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Magma - mhnthtt-R CD (album) cover





4.19 | 467 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
1 stars A flop, to say the very least.

Magma has always been a mystified band for several reasons: first and foremost, the band's music style or musical direction is (or was, when it came by in the early 70's) one of the most unique in contemporary music, due to the unlikely mix of free jazz, late 19th century (Wagnerian) opera / early 20th century (Carl Orff-like) choir, rock and huge amounts of great ideas put together. Secondly, the band's own and original language (called Kobaan), which was used to give the genre's name (Zeuhl, which means celestial) and was (and is still being) specially crafted to sound as good as possible when sung, giving the vocals a celestial sounding. Finally, and definitly not least, the storyline developed throughout the band's history about the history of the Earth, Kobaa and both planets inhabitants .

All that resulted in an innovative (at the time it appeared) and very interesting genre of avant- garde rock music called Zehul, which unfortunately is still unknown by most, except the band's rabid fans, who seem to never get enough things or know enough about them.

What some still don't know is that Magma (and in fact the whole Zehul genre) is still alive and kickin'! Fortunately, I am not one of those people and neither is my uncle, an avid avant-garde rock, jazz and progressive rock fanatic. When the both of us knew about the release of mhnthtt-R, the newest Magma album and the supposed conclusion of the Kohntarkosz trilogy, we were both quite excited. I guess that was a natural feeling, because K.A. was a killer album (and was the second part in the Kohntarkosz trilogy) and progressive rock, in general, is living a great moment, or a resurgence, as some may say.

Little time after the release, by the end of the year, my uncle already had the album and I naturally borrowed it from him to put it on my IPod. Wile listening it, I could notice that something was wrong. The style was the same, the musical playing was also similar to some other albums, as were the vocals, but the magic was somewhet gone. The album sounded strangely repetitive, familiar and similar to something I have already listened before. It was just somehing I couldn't put my finger on, so I decided to rest the album for a wile in order to better absorb the music. It was in vain. Two weeks ago, when I gave the album yet another spin, the feeling was the same. Almost six months had passed passed since the album's release and still the album fails to inspire me. Even now, when I am listeling the album wile writing this review, there are very few interesting parts throughout the 51 minutes of music.

This week I made an interesting discovery about the album's main theme (mhnthtt-R) and that may partially explain my lack of excitement towards the 2009 Magma release: a considerable part of the song mhnthtt-R (parts I and II) are actually reworked parts of already released songs by the band during their late 70's period (which aren't their brightest).

However, that is not only it. The rest of the album, in spite of its supposed originality, fails to reach the same level of quality the first two parts of the title songs. The amount repetition through the whole album is disturbing, even by Zeuhl standards, and the lack of interesting ideas makes it even worse. The album is developed in a rather boring and surprisingly predictable way after the first 15 minutes. You can know beforehand exactly when the choir will sing, when the band or the music will make that supposedly unexcpected and surprising "twist". Things seem mechanical and predictable, at least regarding the songwriting.

The instrumental and the vocal works couldn't be nearer from perfection, but the lack substance, meaning that the songs that they play perfectly are simply not good enough to make their effort really significant in this album.

Grade and final thoughts

In fine, I must say that starting my Zeuhl reviewing with an 1 star review is rather unconfortable for me, becouse I really like this genre, specially Magma, which I consider to be one of the best and most innovative progressive rock bands ever, and I rarely dislike a progressive rock album, but what can I say?

The truth is the truth, the only thing you can do is live with it. . . . And the truth is that this album is not even a good album, let alone a masterpiece of progressive rock.

CCVP | 1/5 |


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