Samla Mammas Manna is a Swedish prog band that I have limited exposure to. What I have actually heard is pretty strange and not for the faint of heart. Longtime SMM guitarist Coste Apetrea issued a solo album recently that seems to have somehow slipped under the cracks. This is unfortunate for as challenging as Rites of Passage is, it's also very melodic and even somewhat accessible.
The title track is a seemingly strange feast of heavy metal, gypsy folk music and Zappa-esque fusion. But it works beautifully. Electric guitars clash with melodica, violin and all manner of percussion. That's pretty much how the entire CD works: Apetrea enjoys mixing things up and fierce heavy guitar workouts mingle with the softest and prettiest Eastern European folk music.
"Roman Lucia" contains some scat vocals, presumably from Apetrea himself. There's also a nice Latin percussion section thrown in for good measure as well as some wonderful picking on the acoustic guitar…and then it goes into riff heavy rock! "Daily Deju Vu" owes a debt to "One Size Fits All" era Zappa with its especially rocking fusion workout. But Apetrea reigns in for "Conversation with Santiago", a quiet piece for piano, violin and acoustic guitar. "Bohumils Bolero" closes Rites of Passage on a surprising but welcome classical rock note. The second half of this piece is simply gorgeous.
So there you have it. A pretty darn underrated album that deserves to be heard by discriminating adventurous listeners. Highly recommended.
- Rites of Passage (8:34)
- Romana Lucia (11:00)
- Baghdad Boogie (6:19)
- Daily Déjà Vu (10:01)
- Trickster (4:50)
- Conversation With Santiago (3:12)
- Bohumils Bolero (9:23)