Mamuthones - Self Titled [Boring Machines - 2010]This self-titled long player from Mamuthones, released on the Italian Boring Machines label, brings founding member Alessio Gastaldello together with Jennifer Gentle’s frontman Marco Fasolo and veteran drummer Maurizio Boldrin.
The third album from this project kicks off with the strangely ethereal opener ‘The Call’, wide open spaces are left between the irregular bursts of accordion, making you achingly aware of the silence in between the sounds, until the percussion slips in amongst the anguished plucking of bass guitar, firmly injecting some form into the piece. The second track ‘First Born’ tips Mamuphones over into psychedelic, kraut-rock territory, Boldrin’s lumbering and hypnotic martial drum beats provide the backbone whilst various droning elements combine and entwine, Fasolo’s tortured vocals being one such element, adding a darker twist to the whole proceedings.
‘Ota Benga’ is a lot more urgent from the outset, compared to the tracks that preceded it. Frantic drumming driven by the intense squall of guitars and disjointed vocal’s lend the piece its hallucinatory feel, the structure of this track feels to be almost teetering on the verge of absolute chaos , eventually building to an ecstatic crescendo of rhythm and noise. After a quick breather with the ambient interlude which is ‘A New Start’, the trio plunge headlong into the track ‘Kash-O-Kashak’ opening with a pre-recorded vocal sample in which someone is delivering a speech of sorts over the top of elongated drones courtesy of more accordion. Building on the kraut-rock sensibilities established with ‘Ota Benga’ Mamuthones unleash what is in my opinion one of the best tracks on the album along with the epic closer ‘Ave Maria’, both of which take you on an epic journey through psychedellia and the juxtaposition between highly thought out structure and outright noise attacks.
Also of note is the track ‘MJ74’, a piece which was recorded by Maurizio Boldrin back in 1974. Shimmering cymbals blend subtly with droning noise and hazy guitars which, when combined, deliver quite a powerful, almost sedative effect, especially when the vocal tones are slowly introduced, adding to the mantra like feel of the piece.
Whilst the musicianship and production values are quite clearly not sub-par, the album as a whole does not offer anything unremarkable to the listener, especially if you are already a fan of kraut-rock, drone and all its different guises. However as a solid primer, this would be a great album to play, but unfortunately to me personally, ‘Mamuthones’ does not fill me with the desire to hit the play button more than just that once.Todd Robinson