Mats & Morgan – Schack Tati

Mats & Morgan - [schack tati]

Keyboardist Mats Öberg and drummer Morgan Ågren are two skilled artists who used to pay tribute to Frank Zappa’s music in the eighties of last century, while still very young teenagers. Since almost 20 years, they compose ambitious instrumental music under the moniker Mats & Morgan. The album reviewed here, [schack tati] is the third to be released on the legendary avant-garde/rock in opposition label Cuneiform Records. Blending whirling rhythms, pensive tones, bombastic elements, tension-laden moments, dreamy sequences, a good dose of humour, and making old and new trends collide, Mats & Morgan‘s 2014 album is a wealthy patchwork of lush sounds that give new insights in jazz-rock.

The music is coloured by many dreamy passages (the scintillating keyboards, the musical box sounds, the touching child’s voice on the opener and the closer). Elsewhere, some elements are pensive (pleading keyboards on Walk Here, melancholic mellotron on Rubber Sky, an evanescent trumpet on Rappel, or a troubled clarinet on Schack Tati). Those features contrast with darker elements (the menacing keyboards on Rubber sky and on Russian Tourists Not In Line, the eerie bass on Walk Here) and the syncopated and dynamic rhythms, somewhere between the effervescence of 70′s jazz-rock and the dizziness of drum’n'bass (dancing like on a disco tune on opening and closing tracks, drums turn robotic and spastic on DJ Fetisov, or whirling  on Vinyls & Pusherman).

Given that our two lads were involved in a Zappa tribute, the amusing side of the late guitarist certainly had a major influence on their composition process (echoes of funfair on Dracul Of Nancy, hilarous keys on Tati Bake, bicycle rings and repetitive onomatopoeias on DJ Fetisov, whistles and “fast forwarded” drums on Rappel, “fast forwarded” indian vocals on The Swedes). Moreover, in order to push further originality, our two wackos don’t hesitate to add a cinematic string to their arch. In fact, the mouth organ and the harp on the laidback Mr. Piccand would find easily their way on the score of a road movie settled in the grand canyons, while the zither samples on Russian Tourists Not In Line will certainly bring to mind the Persuaders‘ main theme or Michel Colombier‘s main theme to l’Alpagueur.

All those elements, even if coming quite unexpectedly like in an awkward collage, interlock actually quite well, the whole doesn’t sound amateurish at all. Far from that, we are in for an exciting musical trip. Mats & Morgan associate humour and audacity in an original way, and come as the missing link between Steve Vai’s Flex-Able and Jaga Jazzist.

Tracklist:

01. Rubber Sky

02. Walk Here

03. The Swedes

04. Mr. Piccand

05. Rappel

06. Dracul Of Nancy

07. Tati Bake

08. DJ Fetisov

09. Vinyls & Pusherman

10. The Curse Of Knowledge

11. Russian Tourists Not In Line

12. Schack Tati

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