Album Notes - Obscure October: Zamla Mammaz Manna's "Familijesprickor"

Album Notes - Obscure October: Zamla Mammaz Manna's "Familijesprickor"

October 14, 2021

New week, even older obscure oddity, and one that is likely my favorite of the four that will be featured this month.

Obscure October Week 2: Familijesprickor
Date: 1980
Location: Uppsala, Sweden
The Skinny: There's nothing lean about the virtuosic prog rock excursions from this Swedish outfit that land somewhere between Zappa, Mr. Bungle, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. 

I don't even know where to begin with Zamla Mammaz Manna other than to say that if you like the aforementioned artists, or pretty much any jamband from the 90s or 00s, or are curious about 70s Scandinavian prog rock, do yourself a favor and check out Familijesprickor. It is something that truly has to be heard to be understood. And even then the latter may prove difficult.

While changing their name from Samla Mammas Manna to Zamla Mammaz Manna and back again doesn't quite put them in John Dwyer of Orinoka Crash Sweet / OCS / Orange County Sound / The Ohsees / Thee Oh Sees / Oh Sees / Osees territory as far as trying to make cataloguing one band's releases as challenging as possible, the act of doing so, combined with the musical stylings, no doubt did little to help their broad appeal. 

Released in 1980, the Zam's seventh album comes across today as simultaneously dated yet fresh. Many of the keyboard sounds really are something else, for better or worse, while the songwriting is right at home with what a number of bands of a certain ilk have tried to accomplish over the past few decades. One could hear snippets, taken in conjunction with the song titles and band name, and assume these guys are from the school of those inspired by Phish. The difference between this and any number of jambands who attempt such aural adventures is that these Swedes are not only technically proficient on their respective instruments, but pen quality compositions to boot. Not to mention they rarely bother with trying to sing. Familijesprickor may translate as "Family Cracks" but there are no fault lines here. Only quality tunes and even better chops.