September 2, 2013
by Tjeerd van Erve
If it were not for my car, I’d be a rich man. Well, rich might be slightly overdone, but I’d have some reserves for sure. All my savings have somehow transformed in to car particles over the last 5 to 6 years, with the last big resurrection only a few weeks ago. So you can probably imagine how scared I got when I started my car this monday and only heard “grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrblllllllllltssssssssssss grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrblllllllllltssssssssssss grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrblllllllllltssssssssssss”. After batteries, breaks, distribution belt and what else it seemed my engine now had decided to leave this Mortal Coil. It took me a few seconds to realise that it was not the motor but the stereo of my french family shuttle that was making this repeated sound of thorn and broken speaker cones and another pair of seconds to remember that I had put the newest Mannheim in my player. “grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrblllllllllltssssssssssss grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrblllllllllltssssssssssss grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrblllllllllltssssssssssss” the baritone saxophone moans on, when the rest of the band kicks in and my heart beat remains high, no longer out of fear but in full enthusiasm.
After what appeared to be the final destruction of my car, Mannheim gives birth to grooviness from a higher heavier dimension. Mixing a sweaty punk vibe with a “black jazz” approach, the band from Nijmegen sounds like a power clash between … And So I Watched You From Afar, Shining (NO) and a free jazz driven locomotive. Eight tracks that are best described as post-rock-jazz-metal pulled through a woodwind instrument. A splendid mix of loud square metal guitar riffs, saxophone and a vivid and adventurous rhythm section played with the same energy as the above mentioned Irish post-rockers portrait every show and record.
But also with same open mind for experiment as the Norwegians. There is no straight route from A to B in the world of the post-rock-metal-jazz-whatever-you-wanna-call-it-I-have-to-come-up-with-a-name-that-captures-this-woodwind-greatness-in-one-word. Even though it never sounds complex or too thought through, Mannheim manages to stay clear of the expected, even when stuck in a loop.
Of course there have been other bands that have successfully combined woodwind in rock’n’roll and bands that actually still do. Shining (NO) and Morphine to name the most obvious ones, but also French We Insist! or Le Corbeau have each on their own grounds in corporated the saxophone in their guitar driven sound. But none of these bands sound anything like the piercing, energetic post-woodwind of Mannheim.