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Zamla Mammaz Manna - För Äldre Nybegynnare CD (album) cover


Zamla Mammaz Manna



2.65 | 41 ratings

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3 stars Swedish meatballs

This was the first release under the moniker Zamla Mammas Manna. Something happened to this crazy Swedish flock during the mid 70s, that inspired them to change route and thereby look at music in another fashion - dive into it with an altogether new inspiration. Now, while the old Samla Mamma Manna were anything but your average prog rock band, - in fact I think it's safe to say that there was nobody out there who sounded quite like them during this period in music - something did happen during their last tour under the SMM name. They were performing with a brass band and playing music that wasn't theirs to begin with. Snorungarnas Symphony was the brainchild of Swedish-American composer Greg Fitzpatrick, who also fiddled about with notorious Swedish rock figures Hansson and Karlsson during the latter part of the 60s. I personally think that things were bound to change for SMM, because what I get from these guys - what strikes me the most about them, is there inability to stand still - there will to drive on and push through. They were like human bulldozers in a world of pretty obstacles.

Maybe it was time for a change. Coste Apetrea was replaced with a new guitarist called Eino Haapala, and the group was now pushing the sonic boundaries even further. What was possible within the confines of their own music? This is one of the main reasons that they during this time were associated with the Rock In Opposition movement, and together with bands like Henry Cow, Univers Zero and Stormy Six - the quest for music without a safety net was on - music with no self-preservation - free as a drunk ship mouse dancing merrily around on the very edge of conformity - these acts had now ventured out on a ledge that threatened to break off at any given moment.

För Äldre Nybegynnare is Zamla Mammas Manna's first peep, and although it was released as a double album with Schlagerns mystik, it is still very much a debut. It's comprised of live recordings done at various Swedish live shows all through 1976-77. It is not the most accomplished live recordings I've ever been subjected to - in fact it sometimes comes off sounding like a garage job, although strangely enough, every nuance of any instrument played here is audible, which had me puzzled for a long time. Some kind of mysterious recording technique that sounds like it's done under an old correlated iron roof during a heavy storm, yet still sporting a distinct clarity from the individual musicians, which obviously must be packed up in tin foil and helium vacuums. I'm not entirely sure, but it sure sounds unique and atmosphere inducing. Safe to say that I haven't bumped into any other album sounding quite like this ever in my life.

Now whereas the old group did sound frantic and haphazard - like a freaked out circus playing far too many melodies all at the same time whilst inhabiting a slightly skewed train wreck, the tunes as such could never be accused of being jams. Sure there were sections that inspired a bit of laissez faire - do whatever you want, - BUT in essence they were highly orchestrated and well thought out pieces, even if that sounds a bit mad.

Zamla Mammas Manna on the other hand were diving head first into the unknown. It was about improvisations and loose structures based on whatever mood, sound, feel that was prevailing at the time of execution. Yeah - music of the moment, and while that sounds a bit like jazz, För Äldre Nybegynnare does not entirely sound like it. It doesn't sound like anything other than itself - to be quite honest. Take the first 2 cuts here called Urmakare(Watchmaker). Starting off with a jolly guy singing: WAHALALALHAALAWA - then seeping into a cacophonous guitar wall, some snuffling electronics from before the time of Mario Brothers, but not unlike it - and tadah! you have the intro. Then the drumming starts with it's nervous twitching along with a deep fat bass chugging along like a dirty swamp monster from your darkest dreams. It's angular, mad, uneven, imaginative like a children's fairytale and stuffed full of small segments swaying the track to change coarse for the more gritty, rocking, ethereal or everything in between.

This could be a description of the album itself. A constant battle of differentiating moods and tempers - all conveyed in notes and musical journeys that will have you reaching for your sanity from time to time. It's funny as well, but maybe that is down to the strange vocals. Man they make me laugh! Harsh screams sounding like the food of nightmares - then lingering into some bizarre yodelling textures only to end up with a hair caught in the mouth - coughing, spitting and grinning. Seriously though, this album is also very beautiful. Some of it is achingly ethereal with its mumbling screeching guitars that wander about in mid air. The long drawn out piece called Seldon In Memoriam is almost ambient, and to an electronic initiated like myself - that is certainly interesting. Still it sounds like a cartoon run amok in the studio of Tangerine Dream anno 1972 with creepy soundscapes and flickering marimba noises, a guy singing in the shower and a stagnant shaman like feel to the organs, as if these guys were trying to conjure up the god of insignificance. It is a snapshot of a crazed out band trying to do their very best not to fall in, obey and take orders. It ends in the most wonderful evil guitar riffing and drum assault - sounding like the whole of the studio suddenly got flipped over on one side, - breathing its last breaths and finally silently ebbing out in an eerie type of electronically infused epilogue.

This will almost certainly not be for everyone, and if you are one of those who think that Frank Zappa on occasion gets a bit too experimental and weird, then you should probably stay away from this outing. If you however think of Henry Cow and others that veered into the more abrasive and shapeshifting forms of music - those from the RIO movement that pushed the envelope and ran with the zebras - then you are most likely going to love this album just as much as I do. It's bizarre, off, beautifully entrancing, cartoonish, gritty, fun like hell, cheery, evil, schizophrenic, waltzing, folky, angular, heavy, corny, electronic, staccato, jump-rope like and far more things than I could ever possibly hope to attach to it. The fact of the matter is, that I adore it like Monty Python - not because I understand it, but because I'm able to flow with it - get with it like a human transformation of the river raft.

Guldbamsen | 3/5 |


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