The Tallest Man on Earth

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The Tallest Man on Earth
Tallest Man On Earth Newport 2015.jpg
Newport Folk Festival in 2015
Background information
Birth name Saras Per Kristian Matsson
Born (1983-04-30) 30 April 1983 (age 34)
Leksand, Dalarna, Sweden
Genres
Instruments
Years active 2005–present
Labels
Associated acts Montezumas, Bon Iver, Strand of Oaks, Idiot Wind
Website www.thetallestmanonearth.com

Saras Per Kristian Matsson (born 30 April 1983) is a singer-songwriter from Dalarna, Sweden who performs under the stage name of The Tallest Man on Earth. Matsson grew up in Leksand, and began his solo career in 2006, having previously been the lead singer of the indie band Montezumas. His music has often drawn comparisons to the music of Bob Dylan.[1][2][3]

Since 2006, Matsson has released four full-length albums and two EPs. He records and produces these in his home, and usually records his voice and guitar together on one track. He is known both by critics and his fans for his charismatic stage presence.[4][5]

He was previously married to Amanda Bergman, also known by the stage name Idiot Wind.[6] Together, they wrote the music for the Swedish drama film Once a Year (Swedish: En gång om året).

Biography[edit]

Early life and career beginnings[edit]

Matsson was born on 30 April 1983 and grew to a height of 5' 8" in Leksand, Dalarna, Sweden. Before he began his solo career, he was the lead singer of the indie band Montezumas.

Matsson's first solo release, The Tallest Man on Earth, was released in 2006. The EP received positive reviews.[7][8]

At the start of his solo career, Matsson didn't plan to make music full-time, and he released his music without providing personal information or photographs of himself to journalists.[9]

Shallow Grave (2008–2009)[edit]

In 2008, Matsson released an album, Shallow Grave which was praised by the music site Pitchfork[10] and was listed #47 on Pitchfork's list of the 50 Best Albums of 2008.[11] The album received generally favorable reviews.[1][12] Following Shallow Grave's release, Matsson was chosen as the opening act for the American indie folk band Bon Iver.[13] The resulting publicity led to a solo tour throughout the United States, Australia and Europe, where he attracted large crowds in spite of the lack of a record deal or distribution in the United States.[9]

The song Pistol Dreams, also released as a single, appeared in the Swedish television serial How Soon Is Now? (Swedish: Upp till kamp).[14]

On 9 October 2009, Matsson visited the Daytrotter studio, where he recorded four songs, including a cover of Bob Dylan's I Want You.[15] At that time Matsson cited Roscoe Holcomb as an influence for his singing style,[16] and later included Emmylou Harris, Feist and Cat Power as influences.[17]

The Wild Hunt (2010–2012)[edit]

Matsson performing as The Tallest Man on Earth on 17 November 2010

Mattson signed with the American label Dead Oceans, and in April 2010 released his second album, The Wild Hunt."[9] The album was well received.[18][19][20][21][22] The single King of Spain contains, besides the title track, a cover of Paul Simon's Graceland and the previously unreleased track Where I Thought I Met the Angels; it was sold exclusively at the subsequent European tour. During the late summer and autumn of 2010 Matsson went on tour in North America and Europe.[23]

The album was followed that same year by an EP, Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird, which also got good reviews.[24][25][26] The EP was released through the iTunes Store in September, and in November was published on CD, LP and MP3. The album consists of five songs, all written for The Wild Hunt; Like the Wheel the conclusion of many of Matsson's gigs, and The Dreamer, was the first recording on which he plays electric guitar.[27]

The Wild Hunt garnered Matsson several award nominations. In 2011, he was nominated in the category "Best Male Artist" in the Grammis Awards,[28] the Swedish equivalent of the American Grammy Awards, but lost to Håkan Hellström.[29] Matsson was also nominated in the category "pop" in the 2011 P3 Gold Awards,[30] but lost to Malmö indie pop band This Is Head.[31] In February 2011, Matsson won the Manifest Award in the "singer/songwriter" category; he was also nominated in the "live" category, lost to Robyn.[32]

On 5 April 2011, Matsson participated in the BBC's program, Later... with Jools Holland, where he performed the songs King of Spain and Love Is All.[33] In June of the same year, Matsson's debut EP, The Tallest Man on Earth, was reissued with the previously unreleased track In the Pockets exclusive to the vinyl edition of the reissue. In July, he released the single Weather of a Killing Kind as part of the 2011 Adult Swim Singles program.[34]

In August 2011, Matsson had contributed to the soundtrack of the Swedish drama film En gång om året (English: Once a Year), along with the Idiot Wind.[35] The film premiered at the Gothenburg Film Festival on 29 January 2012 and had a theatrical release on 17 May 2013.[36]

On 27 January 2012, Matsson took part in the Swedish TV game show, På spåret where he, backed by a studio band, performed two cover songs: Thin Lizzy's Dancing in the Moonlight and Cornelis Vreeswijk's En Fattig Trubadur (English: A Poor Troubadour).[37] In February of that year re-released single, King of Spain as 12" vinyl for the event Record Store Day. the album was limited to 2000 copies.[38]

There's No Leaving Now (2012–2013)[edit]

Mattsson performing as The Tallest Man on Earth at Bonnaroo 2013

On 12 June 2012 (June 11 in the UK), Matsson released his third studio album as The Tallest Man on Earth, There's No Leaving Now, on Dead Oceans. The album was recorded by Matsson himself in his home studio in Dalarna during the latter part of 2011 and early 2012.[2] The album was streamed on Dead Oceans' website a week before its official release.[39]

Along with the album, Matsson announced a summer tour throughout Europe and the United States including two gigs in Sweden (at the Södra Teatern (English: Southern Theatre) in Stockholm) and a performance at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island.[40] Matsson also toured in Europe in October 2012.[41]

On 28 January 2013, Matsson took part in a benefit concert for the American musician Jason Molina, who did not have health insurance and, consequently, was in debt after a hospital stay. The concert took place at the Södra Teatern (English: Southern Theatre) in Stockholm, where Matsson played alongside, among others, I'm Kingfisher and Idiot Wind.[42] Molina died on 16 March 2013.[43]

Dark Bird Is Home (2015–present)[edit]

Matsson's fourth studio album as The Tallest Man on Earth, Dark Bird Is Home, was released on 12 May 2015 on Dead Oceans. The album was largely inspired by Matsson's divorce from Amanda Bergman as well as the death of a close family member, and its more elaborate instrumentation represented a musical shift from previous albums.[44]

Following its release, Matsson performed—with a full band—at several festivals, including the Roskilde Festival in 2015[45] and the Edmonton Folk Music Festival in 2016.[46]

Musical style[edit]

Critics have compared The Tallest Man on Earth to Bob Dylan both in terms of songwriting ability and vocal style.[47][48][49] When asked about his lyrical style, Matsson explains that he began listening to Bob Dylan at fifteen, and upon hearing Dylan's cover material, he "tried to figure out where those songs came from" and became slowly exposed to early American folk, such as Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. But he is careful to qualify this, saying "I don't consider my work to be a part of any tradition. This is how I play. This is how I write songs."[50]

With regard to his guitar technique, Matsson uses a variety of open tunings, and standard tuning to a lesser degree. He had classical guitar training in his youth, but says he "never really focused on it" and that by the end of high school he "got bored playing guitar because it was like math",[51] until he then discovered open tunings while listening to Nick Drake in his early twenties. He was drawn to this style of playing because it allowed him to focus on singing while still performing intricate music.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums
List of albums, with selected chart positions, sales, and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions
SWE
[52]
BEL
(VL)

[53]
CAN
[54]
FR
[55]
NL
[56]
US
[57]
UK
[58]
Shallow Grave
  • Released: 5 March 2008
  • Label: Gravitation, Mexican Summer
  • Formats: CD, LP, Download
The Wild Hunt
  • Released: 13 April 2010
  • Label: Dead Oceans, Gravitation
  • Formats: CD, LP, Download
38 82 176
There's No Leaving Now[59]
  • Released : 11 June 2012
  • Label: Dead Oceans, Gravitation
  • Formats: CD, LP, Download
14 74 37 110 40 35
Dark Bird Is Home[60]
  • Released: 12 May 2015
  • Label: Dead Oceans, Gravitation
  • Formats: CD, LP, Download
11 68 40 67 69
EPs
Singles
Year Title Album
2008 "The Gardener" Shallow Grave
2008 "Pistol Dreams" Shallow Grave
2010 "The Wild Hunt" The Wild Hunt
2010 "The King of Spain" The Wild Hunt
2010 "The Dreamer" Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird
2011 "Weather of a Killing Kind" Adult Swim Singles Program
2012 "1904" There's No Leaving Now
2015 "Sagres" Dark Bird Is Home
2015 "Dark Bird Is Home" Dark Bird Is Home
2016 "Time Of The Blue" n/a
2016 "Rivers" n/a

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ross Hoffmann, K. "Review: Shallow Grave". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "The Tallest Man on Earth". Dead Oceans. Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Hilton, Robin. "The Tallest Man on Earth in Concert". NPR Music. Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "Live Review: The Tallest Man On Earth: Antone's; Sept. 18". Flipsidesounds.com. 2010-09-20. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  5. ^ Steinborn, Derek (2011-02-03). "Artist Spotlight: The Tallest Man On Earth". The Midwest Man. Archived from the original on 2012-07-12. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  6. ^ "Idiot Wind är fortfarande kluven". DT. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  7. ^ Deming, Mark. "The Tallest Man on Earth". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  8. ^ "Review: The Tallest Man on Earth". Kritiker.se. 10 April 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2016. 
  9. ^ a b c Gustafsson, Anders K (10 April 2010). "Friheten och musiken viktigast". Dalarnas Tidningar (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 13 April 2010. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  10. ^ Petrusich, Amanda (6 May 2008). "Review: Shallow Grave". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  11. ^ "The 50 Best Albums of 2008". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  12. ^ Hellquist, Pierre (4 March 2008). "Recension: Shallow Grave". Sonic Magazine. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  13. ^ "The Tallest Man on Earth". Sodrateatern.com. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  14. ^ "Soundtrack: Upp till kamp". Klicktrack.com. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  15. ^ Moeller, Sean (9 October 2009). "The Tallest Man on Earth". Daytrotter.com. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  16. ^ Gunnarsson, Fredrik (22 September 2008). "5x5 The Tallest Man on Earth". Transition.se. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  17. ^ Hansson, Nils (8 December 2010). "The Tallest Man on Earth, Idiot Wind på Södra teatern". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish).  (login required)
  18. ^ "Recensioner av The Wild Hunt". Kritiker.se. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  19. ^ Larson, Annika (20 April 2010). "New Music Tuesday: The Tallest Man on Earth and Two Door Cinema Club". The Oklahoma Daily. Archived from the original on 2010-04-24. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
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  21. ^ Ross Hoffman, K. "Review: The Wild Hunt". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
  22. ^ Howe, Brian (14 April 2010). "Review: The Wild Hunt". Paste Magazine. 
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  24. ^ Lymangrover, Jason. "Review: Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 24 November 2010. 
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  28. ^ Linde, Eva (16 January 2011). "Poplight tippar vinnarna på Grammisgalan 2011". Poplight. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  29. ^ Dahlander, Gustav (17 January 2011). "Robyn och Håkan Hellström dominerade Grammisgalan 2011". Poplight. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  30. ^ "Alla nominerade till P3 Guld 2011". Sveriges radio. Retrieved 16 February 2011. 
  31. ^ "Vinnarna i P3 Guld 2011". Sveriges radio. Retrieved 16 February 2011. 
  32. ^ Gustafsson, Anders K (5 February 2011). "Tallest Man on Earth fick Manifestpris". Dalarnas Tidningar (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 2011-02-09. Retrieved 3 March 2011. 
  33. ^ "Tallest Man on Earth on BBC's Later with Jools Holland". Dead Oceans. 8 April 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2011. 
  34. ^ "Weather of a Killing Kind". Impossibletrees.com. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  35. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth and Idiot Wind to Score Film". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  36. ^ "En gång om året". Svensk Filmdatabas. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  37. ^ "The Tallest Man on Earth Plays Thin Lizzy Cover on Swedish Game Show". Dead Oceans. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  38. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth Releases Exclusive 12″ for Record Store Day 2012". Dead Oceans. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  39. ^ "LISTEN: The Tallest Man On Earth's "There's No Leaving Now" Available for Streaming on NPR". Dead Oceans. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  40. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth Announces New Album "There's No Leaving Now," & Select Summer Tour Dates". Dead Oceans. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  41. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth Announces New Tour Dates". Dead Oceans. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  42. ^ "Cross the Road Molina". Södra Teatern. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  43. ^ Pitchfork: R.I.P. Jason Molina
  44. ^ Barton, Laura. "The Tallest Man on Earth: 'It feels like such a freedom to be loud'". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2017. 
  45. ^ Gordon, Jeremy (10 February 2015). "Dark Bird Is Home". Pitchfork. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  46. ^ " 2016 Edmonton Folk Fest an understated, wonderful weekend". Edmonton Sun, By Fish Griwkowsky. August 07, 2016
  47. ^ Pareles, Jon (10 December 2008). "Two Variations on an Acoustic Theme". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  48. ^ O'Neil, Luke (4 October 2010). "Tallest Man on Earth is a player with range". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  49. ^ Gill, Andy (9 April 2010). "Album: The Tallest Man On Earth, The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)". The Independent. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  50. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth interview - Suhaib Shaikh (part 1)". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  51. ^ "The Tallest Man On Earth interview - Kristian Matsson (part 3)". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  52. ^ "Swedish Charts - The Tallest Man on Earth - Albums". Swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  53. ^ "Charts Vlaanderen - The Tallest Man on Earth - Albums" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  54. ^ "Albums : Top 100". Canoe.ca. Archived from the original on 25 June 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  55. ^ "French Charts - The Tallest Man on Earth - Albums". Lescharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  56. ^ "Dutch Charts - The Tallest Man on Earth - Albums" (in Dutch). Dutchcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  57. ^ "The Tallest Man on Earth Album & Song Chart History - Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  58. ^ "The Tallest Man on Earth Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 5 August 2017. 
  59. ^ "Pre-order The Tallest Man On Earth's "There's No Leaving Now," New Single Available for Free Download News". Dead Oceans. 2012-05-15. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  60. ^ "The Tallest Man on Earth Returns With New Album Dark Bird Is Home". 2015-02-11. Retrieved 2015-02-11. 

External links[edit]