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Gig Review: Ulli Mattssonn Album Launch
A March evening, and I find myself walking down the waterways of Hackney wick, in search of the De Drie Gebroeders, and the fire set to signal guests in. Spotting the 100-year-old Dutch barge, strung with bunting and adorned with candles, moored alongside 3 other barges, the venue for the evening is found.
Scandinavian folk artist Ulli Mattsson both lives and works on her beautiful Dutch barge, and last week launched her debut album ‘Feral’ from this unique setting. Amidst a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, spattered with friends and family, Ulli’s music just seemed to fit. Listening to her performance in the place where these songs originated and were recorded added another element to the evening.
Settling down in the small cabin of De Drie Gebroeders, every possible surface being sat on, the evening began with two members of Fjorden, Emma Ringqvist and Lena Nyberg. An electric guitar, loop pedal, and some lovely harmonies, Fjorden were excellent in their simplicity and charm. The appearance of a stylophone in their closing song was also a good move. Following Fjorden, after a small break to fill up with drinks from the adjacent barge posing as the evenings bar, writer Adam Weymouth told the story of a feral child, and the attempt to integrate this child of wolves back into human society. Once again, in the cosy cabin of De Drie Gebroedors, Adam’s story was listened to intently by his audience, as this fascinating tale was told with skill by an excellent teller.
On to the main act. As Ulli set up for her performance, the audience milled around the barge, refilling drinks and chatting away. Something about the barge’s setting seemed to ooze comfort, with many people sat around the outside area wrapped in blankets and sipping cocktails. Back inside for Ullis performance, accompanied by Emma Ringqvist on piano and Lena Nyberg on drums and various other instruments through the course of the set. Having not encountered Ulli’s music before, I sat on the step near the door to the cabin with a grin on my face for the whole performance. Wonderfully honest and raw, coupled with some beautiful song writing, Ulli’s performance gripped me from the off. In particular, the new single ‘Mother’. Simplicity at its best, ‘Mother’ has a rough quality to it that makes it greatly accessible and textured, right down to the slight fret buzz of Ulli’s nylon string guitar adding to the overflowing character of this song.
Ulli’s roots as a double bass player certainly shine through in her playing and sound, with her plucking motion of playing reflecting that of and upright bass, giving a percussive element to her guitar lines. With Emma and Lena providing some haunting harmonies, the performance overall was beautiful.
As a gig and album launch, this was something truly unique and special, with the setting of Ulli’s home making the experience that much more intimate. An excellent evening of music and storytelling, this album launch really was a pleasure to be a part of.