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  • Writer's pictureAndy Wors

'Martin Månsson Sjöstrand Trio' - 'Universum Faller' (album)

I was in Oslo recently and came across 2 lovely Norwegian guys who claimed (ok, they actually were, but 'claimed' sounds more intriguing) to once have been in a 'Cardiacs' tribute band called 'Piffol'. No record of 'Piffol' seems to exist online, but a few of you out there will understand the respect due to these guys for doing such an extraordinary 'laudatory' thing. Multi-talented Swedish musician Martin Månsson Sjöstrand, the founder of his trio creatively called, erm, 'Martin Månsson Sjöstrand Trio' is the type of guy you might find in a band called 'Piffol', and the bands new album entitled 'Universum Faller' is a musicians delight, an entertaining mix of instrumental frivolity and chaos that some of you will find marvellous fun, and which some of you will find a tiny bit baffling.

Of course, we fit into the former category, because we bravely venture towards anything which appears different from the norm, and the Malmo based trio do exactly that. In fact it's probably difficult to describe exactly what they actually 'do', with a Bandcamp page that simply tells us that they're otherwise known as ''Död saft. Turbine Powered Heroes, version 2.0'' (a previous incarnation I think), and a facebook page which informs us that they're influenced by Nintendo. Martin Månsson Sjöstrand is also in a quite marvellous band called 'Dog, Paper, Submarine' (links at the bottom), but in this trio Josef Möller (bass) and Hannes Dahlrot are his fellow conspirators, with the new album a follow up to their 2011 release which was entitled, wait for it, 'Hyperneuroakaustika Diafragmakontravibrationer'.

Anyway given this is instrumental music I will try to keep the track descriptions fairly light, and it all opens with the curiously titled 'The Adventures of Able and Baker', which sets thing off at pace, and which will have you dancing around the house, albeit slightly lopsidedly courtesy of a warped time signature. Album title track 'Universum Faller' is slightly more conventional, with a lovely melodic guitar space theme being the centrepiece, however inevitably the more wayward it gets, the more appealing it is to me, and 'Overklighetsflykten' is a riotous mix of crashing drums and extraordinary guitar contributions, building to an ending that is probably absurdly excessive, but hugely entertaining. 'Innanfor Handelsehorisonten' offers a vocal contribution of sorts, but I really like the unusual middle section some 2 minutes in, and the way the theme is then developed in such a warped, offbeat way with more apparent confusing time signatures - it has me listening again and again.

'Petrified Laundry is again delivered at a breathless pace, before we're offered my 2 favourite tracks on the album. 'Cosmos Redshift 7' opens conventionally enough, before guitar and drum join together in a quite marvellous chaotic chorus of sorts, whilst 'One Day Mary Anning Shall Find You' (there's a great live version out there too) is the stand out track, and not just because of the subject matter - a murky complex guitar riff followed by a playful danceable section, an extended middle section and some great noisy interplay between guitar, bass and drums. 'Trasiga Solar', with an inspired ending, and the darker more reflective 'Intrinsic Dark Matter' wrap things up, with the latter concluding with a huge guitar theme and an almost a sing-a-long moment of sorts.

I often balance reviews of slightly offbeat releases by pointing out that they won't be for everyone, and of course that is definitely the case for 'Martin Månsson Sjöstrand Trio', with their curious brand of progressive instrumental music for space cowboys. But actually their music has been a surprisingly hit in our household, and not just because everyone has been transfixed in awe by my historical lectures on the life of Mary Anning. 'Universum Faller' is simply great fun, and the more offbeat, atonal and confusing the time signatures become, the more I've enjoyed listening to it. Furthermore it's discovery in some dark pond somewhere has led me into the quite wonderful musical world of Martin Månsson Sjöstrand, with his other band 'Dog, Paper, Submarine' an almost instant favourite. And of course we recommend you give both them and 'Universum Faller' a listen.

You can buy the album on a 'name your price' deal at Bandcamp. visit 'Martin Månsson Sjöstrand Trio' on Facebook and for something slightly more conventional please give 'Dog, Paper, Submarine' a listen.

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