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Monday, October 27, 2014

Mats Gustafsson at 50

By Martin Schray and Julian Eidenberger

Mats Gustafsson is a maniac, a man of conviction, a crusader for free music. That’s what he has in common with people like John Zorn, Peter Brötzmann or Ken Vandermark – he just can’t help it (Alex von Schlippenbach recently said that he will have to play until his body refuses to go on and that this was clear from the very beginning when he started making music). Gustafsson even said that in an interview with Something Else webzine:

“I play music because I have to; I have no choice. In order to fight the stupidity back and to show new perspectives, new ways, new doors. Influences might be basically anything that kicks me — and that I can make into a personal statement. As long as you put your own personal language and voice into it, and not try to imitate or copy, you are cool, you are good. If you make music for other reasons, you ought to stay at home. I’m not here to entertain, as Ayler once said.”

On the other hand he has entertained us with dozens of projects and he seems to be on top of his prolific creativity at the moment, as his involvement in Fire! (and Fire! Orchestra), The Thing, Fake the Facts, Swedish Azz, Birds, Tarfala Trio as well as in duos with Thurston Moore, Agustí Fernandez or Paal Nilssen-Love (etc.) demonstrates. And, as if that weren’t enough, the dedicated vinyl aficionado is about to realize even more projects in the near future: Now that he has founded his own The Thing label, he is going to be increasingly active in label work as well, releasing new records and reissuing old ones (such as The Thing’s back catalogue on vinyl). As far as music-making is concerned, he has – allegedly – a whole batch of duo projects up his sleeves, and he is also said to be writing his first symphony. But whatever it is he’s currently working on, we are eagerly awaiting the outcomes.

Happy birthday, Mats. Keep on keepin’ on!

(We will be running reviews of Mats' recent recordings until Wednesday, which is his birthday)