Music Review // Mats Gustafsson – Piano Mating (Blue Tapes and X Ray Records)



Whenever we see an e-mail from X Ray Records and Blue Tapes announcing new music we get excited. A boutique label releasing some astoundingly original work from some excellent experimental artists, it’s fair to say we’ve found pleasure in most of their catalogue. The fourth vinyl release in its series brings the ethereal yet decidedly nightmarish audio musings of Mats Gustafsson…

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 If you’ve ever lived in a city and heard the sounds of construction outside your window and stopped to consider the sonic value of such noise then you may come close to getting the music found on Piano Mating. The two tracks on the record, known simply by their numbers, 01 and 02, are almost like a synthesized version of the noise of architectural creation yet exude an artistic style that is wholly likable. The uneducated in this genre of music may suggest they could do it with little effort but could they really? Experimentation like this takes time and talent and would certainly not sound as beautiful without the work put into it.

01 is an almost soul piercing drone that is almost striving to test the patience of the listener with its minimal key changes and mostly lack of any obvious chord progressions. But in its minimalist style there is a haunting undertone of desperation that shines through and forces the listener to stop what they are doing to take in the meaning of it all. A segue into 02 is entirely welcome as the sounds separate out a bit and a lower pitched drone takes its place in the mix. 

The whole album was apparently composed using an instrument called the Dubreq Piano mate designed to turn a piano into a stylophone. But sans the piano, Gustafsson has simply manipulated the tool to create some imposing music of the dark soul. Of course, we haven’t mentioned yet that the artist is a well known saxophonist which only adds to the enigma of the music itself. It’s fair to say that many people listening to this record will be at pains to find any joy in it at all. In all honesty though, that may be the point of it all. The joy lies in the experimentation and interpretation of just what it all may mean. Don’t think too much about this music, just let it flow into your mind and see what comes out the other side. 

Piano Mating will be released on art worked vinyl and download in January 2016.  

(S. Gahan)