Dusted Reviews

Mats Gustafsson and David Stackenäs - Blues

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Mats Gustafsson and David Stackenäs

Album: Blues

Label: Atavistic

Review date: Dec. 11, 2005

The album cover image of dinosaur plush-toys cuddling against a backdrop of snow-covered peaks is a pretty big clue that this ain't your grandad's blues (or your drinking buddy's, or your record-collecting geek's, for that matter). Crack open the case and find another red herring; two Nordic-looking guys with thinning, spiky hair. It's not guitar-store-employee, tourist-circuit blues-club shit, either. And despite dedications to Memphis Minnie, Howlin' Wolf and Albert King, the music on Blues sounds nothing like anything you'll find behind the blues card at Tower.

What you will find is a dynamic, nuanced, and uncommonly beautiful (and I don't just mean ugly beauty, although there's plenty of that) set of improvised duets for imaginatively manipulated acoustic guitar and baritone saxophone. Stackenäs's concerts in Chicago and his records with Ken Vandermark and the trio Tri-Dim have revealed a penchant for atonal string-scrabble and broken-spring harmonics of the Derek Bailey variety. You'll find plenty of classic insect music on “Bumble Bee Blues,” where his nimble plucking might persuade a listener that his fretboard has been commandeered by a modern dance ensemble composed of nimble, highly trained flea with hard-gripping claws.

Gustafsson's percussive huffs and pops fit right into the pointillist choreography. But the opening track “Shave 'em Wet,” introduces the palette of sustained sounds – elongated e-bow whines, low, breathy moans, and bent notes – they dip into repeatedly throughout the record. “You Have to Get Low as a Toad Again” may sound nothing like the music of its dedicatee, Hound Dog Taylor, but its eerie wind-through-the-barbed-wire fence vibe sounds like something that might have haunted his nightmares. If the blues is music that evokes and exudes strong feelings, Blues has it.

By Bill Meyer

Read More

View all articles by Bill Meyer

Find out more about Atavistic

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.