Zamla Mammaz Manna are so unique that it hardly is possible to describe them - but I'll give it a try. Their music is very complex and quirky, and sometimes influenced by folk music from their native country, Sweden. Disharmony is used a lot, as are strange time signatures. This record contains a huge range of different atmospheres. Sometimes it is quite bright, but more frequently, the music is dramatic, powerful and dark, and mostly has a jazzy feel. The most striking feature of Familjesprickor, however, is that it is more absurd and bizarre than anything else I have heard. The music is mostly instrumental, except some occasional, strange growling and chanting reminding me a lot of Magma. Piano is the dominating instrument, alongside an electric guitar and some other keyboards. The bass and drum playing is excellent, and give them a very dense sound. All the eight tracks last for about 5 minutes. "The Forge" includes accordion, a marvellous bass line, inexplicably strange percussion and synthesizers/guitars reminding me of King Crimson's "Thela Hun Ginjeet" from Discipline. These ingredients are mingled together to a peculiar tour-de-force which ends in a magnificent, disharmonious climax. "The Thrall" shows Zamla from an even more experimental side. It is very dark, contains some haunted chanting, and also has guitars sounding like 80s King Crimson. The absolutely wonderful "The Painting Short Story", on the other hand, is quite melodious and folk-inspired, yet incredibly powerful and complex. "Ventilation Calculation" and "The Farmhand" show Zamla from a more standard jazz/rock side, with quite optimistic guitar riffs and piano dominating the sound. "Pappa (with right of veto)", is - musically - along with the aforementioned two a little less exciting than the other tracks, but contains some extremely funny Swedish vocals.
Humour, or rather twists and turns so bizarre that it is difficult not to laugh, can also be found in a couple of the other tracks. This is a striking difference from the band which probably influenced Zamla Mammaz Manna most, namely Magma. As already mentioned, the vocals often recall this band. Other things reminiscent of Magma is the strong jazz presence, the often dark atmosphere and the inaccessible nature of the music. For those who are only familiar with symphonic progressive rock like Genesis and Yes, Familjesprickor will be a real challenge to get into. Fans of dark, complex, innovative, jazzy and crazy prog, however, should love it after a few listens.
Zao - 7=ZL (73) - 7/10
Magma offshot with a zeuhlish African-ethnical feel to it. A female vocalist. Brighter than 1001 Centigrades and Magma, but still strange and quite unique stuff. Some very nice moments here and there.
Zappa, Frank - One Size Fits All (75) - 7.5/10
Zappa's discography is immense. Where one should start with this artist of course depends on one's tastes. Progressive rock listeners may want to consider this record as the gateway to his silliness. Not because it's his most complex or "difficult" record - some of his earlier stuff is a lot more free than One Size Fits All. This album is, however, perhaps the closest Zappa ever got to making a symphonic rock album. Some always pleasing layers of synth give a dense sound not unlike Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here and Le Orme's classic albums. You'll also find some not always sarcastic sleazy jazz and soul, some extremely competent playing plus the silliest lyrics imaginable. "Inca Roads" is possibly the most "progressive" piece here, including some impossible marimba playing. Most pieces are more song-oriented, but always good to great - with the possible exception of the track "San Ber'dino". My favourite track could be "Andy". Cliches from all genres imaginable and excellent melodies are interwoven to make an excellent piece of music. Over-the-top funk has never sounded better than here. Though it's necessary with a certain sense of humour to appreciate all this, the music here works well on its own too (unlike most or all of his 80s output).