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Mats Gustafsson: Piano Mating

Mark Corroto By

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Sure, saxophonist Mats Gustafsson is a rock star. A star in the same sense that Thurston Moore is a jazz artist or Merzbow generates ambient sounds. It's not so much that we would expect to see those three gentlemen receiving a Grammy Award, but that imitators of their styles will. Someday. In other words, innovators pioneer sounds, take Charlie Parker of instance, that others capitalizes on.

If you follow Gustafsson's career, you must always expect the unexpected. Early saxophone explorations with Barry Guy, Paul Lovens, Per Henrik Wallin, and Sven Ake Johansson were explorations into the European tradition of free jazz. His sound explorations widen with his collaborations with the Chicago musical scene spearheaded by Ken Vandermark. From there an explosion of styles happened, from his rock/noise band The Thing, to Peter Brötzmann's ensembles, and collaborations with Otomo Yoshihide, Jim O'Rourke, Agusti Fernandez, the Italian free jazz band Zu, and the aforementioned Moore and Merzbow.

But always there were solo recitals, on saxophone—acoustic and amplified, slide saxophone, fluteophone, and electronics. That is where we find him here, sans saxophone. Piano Mating is his piano recital without the piano. He explained that he found a quasi-synthesiser called the Dubreq Pianomate, manufactured in the 1970s, which was developed to attach to an acoustic piano and create its own synthetic sound to accompany your piano. Gustafsson produced both sides of this LP with the Pianomate alone, wrestling multiple drones from ungovernable machine.

The LP ultra-clear 180g heavyweight vinyl with screenprinted artwork is released in a limited edition of 500 feels like a piece of sculpture itself. Listeners can decide which is Side A or B, since the LP doesn't give away its secrets. Gustafsson works his micro-tonal magic upon a series of rising drones that parallel his Slide Away (Kning Disc, 2005) recording. He evokes mood here more than music, drawing together varying pitches, while tuning and detuning the notes. The sound invades your pores, crawls under your skin and disorients the senses. Heard at low volume, the sounds are almost comforting. Twist the knob and a sort of psychosis ensues. Piano Mating is like a reversible jacket, one side for church, the other is suitable for rampage.

Track Listing: Side A; Side B.

Personnel: Mats Gustafsson: Piano Mate

Title: Piano Mating | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: X-ray Records

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