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Baby Grandmothers - Merkurius CD (album) cover

MERKURIUS

Baby Grandmothers

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.09 | 3 ratings

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TCat
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Baby Grandmothers is a band with a very interesting and strange past. They actually formed way back in 1967 from the ashes of the R&B band 'The T-Boones', and they supported Jimi Hendrix on one of his tours, released 1 single, and played as a house band for many years. The band is a 3-piece psychedelic band from Sweden, and were originally one of the country's key psychedelic bands. They have also reformed under a few other names, 'Mecki Mark Men' and 'Kebnekajse'. Then, in 2007, an album was finally released, which was actually a collection of tracks they recorded as a house band. This stirred interest in the band as people realized how tight this threesome was and how seminal their music was at the time.

Now, in 2018, 50 years after being formed, they have released an album of original psychedelic music. 'Merkurius' is the new album from these Swedish psychedelia originators. The band members are the original members Guitarist Kenny Hakkanson, Bengt Linnarson on bass, and Pelle Ekman on drums. Seven tracks that span over 35 minutes is what the album is comprised of, so there is nothing quite as long and expansive as in their previous album, the shortest track being about 2:30 and the longest at 7:30.

'Peloton' starts off the album with a fast moving track, and is also the shortest of the tracks. It is a heavy rocker, almost surf- rock-like, but definitely in the stoner rock forum. But throughout its short run time, it definitely has a great psychedelic flavor. It also is recorded to sound like it was performed in the decade that the genre came from.

'Adhd' has some nice sounding, swirling keyboards that establish a smooth groove, around which Kenny plays an improvised solo. A quick beat and bass line round everything out nicely. The track sounds quite current, but the organ gives the psychedelic flavor that is needed. After the 2:30 mark, the beat slows down quite a bit and the guitar plays an almost ballad-like melody. Wordless vocals come in at 4:00 when the beat gets faster and more solid. Things tend to get more progressive as a complex beat comes in and some atmospheric keyboard effects accompany the guitar now as things get near to a space-rock vibe but with that complexity still there.

'Intervall' establishes itself with a driving bass line and a melodic guitar that improvises over a simple theme. This also has a nice driving beat that suddenly changes to a gypsy-like gigue. I wasn't expecting that at all, but it's a nice surprise. Soon, it returns to the original beat again and then ventures into a krautrock jam before it goes back to the gigue that picks up speed until the end which comes too early.

'Elefant' starts with cymbal crashes and a quickly ascending bass line. Distortion and effects come in giving an eerie atmosphere. As it establishes itself, you will notice a darker and heavier feel to this track. Psychedelia is heavy in this track with a lot of feedback and dissonance, but no real melody is apparent here as there was in the previous tracks. Improvised guitar plays over an established background as in Krautrock, but the background has got its own interesting things going on.

'Dojjan' is based off a fast guitar riff, again somewhat similar to heavy stoner rock. Percussion is fast all the way through as the guitar pushes the drums to interact with it in some places. This one is also over too quickly.

'Kraftverk' starts with an echoing and rapidly repeating staccato guitar note before keys come in behind it. The repeating guitar note almost becomes drone like. Chant-like vocals come and go for short bursts. Percussion finally comes in after 2 minutes that echoes the fast repeat of the guitar with its accompanying effect. As it continues, it ventures into space-rock territory and builds in intensity. Then things slowly fade with the guitar echoing in feedback.

The final track comes upon you much too quickly. It is also the title track 'Merkurius'. This one is quite pensive at first with more wordless vocals which create a nice melody and a lot of reverb in the guitar creating sustained notes. A medium-slow beat is established by the drums just before the 2 minute mark. After a minute, the drums become more intense as things pick up. Then a nice dissonance in the guitar creates tension. The guitar gets heavier as things push forward and the music crescendos to a climax.

This is a very enjoyable album with a surprising amount of variety and excellent musicianship. There is only one glaring problem. It is way too short. I think this was done to make it more accessible, but for 3 of the tracks, it gives them an unfinished or underdeveloped feeling. I would have been happy if this album went on for another 30 minutes. But even so, I was pleasantly surprised by the scope of the music here and how it actually stretches the boundaries of the genre to make things seem more current. It is a shame that we don't have more of a discography from these guys for as long as they have been around, but I am excited for the prospect of more and glad that at least their music has been finally released to share with the world. The only thing really keeping this from being a 5 star psychedelic album is the short length of some of the songs that could have been developed better. But don't let that keep you from finding this one. Excellent!

TCat | 4/5 |

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