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Mats-Morgan (Band) - Trends and Other Diseases CD (album) cover


Mats-Morgan (Band)

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Eclectic & C/JRF Prog Team
5 stars Another reason to thank Zappa.

Swedish born Mats Öberg and Morgan Agren have been playing together since childhood. Mats, blind since birth, is a keyboard player/vocalist who invokes Zappa-esque writing with a sound not completely unlike Stevie Wonder. Morgan plays an assault of technically proficient and tasteful percussion. The duo was recruited by Frank Zappa during the final years of his life and can be heard on Zappa's Universe with a plethora of other FZ collaborators.

Mats/Morgan's debut Trends and Other Diseases is much like other Mats/Morgan work in that it is not intended as a straight forward tribute to FZ, but shares his style of odd arrangements, pop sensibilities with periodic forray's into unorthadox sounds, and is presented with a large array of guest musicians that reminds one of FZ's eclectic recruitment policies. The album begins with an unexpected grind out from fellow Swede, Mesuggah guitarist Fredrik Thordendal (a collaboration shared on Thordendal's Special Defects). The sound is in stark contrast to the more keyboard oriented sound of most of the remaining album. Much of what springs forth from Mats/Morgan's sound reminds the listener that thought provoking/technical writing and pop-oriented sounds are not mutually exclusive. Throughout the album Mats augments his already intriguing vocal style with various effects, pitchshifts and loop reversals. He also plays a mean harmonica. Morgan provides equally adept straight forward beats and jerky poly's to the mix with attention to song dynamics so often missing from rock drummers. His technical skill reminds one of Bruford while showing no fear hammering his skins with the unrelenting power of the most bombastic metal drummers.

Trends and Other Diseases is an absolute must for any fan of Zappa style music and highest recommendation for inclusion in any Progressive collection. 5 stars.

Report this review (#148472)
Posted Thursday, November 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Since I'm planning to attend this year's Lars Hollmer Tribute Night here in Stockholm I decided to go through as many of the tribute acts as I can.

I've always considered Mats/Morgan a highly under-appreciated band since they never really got the attention they deserved even here in their home country. To be honest I had to dust off my copy of Trends And Other Diseases before picking it up from the shelf so one might say that I'm guilty as charged!

Their music is a mix between Jazz Rock/Fusion and Frank Zappa-inspired comedic sections that makes this listening experience a real pleasure. Still for some odd reason I've had it in my collection for so many years and probably only heard it no more than 15 times in total. It's easy to blame the Jazz Rock part of the music since I'm not much of a Jazz fan to begin with. But I would probably put this particular album in the RIO/Avant-Prog section due to the music's unpredictability. Second possible reason for my hesitation could be blamed on the extended lengths that Mars/Morgan's albums entail. Considering that the band hasn't been all that productive in the studio recording department over the years it would have made more sense to split this and other of their lengthy releases into more albums. But this band have never been about selling albums and instead have concentrated on doing the music that they always love just the way they like it.

Trends And Other Diseases begins on a really heavy side with a down-tuned guitar riff by Fredrik Thordendal from Meshuggah followed by heavy drumming, underlying keyboards and on top of that vocals by Dilbahar, who I guess is the Swedish pop singer Dilba. This lethal combinations might not be that representative of the material yet to come but it definitely says a great deal about what the listener should prepare oneself for. The collaborations with Fredrik Thordendal has to do with Morgan Ågren's, and even to some extend Mats Öberg's, work on Fredrik's solo album titled Sol Niger Within and the track Ooo Baby Baby is also featured as bonus track on that release.

Overall the best way to describe this album is by calling it a collage of episodes and sounds that the band played around with at the time. The closest comparison that I can think of are the two early Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention albums Freak Out! and We're Only In It For The Money minus the anti-hippie statements! It's as random as it can get but among these tracks are a few fun melodic tunes although non of them plays like a straightforward composition. My personal favorites here are the quirky Guardian Witch and Stupid Bagatelle, these tunes are so catchy that they have a tendency of overstaying their welcome in my head. They make me hum and whistle them out loud which definitely alienates my friends and colleagues! The album ends with a fun little track where Mats is interviewed about Morgan where the interviewer makes some pretty hilarious old-fashioned remarks that make me smile every time I hear them. Which is then followed by the pleasant final track Mamma.

This early Mats/Morgan album shows the band playing the music that they like hence the album title. It's all about good old-fashioned fun of Frank Zappa and Samla Mammas Manna and I highly recommend the experience!

***** star songs: Guardian Witch (5:44) I See You (4:44) Stupid Bagatelle (2:19) Please Tell Me (5:14) Trash Romantic Land (4:07) Advokaten (4:51)

**** star songs: Russin Läsk (5:03) Trottsov (2:44) Read My Thoughts (9:15) Fire And Audio (6:04) Sockeplast (3:22) What´s That Guys Name? (3:26) Fialka´s House (1:20) Agent Soda (3:13) Ooo Baby Baby´s (1:53) The Krupa Question (1:09) Mamma (1:58)

*** star songs: Ooo Baby Baby (1:53)

Report this review (#271429)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2010 | Review Permalink

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