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Mats Gustafsson: Needs! (2010)

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Mats Gustafsson: Needs! No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

For anyone who has recently seen Mats Gustafsson live in concert, either with The Thing or in his own right, Needs! is likely be a surprise. In addition to his baritone and slide saxophones, here Gustafsson employs live electronics and "bug treatments." Photographs of him in action indicate that these involve miking the bell of his saxophone and then processing the output. He combines the acoustic sounds of his saxophones with the amplified sounds of the electronic devices, mixing them as overdubs as well as live improvisations. The resulting music is far removed from the intense, rhythmically-charged music that he generates in concert, where his creativity is as astounding as his energy and stamina. Needs! presents another side of Gustafsson.

On Needs!, the saxophonist produces something more akin to electro-acoustic improv, where the results of the electronic manipulation is as important as the sounds of the saxophones themselves. At times, the soundscape is so rich and dense that Gustafsson could be playing in trio with two other unidentified instruments. Frequently, he counterbalances low frequency sounds from the bottom range of his saxophones with higher pitched electronics. But, although electronic, the sounds—white noise, sine waves, shortwave interference—are not typical of those far more recognizably derived from saxophones. Typically for Gustafsson, much of the music has a strong pulse which stems from various sources—the rhythm of his breathing, the sound of the pads, electronic thrumming—but is never far away, giving the whole a satisfying organic quality.

Across the album's ten tracks, Gustafsson produces an impressive array of different sounds and effects, with constant reminders that they come from a man blowing air through a metal tube—frequent intakes of breath, the popping sounds of the saxophone's pads and the passage of air through the horn, most notably on the extraordinary "Surrounded by Short Reflexes."

With such subtle sounds incorporated into the music, good recording quality is all-important. Gustafsson's co-producer, Anna Tjan, has done a first rate job of capturing every vital detail and nuance of the music. As always with Dancing Wayang, this release is an instant collector's item: released on 180 gram vinyl in a limited edition of five hundred, each record housed in a beautiful screen printed sleeve; a packaging quality that matches the music contained within.

Track Listing: Needs!--to The Ex; Sources of Such--to Sten Sandell; Ethiopian Swing--to Lello Jarvis; Language of Y(our)s--to Clay Ketter; The Written and Spoken Such--to Leif Elggren; Can Yours Bark?--to The Thang; Forever Strictly Forbidden--to Sten Hansson; Surrounded by Short Reflexes--to Raymond Strid; It's Amore--to John, Mariam & Andreas; Freak Pipeline--to John Corbett.

Personnel: Mats Gustafsson: live electronic and bug treatments & related activities of baritone and slide saxophones.

Record Label: Dancing Wayang

Style: Modern Jazz


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