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Magma - Köhntarkösz CD (album) cover





4.15 | 490 ratings

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5 stars Rating: A+

In one single blow, Magma (led by drummer/vocalist/composer Christian Vander) invented and defined an entire new genre of music, known as zeuhl. That blow was Mekanik Destructiw Kommandoh. With the follow-up, Kohntarkosz, Magma bested themselves (and numerous others), releasing the best Zeuhl studio release. Whereas MDK was full of dark horns and massed choirs (which admittedly worked to near perfection), the drumming of Christian Vander and the bass of Jannick Top were mixed far too low, meaning it largely lacked two of the key elements of Magma's sound. On Kohntarkosz, not only are the drums and bass appropriately mixed, but the vocals are more low key, allowing the trademark Fender Rhodes keyboard work to shine through as well. The result is a more organic sound, a better sound, and, accordingly, a better album.

Kohntarkosz is dominated by the massive title epic. Built around a simple, three-note theme, Kohntarkosz is a masterpiece of patience, use of space, and building around a theme (among many other things). The vocals, which were the dominant instrument (alongside the horns) on MDK are now used mostly to repeat the main theme of the song, around which Magma adds ominous bass growls, perfect drums (I mean it, just listening to Christian Vander's drumming on this record sends shivers down my spine), and, of course, the aforementioned keyboards that are such an essential aspect of Magma's sound.

After twenty-one minutes of teasing the listener, building, then relenting, building, then relenting again, Magma burst into what has to be among the most spectacular climaxes in all of music. It's hard to explain with words, other than to point out that the energy picks up, but the song suddenly gains energy unlike anything I've ever heard. The buildup may be fantastic, but it pails in comparison to the climax, which takes up most of the remaining time in the song (about eight minutes) and which never relents. MDK, already one of the most powerful CDs I know, looks laid back compared to this. Everything does.

The only reason why Kohntarkosz isn't perfect (and my favorite CD, which it would be if it were just the title track) is that, well, there's more than just "Kohntarkosz". Suffice it to say that there is no way to follow an act as intense as "Kohntarkosz". While "Ork Alarm" and "Coltrane Sundia" are both excellent songs, they would've done better on a different album ("Ork Alarm" in particular would've fit well on Udu Wudu), as they just don't fit here. I could see "Ork Alarm" working well as the opening song to Kohntarkosz, as it is similarly oppressive atmospherically, but "Coltrane Sundia" with its beautiful, joyous piano has no place here, as good as it is.

Despite that, Kohntarkosz remains a masterpiece of an album. Mekanik Destructiw Kommandoh is the best Magma album, but Kohntarkosz is the best Magma song, and what a song it is. Absolutely incredible.

Pnoom! | 5/5 |


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