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Magma - K.A CD (album) cover

K.A

Magma

 

Zeuhl

4.28 | 425 ratings

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Pnoom!
5 stars Rating: A+

Has the thought ever occurred to you that Christian Vander, founder and mastermind of Magma, might be a cynical, plotting, evil genius? Well, look no further than K.A. (short for Kohntarkosz Anteria) for proof. The music was written around the same time as the masterpieces M.D.K. and Kohntarkosz. Instead of releasing it then, however, where it probably would have been overshadowed by the two cds widely regarded as Magma's finest, Vander waited until 2004, a good thirty years later, to let it see the light, revitalizing interest in Magma and creating what is arguably the greatest comeback CD of all time (to the degree it's a comeback). Alright, so maybe he's not an evil genius, just a smart musical genius.

Which is enough for me, honestly. It's not often an album this good comes around, and it's even rarer when it comes from a band that hadn't released anything but an EP and some live CDs (from older shows) in the twenty years prior (twenty five if you don't count the appalling Merci album). Nevertheless, that's what Magma have done with K.A. It falls somewhere between the operatic vocal mayhem of M.D.K. and the slow-building atmospherics of Kohntarkosz, which isn't surprising when you consider it was originally written to bridge the gap between the two. As such, vocals are very often the dominant instrument on the CD, recalling M.D.K. but without nearly so much bombast. Instead, they create a spiritual beauty - I would go so far as to call this the most spiritual CD by Magma (which always was a very spiritually tinged band). However, backing this up is not a dominant brass section, but the trio attack of drums, bass, and keys that dominated Kohntarkosz. It perfectly blends the subtle complexities the latter with the trademark Zeuhl sound of the former, creating what may actually be the perfect introduction to the band (other than the awesome live CD, Live/Hhai).

While most of this composition was written "back in the day," - you can here some of it on the Inedits album and the ending of "K.A. III" is used as the ending for the BBC Live performance of "Kohntarkosz" - parts (I don't know which) of the third movement are new, and since the whole thing is amazing, it shows that Vander's compositional skills are as good as ever (which means we better be seeing more new stuff ASAP). In addition, Vander has rounded up a crack team of musicians, meaning that it's performed perfectly. It is, of course, sad that neither Bernard Paganotti nor Jannick Top (both Magma bassists of old) are featured, but their replacement, Philippe Bussonnet, does a marvelous job in their stead and could, assuming Magma continues with the quality releases, earn his way up to the legendary status of his predecessors.

If all of the praise I have for the actual music on this CD doesn't convince you to buy it (assuming you're new to Magma - if you already like them you've probably bought this already), I would like to point out that the cover art is by far one of the best among Magma's CDs. This sees Magma at their most accessible yet does not compromise their musical integrity, and it earns serious consideration for the title of greatest comeback album ever (if you consider it a comeback). I can't wait for the promised release of more older material and possibly even some new material as well. If it's half as good as K.A., it will still be worth getting. K.A. is just that good.

Pnoom! | 5/5 |

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