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7 Aug 2016

Samla Mammas Manna “Måltid” 1973 Swedish Prog Rock second album






Samla Mammas Manna “Måltid” 1973 Swedish Prog Rock second album

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Second album from one of Sweden’s craziest yet most enduring and most important band, Maltid is their most stunning album ever, no matter under which name the band will record. Some three years after their debut, SMM lost percussionist Oberg, but gained guitarist Coaste Apetrea, but this didn’t alter much their direction, even if there were obvious sonic changes. Unlike its predecessor’s and its chicken shack, Maltid was recorded in a real studio during the fall 73 and received a strange third-age picnic artwork (I think Maltid is meal time), which doesn’t seem to be related to the tracks, at least not at first glance.

Starting out on some very obtuse bowels sounds (well, sorta anyway ;o), the quartet attacks their second opus on the almost 11-mins Dundrets Frojder, a constantly evolving track with some crazy percussions, weird vocals astounding overall musicianship and a Zappa-esque mastery and humour, but SMM has their own distinct sound. There is no way you could mistake it for Francesco, but it is damn well inspired, but never copied, as SMM is really giving priority to the instruments, as opposed to Frank’s often too wordy musical scheme. SMM’s vocals are often weird but actually closer to Focus than Zappa. Further down the album we have some really superb tracks like Oforutsed Folossning, some more experimental or dissonant Aterupplivate Laten, the burlesque and wordy Svackorpoangen and the slightly ethnic sounding Minaretten (with some incredible drumming) etc.. The mood always remain positive, humorous, joyous, even festive, that Maltid is actually fairly accessible despite its complexity, and I dare say that more than one prog-refractive should actually like this album, despite its left hand oddness.

This album comes with three bonus tracks, two of them from this same 73 session, and Circus Apparatha from the chicken shack sessions and the debut album. One of the tracks Minaretten 2 is absolutely vocally bonkers and it may introduce a certain reject reaction, but manages to blend in enough with the album’s overall mass of work. Blending much better in (although you can hear the major production difference between the shack and the studio) is Circus Apparatha, while unlike the Minaretten 2 track, the final Probably should’ve made the original cut.

Knowing that SMM is one of the six original groups that will found the RIO movement in 77, they are the second oldest group (Stormy Six started recording in 69 but ahead of Henry Cow) and that by then, they’ll have 4 albums, including this fantastic baby and its upcoming little sister Klossa Kuapitatet as pure Chef D'Oeuvre under their belt. This album can only be taken as a salutary musical slap in the face, no less, and assuredly the most important album out of Scandinavia. Well don’t stand there, run for it…….

Samla Mammas Manna play a unique style of music. It’s bursting with energy, invention and playfulness. Those who like their music to be SERIOUS - well, stay away. You’ll hate this. For those of us who can giggle as we listen, this is an album you won’t want to miss out on. Jazzy textures and touches of folk mingling with quirky melodies and bursts of care-free avant-garde madness, not to mention those idiosyncratic vocals that sound like a bunch of drunken gnomes burst into the studio. Yes, it’s silly at times, but that silliness is underpinned by superb musicianship and a real sense of purpose. It’s obvious that SMM knew exactly what they were up to when they recorded this album, and after a few listens you will too. I can’t really do a breakdown of the songs in this instance, as it’s such a cohesive album. Just take mine, and several others’ word for it and check out this strange, fun, and hugely rewarding music.

Highlights: “Dundrets fröjder”, “Syster system”, “Minareten”…..

I just found out this CD couple of days ago during ProgNite conducted by the Indonesian Progressive Society, Jakarta, Indonesia. As usual, there was a CD counter by Pram’s CD that I always visit the counter before the gigs of Indonesian prog bands. And, this progarchives website has really helped broadening my knowledge of bands that I have never heard before including Samla. I remembered there was excellent review by colleague collaborator Trouserpress about this album. When I saw this album was displayed at that CD counter, I wanted to give it a try. My first question to some progmates who were there around me was: “what kind of music this band plays?”. Most of them said that the music of Samla is excellent. So, I did purchase the CD. Eventhough, I hate the cover! It does not project any prog music at all if I’m judging the album by its cover.

You know what happened when I first spin the CD? Strange! Weird! It’s not the kind of Banceuy coffee that I used to sip, I would say. What is this? Uugghhh ..!!!! But hey . hold on a second . the music is neatly arranged, the harmony is great, the musicianship is excellent as they can deliver this relatively complex music flawlessly. Yoohaaa . man . I started loving the music. I gave another spin and . it grew significantly from second spin onwards! This is truly progressive: the band offers different kind of prog music far away from what it was available at the time of release. Yes, there is mellotron - that would favor those who love classic prog rock - but that’s not the soul of Smala music, I think. Samla’s music (especially this album, of course, because this is the only one I have now) is a perfect blend of Canterbury, symphonic prog, and classic rock performed mostly in comedy style. Well, I guess . because I can sense the music sounds this way to my ears. The piano / keyboard sounds remind me sometimes like Dave Stewart (Khan) or Cuby’s + Blizard (Dutch blues band) piano style. The guitar work is a marriage of classic rock style and Canterbury.

Overall, enjoying this music is truly rewarding. I have difficulty to find any comparison with the music of other bands as this kind of music is something new for me. And.. I do enjoy it. I consider this album as an excellent addition to any prog collection. Recommendation for you? I don’t think I dare to do so as this one is different. Unless, you are open mind to prog music. This album may favor those who love Canterbury kind of music because there are elements of it blended in fusion style.Keep on proggin’ ..!…….

Samla Mammas Manna’s second release, “Måltid”, is a very fine output and a major improvement over their debut. It’s definitely a grower for some people but it’s incredibly rewarding nevertheless. The production could have been better (it’s a bit thin and raw) and steadier but the entertaining, creative and convincingly original songs makes up for it. Like all other Samla albums “Måltid” shows it’s styles well, including Jazz-Rock, RIO and Folk among others, and they manage to mix and balance them out without problems at all together with a nice touch of the eclectic and nearly flawless instrumentation of these crazy Swedes. Keyboardist Lars Hollmer in particular is a standout here with his entertaining yet serious playing on the tangents. The rest of the band does an impressive performance throughout the rest of the album, notably guitarist Coste Apetrea’s floating but sharp guitar playing and Hasse Bruniusson’s hectic but controlled drumming. The album have lot’s of diversity and humoristic playfulness and is very addictive when you first get “into” it. The vocal parts are high-pitched and downright silly throughout most of the album and adds a very joyful mood to the music, although it might not appeal to everyone. There’s rarely any actual lyrics on the album. The best track here is obviously the opener, “Dundrets Fröjder”, a 10 minute masterful track combining everything that makes this band so great; jazzy textures with a good dose of wacky humor and great variation within minutes. It’s quite possibly the most representative track from the band and an amazing achievement overall.

There’s very few weak moments on this album, the last track “Værelseds Tilbud” is the only one I don’t enjoy as much as I did with the other songs. Overall, I would say that this is an important addition to your prog-collection if you like either Jazz-Rock/Fusion or RIO (or both for that matter). SMM’s “Måltid” is a entertaining and adventurous release that every open-minded person should try. Me personally think it could have been slightly better, especially the production, but I would still highly recommend it. 4.5/5. Not as good as “Familjesprickor”, but up to pair with “Klossa Knapitatet”……

4.5 stars. At the end of the liner notes they wrote “Remember-joy is contagious !” Lets just say that this band has made a lot of people smile over the years. I laughed right out loud a couple of times while listening to the insane vocals. I’m sure they are singing some funny lines too, but it’s all sung in Swedish. I had a hard time finding this cd but thankfully I finally got it and it was well worth the search. As a side note the Zeuhl band UPPSALA (great band) named their band after the city that guitarist Coste Apetrea is from. They met him and another Swedish guitarist while on vacation and were so affected by this meeting that they thus named their band UPPSALA and even named a song after the two guitarists. Like they said “Joy is contagious”, they caught something special from that meeting anyway. Another side note is that the drummer (Hasse) has been the percussionist for the FLOWER KINGS for a long, long time.

The first song “Dundrets Frojder” really embodies what this band is all about.This is also my favourite song off of the album. It features a catchy, uptempo melody with keys and drums leading the way. The guitar is fantastic ! The tempo picks up as these crazy vocals come in. It gets heavy before 7 minutes with some excellent drumming followed by mellotron. Nice. Scorching guitar late, on this the longest track. “Oforutsedd Forlossning” features funny vocals and light drums. The sound gets louder as the guitar comes in.

“Den Aterupplivade Laten” opens with odd sounds before we get a melody. The piano reminds me of GENESIS as the soundscape does have a symphonic flavour. Nice piano to end it. “Folkvisa I Morse” is a short and catchy folk song. “Syster System” has these hilarious vocals with piano and drums. “Tarningen” is a great uptempo track with outstanding piano, drumming and guitar. “Svackorpoangen” is led by piano and theatrical vocals. “Minareten” is bright and uplifting for 2 minutes before settling down as we get some more lunatic vocals.There is a fantastic sound the rest of the way until the mood changes after 7 minutes. The final song “Vaerelseds Tilbud” is made up of mostly piano melodies.

This is like the polar opposite of UNIVERS ZERO, it’s bright, fast and catchy, but most of all it will make you smile…….

I have to thank SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA, because they opened more my eyes, I had the preconception that all Avant bands where extremely weird, extremely technical and with a total lack of sense of humor. Well, this band has made me travel from the late 60’s inspired debut to the incredibly strange “Dear Mamma” and now is the turn o review their second release “Måltid”.

If SMM is almost Psyche and “Dear Mamma” is one of the most characteristic expressions of Avant Garde, “Måltid” is a beautiful fusion of different sounds and styles that go from Fusion top the most experimental forms of Electronic.

“Dundrets Fröjder” starts with a strange intro that leads immediately to a strong passage reminiscent of EMERSON LAKE & PALMER which without even noticing morphs into a guitar oriented Jazz section, without losing their sense of humor they continue exploring this trilogy of influences for the almost eleven minute’s that the song lasts. Am incredible experience that broadens the horizons of melodic fans like me, but without scaring us with almost impossible to understand experimentations. The frantic ending when they go a step back towards some form of Acid Psychedelic Jazz is simply amazing.

In “Oförutsedd F¢rlossning” they start joking with their voices, but in contrast a very sober piano makes a fantastic melody, first in the background and then takes the lead, but the vocal jokes follow, this time with a powerful guitar supporting them, at the end all the band together play some sort of ultra elaborate fusion.

“Den Återupplivade Låten” starts weirder than ever but now a very dramatic and strong section irrupts out of nowhere, somehow Symphonic with Jazzy and Hard Rock leanings, this proves how versatile this guys are. The last section blows minds, is completely unexpected, but when you are used to this band, you should expect anything. When explained with poor words may sound confusing but when you listen it, everything is in it’s place.

“Folkvisa I Morse” begins Medieval oriented with a troubadouresque tune that goes for a long period of time with soft humming in the background, by moments they enter into a delightful cacophony, but just for a few seconds before they return to the main tune.

“Syster System” is hilarious, I dare anybody to listen the vocals and not to laugh, but the take the music seriously, because the piano is fantastic, even when a bit repetitive, no radical changes until the end, just screams and the constant piano.

“Tärningen” is a mixture of Rock and …anything, SMM seems to get more adventurous as the album advances, but this time reminds me a bit of the radical changes in some of the most elaborate FOCUS tracks. But the most interesting feature is how the song evolves through different sounds and moods with no effort, as if it was something easy and natural.

“Svackorpoängen” begins with a very Classical oriented piano intro that grows in intensity as it advances, again the voices join with their high pitched tones and conversations taking us a few centuries back to the late Medieval era, but radically change into some form of Modern classical, Lasse Hollmer does a brilliant work in the piano. Can’t help feeling the strong FOCUS reminiscences in “Minareten” but of course much more complex, the melody is lead by the guitar in a perfect Jan Akkerman style. For the first time in the album, the song flows gently without surprises until almost the middle, when they start with a controlled experimentation and screams, you must listen this track, because words can’t describe it.

The official release ends with “Værelseds Tilbud” which starts incredibly dramatic, with a mysterious Avant (the real Avant Garde) piano which takes the central role and makes all the changes and experiments almost alone, wonderful ending.

The album has three more bonus tracks, but as always I stay with the original song list, because that’s the way the author released it and how IMO should be listened.

Even when more mature than the self titled debut, I feel they lost some of the beautiful naïve sound that was so pleasant, but instead we get a more solid musical expresion.

A fantastic album for people who are willing to take the risk with more adventurous musical forms, that I can’t rate with less than 5 stars………

As my stockpile of music has kept expanding, it’s been harder for music new to me to bowl me over. Pretty much that amounts to what it takes for me to hand out a masterpiece rating to some album now; it has to really blow me away or catch me off guard in a positive way, and that’s exactly what MALTID did.

It’s hard to really describe the overall sound on this album, but to call this “serious music” would be a big mistake. There’s hardly a moment where SMM doesn’t sound like they’re having fun, even if pieces like “Dundets Frojder” and “Tarningen” sound like works of art. The vocals are the key component in their humour; very chirpy, high-pitched and annoying, they only add to the enjoyment, particularly on “Sister System”.

The two longer songs are more likely to attract the typical proghead, and rightfully so as both are the best on the album. The two are loaded with precise lead guitar work, effective electric piano bits, crazy percussion and the occasional divergence into carnival music. The music is very likely to shift directions in both pieces, but themes are developed well enough to the point where any transition is natural. Hasse Bruniusson’s percussion work is also of note because of the odd-sounding blocks used and his fluidity of using the kit as its own independent instrument.

However, there are plenty of joys in the shorter songs. “Sister System” and “Svackorpoangen” sound like they could be played in ballrooms to get the patrons to start dancing, but the vocals on top are pure hilarity. Songs like “Folkvisa I Morse” and the last one are nice quiet little things that don’t demand too much from the listener. All of the songs are very melodic, so those that hate avant-garde stuff don’t have to worry too much. MALTID has stuff that all sorts of progsters would like, so if you’re looking to test out the RIO/Avant subgenre, try this one out. It’s at least an interesting experience.

For bonus laughs, there’s a bonus extension to “Minareten” called “Minareten II”, and if you’re not ready, the screams will scare the pants off you…….

Line-up / Musicians

- Coste Apetrea / guitars, vocals (except song 11)
- Hasse Bruniusson / drums, percussion, backing vocals, glass
- Lars Hollmer / acoustic & electric pianos, vocals
- Lasse Krants / bass, vocals
- Henrik Öberg / congas (11)

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dundrets fröjder (10:43)
2. Oförutsedd f¢rlossning (3:10)
3. Den återupplivade låten (5:53)
4. Folkvisa i morse (2:07)
5. Syster system (2:27)
6. Tärningen (3:33)
7. Svackorpoängen (3:11)
8. Minareten (8:21)
9. Værelseds tilbud (2:26)


johnkatsmc5, welcome music..

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