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Magma - Rock Duo »Magma« CD (album) cover





3.26 | 18 ratings

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4 stars Thanks to me this band was added to progarchives so I feel obliged to write some review now, to draw this band near to nowadays good music lovers:

Magma is a very little known nowadays band which seems to had very prolific career in seventies in fact. I've found information that they existed from 1973 until 1978 and during these 6 years they played many concerts and acquired quite big fanbase in "underground scene" of Germany. Taking into consideration such long time of existence it's really strange that they were able to record only this one, sole album "Rock Duo Magma" in 1975. Especially that this record is a rally brilliant example of perfect mix of symphonic prog, jazz and intelligent psychedelia (not too many stupid "sound effects" generated in the studio).

1. "Jessica" - very good psych track with a bit strange but enjoyable vocals (all lyrics on this album are in English language). Whole song in filled with fantastic organ solos which are presented almost after every verse. Also the main organ riff is very catchy and I can hear some symphonic influences in its "structure". Detlef Gehrke from the beginning proof that he's a very good organist who's enough talented to fill the album with his keyboards and make it interesting. No guitar required! I have only one minor complaint to this song: synthesizer buzzing in the background during whole track is a bit tiresome and surely not necessary. Maybe they just wanted to create more "trippy" sound here?

2. "Blue Jean Woman" - very good rather slow tempo song with evident jazz overtones. It starts with very atmospheric, laid-back singing and acoustic piano. After 2 minutes Detlef is switching his keyboard instrument and present long, "moody" Hammond solo. It sounds really fantastic and magical. Solo starts very melancholic, slow-tempo and gradually changes to more dynamic but still very atmospheric part. Song finishes with only piano and vocals again, so the "circle" is closed.

3. "6 Minutes Release Rock" - much more synth-oriented track with lots of spacey synthesizer flights. Detlef Gehrke seems to use EMS VC3 synthesizer instead of Moog or ARP (anyway it sounds like this kind of synth for me), so the music automatically starts to show some similarities to Pink Floyd. However most of the song is filled by long, not so adventurous drum solo. One of the weakest track in this album.

4. "Marmalade" - the shortest song in the main album begin with fast-tempo melody in the vain of 60' rock'n'roll played on organ and quirky synthesizer. But after 1 minute music completely shifts its direction into gothic-like music with dark sounding organ. Somehow Vand Der Graaf Generator influenced but with completely different, more psychy vocal approach. Very good synth solo included. Clearly one of the highlights of this album.

5. "Embryo" - another fantastic composition with perfect sounding Hammond all over the place. Song is filled with incredibly enjoyable organ soloing (no other keyboards in here). First part of this track is more jazzy oriented, while the second part is evidently symphonic oriented. About 4 minute bass (probably bass pedal of Hammond organ) starts to play very groovy rhythm a la "Rondo" which together with inspired organ melodies create really magic, "The Nice"-like atmosphere. What a pity composition if fading out after awhile... I noticed that vocal in this song seems to be very similar to Tyburn Tall's (another German prog rock band) singer Klaus Fresenius. I don't know who was a main vocalist in Magma (both musicians are credited with vocals) but one of them seems to have extremely similar voice to Klaus! But maybe it's because of a German accent? Anyway this song is another winner in "Rock Duo Magma".

6. "Turn" - not so memorable composition with a bit annoying vocal parts and no catchy melody but organ solo in the middle is good as always. In fact it sound very 60'-like (1967- 1960 period). No synths, only organ, drums, vocals and bass (very loud & good bass lines to be honest, if it was played on bass pedals by keyboardist I really have to congratulate him now. Bravo!).

7. "Floating Smog" - the last song on original LP release. The most psychedelic one with dominant keyboard which sound as some strange synthesizer or organ with some difficult to be described effect. Monotonous drum pattern and repetitive organ layers in the background create very trippy but enjoyable effect. Vocals are quite "hysteric" and suites perfectly to the mood of "Floating Smog".


8. "Heaven and Earth" - CD reissue of "Rock Magma Duo" included 5 bonus tracks: 4 recorded live (however audience not audible in any tracks) and 1 previously unreleased studio one. First bonus track "Heaven and Earth" was surely recorded after their sole studio album. Sound is much richer thanks to use of bigger range of keyboards, especially evident is (probably) ARP Solina String Ensemble. This track is more symphonic oriented thanks to this instrumentation. However occasional thunder sounds seem to be clear psychedelic motif.

9. "Blind Girl" - it's the first song with slight quality problems (some vole fluctuation in several moments), but song is very good by itself and represent more psychedelic sound of the band. Thanks to organ dark main melody it has Gothic feeling similar to "Marmalade".

10. "A Day in My Life" - another good song with symphonic tendencies evident in string synthesizer wall of sound and Moog (it seems to be real Moog here) eruptions. "A Day in My Life" also features good organ solo.

11. "Hand Are On The Waves" - short song with mediocre melody and vocals but with lots of synthesizer leads and soloing. Mainly for fans of spacey krautrock and synth lovers.

12. "Fur Elise" - only Hammond organ, drums and Beethoven's just has to be good! And it is :-). Clearly influences by Keith Emerson's or Ekseption's classical pieces re-workings. However this "cover" is rather faithful to the original what makes them similar to staff of such German bands as "Pink Mice" and "Electra"(album "Adaptionen").

To summarize "Rock Duo Magma" is perfect addition to prog-rock lovers interested in both psychedelic Krautrock and early symphonic rock. And of course fans of Hammond-driven music has to check it out too. Additionally take note, that this record sounds more like from 1969-1973 period than 1975 staff.

Keyboards (mainly organ)/drums formula of this band immediately brings to mind references to other prog-rock duo bands, like "Twogether" (the most similar band I can think of), "Sixty Nine", "Attila"(with Billy Joel), "Hardin & York", "Bondar & Wise", "Rustichelli & Bordini", "Hansson & Karlsson", "Atlantis Philharmonic", "Sound Express" and "Bootcut". But taking in consideration general style of this recording I can also recommend it to people who enjoy such rock outfits as "The Nice", "Tyburn Tall"(this vocal similarity...), "2066 & Then", "Andromeda"(German band), "Murphy Blend", "Eden Rose", "Amos Key", "Bib Set", "Klockwerk Orange" or "T.P. Smoke". - in general 4 stars from me. Check it out!

ozzy_tom | 4/5 |


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