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MORMOS

Prog Folk • United States


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Mormos biography
Out of the remains of a super psychedelic rock band called SPOILS OF WAR, which develop an extra-cerebral rock containing dreamy folk rock, acid rock and electronic collages, and whose albums fetch fortunes, James Cuomo formed Mormos. The group moved to France and concentrated on the European scene playing a folk-rock that was rather complementary to the kind of the old world. Their sound on the first album can be likened to Incredible String Band, whuile their excellent second album MAGIC SPELL OF MOTHER'S WRATH... delved into a mixture of jazz and folk, somehow stepping between The Pentangle and John Martyn. Their only two albums are highly revered in folk circles but certainly deserve the proghead's attention.



Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Excellent second album



Discography:
Great Wall Of China (70)
MAGIC SPELL OF MOTHER'S WRATH... (71)

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great wall of china LPgreat wall of china LP
NO LABEL
Vinyl$30.00 (used)
Magic Spell of Mother's WrathMagic Spell of Mother's Wrath
Import
PID 2006
Audio CD$14.69 (used)
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MORMOS discography


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MORMOS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
Great Wall Of China
1970
3.49 | 3 ratings
Magic Spell of Mother's Wrath
1972

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MORMOS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Great Wall Of China by MORMOS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Great Wall Of China
Mormos Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars I can’t even remember now why I picked this CD reissue up two or three years ago, along with the band’s second and final release. The group’s music has been compared to Incredible String Band and Comus, so that probably had something to do with it. And the association to those bands is reasonable to anyone who has heard music from all three groups.

But Mormos are really off in a world of their own as well. A bunch of Americans who left their theater troupe in Paris to make avant-folk music for the benefit of Frenchmen, Mormos managed, if nothing else, to leave a legacy of two quite interesting studio albums for the folks at Spalax to rediscover a quarter-century later. I don’t personally think these songs are groundbreaking or extraordinary enough to justify the prices their original vinyl issues command, but given a chance the music on this debut (and to a lesser extent the follow-up release) are worth a listen at least.

It took me a while to get there though. The first time I played this CD is struck me more as tepid stuff and not worth much attention. Looking back now as I pull this out of the dusty stack that’s been its home for a while, I realize that the real guilty culprit is the meandering and uninspired title track. Once you get past that one, most of the rest of the album is quite charming and engaging. Maybe toss out the helium-huffing vocals on “The Crimson Uniform” as well, but everything else is okay.

The band sticks fairly close to the acoustic, ethnic instruments / artsy vocals / progressive arrangements on most tracks, with the lyrics and choice of instruments (including balala´kas, a zither, recorders and flutes) yielding the folk bent. When the band is on they are quite good: Annie Hat and Elliott Delman’s harmonizing vocals on “Smelling Like a Rose”; the very RobinWilliamson-sounding lyrics and jaunty strings on “O Mistress Mine”; and the clearly Comus-inspired “Paranoid Nightdream” are good examples (I suspect “Listen to the Flavour” was also meant to expound on the Comus sound).

Elsewhere the group experiments to mixed results, but other than the aforementioned title track and “The Crimson Uniform” the results are mildly interesting at least. “Smelling Like a Rose” focuses on multipart vocal harmonies somewhat at the expense of the music, but not surprising given the theatrical backgrounds of several members. The Bard adaptation “St. Ives” has more to recommend it than is obvious at first; it took me several repeated playings to begin to appreciate the aural portrait the band was trying to paint, and in retrospect I wonder if they would have been better-served to open the record with this hypnotic and understated gem.

And the band can’t help but acknowledge their American roots as well. “Now is Made in America” is one of the longest tracks on the album, and is dominated by experimental flute and recorder and with somewhat difficult to follow lyrics. “Poughkeepsie” on the other hand sounds like a poetry slam entry put to music, chanting the praises (sort of) of that New York state city.

In all this is a pretty decent reissue, one that unfortunately I had to wait a while to learn to appreciate. For anyone into the ISB/Comus/Dr Strangely Strange vein of progressive folk, this is an album that will likely appeal to you. For those who cringe at the term “acid folk”, keep moving – nothing to see here. If you do decide to invest in this one though I’d strongly recommend skipping the title track, at least until you’ve had a chance to play the rest of the CD several times over. Its not that this song is necessarily bad, its just that in my experience that one track changed the entire tenor of the record, and not in a good way. Anyway, three stars and well recommended to most Anglo prog folk fans.

peace

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 Magic Spell of Mother's Wrath by MORMOS album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.49 | 3 ratings

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Magic Spell of Mother's Wrath
Mormos Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars Mormos were one of those products of the late sixties that end up being featured on those VH1 ‘Where are they now?’ shows, although I don’t know if any of these guys ever made it onto one of those episodes. Like other acid/psych rockers of the late sixties, several members of this band left one such band (Spoils of War, which I’d never heard of outside the context of Mormos) and formed an acoustic folk group that migrated in true hippie fashion to France to spend a few years – well, being hippies I guess. The group released a couple of albums before a few of them wandered back to the U.S. to land in a more conventional rock group named Mountain Bus (and later renamed to SkyFarmer after they were not surprisingly sued by Leslie West and his Mountain crew).

The music on this, Mormos’ second and final album, is a mildly interesting blend of acoustic folk, inevitable mellow psych influences, and some pretty odd vocals. Annie Hat (now Ann Lindquist) plays flute and provides plead vocals, while the rest of the band lays down these wandering tracks of domra, cello, acoustic guitar, balalaika, zither, recorder and various whistles and hand drums. This is a fairly short album at only a bit more than 30 minutes, although the Spalax reissue includes a couple of bonus tracks.

There’s nothing too revolutionary or exciting about this particular album, and the leanings are closer to free-form jazz on many places than to actual folk, but Hat’s vocals keep the folk fašade going well enough for the most part.

This is another of those old American folk records that fetches prices that exceed the actual merits of the music, but thanks to reissues those of us with more modest discretionary income can have a listen as well. The lengthy “Rit Yellow” is the marquee track on the album with persistent acoustic guitar strumming laying a bed for the various flutes, recorders, whistles and stringed instruments that seem to be largely improvising throughout most of the nine-plus minutes that the track runs. An interesting but rather unfocused piece of music that pretty much describes the rest of the album. Several of the other tracks aren't much more than remnants of a couple minutes or less duration with little to distinguish them.

I wouldn’t go out your way to find this one unless you are a fan of obscure early American folk music with psych and jazz leanings. That’s kind of a narrow interest group, but if you are one of those then this should probably be in your collection. Otherwise I’ll just say this is a low three star effort and leave it at that.

peace

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 Magic Spell of Mother's Wrath by MORMOS album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.49 | 3 ratings

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Magic Spell of Mother's Wrath
Mormos Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars After their concession-less debut album, the group lost two members (even if both of them end up on the album as guests) but managed to find a new sound and this album is clearly of a much greater interest for progheads. Again recorded in Europe (partly in Paris, partly in London), the music incorporates jazz elements that were previously absent, even if their leader James Cuomo had fiddled around with them in his previous group Spoils Of War, and acid-psych-jazzy-electronic-folk rock ensemble.

After a jazzy opener Homeside, the group returns to their hippie acid folk for a trio of short bluesy-folk tunes culminating in silliness with Plastered In Paris. Retuirning shortly to the jazz realm with Doves Are White and then plungeing for the Joni Mitchell-inspired Cows In My Colourbook, the first side is a bit unfocused and not preparing us for what else is to come.

After the almost a capella Hush and the disturbingly quiet No 5 In The Book, the album reaches its climax with the amazing 9-min+ Rit Yellow (this track was already played with Spoils Of War), and the group shows everything they are capable of with their incredible Spanish Corrida lyrics drama to go with the bolero-flamenco feel of the song the whole thing incredibly sprinkled in jazzy interplay. Cuomo's clarinet sounds a bit like Maneige's Jerome Langlois and the flute answering him is equally excellent and the whole thing just climaxes grandiosely. This track is worth the price alone of the album, even if you get an unremarkable Lady Of The Night to end the record.

Wjhile I would not say that Mormos is one of the most spectacular example of progressive folk, this album is definitely worth the proghead's investigations.

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 Great Wall Of China by MORMOS album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Great Wall Of China
Mormos Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars While their first album can be hard to azccess for the uninitiated folk fan, the progheads loving The Incredible String Band should have no problems with this first offering. This debut does not hold that much interest for progheads looking for complex fusions or arrangements. What is available on this album is really almost a pure acid folk record that only ISB could probably claim as theirs if it was not for Annie Williams' vocals and Sandy Spencer's cello.

PS: in 97, this album received a Spalax reissue with bonus tracks which were in the same vein.

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Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition.

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