// MAMMUT //
Aficionados of Krautrock will agree that “Mammut”s unfortunately sole album is legendary cult, an absolute rarity. For a well preserved copy one has to fork out up to 1000 E, provided there is one to be had. This CD now makes the album (+ one bonus track) available for a larger fan circle.
Three factors have contributed to the album’s existence: a lively local music scene in the southern Black Forest region, a creative and dedicated sound engineer/producer, and the renowned record company MPS located in Villingen with their own recording studios. Villingen and Donaueschingen, both situated in the southwest of Germany, are famous for their Jazz festivals (Villingen) and the “Days of new music” (Donau-eschinger Musiktage), and are excellent examples for a high standard of musical and organisational commitment that isn’t confined to the big cities, but exists in the province, too. And of course there was a Jazzclub, which attracted the local musicians.
The Villingen based label MPS later was distributed by BASF, featuring top jazz musicians (such as Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, Dave Pike, Wolfgang Dauner, Volker Kriegel and many others), who did their recordings in the MPS studios without time pressure and in the relaxed environment of the Black Forest. Aki Kienzler, who also acted as sound engineer on the recording equipment, accompanied many of these productions. Influenced by the musical spirit of optimism that had arrived even in Germany by the end of the 1960’s, and the many various forms of expression of Pop- and Rock music it brought with it, Aki Kienzler no longer wanted to limit himself to the production of Jazz music, but wished to partake in the new musical movement. Unfortunately, his intention to publish German Rock music fell on deaf ears with MPS. Nevertheless, the people in charge agreed to let him use their recording studios for his work. Kienzler called his label “Mouse Trick Track Music”. Although the financial and economical responsibility rested exclusively with him, he was allowed to use MPS’s distribution channels. In 1969 and 1970 several local bands and musicians headed by Aki Kienzler began to develop contemporary rock music. In an atmosphere of enormous musical freedom, new music pieces and sounds were composed in endless party like night sessions, with each musician contributing his own ideas. Kienzler’s job as head of these undertakings was not just the recordings, but his musical and technical abilities formed an essential part of the music projects. Thanks to these recordings two LPs could be published. The first one, entitled “Under Party Ground”, combined the recordings of various local groups using their own and well-known music material. A decisive incident, which eventually triggered the formation of “Mammut”, was, that during the production of the title “Dä Du Dä” by “The Rope Sect”, both - guitarist Klaus Schnur and Aki Kienzler - recognized the title’s and the musicians’ potential and were inspired with the idea to record an album in the style of this song. “Dä Du Dä” then became the forerunner of the oncoming big “Mammutprojekt”, which is reason enough to include it as a bonus track on this CD.
At this point, the brothers Klaus and Peter Schnur, both guitarists, had to go looking for musicians willing and able to realize their musical concept. Influenced by the album “Deep Purple in Rock”, but also by oriental sounds and folk melodies, their intention was to combine several musical styles and turn them into a completely new one. Their songs were meant to describe the general situation of musicians, their difficulties and deficiencies, their world-weariness and fear of humiliation (“Hungerkünstler”), but they also contained a musical protest against the military mania and a call for peace. Driven by these ideas “Mammut” created a true “Mammutalbum” of Krautrock, melting fierce drum beats with distorted guitars, admitting slight influences of classical music, and combining these with gloomy and eruptive organ sounds, with acoustic guitar in the background. This resulted in an innovative and explosive mixture, which, even after 40 years, is still as fascinating and hypnotizing as back then.
Translation: Dr. Martina Häusler
The Mammut Story
by Rainer Hofmann
For me, the story began on August 1st, 1970. I was in Villingen, on home leave from the army, when I met my old friend Klaus “Ede” Schnur in town. He told me that he and a couple of his friends were going to record an LP with own compositions, and asked whether I was interested in joining them? Of course I was.So the next day I went to the MPS studio. Jazz enthusiasts will remember the studio well. MPS stood for “Music Production Schwarzwald”. Celebrities such as Oscar Peterson used to record their legendary records there under the supervision of studio director Hans-Georg Brunner-Schwer. But since it was holiday time the studio was officially closed. Alfred “Aki” Kienzler, the director’s nephew, was allowed to be studio boss for two weeks. Aki had a soft spot for the local rock scene. The year before he had already recorded a sampler with the title “Under Party Ground” featuring bands from Villingen.
And now “Mammut”. “Mammut” was a group of befriended musicians, all of whom had played together before in different formations. Amongst them were the brothers Klaus and Peter Schnur, along with Tilo Hermann, Günther Saier and myself. However, the band existed in this formation only for the duration of the studio production, that is for just about two weeks. All of the music pieces on the LP were only produced in the studio.
Most times it went like this. Ede, the group’s musical head, came to the studio every morning (that is around 11 a.m.) with two guitar chords (sometimes more), saying that was going to be the next piece. Naturally, we all added our own ideas, and in the evening the two chords had in fact turned into a piece of music. The only thing missing were the vocals. Ede used to withdraw into a quiet corner of the studio, equipped with an English dictionary. And while the rest of us were getting some fresh blackforest air, Ede would compose his texts. Often it wasn’t until the crack of dawn when Ede, Peter and Tilo recorded the vocals.
The technical facilities available were quite modest from today’s point of view. The multi-track machine (analogue of course) only had six tracks, and the number of overdubs was also limited. Even though, the technical limitations were kind of challenging. Much of it we recorded basically live. The long title “Mammut Opera” was recorded live after only one round of rehearsals (the cut in between is quite audible). Only the vocals were dubbed over later on. The part in “Shizoyd Mammut” with the two reverse tempi was also recorded live, with Peter Schnur conducting.
It was Peter, too, who gave the band its name. At that time he was nicknamed “Mammut”. Whoever wonders about the strange titles of the pieces might be interested to know that these were really working titles, phrases we had coined on the spot and combined with the name of the band. By way of example, at the end of one recording, one of us said the Heinz-Erhard expletive “Himmel, Gesäß and Nähgarn” – and so the title was called “Nähgarn Mammut”. The fact that the working titles were later used on the LP is just one of the many peculiarities of the “Mammut” production. Aki’s idea to add a kind of sound track to all pieces might appear just as extravagant. Most of these recordings were done during a studio party we threw on August 15, together with many friends. This marked the end of the production for us musicians, and the band “Mammut” was history. An entire LP in just two weeks – it is actually possible - with lots of improvisations and motivation.
We want to thank Aki, who was always open for crazy ideas. Also thanks for the possibility we were given to record the LP– this was something very special back then in 1971. At that time, there were no home studios with MIDI-sequencers, samplers and digital effects. Everything was handmade.
Translation: Dr. Martina Häusler
…by Tilo Herrmann
Now here is the story of Mammut as far as I remember it.
First of all I would like to say that all details regarding the dates aren’t exact. Many years have passed since then. It was April 1, 1969 when my friend Dietrich Danksin (guitar) and I (bass) met Rainer Hofmann (piano, organ) and Volker Hirt (drums). Together we formed the band, “Those”. With further groups from Villingen, Aki Kienzler recorded the LP “Under Party Ground” at the MPS-Studios, Villingen. Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of this album. The bands were: “The Rope Sect”, “The Be Nice”, “Those” and “The First Decision“ (I joined this band later for a while). “Those” had two titles: “King Bill” and “Starship Orion”. The latter was the title melody of a German SF television series on which Eva Karl joined the band to help out with background vocals. “The Rope Sect” (with Klaus Schnur, Dieter Hahne and Peter Motel) played the extraordinary “Dä Du Dä”. By the way, rope is the English word for “Schnur” and that’s where the name “The Rope Sect” is from.
“Those” dissolved about one year later and was reborn in 1970/71 with Eva Karl (vocals), Günther Saier (drums), Rainer Hofmann (keyboards, guitar, vocals) and Tilo Herrmann (bass, vocals). We definitely played together with “The Rope Sect“ at a kind of multimedia event with music, lyrics and an exhibition of paintings.
In the summer of ‘71 Klaus Schnur called Rainer Hofmann and suggested he work with him on a new LP that had again been initiated by Aki Kienzler Rainer asked me to join, and with Günther Saier on drums and Peter Schnur the band was complete. Peter’s nickname is “Mammut”, so now you know where the band’s name is from. The band existed only for the time of the two weeks’ studio work. Usually the ideas of the songs were born in the morning or in the early afternoon and arranged, rehearsed and recorded in the late afternoon and sometimes at night. After this everyone either finished school or their army time ended, and most were scattered into different towns to study. We had a farewell concert with “The Rope Sect” and “Those” and a concert in 1972 when “Those” played at a high school party in Villingen.
Klaus Schnur and I lived in Ludwigsburg for some time and Rainer Hofmann studied in Stuttgart, so we still fairly often played sessions. We had a big party later with old friends in the Jazz Club in Villingen too, where “Those” played with a female singer and Klaus Schnur as special guests.
Klaus Schnur lives in Villingen again, he works as a guitar teacher and plays with his Blues band “Ede’s Blues Gang” and the cover band “Cock’s Combo”. Peter Schnur lives in Schwenningen and plays in two bands. Günther Saier lives in Villingen and plays in a Jazz quartet together with an old classmate.
Rainer Hofmann works for the southwest radio (Südwestfunk) in Stuttgart and he no longer makes music, but is involved in film. I now live in Backnang and work as a teacher in the local music school for the youth and have played in many different bands since. Be assured that we had much fun back then - it was an interesting time with new music, a little revolution and a whole new way of living.
Bonus Track Dä Du Dä by The Rope Sect