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

MEKAN¤K DESTRUKT¤W KOMMANDÍH

Magma

 

Zeuhl

4.28 | 1026 ratings

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thebig_E
4 stars 4.5 stars. Although this is considered the greatest album Magma had ever done, I think there are better introductions for first-time listeners. You have to ease them into such a difficult band like this, instead of throwing them in the deep end and expecting them to swim. I don't think Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh (M.D.K.) is a flawless masterpiece, but it's close. This was an important moment for the development of the Zeuhl genre. The two previous albums had a Jazz Fusion sound, not unlike others from their time, but what made them different was the creation of their own language and mythology. Suddenly, Jazz and Rock music could sound like it was made by aliens.

That is the idea behind M.D.K. The music is sung by a race of people from the planet Kobaia, and the language is Kobaian. In the mythology of Magma, Kobaians were refugees from Earth. This concept is better explained in the liner notes of the album, that is, if you can read French or Kobaian. There is a lot of ambition to this music. A yearning for a spiritual experience through music that you won't find everywhere. There is almost none of the commercial appeal that popular music relies on in this record, which is refreshing. As for the music, this is Christian Vander (drummer, vocalist, and band leader) and company in full Carl Orff mode. This record introduces a chanting vocal style that would later become a staple of Magma's sound. It is much more prominent here than in the previous records by the band.

There are minor issues that prevent this album from being perfect. Most importantly, the production is lacking. With a muddy mix, where the drums don't pop and are buried, one wonders what this could have sounded like if it was recorded on better equipment. Maybe the equipment was fine, and the mix just wasn't given enough time. I understand not every album in the 70's had pristine production, and Magma's post reunion albums all sound better. The album had to be split up into sides, because of vinyl restrictions. Apart from that, it flows like one long song. Side two has a slow buildup before the climax. There is repetition throughout, but track four, Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik, wastes the most time. I find it unnecessary, and if an instrumental section took its place, I wouldn't mind.

The three-song stretch of Nebehr Gudahtt, Mekanik Kommandoh, and Kreuhn Kohrmahn Iss De Hundin is the highlight of the album for me. It is as explosive of an ending as you could hope for. Really, the ending of M.D.K should be studied, just for its ambitiously over the top and massive sound. Nebehr Gudahtt slowly gains speed and intensity, until it erupts with maniacal screams coming from someone (most likely Christian Vander). If you ever needed an example of why Magma is a challenging band, this is it. That soon fades into the title track, Mekanik Kommandoh. This must be the climax. Why else would it be so fast and intimidating? Vocals and horns layer over each other, and there is even time for a sweet guitar solo. This slows its pace for one more refrain of the vocal melody introduced after 3 minutes. After this, a piano calmly ushers in the last track.

This feels like the falling action, but things will only ramp up very soon. It sounds like a moment of peace after a battle, until a final scream brings in the true ending. There is no other album ending that sounds as apocalyptic as this in my opinion. Horns sound like they are echoing through caverns, while a drum plays a marching beat and anguished cries paint the scene. It finishes the record on one final gloomy note, before feedback pierces your eardrums.

In conclusion, this is an album reserved for people who are looking for a challenging and very demanding listen. It is not simple background music, that you can put on and ignore. It requires attention and patience. It helps to know what you're getting into with Magma. This should not scare you away from the album, but encourage you if you're feeling adventurous. Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh is an excellent addition to those who are into progressive music.

thebig_E | 4/5 |

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