Samla Mammas Manna’s Maltid: Prog Rock the way it was meant to be.

Samla Mammas Manna was a Swedish progressive rock band, often characterized by its virtuoso musicianship, circus references and sillyhumour, similar in many ways to the song-writing styles of Frank Zappa. They were one of the founding members of the Rock in Opposition (RIO) movement in the late 1970s. In 1979 they were Fred Frith‘s backing band on his solo album, Gravity (1980). Musically they bore resemblance to some bands of the Canterbury scene.

Members of the original line-up were Lars Hollmer (keyboards), Hasse Bruniusson (drums), Lars Krantz (bass) and Henrik Öberg (percussion). For Måltidjazz fusion guitarist Coste Apetrea joined the group.

They were on the fringe of the Swedish political progg movement, although their lyrics are humorous and never explicitly deal with politics.

Where the avant-garde is usually oh-so-serious, this band (and this album in particular) is all about fun. There is more fun and happiness than anyone can endure this these glorious tracks. I happen to have a soft spot for excellent psych and or prog rock (NOT for the Western mainstream – it was the lesser known versions of these styles that turned me on to them) and this albums gives me nothing but mindful enjoyment. Is there anything better than making you think WHILE having a great time?

On this album Samla shows little resemblance to the other bands in the RIO movement that it helped found. Måltid‘s most obvious influence is Swedish folk: jaunty, upbeat melodies predominate. Most prominent are the piano and occasionally guitar; the drumming stands out also – drummer Bruniusson navigates tricky meters with ease, and on many songs his intricate work adds a whole new dimension to otherwise simple melodies. It’s easy to be turned off, at first listen, by the bizarre and silly vocals (particularly on the second track, where the vocalists sound like high-pitched pre-adolescents screeching away), but in the end these simply add to the already considerable humor content to be found here. The CD version includes three bonus tracks, but it’s the originals that are the real gems; each of the first seven or so tracks contains a great melody anchored by great drumming and spiced up with some weird vocals and the occasional guitar solo.  The vocals are really odd – but I don’t find them as off-putting as some folk do. For me it adds to the fun. Behind some of the tracks is that familiar jazz fision as well that grounds the album in its sophistication.

 

Here is a sample of just how odd the vocals can get.

 

 

The album is a patchwork instead of an integrated whole and yet it works so well. rather poorly recorded, you can hear Amon Duell ii in the short burst of songs that still manage to come together. “Dundrets Frojder” is a kaleidoscopic piece containing the best and worst of the Samlas. It features a middle part with lush Mellotron chords and a warped electric piano solo by Lars Hollmer. “Oförutsedd Förlossning” is a simple song with self-mocking, screaming, high-pitched vocals, while the instrumental “Den Aterupplivade Laten” could have been recorded by the early Banco del Mutuo Soccorso. “Tarningen” is a dual keyboard/guitar melody that will remain in the band’s live set for quite some time. “Minareten” features some extended jamming in twisted time signatures with a weird blues-like finale.

 

 

I”ve been listening to this album all day today.  Its been the most wonderful accompaniment to an already brilliant day. Do yourself a favor and have a listen of the download here.

 

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