• David Bentley

The Outlaw Ocean Project: the latest batch of releases - Mats Bergström and Sam Lux



We have twice before featured this project which aims to attract musicians from around the world to make music related to issues surrounding lawlessness at sea and associated topics.


The most recent wave of The Outlaw Ocean Music Project has just been released, including music from Nordic contributors Mats Bergström and Sam Lux.


The Swedish Bergström is an Instrumentalist, the acoustic guitar being his particular paddle. He has three short tracks out under the banner ‘In Sea’, which is a slightly obscure title; it sounds like it could be a euphemism for ‘man overboard’. Each track is named after a particular Gulf, sea or bay.


The first track, ‘Gulf of Guinea’, features some intricate finger picking on an acoustic guitar while the spoken section (as opposed to lyrics) makes a statement about the sea being a sanctuary, free from ‘political meddling’. If only that could be true. The burial of Osama bin Laden at sea is unfortunately just one example of how politics pervades every location.


‘Sargasso Sea’ references the area of the Atlantic Ocean which is famous for the degree of underwater visibility, for being next door to the infamous Bermuda Triangle, for a history of piracy and where things are often ‘lost’ forever. It is therefore a much heavier, almost jazz-like piece which refers to some of these attributes, while also featuring unusual sound effects, of bubbles from an air supply breaking the surface and…seagulls. Or are they albatrosses?

‘Baffin Bay’ is a frozen area in Inuit territory, between Canada and Greenland of course, quite unlike the other two. Yet the guitar work has more of a flamenco feel to it. The voiceover in this instance makes reference to the oceans being the wildest and least understood regions on the planet. While it is hard to disagree with that on this track he doesn’t quite convey that idea with music that sounds like it would be more appropriate to the Balearic Sea.


Nevertheless, across the three tracks Mats Bergström demonstrates how he has the ear to turn the images of highly specific locations into equally identifiable music.


Sam Lux’s (Finland) ‘Flow of Empathy’ is from the multi-artist, 41-track ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ album which relates to the project in its entirety. An unspoken piano piece, it could be the theme playing in a film or TV series while anxious wives await the return of fishermen from a storm, offering mutual support.

As usual, the quality of these recordings is very high. What I would like to hear is an actual ABACAB (verse/chorus/verse/bridge/verse/chorus) song, a la Genesis, just to add a bit of variety, if anyone is up for it?


Find the Outlaw Ocean Music project here, Find Mats Bergström on his website, and Sam Lux here.