[Prog Tuesday] Samla Mammas Manna – Måltid

Samla Mammas Manna are probably the most popular (or less unknown?) Avant Garde band from Sweden, and ‘Maltid’ is their most famous album, released in 1973. The album has been a little left in the shadow, and still is today. But when talking about Avant Prog bands and albums, and it’s development over the years, it’s hard to omit this strange sounding band and this even stranger sounding album.

Samla Mammas Manna have quite a few influences under their sleeves, and they aren’t hard to find. The most noticeable influence is probably Frank Zappa, it almost feels like ‘Maltid’ is the Scandinavian response to the crazy American guitarist’s work. But there’s also a lot of progressive, from the more Symphonic side to the kind of prog some call ‘Eclectic Prog’. Despite this, Samla Mammas Manna have a totally peculiar sound, that can be recognized immediately when listened. What musically makes the bulk of their style is the magical chemistry and duets between the electric piano and the electric guitar, both paced by an extremely and almost constantly dynamic rhythm section, that has an obvious crush for cowbells. A more schizotype version of traditional progressive rock. Not to forget the vocals, that are used like an instrument, coming along every now and then, and when they are present, they completely dominate the music; these vocals are of an amazingly intense falsetto, like you’ll never hear.

‘Måltid’ is one of those unique and obscure sounding prog gems that sticks for quite a while.

Listening to ‘Maltid’ is like being in front and meeting a utterly strange and extravagant person; at first, you’re not sure what to think, but then you can’t help loving him, or at least being very fascinated. What makes this album sort of human is also the alternation of different moods; some songs sound extremely cheerful, quirky and playful. In some other songs, the atmosphere is a little more serious sounding, even though the instrumentation and the style of the music remains pretty much the same, except for the fact that these songs are always instrumentals(or almost), while the first type always have them.

The more cheerful songs are probably the ones I prefer most of the time; the opener ‘Dundrets Fojder’ is ten minutes of crazy time changing, showing a lot of free music influences, even though the second part of the track is a little more tense and controlled thanks to the mellotron entry. But usually the more wild songs are around two, maybe three minutes long; ‘Outf’rsedd F’rlossning’ is cheerful as well, but the hook sounds a little more dramatic and less playful, while ‘Folkvise I Morse’ is a folked-out, two minute absurdity, and ‘Svackopoangen’ sounds like an SMM arrangement to a traditional Swedish song. But even in the serious tracks the quality is just as good; ‘Den Aterupplivade Laten’ and ‘Tarningen’ sound like more crazy sounding versions of Symphonic Prog pieces, and the other mini epic of the album, the eight minute ‘Minareten’, is a more chilled out tune, that features in the middle of the song vocals, and still maintains it’s miraculous chillness.

‘Maltid’ is one of those unique and obscure sounding prog gems that really impresses you and sticks with you for quite a while. A great album, to listen to with an open mind, and with a little bit of absurdity inside.

Tracklist:

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)

Bonus tracks on CD:
10. Minareten II
11. Circus apparatha
12. Probably the probably

Line-up:

* 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)

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