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In their teens, drummer Morgan Ågren and keyboardist Mats Öberg were invited to perform with Frank Zappa and, as the story goes, the Swedish duo formed this phenomenal ensemble that exercised a jaw-dropping mode of execution within the progressive-rock schema, amid some Zappa and jazz-centric influences. Revered for its otherworldly approach to the genre and superior technical faculties, Mats/Morgan Band is known for its exhilarating live performances and manifold approach to composition.
Agren is an in-demand session artist, and appears on the galvanized semi-structured jazz-rock power trio album Blixt (Cuneiform, 2001), featuring bassist Bill Laswell and guitarist Raoul Bjorkenheim. Yet with Mats/Morgan's sixth album, originally recorded at a Swedish club in 1999, the piece "En Schizofrens Dagbok," yields an all-embracing illustration of the ensemble's breadth.
Rooted in a multifaceted constitution, "En Schizofrens Dagbok," is entrenched with hyperactive funk grooves, ferocious exchanges, scorching guitars, tricky time signatures, and jovial melodic content. Serious-minded but sprinkled with quaint sensibilities, the musicians' divergent implementation tender split-second breakouts, polytonal treatments and fluent cartoonish escapades. The differentiator resides within the artists' penchant for merging a chops-heavy element with sustainable themes and passages that move along with the impetus of a fast-paced action thriller. Its progressive rock with a college education by an outfit that has few, if any, peers in the business.
Personnel: Mats Öberg: keyboards; Morgan Ågren: drums; Jimmy Ågren: guitar; Tommy Thordsson: bass; Eric Carlsson: keyboards; Robert Elovsson: keyboards.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.