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MHNTHTT-R

Magma

 

Zeuhl

4.17 | 367 ratings

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Logan
Special Collaborator
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5 stars He's got to love that knee.

Same old, same old, pretty much, but what a wondrous same old it is. In some ways I wish that Vander wasn't repeating himself, and struggle with the rating since I generally value progressiveness from an artist, but I find this so enjoyable that I really want to give it a five (if I cared for exact ratings, then a 4.5). Truth be told, I'd like to give quite a few Magma albums a five, which makes me something of a fanboy, and even "Merci" is essential to my collection. Magma was for some years my favourite band and remains one of my favourites. As a fanboy, perhaps I should be extra prudent and a little more conservative with my rating.

It's a very easily digestible album (not challenging ) for those that know Magma reasonably well (and it has an Offering feel as well in part). It's hardly ground-breaking, but it is an excellent listening experience despite my familiarity with themes (as of course, expected). There are some nice twists on old material. I found it to be one of their most easy-listening albums -- "got it" on first spin, but it still entrances me. I really like it, but don't find it, as some state, terribly complex. For pure enjoyment, I'd rate it a five, but that would drop if I compared it to others and took into account "innovation". It is one that I'd recommend to a Magma newbie (of course the repetition would be too much for some and even for me it goes on too long in parts, but what pay-offs there are!). And so beautiful in parts, joyous, and "mysterious" in others. Quite a bit of it makes me want to bop my head, wag my shoulders, wiggle my hips, and shake my li'l booties (actually, rather large galoshes) -- especially when Vander is singing in his "Hhai" idiom, and when he sings lyrics that sound to me like "He's got to love that knee ... Oh that knee ... Oh wee that knee, oh wee...". Mishearing Magma lyrics is one of my preferred pastimes, and the "fun" element has long been important to me with Magma..Very danceable in parts, as with a lot of funkin' groovy Magma music for me. Actually, it has wonderful contrast and, though not that complex, is very nuanced. It has the qualities that made me fall in love with progressive rock and Magma. I can "feel" this music, and feel attuned with the performance and mind behind the compositions. And I must say, aside from Stella's Vander's lovely vocals which are really special this time round, Christian Vander's vocals can just fill me with so much joy. The album, as I find common with Magma, can be truly sublime and fill me with exuberance.

However, I wouldn't call it Magma's uber-hundin work. It's one of many wonderful albums by the band (of the studio albums, the first two have tended to get the most play from me). I do feel that the mixing could be a little better to bring certain instruments to the fore and more varied instrumentation would elevate this higher still, but the piano goes a long way. I really dig vibraphone, but I feel that it was not used as well as it could be for both rhythmic and harmonic purposes. More complex harmonies would elevate this higher still, and I would have layered the music more in some parts -- though the simplicity in some parts really is beautiful. One thing that pleases me is that it doesn't have the excess of dull keyboard one-handed runs that are in "K.A. III".

I've spun this so many times now and still love it. For enjoyment I'd give it a five, and it is one that I'd recommend to a Magma newbie for accessibility as well as an oldbie who is already familiar with the kind of music on display (mind you, I still think this nice twists on the expected for one who know Magma very well), but I'm giving it a four, I think, because of the lack of innovation (it is conventional Magma) and because.I still think it could be improved somewhat through the use of different harmonic types. In some ways, too, I'd like to see Magma move farther from rock into more intellectual, and esoteric, jazz/ academic music fusion. The final two tracks strike me as pretentious if one takes them seriously.

This is not an album that one must be initiated in the flaming Magma to enjoy. While both those new to Magma and old to Magma may find much to love, I think some may find this too accessible and even poppy for their liking. Those looking for truly avant garde music, look elsewhere. I love French pop. Those who want much complexity in music may also find this very lacking, but I still think this is at a much higher standard than the great majority of music deemed Prog at PA, and there is wonderful contrast, good texturing, and nuanced music to hear. The musicianship is all very fine, and Vander's drumming remains creative and his music generally heartfelt and sincere, even if I suspect him rather tongue in cheek at times.

5 stars for personal enjoyment. 4 plus for PA purposes (not that ratings matter anyway). An essential 2009 release for any reasonably well-rounder progger, and a damned fine album. I could easily rate it up there wish the classics, and in some ways I think it's an improvement on the "Khntarksz" days.

Ah heck, I'm changing it from a four to a five for now since I really consider this an excellent rockiverse album, and when taken on its own (the quality of the music itself and not different considerations), I think it really deserves that five. While I hardly think this music will have the longevity of, say, Beethoven's glorious 9th, or music by influences on Vander such as Coltrane and Orff, compared to the vast majority of others in the rock universe, this is stellar stuff. And I'm glad that Magma has been faithful to the early vision, and haven't opted to release a bland pop album for the billboard charts even if I find it rather poppish Magma- comparatively (but it's no "Ooh, Ooh Baby").

Logan | 5/5 |

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