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Magma - Mkank Dstruktẁ Kmmandh CD (album) cover

MKANK DSTRUKTẁ KMMANDH

Magma

 

Zeuhl

4.27 | 611 ratings

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Psychedelist
5 stars There are three things everyone should eventually do in the life: to get a job, to get into Prog and to experience MDK at least once. So much has been already said about this cult Prog album, so I think I'm going to share some specific thoughts only.

Actually I've never been as shocked, dazzled and 'mind-blowed' as by this. Listening to this album, you slowly start to understand what Vander meant by saying that he wants to let people 'live'. MDK (and Magma's music in general) is a special way to live and to think, it's a unique state of mind and a parallel universe. So, that are quite silly and banal things you are going to think about at first encounters with this work of art if you got luck to be able to 'get' this album of course. I remember my first impression about "Hortz Fur Dhn Stekhn West" clear: at first two minutes I was like "what a great disappointment it's going to be", but it was followed by "what a great pleasure it's going to be" at the central part, and finally "what a Tremendous Brilliant it's going to be!". Don't really remember anything about the rest from my first experience, but it left me lying in bed having no idea what exactly just happened. I guess there are three kinds of initial reactions on MDK: either shock in a good way, or shock in a neutral way, or huge disgust. It's definitely a love-or-hate album and you have to have extremely strong nerves to be left cold after being in touch with this magma-like music (no pun intended)*. Some people find this incredibly intense ceaseless flow of music and vocals very hard to listen to and quite annoying at best, or unlistenable hypertrophically pretentious noise at worst, others get emotionally dazzled, stunned and devastated after all the emotions and even involuntary chaotic moves again and again even after countless listens to this brain-burner. And such polarized opinions don't come up as a surprise, since this album does have something of out-of-this-world extraordinariness.

* - Even if you think that "Magma" is an excellent name for the band while listening to MDK, you probably can't say exactly same thing about album's title and cover. If I didn't know the date it came out, I'd probably expect to hear some metal or even industrial. The alternative cover of 1001 Centigrades would fit by the way. Nevertheless, such a minimalistic cover probably was supposed to make MDK the most representative Magma's album and MDK basically is, although each album in Magma's discography is very different from the others and no doubt that Magma is a classical example of what should be called true Progression when true artist looks for something qualitatively new. And I guess "Mekank Destruktw Kommandh" seems to have its place in the album's concept, but not knowing what exactly this mysterious "Kommandh" is, I don't seem to be too familiar with album's concept and Kobaan mythology in general, so I think I shouldn't touch album's concept this time. That's a shame and I should correct that later. And probably learn Kobaan.

Now let's talk about the music itself more or less objectively. Everything that should be said was already said, Magma presented on MDK a very unique, almost unparalleled type of music, sounding like opera and being influenced by jazz and classical music*. Therefore, being truly unique piece of art in all ways, MDK seems to be one of the first albums of pure Zeuhl, so I think it's not an exaggeration to say that MDK basically created the sub-genre. There was a mystery, even some kind of paradox, which has bothered me for a while: how, being not the most complex thing ever and quite repetitive and monotonous at times, this album could have such an enormous impact, even on me, liking complex, subtle and hard-to-get music in general? Yes, I do (and did) find MDK easy to listen to and to get into and I fully enjoyed it already at second listen. How so many people consider MDK Magma's most complex album is beyond me. It's neither complex album in musical terms, nor complex one to get into, but whether you 'get' it or not may actually depend on suggestibility and sensitivity of your mind rather than being or not being able to 'get' actual music, thus you may 'get' the actual musical sense, but getting such a monumental idea appears to be nearly impossible for quite a good amount of music lovers. Second problem about MDK being hard-to-get is HUGE contrast between musical form and musical content, respectively unbelievably intense orchestration, requiring enormous efforts from listener to be able to discern each thing which is going on at the moment, plus extremely emotional vocals that are really an organic part of the music and vary from beautiful opera-like choir through hypnotic chanting to absolute hysteria, AND, actual musical harmonies and structures being quite simple and repetitive, although there are still lots of unforgettable unique moments in terms of both of musical form and musical content. I suppose this contrast, creating a truly unique combination and enormous effect, is the reason why musical form qualitatively creates musical content here. MDK is one of the few cases where I could say that (form creates content).

* - Sometimes people tend to exaggerate the influence by "Carmina Burana". Although the influence and superficial similarity are obvious, I really don't think there's anything that would go beyond that. Univers Zero was influenced by Stravinsky, Magma was influenced by Orff. That's it.

Now, I'm going write some specific stuff, part-by-part (and not "track-by-track").

Hortz Fur Dhn Stekhn West. A unique beginning, sounding brown rather than light-yellow* as the rest (yeah, you get it, I'm talking about musical color). Second part. Very emotional singing and brass section still ain't that intense and relentless, and the music is quite simple, but it's where the Magic begins. At times, one half of me was like "man, it's a couple of simple chords!", and the other one was (and is) - "you know, when the female choir joins in after the first two minutes, the fact that I'll hear only four chords during the next 5 minutes is the last thing in the world I worry about." The vocals are as outstanding as musicianship and always will be the dominant part of the music, although brass section comes close. Third part. The only part (on the whole album) which I'd consider Complex in terms of musical content. Combining this with "room-clearing" and "ground-breaking" musical form, you get arguable apex of the first side of the album. Incredible music. Incredible effect.

* - How many people consider the ambiance of MDK 'dark' is beyond me, although second half of the album is definitely darker. Not the lightest thing ever, but still extremely sublime and 'celestial'. Also, I tend to use word 'pretentious' somehow in a positive way, meaning more of 'sublime' than 'snooty'. MDK is THE most 'pretentious' album ever recorded. That's it.

ma Sr Donda. There're two conditional parts. The final moment of the first one, the chant "w w ess ess w w ss ss" and the ending of the second part are respectively arguably the most touching moment on the whole album, the most pleasant moment on the whole album and the other arguable apex of the first side of the album.

Kobaa Is De Hndn. Listen to the end of it. These words sounding like spells, and piano at the very end...

Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekank. ...Second side opens just exactly like first one closes. This shows Vander's great aspiration to go against LP format and make his masterpiece single. And you'll have to belive that MDK IS a single composition. Consider you've fallen asleep during listening to DZWM. This track is by far the most repetitive and hypnotic one on the whole album, thus considered by many as the weakest and most boring. I actually didn't enjoyed it at first listen. At second one... I was sent into heaven. The vocals are extremely emotional and touching at times. The thing I especially like about DZWM (and the further chant "Ziss nt et- nah, ziss nt et- nah" as well) is the way how short melody line gets offset relatively plain rhythm each time it starts over. This offset isn't artificial and is caused solely by the actual structure of melody. Great detail, I like to focus on which every time I listen to MDK.

Nebhr Gudahtt. First half is some sort of respite before the tremendous things you're going to get through. The moment when drums and chant in the background with the amazing offset join in seems to me extremely important because you realize that it was the last moment when you could breathe more or less normally. The way Vander sings (yes, I do find it singing) is amazing, whether this is normal voice or falsetto or shocking scream. The second half of "Nebhr Gudahtt" is also a part you shouldn't expect to enjoy at first listen. At first listen, it's frankly scaring. At second one... you just got the idea and the feeling it was supposed to convey. You always can focus on the background female chanting after all. That was the 'hysterical' apex of the album, but the 'ecstatic' one is still ahead.

Mekank Kommandh. The favorite Magma's piece for many fans. Starts with the same extremely hypnotic chanting and you wish it did stuck in your mind for a hour. Then some indescribable psychedelic metamorphoses, a wonderful chord progression, and... the apex of the whole album. Two chords. Dazzling complexity and intensity of vocal melodies and rhythm. One of the most intense thing I've ever heard. While the guitar solo may be the only thing on the album that theoretically could be better, it definitely has a conceptual value in terms of composition's structure. It's a short respite between the two waves of mind-blowing assaults.

Krehn Khrmahn Iss De Hndn. Sublime ending, epic final chord sounding like a shot into the sky, and ... unexpected ambiguous final, which is the third thing that you quite don't get at first listen. It isn't a possible flaw as it was often considered, it's just so weird and ambiguous and I have no idea what exactly it could mean, either people followed Nebehr Gdahtt, or rejected him or something else. As about the final squeak, I really don't know what's such a big problem with it, it's neither painful nor unpleasant. Since second half of the album tend to be more repetitive and less loud, I usually increase sound volume to the maximum while listening to the second half, however never decrease it at the very end. Actually, I'd interpret this squeak as you being thunderstruck by MDK sounding as thunder.

(Note, I was talking about first-and-second listens only, but actually I've relistened to MDK like 50-70 times at this moment. So my review wasn't a hype of the first listens or anything like that.)

I didn't know what is beauty until I heard this. At least, if it comes to the beauty of musical form and vocals. If you're into straight side of Prog, you should expect a huge disappointment rather than your usual days, when Pink Floyd is everything, to end. Still, I believe there's always a chance for everyone to get what's the point here. If the band, which created a unique type of music and a new sub-genre, isn't one the most innovative bands of Prog rock then I don't know what is. An art piece of monumental originality and enormous effect, that everyone should experience. Maybe I'll change my opinion a bit. However, not today and not tomorrow. There's a lot of masterpieces in my collection, but this one claims to be THE greatest one in many ways (except musical complexity and musical subtlety) so if I could give it more, I would, but now... at least 5 stars.

Psychedelist | 5/5 |

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