I went to see The Thing a week or so back, always keen to catch them whenever they hit town (which isn't that often). Mads Gustafsson ceremonially annouced that they taken an abrupt new turn in music, going from barbecue jazz to Scandinavian avant garde schläger. They still don their Ruby's BBQ tea shirts, though, which has become their regular uniform over the years. If anyone wonders whether that place actually exists, well, it does, right there in Austin, Texas, which also happens to be Ingebright Haaker Flaten's place of residence. The gig coincided with a two-day Blastfest, a metal gathering, so the place was full of long-haired chaps with pointed beards and of chapettes, all dressed up in shades of black. It got me thinking that The Thing ought to fit right into a blastfest, but these metalists tend to be rather strict on genre boundaries. A conservate lot, if you ask me.
The Thing started out as a Don Cheery tribute project and they even did an album and a tour with Neneh Cherry, but from talking to band members, I got the impression that it was a one-off thing and not at all a future course. One may add that The Thing is also a kind of Albert Ayler tribute project, given that Ayler lived in Sweden in the early sixities and had a decisive influence on the early Scandinavian free jazz scene. Bengt "Frippe" Nordström is a link from those days and a player clearly inspiring the much younger Mads. But The Thing have also covered punk and indie bands of newer provenance.
I didn't bring any recording equipment as I don't have any, but searching the Dime site, I came across a live recording at the Kultur-Schranne in Dachau, just out of Munich. Checking the date, I saw it was a little less than a week prior to the gig here, so I suspect the repertoire was quite similar to what I've heard, including covers of Coltrane and Ellington!. They have a new album out called "Boot" which, of course, have quite differing meanings in English and German. As they were offering direct sales of "sheissplatten" (Mads), I picked up a rare one which I might post here in the near future.
Kultur-Schranne, Dachau (Germany)
February 15, 2014
Mats Gustafsson - tenorsax, baritonesax
Paal Nilssen-Love - percussion
Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten - double-bass, electric bass, effects
01. Intro (1:52)
02. (Titles) incl. Hidegen fujnak a szelek (18:58)
05. Intro (1:02)
06. India (John Coltrane) (10:46)
08. Golden Heart (Don Cherry) (8:06)
09. Red River (7:03)
total time (79:38)
Thanks to the taper for capturing this one for posterity.