Swedish pianist-composer Mattias Risberg grew up in the region of Bergslagen, a historically and culturally distinct mining region in northern Svealand, Sweden, since the Middle Ages. Risberg remembers this mining region as an exciting and somewhat dangerous «mountain beneath the ground, undermined by winding tunnels and hallways. Rats ’n bats, dripping waters: an underground empire of emptiness». In the eighties the mine became a storage facility for nuclear waste and Risberg was employed there for a short time, working 200 meters below ground level. Today the Uppsala-based Risberg even finds a hidden connection between the words «mine» and «mind». «When I dig in my garden I often get the feeling that I’m digging inside myself», he adds.
Risberg was commissioned to transform his past experiences into a musical project. Risberg premiered the «Mining» song-cycle deep inside an old ore mine in Stripa, located in the in the heart of Bergslagen, in August 2018. Risberg is joined by an all-star band of vocalist Mariam Wallentin, aka Marian the Believer, known from Mats Gustafsson’s Fire! Orchestra and the duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums, close collaborator and reeds player Fredrik Ljungkvist (who played in the first phase of Fire! Orchestra), bass player Dan Berglund, known from the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Tonbrukt and Rymden, guitarist David Stackenäs (who also played in the first phase of Fire! Orchestra), violinist Josefin Runsteen who plays in the current version of Fire! Orchestra and with Mariam the Believer, and drummer Jon Fält, known from Bobo Stenson Trio and a close collaborator of Ljungkvist.
«Mining» succeed to express the excitement and the senses of danger and freedom of children exploring the hidden mysteries of the mine and Mother Earth, «Tellus», that Risberg is so interested what is in her mind. The one-of-her-kind, charismatic and emotional delivery of Wallentin colors this song-cycle with the joy and fun of discovering such an endless playground while the distorted and noisy guitar lines of Stackenäs and the dramatic drumming of Fält charge the music with an enigmatic atmosphere and suggest a constant need to take risks. Risberg’s compositions and arrangements highlight an open and emphatic interplay that allow the seven musicians to visit engaging territories of art rock, funky jazz with brief free-improvised segments.
Mattias Risberg (keys), Mariam Wallentin (v), Josefin Runsteen (vio, perc), Fredrik Ljungkvist (s, cl), David Stackenäs (g), Dan Berglund (b), Jon Fält (dr)