Mammoth Volume – A Single Book of Songs By – Review

Mammoth Volume

A Single Book of Songs By (TMC)
by Craig Regala

For those unfamiliar with these guys, they get a space on the “stoner” shelf where your uncle had the first couple Jethro Tull records separated from the first couple Zeppelin discs by the Focus record with the tune, “Hocus Pocus.” A great song with yodeling and a stupendously catchy guitar riff whole dong appropriated by one of those bands Metallica covered on the Garage Days double disc. It’s also been poorly used by Gary Hooey and kindly treated by Helloween.

OK, I’m kinda unfamiliar with what this may be drawing on, but bands aren’t the sum total of recorded antecedents anyways. A Single Book… is the second long-player with a seven-cut EP splitting them. That record, Norara Dance, did presage some of the structural changes from LP one to LP two, but not the roughhewn prog folk/psyche/rock as non-metal chord chunder stewed up here. Warning, I like Mammoth Volume a whole bunch, and I’m glad to see bands forming distinct identities and chasing their muse whereever they may, even, hell – especially – if it contains some hippy-dippy/indie rock mellotron doodling within the context of the “trip” that is the “song,” man.

A Single Book… has the skewed, we-recorded-it-at-home-and-kept-the-wacked-stuff-in feel, and is better for it. I don’t think it’s a better record than the other two, but it doesn’t rewrite ’em, it uses them as roots to show you what they now do. This move is progress, not genre-hopping or Bowiesque “reinvention.” For the old “compare and contrast,” these guys are like the Desert Sessions records that Man’s Ruin put out if you subtract the punk parts and put in snippets of the first Yes LP and mid-’70s Genesis. Meaning: Loose, kinda screwy, but still songful and melodic in a non-pop-rock without having to hit you over the head with the obvious “here’s the hook” thing. Jangly guitars surface for 20 seconds and segue into mid-tempo rocker riffs which tumble into a fast-strummed bridge which breaks down like early King Crimson – turnaround tempos and clipped fusion guitar – and instead of automatically going back to the start, it cuts back on itself, recrosses the bridge, then, well, goodbye… That’s tune one. Number two clippity-clops along like, well, they mention it, Queens Of The Stone Age. The fourth is pretty much acoustic guitar and voice, but the playing keeps it in the terrain of similar Monster Magnet forays. If any of y’all like those Fatso Jetson wiseacres, here’s something else for you. At least sonically, as long as the Gabriel-era Genesis tones and changes don’t bother you.
(PO Box 629 Port Washington, NY 11050)