Mats/Morgan Band: Live (2011)
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 Björkenheim. 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.
Record Label: Cuneiform Records