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





4.30 | 902 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's all Kobaian to me...

Magma is one of those obscure little bands that gets a lot of attention thanks to their hardcore fans, but for all those of us outside the circle they can be one of the most threatening to approach. This is for a number of reasons really - Magma is not exactly your run of the mill band (which can be good and bad) in that they're a French band that sings in a made up language while using multitudes of musicians to create a bizarre mix of jazz and prog which they call Zeuhl. Not to mention that any music by the band is bloody impossible to find in stores since they are just that obscure. Cds and vinyls by them sell for ridiculous amounts of dollars in some places, although with the advent of (legal) downloading they're becoming a lot easier to find.

From the moment the needle hits the grooves with this one you know you're in for something, you may not know what that something is, but you're in for it. This music really is thicker than a brick (no prog pun intended) in that the music is impossibly layered with everything you would never expect to hear. Tonnes of instruments give life to the screaming and chanting nonsensical vocals which really do dominate the album. Like others have mentioned previously, while there are seven tracks listed on the pressings of this album is would be more accurate to call it one giant song in seven parts since the tracks segue so smoothly that you'd never notice the difference between the tracks. A good thing I suppose because I really would not like to have the chore of trying to remember the names and pronunciations of each individual track name.

It does go into repetition here and there, which seems to be many people's beef with the album. I find it quite orientating in the sea of music that is Magma, because without that much structure it would simply turn into endless, pointless jazzy noodling with pianos and screaming women all over the place. One thing that Magma is quite good at is developing an idea before moving onto the next. Good enough in fact that the songs on this album can actually get stuck in your head because despite being monstrously complex and incredibly bizarre they are, somehow, catchy. Bass and drums tend to be dominant along with the piano making for a very trudging feel (in a good way) to the album while the vocals shout and shriek overtop.

Tips for listening to Magma (it's a talent): First and foremost - unless you know how to speak in Kobaian, just ignore the vocals completely. Think of them as another instrument, otherwise you may become eternally frustrated with the album. Secondly, expect anything. Don't go into this sitting down and thinking it will be an undemanding experience, because Magma will kick you in the face if you're not expecting it. And of course, give this a number of listens. The first listen you might find yourself thinking, ''what in the name of...?'' because if you're used to more traditional prog like Genesis or Yes, this ain't it. If this album is going to catch on with you (and it might not) it's probably going to do it in the third or fourth listen.

I can't quite call this album an essential one, but it certainly makes for a good listen when you're in the mood for something out of the norm. 4 Kommand÷hs out of 5, great if you're interested in what they're doing, but given the price of their music at times you might want to check out some samples before diving headlong into the ocean of molten (prog) rock that is Magma.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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