The kooky, virtuosic, pop-kissed musical antics of the Swedish duo Mats/Morgan returned to us earlier this week with the release of their fresh Cuneiform Records long player, [schack tati]. It’s the latest in a string of kaleidoscopic mental music from these two that never takes itself too seriously.
This album was carefully simmered organically over a couple of years in drummer Morgan Ägren’s greenhouse converted into a studio. He and keyboardist Mats Öberg dreamed up these dozen songs — some together, some separately — that pulls in mostly jazz, rock, some techno and generous smatterings of pop sensibilities.
If that sounds like a Mike Keneally or Adrian Belew record, you’re getting warm, Doc. And like those two other geniuses, they owe a lot of their unbounded musical imagination to their association (and healthy fascination) with Frank Zappa.
“Rubber Sky,” the leadoff track from [schack tati], encapsulates that spirit precisely in less than three minutes. Starting with some “Baba O’Reilly” type (actually Terry Reilly) cascading keyboard figure that soon gets shooed away by Ägren’s stomp, veering the song into Thrak territory. But dropped right into the middle of this aggressive thumping is a childlike moment when the drummer’s young son Alvin’s sweet vocal breaks it up with a couplet or two, singing with perfect pitch “over the rubber sky, we can fly…”
To me at least, it points up to this wonderful trait of Mats/Morgan, who merrily obliterate fences put up in music not just across genres…but across age groups as well.