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Magma - 1001░ Centigrades CD (album) cover

1001░ CENTIGRADES

Magma

 

Zeuhl

4.13 | 295 ratings

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Shakespeare
4 stars Halfway between avant-jazz and Zeuhl, we find 1001░ Centigrades. Very much like its predecessor, Koba´a, it moves with slick rapidity, weaving through complex compositions, wild arrangements, and stark splashes of beauty. Comprised of three monster tracks: all outstanding, but none standing out, this second attempt at Zeuhl lands much, much closer to the mark, but pales in comparison to the bullseye which is Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h. The Zeuhl hallmarks begin to appear, though are still overpowered by the Jazz and Avant-Garde leanings (the former much more than the latter this time). Again, the concept or story is not a silly murder mystery, nor an irrelevant ode or complaint, like too many concept albums are, but instead is a relevant and complex tale emphasizing mankind's need to progress, and highlighting our faults.

The story of this release directly continues that of the previous release. Our Koba´an protagonists were just leaving with the newly acquainted Earthlings back for the ancient realm of their forefathers. The Earthlings had asked them to return to Earth with them to share their wisdom, teach their methods, and, in a certain sense, preach their way of life. As it now stands, Earth had fallen to depths never before reached, and Koba´a's population was infinitely advanced to Earth's: on political, social, spiritual, and technological grounds. The story of this chapter begins with the trip to Earth, and the bright welcome they are met with. The Koba´ans tell the tale of their ancestors' leave-taking, explain the progress they've made since, share their philosophies on the betterment of mankind, and how purity and spiritual enlightenment are the best, if not the only, means to growth, peace, and a perfect civilization.

At first, it sounds as if the Earthlings are sincerely considering these words, but within moments of sharing their speech with the world during a meeting with government, or some other form of high-ranking authority, they are arrested, imprisoned, and their spacecraft is immediately apprehended. Our protagonists, now prisoners, somehow manage to communicate with the Koba´ans back home, who quickly organize a retrieval effort. Now, at a civil meeting between the Earthling and Koba´an authorities, the Koba´a demand their kinsmen be released, or if not, the Koba´ans will unleash their ultimate weapon and destroy them. The details of this ultimate weapon are unclear. We don't know if it's some sort of Death Star, or another really advanced arm that will destroy the planet or wipe out its inhabitants, or something simpler and harder to conceptualize as a weapon.

At any rate, the Earthlings buy this story of an Ultimate Weapon, and release the Koba´ans immediately. The only condition the Earthlings demanded was that their entire people vow to never return to Earth. Thus ends this tale, but where it ends, another begins. The trilogy of Theusz Hamtaahk, which will be released in reverse chronological order (the first installment being never released apart from live recordings) pick up the threads this story ended with. The next release, Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h, is the last installment in this trilogy, yet was recorded and released first.

Many people feel that concepts are irrelevant if the music doesn't support them. Who cares if the worst band in the world's new album has the best story ever: it's the worst band in the world! Rest assured that every moment of music here (and, truly every second of music ever released by Magma - apart from Merci) is brilliant. Unlike Koba´a, which was mainly an Avant-Jazz, this one is more of a Jazz/Zeuhl hybrid, with the avant-garde patches toned down. Horns still playing a very important role, along with a slightly more prominent bass, and a larger reliance on keys, this release is a step above (or perhaps just a step away) from the last. Drumming is still top-notch from Vander, as is all playing from all musicians.

1001░ Centigrades is an addictive, rhythmically strong, jazzy release. The sound quality is very good for its time, the production and packaging is brilliant (the booklet and its contents look great), and the music is probably a bit more accessible (especially to Jazz fans) than the preceding and proceeding releases. Know, however, that accessibility does not equal music prowess.

Shakespeare | 4/5 |

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