It takes a special kind of musician to spend time on a funky instrumental that reeks of '70s retro and name it "Chicken." The Mats/Morgan Band features those kinds of musicians. Built around a core of drummer Morgan Ågren and blind singer-keyboardist Mats Öberg, the Swedish group plays a mutated, pop-irradiated form of jazz so akin to Frank Zappa's off-kilter take on the form that the band was invited to play in a series of salutes to the composer. Performances from the shows were edited together for the video release Zappa's Universe, and Steve Vai's M/M-backed rendition of "Sofa" scored a Grammy in '94.
The two principals have been working together for 20 years. Music was so important to young Öberg that he extorted an Earth, Wind, & Fire record from his family by threatening to throw himself down a staircase if they didn't buy it. The two met a mere two hours before their first joint performance and threw together a set of Zappa's "Bobby Brown," Stevie Wonder's "Master Blaster," and the Beatles' "Help." They've since developed a strain of original fusion so rocking and mathematical that Ågren has jammed with Fredrik Thordendal, fellow countryman and guitarist for tech-metal stars Meshuggah. M/M live sets are a little more subdued, but not by much.
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