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Magma - Retrospekt´ẁ I-II CD (album) cover





4.53 | 116 ratings

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4 stars It's 1981: three years have withered since a release, studio or live, from the fathers of Zeuhl. After a so-very-slightly disappointing quasi-swan song like Attahk, Magma dug out these very fine recordings, to be called Retrospekt´w I, II, and III, and released 'em. Retroskept´w I-II and III (released as two entities) must have been a pillar of hope for members of Uniweria Zekt, whose appetite for new Magma material was intensifying. It also marks the first official recording of Theusz Hamtaahk: first movement in the three-part series of the same name. Part two is Wurdah ¤tah, and part three is MŰkan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h, both given studio treatment (the latter being a celebrated anthem of Zeuhl). Theusz Hamtaahk, on the other hand, has only ever been recorded live. Retrospekt´w III also contains a good deal of new material. So it's no doubt Magma fans met these twins with drool-clad chins.

There are a number of bands whose enthusiasm and intensity are immensely more present on live recordings than studio work. I think it's pretty clear I'm about to label Magma as one such band. Magma is one such band. Shocker! Previously recorded material is vastly rearranged, so don't think that a Magma live recording and a Magma studio album are at all superfluous. This version of MŰkan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h has a very brief but incredibly serene and heavenly introduction, as well as a completely renovated second half, where a De Futura bass solo from the beastly Paganotti precede the greatly improvised, jazzy march of Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekan´k.

As for the performance, all musicians are in top form. Vander's drumming is rarely as ferocious or inspired as here, and Paganotti's bass is equally fierce. Keyboards play a largely role than usual (note the three keyboardists [gasp!]), often due to the lack of horns, but don't ever become too present. The whole choir is in fabulous shape, with Blasquiz playing a relatively large role in the vocals, which is a nice change from previous studio outputs ▄dŘ WŘdŘ and Attahk where Blasquiz's vocals were dimming to extinction. Sound quality is, believe it or not, far superior to the majority of Magma's studio albums.

ZŘnd I, Theusz Hamtaahk, is extremely similar to Wurdah ¤tah in many regards. But it is indubitably far superior compositionally. It begins with the aggressive introduction that launches Wurdah ¤tah, but slowly melts into something much more menacing and atmospheric: into a slow, boiling, seeping motion. This expresses the narrative perfectly. Theusz Hamtaahk is the Time of Hatred, the period on earth where we mortal men fall to our most heinous. After the malevolent boil, and a chilling vocal climax, the we come to the furious conclusion. After the final applause, a few minutes of pained cries supported by a devilish keyboard pattern sound hammer the idea of Theusz Hamtaahk firmly into us.

By contrast, ZŘnd II, MŰkan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h, begins with a most beautiful and loving vocal melody, supported by a serene keyboard phrase. This also goes with the idea here: MŰkan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h represents the salvation of mankind, and their march to spiritual purification after the Theusz Hamtaahk. A bass solo from Paganotti, taken from the famed ▄dŘ WŘdŘ track De Futura (which is a song about time travel, the future, atomic war, and the like), sounds of violence, pain, destruction and despair sound. Is this a glance to what will be the future if mankind continues their downward plummet? Or perhaps it's NebŰhr Gudahtt's warning to the Earthlings. Or perhaps it's merely a look outside, to the current state of the world. At any rate, whatever this is meant to symbolize, it sparks a change in the Earthling's march against Gudahtt and his Koba´an teachings (feeling lost? Read my MDK review or my Magma blog) and starts them on their march with Gudahtt, towards perfection.

Three years divide these companion live albums from the next Magma album in either direction. It's a ray of light in a time of darkness. An inarguably perfect performance, with brilliant production. It's a masterpiece, and essential for Zeuhl or Magma fans, and highly recommended for everyone else with an open mind.

Shakespeare | 4/5 |


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