Jared Mattson, one half of the Mattson duo, says that project came about “accidentally” after they met briefly through a mutual friend in 2014 and decided to hook up after checking out each other’s music. From there, they recorded the album with no timetable and no rules, just letting the suave melodies pour out at their own pace. The whole process primed them for ample time jamming on the road together for their first North American tour.
“It didn’t take long to adapt to playing with each other because the physical playing/practicing is only a small percentage of what it takes to be well-rehearsed,” Mattson says. “The rest is listening and spending a large part of the day thinking about what you are going to do and how you will do it. Every note we tracked in the studio and every sound that was mixed sunk in and it’s waiting somewhere in the brain to be released.”
The opening notes of Star Stuff rattle like the rustic southwest, then open into finely intertwined spacey melodies, thick in echo but sparse in lyrics (the first utterance of speech doesn’t come until the third song, “JBS”). By “Don’t Blame Yourself,” their harmonies disintegrate into a more avant-garde din, digging deeper into their musical experiment. All around, Star Stuff is the musically highbrow answer to the sounds that usually come from lowbrow jazz dives.
The perfect synchronization of the members’ styles — or, in some cases, strategic lack thereof — demonstrates just how well their musical tastes mesh together.
“As far as chemistry, between eating sandwiches and drinking coffee together, recording, and the celebratory pop up show we did in Oakland after we finished tracking, us three have had that down for a bit,” Mattson adds.
But this isn’t some one-and-done effort. In terms of possible future endeavors with the project, Mattson is confident: “I think we will always make music together!” Considering that this is Bundick’s first studio album since 2015’s What For?, the odds are pretty high that he’s right.