Mathias Grassow – Musical Shaman
Perhaps mostly known for his longform drone works and the long era of working alongside Klaus Wiese, Mathias now focuses his experience in the field where mind and musical harmonies interact. Firmly entrenched in the energy of the rugged Northern European environment where he attempts to harness and channel its energies into spontaneous musical creations.
Gut Saunstorf 2012-05-08
On Saturday Mathias was to perform at an event held at the Gut Saunstorf, a recently restored mansion in a farmland region of northern Germany. Hidden deep between rolling fields and alleyways surrounded by an army of trees, the Gut is now home to a retreat led by OM C. Parkin. The performance marked the end of a ten day vow of silence on behalf of the guests staying there. During a reconnaissance visit on Friday the arrangements were therefore discussed in hushed and whispering tones. Quite an unusual environment for a performance I gather.
The local weather had been shifting between warm sunshine and chilly rain showers for most of the week. After inspecting various indoor locales Mathias opted to play at a large tent arena erected in the courtyard. The Saturday saw a heavy rain falling just before the concert, which seemed a given signal for all the region’s brown snails to come out of the woodworks and invade the arena, there were dozens if not hundreds of them present. It was quite amusing to watch the little creatures slither around on the wooden floor panels.
For this performance Mathias was joined by longtime collaborator Carsten Agthe (the two perform in the bands KarmaCosmic and Nostalgia together with Rüdiger Gleisberg for example) who had brought with him various forms of drums, including a wavedrum as well as a didgeridoo. Mathias mainly used a pair of Roland SP-808 samplers, a Roland Gaia synthesizer, a cd player and a frame drum.
As usual the music of Mathias was semi-improvised in that he worked with certain „basic tracks“ and then modified them, adding more layers, patterns, rhythms, voice or drums, all the while accompanied by Carsten’s percussion. The performance was mainly based on material from the recent „Wisdom Of Fate“ album, which means a very rhythmic approach which was also complemented by subdued drones from „Dämmerung“ which is normally a loud and powerful piece.
It was interesting to see the reactions of the audience, most of them being unfamiliar with Mathias‘ music. At the start there was an uncomfortable twist and turn here and there, though most listeners simply closed their eyes and allowed themselves to be transported far away by the opening drones. During the progression of the concert more and more onlookers began spontaneously rising from their seats and starting to sway to the tune of the rhythm. This also reflected back on Mathias and Carsten and during the second hour they began building a powerful and captivating pulsating rhythm that led more and more people to start dancing in random patterns and stomping their feet to the beat sending vibrations through the floor panels. It was a really magic moment and a new direction for the music of Mathias, something we can hope to see explored further within the Alchemy concept.