Spouting a cryptically convoluted cosmology that's equally as daffy and inscrutable as their genre-defying prog-disco concoctions, Norway's Mungolian Jet Set draw their aesthetic cues from extraterrestrials, shamanic mysticism, and medieval Eurasian warlords, and their musical ones from left-field jazz, schlock exotica, cheesy ambient trance, Balearic electronica, and points beyond.
Essentially the warped brainchild of Pål "Strangefruit" Nyhus, a DJ and turntablist who was active in the Norwegian jazz and experimental music scene through the '90s and early 2000s, and electronic producer Knut Sævik, the band started out as a loose techno-jazz fusion collective before morphing into a relatively stable electronic production duo. Commissioned by Jazzland labelhead Bugge Wesseltoft to spearhead a project inspired by electric-period Miles Davis, it took Nyhus, working together with Sævik and a host of Oslo avant-garde instrumentalists, several years to deliver 2006's Beauty Came to Us in Stone, an esoteric, collaborative "future jazz" opus that incorporated elements of club music and some of the fantastical conceptualism that would come to demarcate the Mungolian ethos.
Over the next several years, the duo began creating a series of expansive, unorthodox remixes for other artists -- at first jazz-oriented acts like Nils Petter Molvær and Jaga Jazzist, but soon also neo-disco voyagers like Lindstrøm, Ost & Kjex, and LSB, and a globe-spanning assortment of vocalists from Bebel Gilberto to Dame Shirley Bassey to the Sámi folk/jazz singer Mari Boine (for a 12" that was released by Nyhus' Luna Flicks label, as was their mix for the Japanese producer Altz). Their remixes, which typically stretched far beyond the six-minute mark, often amounted to wholesale reinventions if not essentially brand-new multi-part compositions, loosely built around their source material but adding complexly layered percussion-heavy grooves, new vocals (usually provided by Nyhus himself), and a wildly unpredictable assortment of interpolated musical ideas pilfered from nearly any source imaginable.
Their distinctive, cartoonishly excessive, but engagingly inventive remixing style -- and their association with the burgeoning Norwegian "cosmic disco" scene -- earned them an increasingly prominent profile within the international electronica community, culminating in 2009's We Gave It Away All Away, Now We Are Taking It Back, an epic double-album set released on Smalltown Supersound that compiled the cream of their remix work along with a handful of original tracks. A lighter, more pop-focused full-length called Schlungs followed in 2011. Mungodelics, another album that contained remixes as well as original material, was released in 2012 and featured appearances from Jaga Jazzist and Unni Wilhelmsen. While continuing to work on their next full-length, Mungolian Jet Set issued a four-song EP titled A City So Convenient in 2016. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi