Mathias Grassow is a long-established artist with a huge catalog of over 180 releases and a well-earned outstanding reputation. My friend Richard Gürtler calls him the “Drone Kaiser” and Mathias is surely one of the masters.
I’m in the habit of reaching out to fellow musicians whose work I admire, offering to contribute to a piece. Mathias’ response has outdone anyone’s to date: he bought a copy of our album Memory Palace (my duo with Chris Russell), and sent me four beautiful synth tracks, adding up to 90 minutes of music! (Among other things, we share a fondness for the large canvas.)
Cool, I thought. I get to have four guest spots. Nonetheless, I was always hoping that this would end up as an album, and by the time Mathias had heard the third piece, it was a done deal.
I don’t know if any of these pieces were initially intended by Mathias to go together on an album. The vast range of moods, from utter serenity to hair-raising intensity, presented a challenge in this respect.
Luminous opens the album with a contemplative church organ vibe and chiming 12-string guitars. The rising Power Zen of Golden Pavilion yields to the earthy, tectonic growl of Epiphany With Horses, then to the desolate, yet exhilarating coldness of Icescape at Sunrise.
Finding the right parts to accompany all of these atmospheres was a joy. For Epiphany With Horses, the two major structural decisions were both epiphany moments: the way the guitar parts were grouped in the three sections, and gathering all the percussion parts together in the middle section. One of my most inspired moments of the entire project was spontaneously drumming on my trusty Pork Pie drum throne while listening to one of Mathias’ parts, a recording of which ended up on this piece.
Mathias records without a computer, so mixing the music fell to me.
Mathias’ wife Cornelia Kern contributed the artwork, as she has done for many of his albums.
It was a terrific honor and a lot of fun working with Mathias, and I hope we might do another album one day.
In the Eyes of Infinite Light is available now – we hope you enjoy it!
1. Luminous 4.16
2. Golden Pavilion 21.36
3. Epiphany With Horses 33.06
4. Icescape at Sunrise 30.08