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Mats Gustafsson is a world-renowned horn player who has pushed the evolution of improvised music with his own unique voice. Joachim Nordwall is a cornerstone of the Swedish musical underground, exploring the extremities of guitar music with The Skull Defekts and solo recordings as The Idealist that access the spiritual and political dimensions of electronic music and dub. Nordwall also runs the esteemed and boundary pushing iDEAL Recordings. Gustafsson and Nordwall’s THEIR POWER REACHED ACROSS SPACE AND TIME-TO DEFY THEM WAS DEATH-OR WORSE finds both musicians pushing their instruments to the limit in order to create a sound experience that is adventurous and fresh. This is an album that celebrates the ecstasy of low dynamic experimental music executed with skilled precision. The power of this inventive duo is that each musician drives the other to unexpected places creating sonic expanse that demands repeat exploration.
Nordwall’s masterful command of atmosphere is particularly evident here, the producer sculpting three-dimensional, tangible spaces for Gustafsson to explore. Gustafsson’s wild lyrical acrobatics transmute flute and saxophone into curling smoke tendrils, dissonant blasts of noise and clattering percussion. THEIR POWER REACHED ACROSS SPACE AND TIME-TO DEFY THEM WAS DEATH-OR WORSE exudes a supernatural patience and grace that echo the circumstances of its creation. Gustafsson elaborates “This is SLOW music. It should take time to make. It needs time to digest.” Even the album’s track titles reflect the process. While each appears in both English and Swedish, they are not direct translations of each other but rather a call and response, reflective of the way the songs were created. The English titles were taken from Cordwainer Smith’s sci-fi novel Space Lords, where the Swedish titles written by Gunnar Lundkvist – as Klas Katt - are offered as strange juxtapositions to provoke new thoughts that spark further thought and conversation.
At a time when communication is merely a polarized shouting match, Gustafsson and Nordwall celebrate the need for sharing and the importance of truly listening to each other. THEIR POWER REACHED ACROSS SPACE AND TIME-TO DEFY THEM WAS DEATH-OR WORSE provides an authentic, living document of an ever-evolving conversation between masters of their craft. “It took us years of our lives to get to this point and hopefully the music will keep changing the listeners for every new time you listen to it,” explains Mats. Nordwall elaborates: “playing with Mats is about communication through music. We never make plans, this is how we sound together.”
“Time is a strange thing. Everything led to this, is the mutual feeling for Mats Gustafsson and Joachim Nordwall. Our Thrill Jockey album THEIR POWER REACHED ACROSS SPACE AND TIME-TO DEFY THEM WAS DEATH-OR WORSE is the result of a friendship and artistic respect that has been going for decades. Eight low dynamic, dark and focused tracks, all holding some odd kind of tension. It is like something is coming, a black star on the horizon. Our respective different backgrounds come together in the most natural way here and creates some kind of organic sci-fi feel to it. Gustafsson with his legendary career in the free jazz scene and Nordwall and his presence in the underground electronic music world.
“This is where acoustics and analogue synths meet. It is unique music. Unheard vibes. Perfect for special venues and good PAs.”
- Mats Gustafsson & Joachim Nordwall
Mats Gustafsson (b. 1964) is a key character in today’s jazz scene. As a composer, improviser and saxophone player he has been involved in hundreds of projects and has toured the world many times. He has worked with anyone from Sonic Youth and Neneh Cherry to Peter Brötzmann and Merzbow and is active in bands like FIRE!, The END and Swedish Azz.
Joachim Nordwall (b. 1975) has been active recording psychedelic electronic music since the late 80s. He is deeply interested in psychic tension and how sound effect your mind. Nordwall has been active in bands like ritual rock band The Skull Defekts (2005-2018) and drone duo Alvars Orkester (1987-). He has also worked with people like Mika Vainio, Kevin Drumm, Christine Abdelnour and John Duncan.