangements expand to the usual indie pop scale, with Jose and Jason playing bass and drums and overdubbing earcandies, David Christensen layering woodwinds, and Lily, Catherine and Zola (aged 6) singing backups. The product of a two-year collaboration, Beautiful Island was released in March 2013.
The fourth Hopeful Monster album, Hydra, recorded and mixed by Jason at his home studio in Weston, Ontario, was self-released on February 29, 2020.