Mattias Olsson is always making my ears challenging by going beyond the progressive genre. But he is taking it a step further. Whether its Pixie Ninja, Weserbergland, or Molesome, he wants to go beyond the silence as far as he can go. This year, he’s challenging me even more with this new duo called In These Murky Waters. They’ve released their sole self-titled debut album on the Apollon label. It considers alongside Mattias on keyboards, but Ewik Rodell on Lead Vocals.
According to their bandcamp website, Erik was looking for someone who can create these new sounds for a concept album. She found Mattias through mutual friends as they talked about what ideas that Mattias can come up with. On the album, he uses the Mellotron, Chamberlin, Optigan (Steve Hackett used that instrument for the closing track, Sentimental Institution from his fourth studio album, Defector in 1980), and the Orchestron.
So it is quite an adventure for Mattias to use those four keyboards to create this eerie atmosphere at times with different story structures by creating these abstract illustrations to set up the scenes inside your head. Part of the music is like something out of the French duo Air’s sessions for Sofia Coppola’s 1999 film debut, The Virgin Suicides.
Listening to Ewik’s vocals, she resembles three artists; Siouxsie Sioux, The Cure’s Robert Smith, and the late great Nico. She has this touch that I can imagine that all three of them have given her the torch’s to make sure to keep their legacy going by making sure their flames don’t burn out.
Memories are Tape sounds like an old recording from a 1930s record when you hear it from both the Optigan and the Mellotron while Ewik’s soothing vocals set up the moment in their lives as if raindrops has come down by giving them a warm feeling inside their hearts. We Came from the Ocean has this post-punk/new wave approach by creating this combination between Joy Division and Bauhaus.
Elsewhere, Carnival feels like a dystopian view of what was supposed to be the Greatest Show on Earth, turns into the Circus from Hell due to its nightmarish landscapes, dangerous stunts, and hallucinating formats of Ewik becoming the master of ceremonies on what you’re about to experience. Now mind you, this is not for the faint of heart while Mattias sets up the circus sounds as a waltz as you can hear paying tribute to Roxy Music, Yes, and The Beatles.
Adventures in Central Park has this mournful late ‘60s vibrate of The Electric Prunes’ Mass In F Minor as if transforms into one of Ewik’s lost letter to the Big Apple. It makes you feel right at home to revisit Central Park and being away from the big city and clear your head and start a brand new day.
Tears on a Green Sequined Dress has this trippy psych-hop by making you hit the dance floor while Rooms of Faded Photographs features these ‘50s sound of the Mellotron Cello as if Mattias was honoring the masters themselves of the THRAK-era of King Crimson.
In These Murky Waters might take a few listens. So whether you get it or not, it is a challenge. But what Ewik and Mattias have done is to bring the listener to be in the lion’s den with them and be a part of their parallel stories that are brought to life. And while I was inside the lion’s den, it shows that Mattias wanted to something that was beyond Anglagard and White Willow. And In These Murky Waters was one of them.