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Magma - Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h CD (album) cover





4.28 | 1025 ratings

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5 stars I'm so impressed with this album that I simply had to submit a review. (It's my first one for this site; I hope to contribute more as I continue listening to all kinds of interesting and unusual music!)

It's not many records that I put on for the first time and within 2 notes of the music, know that this is going to be an instant favourite. For me there was no 'getting into it' or letting it play until some barrier dropped in order to let me appreciate it. The moment it started up, 'MDK' grabbed hold of me and dragged me into its sonic labyrinth! You'll have to excuse my superlatives in this review, but I haven't fallen in love with an album in quite such a profound way for a very long time.

How can I describe the sound of this music? I can but try, but I warn you to expect some overworked imagery here!

This music surges, pounds, swells and roars. Small elements of repetition build on one another like superimposed images - I really don't want to use the word 'palimpsest'; that is really too much music-journalese, but. oh well. There it is! Precariously stacked textures form thick, laminated layers - most music is linear, its progress is basically horizontal, but this music has a vertical dimension to it as well - like stratum upon stratum of (yes!) solidified volcanic flow. The bassy, dark sound of it resounds and rumbles like an approaching siege engine. The whole unwieldy contraption towers and sways until it reaches a stupendous conclusion, with all the bristling fervour of some strange primitive rite conducted in a cave. And yet it's not unpleasantly heavy sounding - the vocals, which are cleverly weaved into the music's tapestry, like golden threads, leaven the mixture.

Above all, this music manages to be catchy! Maybe it's the repetition of the musical motifs, but, well, it's invaded my brain to the extent of bits of it making my 'in-shower set list'!

The words, of course, are in the constructed language of Koba´an. When I first heard about Magma, several years ago, the impression I was given was that the made-up mythology was a pretentious and self-conscious extravagance. But having now at last listened to some of their music, I don't think that's the case. The mythology's larger themes are played out in such an earnest and heartfelt way that this strange, guttural language, telling its peculiar saga, absolutely does not act as a nonsensical distraction or detract from the music. If anything, it makes it more immediate and emotionally accessible than it would be if this were straight instrumental music.

The playing on this record is top notch: tight, united, with none of the sloppy, unfocused noodling that plagues some so-called 'progressive' music. Other reviewers have pointed out that it would be better if Christian Vander's brilliant drumming had been brought more to the fore in the production. That's probably true, but one thing that strikes me with this album is that it's presented as a 'group effort' - as mentioned, there's no flaccid soloing to nap through, and the knitted-together texture of the music leaves no room for any one contributor to hog the limelight or show off.

In short, this album manages to be unusual and hard to pigeonhole, yet immediately appealing and always intriguing. Innumerable repeated listens have failed to bore me yet! Most of all it's made me want to seek out as much 'Zeuhl Muzik' as I can get my hands on. I can't give it fewer than five thoroughly Celestial stars!

song_of_copper | 5/5 |


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