Collapsible Three
Collapsible Three
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WoMag article on Steve | posted May 25 2006
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Mossberg says that he will be studying music education, all the while maintaining his writing and performing. “I imagine I’ll start at the end of June. So I’ll cut out of here at the end of May. Right now I’m really at the drawing board. I have a lot of stuff that I’m writing that I hope to record later this year.”

As a musician, Mossberg is the kind of player who’s hard to peg. His listening and spheres of influence are wide-ranging and deep. When asked what’s on his iPod these days, he says, “John Coltrane’s Ascension, Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony and a singer/songwriter out of Boston named Tim Blane.”

This diversity of inspiration can be heard in his many original recordings, but it doesn’t take a discerning ear to hear that Mossberg is an artist constantly defining himself. Take his “31 songs in 31 days” project that he successfully completed in September. Not only was it a mighty feat of songwriting, performing and recording, but a revealing exercise in identity. Check out the results on his Web site at mossbergmusic.com.

The ideas for “31” came from friends, family, strangers and out of Mossberg’s head in a sort of subjects-on-demand process. He says the goal was to break out of his perfectionist inhibitions and write in a more spontaneous way.

“Right now I’m writing songs in a more relaxed manner based on topics of my choosing, which is not to say that I won’t do a spontaneous thing again.

When I did the 31 songs in 31 days, I basically arranged them in full. I did drum programming and played bass and overdubbed all kinds of layers of keyboards to get different sounds.”

Each one of the songs was written within two hours. Listen closely and you will hear that they are fully arranged and essentially a demo-quality finished sound product. Yet although they are tight little clips, Mossberg downplays his knack for soundcraft. “Due to the nature of the project, I was required to act very fast How am I going to make this sound relatively good and convey all my compositional ideas?”

In addition to recording with his own group, Mossberg has spent time in the studio with Michael Thibodeau, Raffi DerSimonian and Patty Keough, among others. These days, he is involved in a series of projects, including Collapsible Three. “My primary interest is as a singer/songwriter. I’m writing a lot of songs performing solo and with the band on occasion.” In addition to his solo efforts, he can be heard in a duo with Zac Galen, from The People’s Republic of Monsters, as well as Collapsible Three, winner of Worcester Magazine’s Turtle Boy Music Awards soul/funk category.

“Collapsible Three is experimental, electronic, ambient, jazz, funk, rock whatever you want to call it and I’m doing it with Duncan Arsenault, who is playing drums, keyboards and samples; and Craig Rawding, who is singing. It’s a foil to writing quirky and interesting songs and singing.”

When gigging, Mossberg uses a Hammond XK2 portable organ with Collapsible Three and a Yamaha electric piano and a Triton on solo dates. As a pianist, Mossberg is known for his love of melody, which shines brightly through all of his playing.

“I’m very into notes and the way that they play with each other. That extends to micro-tonality. It doesn’t need to be a 12 tonal system. Of course, my songwriting is very harmonic-sounding, but there’s strange harmony in there. I like to play with notes and chords and relationships.”

In Collapsible Three, Mossberg gets to work a lot in the art of sound-crafting. “Duncan brings more soundscape and Craig almost exclusively brings soundsculpting to the table. One interesting thing about that is, I can play very few notes and they can have great effect because they stand so starkly against something more ambient.”

As a pianist, Mossberg is virtually self-taught. “I’ve had a couple years of lessons with Dick Odgren,” he says. “He is phenomenal. I should hope that everyone around here knows that by now. He was always a very encouraging and open teacher who saw what strengths I had and was able to help me cultivate those. He impacted me greatly.”

When Mossberg played with Collapsible Three at The Turtle Boy Awards show at Tammany Hall on April 6, Odgren sat in with the band.
 

Chet Williamson may be reached at chetw@worcestermag.com.

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