Mattis & The Grand Trunk Road
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Mattis & The Grand Trunk Road

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"John Kelman of 'Allaboutjazz' - concert review"

Myrland, a singer/songwriter with a distinctive predilection for late-1960s and earl-1970s American singer/songwriters including Leonard Cohen and Crosby, Stills & Nash, opened the evening with a set of appealing original music, focusing on the his own unaffected but clearly affecting voice, and those of banjoist/vocalist Hans Martin Austestad and harmonium player/vocalist Wenche Losnegård. With a sextet also including drummer/sampler Freddy Wike, bassist/baritone guitarist Jo Berger Myhre and guitarist Jan Martin Smørdal, there was plenty of available instrumentation to deliver music ranging from acoustic and sweet to electric and hard-edged.

Curious samples of even richer vocal harmonies, in addition to more jagged textures, sometimes underscored a group sound that was, at times, spare and ethereal, but elsewhere became dense and propulsive. Myrland's direct yet poetic bent was well supported, most notably by Smørdal, who added a touch of Bill Frisell-like idiosyncrasy to the music, with distinctive voicings and resonant, sustaining chords that oscillated in and around the music. Avoiding the prerequisite rhythm section sound, Myhre's baritone guitar work often took center stage instrumentally, even as Myrland's grungy, distorted acoustic guitar sounded more garage band than folk troubadour; still, in a strange way the group's confluence of seemingly disparate and incongruous textures came together in an attractive fashion and worked. - Allaboutjazz.com


"New Discovery"

Loving a new musical discovery this week: Mattis & The Grand Trunk Road’s debut LP Imperial Splendor is a gorgeous record that sounds like early Paul Simon (which alone would be enough) meets Nick Drake meets my ol’ pal Greg Moore’s Sandycoates meets (occasionally) Alice In Chains’ Jar Of Flies EP with Eastern and Indian influences throughout. Which sounds like a lot to take in, but it’s simple music and perfect for the slow, dark lull of winter. The story is Mattis—who hails from Norway—spent time in India studying classical music and then returned to his home country to start a music collective (the Grand Trunk Road) and develop his musical sketches from his time in the East into a full-length. And the result is very, very pretty. I wish it would snow non-stop for a week so I could stroll through the dark, silent, deserted frozen streets with this album keeping me warm company on my headphones along the way. An artist to watch, for sure. - flashjackthehero.com


"'Imperial Splendor' album review"

Imperial Splendour is the latest project from Norwegian artist Mattis Myrland who has teamed up with a number of other Norwegian musicians to form Mattis & The Grand Trunk Road. The band take their name from one of South Asia’s oldest and longest roads that links the eastern and western regions of the Indian subcontinent. Back in 2007 Mattis studied under the Hindustani Classical Vocalist Madhumita Ray in New Delhi, India. The time spent in India has been a strong influence on Imperial Splendour. From the subtle eastern tinges in the music as well as the poetic lyrics.

‘The Judge‘ opens to atmospheric experimental sounding female vocals that have a subtle eastern flavour. Mattis’ lyrics are poetically flowing making them easy on he ear and intonationally mindful at times of Leonard Cohen.

Arrangements are fresh with no shortage of variety from the Junip sounding ‘Sleeping Dogs‘ with its eastern influences shining through the acoustic tabla mimicry to the heavier psychedelic tinged title track with vocal and guitar distortion. ‘On Your Side‘ offers a reminder of the influences again with its Indian classical violin solo. Whilst this album does dabble in experimentation and improvisation, a field Mattis is no stranger to, the overall feel is of an album of subtle gestures and influences which allow a greater emphasis on lyrics, a considered balance that works well, as well as making it a great listen. - FolkRadio.co.uk


Discography

'Imperial Splendor' - Million Records 2013

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Bio

In 2007, singer Mattis Myrland travelled to India - New Delhi, to live and study with a master of Indian Classical Singing - Madhumita Ray. The discipline and daily vocal training inspired Mattis to create a host of stories and gave him a rucksack full of new sounds to accompany them.

Back in Norway, Mattis reworked the sketches he had scribbled and recorded during his eight months stay. He gathered together some of his favourite performers on the Norwegian music scene, and named the band after one of South Asia’s oldest roads that has linked the Eastern and Western regions of the Indian subcontinent for centuries.

Mattis & The Grand Trunk Road played at several festivals in the last few years with Mattis meticulously rewriting and recording his compositions along the way, trying out various phrases live and finishing them in his studio in downtown Oslo.

Now, the album 'Imperial Splendor' is finally ready. A collection of songs linking Mattis' Western singer/songwriter background with the influence of the East. The blend is a soundscape, hard to frame into any specific genre. Its direct, yet poetic story-telling leads the way and the music varies from the spare and ethereal, to the dense and edgy. 'These stories have their own pace and attitudes and I didn’t want the standard popsong-formula to limit how they unfold. It’s a state of mind that needs constant exercise, letting the words show you the way and letting the music follow the flow of the words', Mattis explains.

Mattis was educated in vocal improvisation and composition from the Norwegian Academy of Music. He is also active with other artists on the Norwegian music scene, such as singer/songwriter Ingrid Olava, the electronic duo mattisogjonas and the bluegrass-quartet Lucky Four.