Wednesday, October 3, 2012
MALARIA – Malaria (Tibet -46, 1970)
International relevance: None whatsoever, to anyone, anywhere
To the utter dread of some of my dearest friends (my girlfriend in particular), I have a seriously developed fascination, actually liking, for outsider music. You know, those people with a strong urge to make music although they really don't know how to do it. Music many people call just plain bad. However, bad music to me is music that tries so hard to appeal ”everyone”. Music without a personality, music without an idea and a true creative drive. Simply put, music without a reason. I'd much rather listen to every Shaggs or every Kenneth Higney in the world, than sit through 2 minutes of any Rihanna song of your choice. I find these outsiders inspiring in all their whacked-out, no-clue glory.
But I do have limits to this interest. They're far off, but they exist.
Malaria is way, way, WAY beyond that limit.
Honestly, this isn't just the worst progg album I've ever heard. It's the worst album I've ever heard. Of all. And I have thousands and thousands of albums to choose from. In so many genres. There is no worse album than this in the entire world. I kid you not. I speak the truth.
So, I like people without a clue how to make music. Malaria don't even have a clue what they don't have a clue of. Pull a dictionary from your shelf. Look for every derogative word in there. Put them together and you have a positive, overrating description of this album.
I've listened to this album several times, just to figure out what the hell is going on here. But it's impossible; you can't figure it out and neither can Malaria. But here's what I think is the deal: They're trying to make a psychedelic folk album. Well, they did at least end up with an album... released in 20 copies back in 1970. I'd be surprised if they managed to unload the entire edition. If they did, only their sorry friends must have bought it. If so, Malaria likely lost the very same friends within an hour. And their parents.
The friends probably lost their parents too.
The folk medley on side 2 is, er, ”interesting”. It's so completely lost at sea with no boat in sight on the entire Northern hemisphere. Or the Southern hemisphere either. Picture a family of drunken monkeys trying to figure out whether this flute is supposed to be in your mouth or in your ass, or if you can eat this drum, and you come close to what it sounds like. Compared to that, the ”Scarborough Fair” cover that follows it is almost enjoyable...
The ”favourite” track on the album is possibly ”Hold On, Abraham” though. It has a bass solo. Or something you might want to describe as a bass solo if you're in a good mood and the sun is shining and you slept well for a good long night. I recently sent a Malaria CD-R to a friend of mine, with the appropriate warning and a malicious cheer to go along with it. He replied to me, ”I went on a Mallorca holiday for a week, and upon my return, the bass solo was still playing...” And remember, when the bass solo ends, it's followed by a guitar solo...
To say that the three Malaria guys, whose names shall be kept in secret out of care of their possible children, don't know how to play is to give unnecessary credit to their... musicianship. It's as if they've never seen a musical instrument ever before in their entire lives. ”Look! Is this what they call a guitar? Oh, this hole here, I think you're supposed to shout into it! Golly gee, I'm a guitarist now! Girls like guitarists! Cool!”
There was a vinyl reissue of this album in the 90's. I think it was in an edition of 200 copies. I used to have one of those. I bought it second hand in the shop where I first heard it. I needed to have it as a reminder of the first experience. It made me laugh so hard I accidentally turned another customer over; he was squatting on his haunches and I was laughing so hysterically I wasn't aware of him. I just couldn't stop laughing.
The knocked over guy didn't return to the shop for several months.
Later I sold my copy. I explained to the guy behind the counter just how bad the album was. He doubled the price I asked for it. ”If it's that bad,” he said, ”someone will buy it before the end of the week.” He was right. That's record collecting for you, folks!
If I am to say something good about this album, how impossible it may seem, then I guess it has to be that it reputedly inspired The Underground Failure to record and release their album soon after. If it isn't true, then there's nothing good to say about Malaria.
The Tibet -46 label later evolved into Musiklaget who released a handful of albums in the 70's.
Sorry, I couldn't find any links for this album.
No, I lied. I'm not sorry at all.