Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Guru Guru "Mani und Seine Freunde" (Atlantic Records,1975)
Let's face it....Bands change. There are thousands of reasons for this, and we need not squander valuable time debating the catalysts for an artist's growth. When it comes to dealing with great music of the past we present-day travellers roam freely between musical epochs, unfettered by the tyranny of time. Now if you witnessed the visceral third-eye psych blues of Guru Guru's original incarntation as a saucer-eyed youth in Deustchland I could somewhat understand the confusion that would come as Mani Neumieier navigated the good ship GG through the burnt sienna hills of 70's fusion. Much like Soft Machine and Pierre Molan's Gong, the Guru Guru unit presented on "Mani und Seine Freunde" is far-removed from the band that recorded the classic "UFO" record both in personnel and intent. What we find on "Mani und Seine Freunde" is the back-end of the trip, with the musical field of vision widened. While by no means a front-to-back classic, "Mani und Seine Freunde" is a great summer record full of polyrhythms, nimble synthesizer and understated guitar. There are a few moments of Zappa-isms (mainly in lyrical content/delivery....Chicken Rock relates the story of a farmer who takes LSD and frees his flock)which are easily ignored and fail to detract from the "I can't believe how funky these Germans are" jams.The majority of the record swims in warm and fairly straight forward jazz-rock waters with the experimentation being limited to the two longer pieces. "From Another World" and "Woodpeckers Dream" utilize field recordings , acoustic guitar and African percussion to ecstatic effect. Despite it's shortcomings, Mani und Seine Freunde is a fine example of 70's fusion that does not rely on instrumental pyrotechnics. Lovingly ripped from my vinyl by Joe the Engineer.