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





3.66 | 110 ratings

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4 stars This is one of the alternate versions of Christian Vander's most notorious/best loved work, Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh. The official 1973 release is, quite rightly, regarded as the high point of Zeuhl music, but it did not fully do justice to Christian Vander's original vision. The bass and drums are rather low in the mix, and the brass section tends to dominate the arrangements. Later live versions emphasised the melodic side of the music, with the massed vocals (apparently inspired by Carl Orff's Carmina Burana) more to the fore.

This take ditches the brass section, pushes the massed choirs to the front and Christian Vander's nanosecond precision drumming is crystal clear, as is the bass playing, although sadly not by the scarily talented Jannik Top. There are other significant differences from the released version; there is no guitarist on these sessions, and in places the absence of Claude Olmos's marvellously fluid lead guitar is really noticeable. There is also a different introduction, featuring Christian Vander delivering a blood curdling speech in Kobaian over some extremely dissonant piano, before the familiar intro kicks in and he continues telling us that we're all unworthy beings doomed to be destroyed. Once we're past the intro, there are few deviations from the score (assuming you're already familiar with the piece) until the slightly extended closing section, featuring some more unearthly vocal stylings. The main difference lies in the arrangements, which emphasise the music's melodic strengths as opposed to the rhythmic power of the 1973 release. Some releases of this also include the 'Instrumental' version, basically the same piece with most of the vocal tracks removed.

This is a fascinating version of the most astonishing extended prog rock composition of the 1970s, and is essential listening for anyone who loves Zeuhl music. Newcomers are probably better starting with the original official version, but this stands up as a great album in its own right.

Syzygy | 4/5 |


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