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Magma - Ẁurdah ¤tah (Christian Vander) CD (album) cover

ẀURDAH ¤TAH (CHRISTIAN VANDER)

Magma

 

Zeuhl

4.16 | 226 ratings

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laplace
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Just in case you weren't already convinced that Magma were mysterious and esoteric, Christian Vander opts to keep releasing the chapters of his musical trilogy in reverse order, soon to confound us by deciding to begin a new story (in Kohntarkosz) before we have a chance to become familiar with the last. None of this is threatening or worrying to the Magma fan as it assures the continued flow of high quality music.

Although this score was presented as a soundtrack to a movie, it has a very definite plot of its own, coming just before the time Nebehr Gudahtt converted us all to Kohrmanites. Perusing my Kobaian to English dictionary, I learn that Wurdah ¤tah means "Dead Earth" - this album may well represent our crimes against the earth and the corresponding penalty to the human soul, necessitating our need to be saved spiritually by an outside hand.

Musically refined, the album's core players each stand out more than they ever could on MDK, and a few hidden talents are revealed - Vander himself plays all keyboards here, and they play an important role, being that the piano is perhaps the most omnipresent instrument on Wurdah ¤tah. Jannick Top reprises his role as the bass-playing reflection of Vander's eccentric rhythms, while being utterly attuned to the simple but original keyboard patterns, giving the music a flawless underpinning. Not enough is written about the voices of Stella Vander or Klaus Blasquiz, perhaps because Magma are rightfully an ensemble at this stage, but their singing is exemplary, maintaining a choral theme throughout while both managing to express their invididual vocal proficiencies. At this point in their career, Magma could have one of the most professional line-ups ever assembled.

As always, the succinct yet curiously misleading synopsis of zeuhl is "contemporary operatic jazz rock", with prayers and prophecies repeatedly chanted in an alien language while hypnotic countercurrents swirl beneath, making the whole affair seem more like a ritual than a song. - Themes and motifs previously heard on MDK are also present here, hinting at the trilogy's underlying operatic continuity. Flow and consistency are maintained throughout each side-long suite, making it difficult to suggest any individual part as exceptional, but overall the music is delightful and original - I remain amazed that no-one had the idea to write this type of music before Magma (allowing for Orff's opus and the music of Coltrane and Redding as roots) as it seems so natural, defying its complicated nature with a real sense of rightness. Subsequent bands have identified this and tried to further to path of zeuhl - in particular I associate the music of Koenji Hyakkei with this album more than any other as it is here that the most exuberant vocal lines appear, sometimes pushed further into the foreground by signatures designed to frame them perfectly.

This would be a good introduction into the Kobaian world. Keep your eyes open, because it has a hundred different covers splitting credit between Magma and Vander himself, but don't worry about which you choose as I've never discovered a version with bonus material.

laplace | 4/5 |

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