Imperial Splendour is the latest project from Norwegian artist Mattis Myrland who has teamed up with a number of other Norwegian musicians to form Mattis & The Grand Trunk Road. The band take their name from one of South Asia’s oldest and longest roads that links the eastern and western regions of the Indian subcontinent. Back in 2007 Mattis studied under the Hindustani Classical Vocalist Madhumita Ray in New Delhi, India. The time spent in India has been a strong influence on Imperial Splendour. From the subtle eastern tinges in the music as well as the poetic lyrics.
‘The Judge‘ opens to atmospheric experimental sounding female vocals that have a subtle eastern flavour. Mattis’ lyrics are poetically flowing making them easy on he ear and intonationally mindful at times of Leonard Cohen.
Arrangements are fresh with no shortage of variety from the Junip sounding ‘Sleeping Dogs‘ with its eastern influences shining through the acoustic tabla mimicry to the heavier psychedelic tinged title track with vocal and guitar distortion. ‘On Your Side‘ offers a reminder of the influences again with its Indian classical violin solo. Whilst this album does dabble in experimentation and improvisation, a field Mattis is no stranger to, the overall feel is of an album of subtle gestures and influences which allow a greater emphasis on lyrics, a considered balance that works well, as well as making it a great listen.