Biography

“I’m coming back to a love affair, and applying this huge treasure trove of experience across different worlds. And it’s not like someone doing it in their twenties or thirties. There are no boundaries for me now. I’ve given up everything, and now focusing on something I should have been doing 40 years ago.”

Mustafa Khetty, composer, song writer, producer

Mustafa Khetty is an enigma. A world traveller, gold bullion trader and a techno entrepreneur, he migrated through rarefied realms of privilege in the Middle and Far East. But buried inside him was the Irish schoolboy who lived to make music during the high days of prog rock, until his Sri Lankan parents’ disapproval ripped those ambitions away. That dream began when in 1971, aged 11, Mustafa left tropical, humid Sri Lanka for “damp, soggy” beloved Ireland. This essentially migratory soul soon embraced his chilly new home. “We were all packed off to this strange little island,” he recalls of the cultural and climactic shock. “If it wasn’t for Irish humour, we would have all gone mad. But I became Irish, because the music, prose and poetry, classical and choral music and literature inspired me. Graduating from college in 1981, Mustafa soon found himself in New York, observing the ferocious behaviour dramatised in the movie Wall Street and The Wolf of Wall Street first-hand. “Because it’s an ecosystem where it’s possible to lose your humanity, spirit and principles. A place where one can be intellectual, and a savage.” Instead, his listening, like his life, ranged across the world: New Age, Jazz, Ethnic, South American, Korean, Japanese, North Indian, Himalayan, Tibetan, Romanian, Georgian and Iranian music. Now, 40 years later, Mustafa is a musician again, masterminding The Morpheus Project’s Mozaick, a classic prog album steeped in the genre’s virtuoso excess, and fuelled by a wildly different lifetime’s experience. “There are no boundaries for me now. I’ve given up everything, and focusing on what I should have been doing 40 years ago.” A bohemian, at times recluse, he remains a maverick. Mustafa lives between Sri Lanka, UAE (Dubai) and Turkey (Istanbul) where his studio is located (www.morpheusmusica.com), and visits Ireland regularly.

You see? I could have finished my review 300 words before. If you like to explore different kinds of progressive rock or if you simply like great music, then please go and check this album because it should be ranked among the best of the year.

Brilliant album!

Ignacio Bernaola – DPRP.net

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He flits through the “Mozaick” video as the Project’s eminence grise, white-bearded and wordless, an intriguing enigma. In conversation he’s cultured and urbane, with a free-ranging mind untrammeled by convention. He is as prone to vanish in monastic retreat, an unlikely aesthete, as sculpt a guitar solo with a Zappa aesthetic. Freed from business shackles, he is writing a musical about the Irish revolutionary hero Michael Collins, and an uncensored book about his elite peers. The Morpheus Project consumes him most, though, the culmination of a nearly lost dream.

Rock music at its most grandly baroque also claimed him. “Being a product of the 70’s,” he says, “I had ELP, Wishbone Ash, Yes, Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Genesis, these mythical, legendary musicians. Rick Wakeman said, ‘We’re not interested in pop music. We went our own way’. It struck a huge chord. This experimentation in prog rock laid the foundation for whatever happened after. They were the craziest and the nuttiest. Like people going to California,they couldn’t go any further. “ Far away from London’s pop heartland, Mustafa saw Queen in 1975, and bumped into Gary Moore and Thin Lizzy in pubs and clubs. But his own musical progression was already done. “Music was in the veins from very young,” he explains. “I was beating the drums aged three. But in my family, music is not entertained as a career. The school’s music department mentioned my ability, and my parents stopped my studies. Still, I went into the piano room and played. But the music dream was dead. My family was a business family for 150 years, it’s there in the DNA. So, making money was now the strongest and satisfying urge.”

Graduating from college in 1981, Mustafa soon found himself in New York, observing the ferocious behavior dramatised in Wall Street and The Wolf of Wall Street first-hand. “My mentor Robert Howe and I were on the 17th floor of Building No 2, at the World Trade Center,” he says, picturing his next pivotal moment. “ He asked me to look across the room of traders, all anxious and glued to the screen. He said, ‘Don’t you think we may have evolved from the apes?’ That made me think. It’s an eco-system where it’s possible to lose your humanity, spirit, principles and constitution. It’s a place where one can be intellectual, and a savage.” Reagan and Thatcher’s deregulation, encouraging savage, speculative greed, was just starting. The profession his parents thought more respectable than music was about to descend into anarchy, and his mentor feared for his soul. “Robert said, ‘With your psychological makeup, you’re going to start to eat yourself. I’ve seen kids like you who lose it.” A late-night conversation with the world’s biggest bullion trader confirmed Mustafa’s resignation from Wall Street’s cannibalistic kingdom. “My brother said, ’Is water leaking out of your ears?’ I said, ‘My brain’s perfectly under control. I’m out.’

The word ‘unique’ is overused in the music industry, but believe me: what Mustafa Khetty has produced here with The Morpheus Project is 100% unique and well worth listening to. For prog fans looking for something new and fresh, this will be a treat!

Paul Whimpenny

Velvet Thunder

Mustafa began his entrepreneurial journey, just as the PC boom hit. In the ensuing years, he built a lucrative tech business and raised a family while regularly upping sticks, like a bird instinctively in flight. Following his expanding empire to the UAE, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Africa and Sri Lanka, he soaked up experiences which would indirectly inspire The Morpheus Project, and are the subject the handover of his upcoming book. “It’s about meeting exceptional personalities, and observing events,” he says. “Because I was there for the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, and unique points in history. I met presidents and prime ministers. I knew one of the greatest bullion traders, from Pakistan, who had a memory like a mainframe computer. Ask him the price of Silver on 7 September 1963 and he’d say there wasn’t, it was a Sunday!”

Mustafa became privy to how the world worked, and it wasn’t always pretty. “It gave me insight about basic instincts, which with people at these higher rungs is horrifying,” he shudders. “In the movie Tombstone, Wyatt Earp asks Doc Holliday, ‘Why do people do the things they do?’ He replies, ‘Well, they’ve got a big hole in their stomach. And no matter what they do, they can’t fill it.’ I’ve seen all sorts lose their humanity. As the great Arabic philosopher Al-Ghazali said, some people require God’s grace to stop them!”

Morpheus Project is the very definition of genre-bending music. Defying genre and vowing with scale.

Simon Smith – Higher Plain Music

Conversation with Mustafa spins from cell biology “apocrypha” to paying Brazil to save the Amazon. “Never ask an Irishman direction!”, he laughs. The cultured, moral kernel he kept intact in a world of lucre and temptation can be seen in that “Mozaick” video; his periodic instinct to vanish, too. “The director said he wanted me in it as a maestro,” he explains. “But deep down I’m very private. I can go days without saying a word to anybody. I’ve disappeared for three months, and nobody knows where I’ve been or what I’ve done. I was a disciple of a Sufi master for 12 years. Sufism’s in the Judaic tradition of spiritualism, like the disciples of Prophet Jesus who lived in caves. It believes that knowledge comes intuitively when humility and modesty increase.” The Prophet Muhammad, he notes, lived in the world as a businessman, too.

Still, in November 2017, the contradictions of his business magnate’s life, which had deteriorated into managing others’ “greed and ego”, ended. “It was a 20-second decision. Okay, I’m out.” All this time, Mustafa had consumed music, the flame lit in Ireland never wholly guttering out. Instead, his listening, like his life, ranged across the world: New Age composers, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett, South American, Korean, Japanese, North Indian, Himalayan, Tibetan, Romanian, Georgian and Iranian music, “Chinese composers who studied in the Soviet era and wrote in the style of Rimsky-Korsakov-you name it.” Now, with the business day done, the door to making music inched back open. “The sleeping DNA kicked in hard. It was now or never.”

Chapeau Mustafa Khetty, with ‘Mozaick’ you’ve managed nothing less than a masterpiece! Well worth the listen, multiple times at best, just in order to fully discover the sheer variety and beauty.

Progarchives

Mustafa doesn’t play on Mozaick, and only sings, reluctantly but tellingly, on one track, “Tomorrow Never Comes.” Instead, he is the musical director and mastermind. Now firmly rooted creatively in Istanbul, Turkey, he assembled The Morpheus Project’s pianist, percussionist, bassist and guitarist from the city’s young conservatoire and rock musicians. The clarinet, flute and other instruments, which lend Mozaick spiritual jazz’s pastoral flavours were session players. Rather than the psychedelic Anatolian rock Turkey is known for, Mustafa stitches genres in a single track. “The song “Waiting” began as a Greek-style Friesian chord progression, then we made it a rock song. We’ve since done it as classical orchestration. In “Mozaick”, you see the Middle Eastern blues. And when these guys said a beat was bizarre, I’d say, ‘Go back to Zappa!’. It was hard to get people out of their comfort zones. But as the team worked closely with me, they began to understand the logic structure, the chord progressions. They’re in tune now. “Mozaick” was the proof of how far they could go. “It took five months, in terms of the tapestry, instrumentation, cross-melodies,” he recalls. The business world prepared Mustafa for such challenges. “In the tech business, you won’t die of a heart attack”, he states with relish. “You’re living in a heart attack. I wouldn’t have a rice-bowl tomorrow if I didn’t make the right choices. So, coming from this complex background into music, and making and mixing “Mozaick”, with its 34 instruments and140 tracks, the two lives connect.” “Tomorrow Never Comes” meanwhile expands prog with ethnic percussion and Indian sitar from Mustafa’s travels, and lyrical warnings learned in life at the top: “We are the masters of perfect disasters/Forsaking our future for our own mass extinction/Data-mining machines with their algorithmic schemes. The first part of the song is about destruction,” Mustafa explains. “And the second part is about manipulation. In the 60’s, knowledge from neurological science labs and psychology departments learned how to capture shoppers attention at the supermarket checkout. These studies that should help us learn and make decisions better are sent to corporations and governments for their mass mind control.”

Mozaick isn’t, all told, an album Mustafa could have made when he was young.

Mustafa has a witty and playful observational sense of humor and has fun teasing and challenging people for their views. The band members of Morpheus Project are in their mid 20’s to early 30’s, and this keeps him young at heart, mind and spirit. He takes vocal lessons from a young Opera singer and wonders if he can reach an acceptable standard in this life time! He practices percussion with a range of instruments from the mid-East, Africa, Near Asia and the Far East. He refuses to take music lessons, considers it non-essential as he does not play an instrument and feels it may act as a rule book, which could be limiting.

He adores animals and is a keen observer of felines. He is fascinated by human creativity across disciplines, art, music, architecture, philosophy, design and technology. Mustafa is a believer of the middle path, live and let live and is firm against hate speech, racism including cultural, religious, ethnic and geographic. He says, ‘We are different so that we learn from each other.’ He enjoys a good discourse and the company of erudite scholars, he opines, ‘There is much learning and it’s like absorbing 10 books in an hour.’ A prank that he often does to friends is cooking and serving a hot spicy meal and watch them suffer!

Already receiving rave reviews from the likes of Prog Magazine, Scala BBC Introducing, Morpheus Project’s Mozaick is a must-listen album. Unique yet with elements of progressive rock at its core

Chloe Mogg – At The Barrier Live music, reviews and opinion