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Ågren and Öberg were reportedly smitten by the music of Frank Zappa from the very beginning of their partnership, and formed the Zappa tribute band Zappesteetoot in 1984. After becoming acquainted with the pair, Frank himself was impressed enough to summon them to the stage to perform with his group at a Stockholm show during a tour of Sweden in 1988. Although Ågren and Öberg were subsequently invited to join Zappa's touring band, those plans never came to fruition as Zappa became increasingly ill from the prostate cancer that ultimately took his life in 1993. The drummer and keyboardist were in the massive ensemble -- which was originally slated to include Zappa until the illness prevented his participation -- that performed under the moniker Zappa's Universe, and whose November 1991 tribute concert at the Ritz in New York City was documented on the Zappa's Universe album released by Verve in 1993.
Back in Sweden, Ågren and Öberg had plans of their own, and began documenting their highly accomplished avant-prog, fusion, and sometimes unclassifiable music on Ågren's Ultimate Audio Entertainment (UAE) label, beginning with the duo's debut album, Trends and Other Diseases, recorded between 1993 and 1995 and released in 1996. A handful of Mats/Morgan UAE albums appeared over the following years, including 1997's The Music or the Money..., a two-disc affair divided into a Mats disc and a Morgan disc; 1998's Radio Da Da and The Teenage Tapes, the former digging into the duo's archive for recordings from 1992, and the latter foraging even further back (all the way to 1981) into the earliest years of their musical pairing; 2001's Live, recorded at a Stockholm club date in 1999 and featuring an expanded Mats/Morgan Band sextet lineup with Ågren and Öberg joined by Morgan's brother Jimmy on guitar, bassist Tommy Tordsson, and Robert Elovsson and Eric Carlsson on keyboards; and 2002's On Air with Guests, an album of radio tapes featuring a quintet Mats/Morgan Band (Öberg, the Ågren brothers, Tordsson, and Elovsson) with, as the title suggested, involvement by various guest musicians on selected tracks, including Meshuggah guitarist Fredrik Thordendal and multi-instrumentalist Simon Steensland (on Theremin).
The quintet Mats/Morgan Band, now consisting of the core lineup first heard on On Air with Guests, gained wider exposure upon signing to the internationally distributed Cuneiform label in 2004; the following year, Cuneiform released the seventh Mats/Morgan album, Thanks for Flying with Us, a studio recording with live bonus tracks. Three years later, the label issued the CD/DVD set Heat Beats Live/Tourbook 1991-2007, the CD featuring Mats/Morgan Band concert selections recorded between 2005 and 2007, and the DVD consisting of 16 years' worth of Morgan Ågren recordings, from both live and studio settings, ranging from solo drums to large ensembles.
Cuneiform then embarked on an extensive reissue campaign of Mats/Morgan's UAE back catalog, beginning with 1996's debut Trends and Other Diseases, reissued in remastered form in 2008 and featuring a 15-minute bonus collage track. A reissue of The Music or the Money... (now with the title slightly amended to The Music or the Money?) followed in 2010, with the former Mats and Morgan discs mashed up together and 45 minutes of later Mats/Morgan Band material added. A reissue of 2001's Live followed in 2011, and in 2013 Cuneiform compiled the 1998 albums Radio Da Da and The Teenage Tapes into a remastered double-disc set, adding two tracks to the former and expanding the latter from 28 to 36 tracks, resulting in a 54-track compendium of Mats/Morgan music stretching from 1981 to 2008. In 2014 Cuneiform released Schack Tati, Mats/Morgan's first new studio album since Thanks for Flying with Us. ~ Dave Lynch
Track List: Radio Da Da / The Teenage Tapes
Track List: Thanks For Flying With Us
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