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Samla Mammas Manna - Måltid (73) - 9/10
Everyone without a sense of humour can stop reading here. This record shows Samla from a much more playful side than Familjesprickor (released under the name Zamla Mammaz Manna; see
review). Måltid contains the most crazy and humouristic music in my collection, but at the same time Samla were able to play exceptionally complex music, fusing rock, jazz, numerous folk elements, insanity, originality and some occasional melancholy into something completely Samla. The occasional vocals are worth a mention; they're screamed in falsetto, not sung. An occasional use of piano makes Samla sound a little like the American band Phish sometimes, but Samla are much more virtuoso and crazy. My CD contains three bonus tracks, and all are great, especially the six minutes of "Circus Apparatha". An essential record if you like freak-shows, but essential also for its musical qualities alone.

Sanders, Pharoah - Karma - 8/10
Okay, this isn't progressive rock, since it's categorised as jazz. Chaotic as it is, one could call it free-jazz, but it doesn't seem quite appropriate as the entire record sounds quite composed. Before this record, the saxophonist Sanders had previously played with John Coltrane on for example the latter's cacophonic Impressions (which is recommended if want a real musical challenge). However, it's Karma which is the most impressive jazz album I've heard to date. What makes it jazz and not progressive rock is merely the instrumentation, in my opinion. The typical jazz drumming/percussions and use of upright bass and brass instruments could be hard to digest if you're not into jazz, but is really rewarding if you listen open-mindedly. Flute and piano is used quite a lot, and should help prog fans getting into it. The record is divided into two tracks: "The Creator Has a Master Plan" (33m.) and "Colors" (6m.). The former is absolutely killer. It is, to put it simple, a slow build-up to a completely wild & insane cacaphony, which then fades into the same piece as the track started with. Even the calmest parts are complex and dense enough to make anyone go mad. Most of the record is instrumental, but has some very interesting vocals sometimes, which very much remind me of Area's Demetrio Stratos. The vocalist "yodels" in the same way, and when the music takes off into the ionosphere, he does too, with some manic screams and high-pitched yodeling. The cacophonic parts are also full of wild piano playing, screaming saxophones (Sanders is the star of the show) and crazy flute playing. If you, like me, enjoy the cacophonic parts of Van der Graaf Generator's Pawn Hearts, then you simply need this record. Be aware, however, that if you need melodies to enjoy music, Karma could prove too difficult for you. The "Colors" track is drenched with percussions and piano flowing like a river. It is somewhat less inyourfaceish and more straightforwardly jazzy than the first track, but still brilliant. Looking for something different & excellent? You found it.

Santana, Carlos & Coltrane, Alice - Illuminations (74) - 8/10
Something inbetween progressive rock and high-quality jazz with major ethnic influences. Starting out with someone saying "Oooooooooooommmmmm", this record has something of a buddhist/Indian feel, and is pleasant. Santana's guitar, Coltrane's harp, piano, soprano saxophone, upright bass, Indian instruments and a violin, viola and cello orchestra try successfully to create a peaceful atmosphere. Cooperation between instruments is given higher priority than solos. A good comparison is the German band Popol Vuh, but Illuminations has a richer sound. There aren't any drums or percussion except some drums and Indian percussion on the track "Angel of Sunlight", where the music eventually turns into more well-known jazz territories with guitar, saxophone and keyboard solos without interesting melodies but with power. Most of the record is superb in my ears. However, the string orchestra sometimes sounds indefinably cheesy, as in a Hollywood movie. The title-track exemplifies this, but don't expect it to ruin the fun. Breakfast music.

Semiramis - Dedicato a Frazz (73) - 8/10
This record is considered to be one of the best from Italy, and for good reason. The style is very original. It sounds a bit like "circus music", with frequent use of heavy guitars and lush keyboards. Moreover, the music is quite pacey, driven forward by brilliant drum playing. As often is the case for Italian progressive, the music is quite varied, and some parts, often the ones dominated by synth or acoustic guitar, are no more than OK. Other parts, however, are extraordinarily beautiful and make this a must-have. Semiramis are at their best when they turn energetic and disharmonious. An example is the first track, starting out with some wonderful crazy vibraphone and ditto vocals, but continuing with some in my opinion quite uninspired and far from brilliant synth parts.