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Magma - 1001° Centigrades CD (album) cover

1001° CENTIGRADES

Magma

 

Zeuhl

4.09 | 284 ratings

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JJLehto
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Zeuhl. The first time I saw this genre I thought that has to be a made up word, (back to that in a bit!). I am still not sure quite what defines this genre. Maybe I have an inferior mind, but all my metal is condensed into six genres and all my prog into two. Anyway, I must say I really enjoyed this album upon first listen, and it only grew on me over time.

This is largely a jazz based album, but with elements of classical in there as well as symphonic. This album is a nice blend of it all and moves between all the genres seamlessly. Free jazz, minimalism, classical, atmospheric and symphonic, militaristic and tribal. You will hear it all, and this is just in the first song! While the transitions are pretty smooth, (often it just kind of happens and you dont really realize it) the changes can be quite abrupt.

Indeed there are pretty wild changes in tempo, time signature, rhythm, and timbre through out this album. This is good as the first song as an almost 22 minute epic. These are either glorious or a disaster, and it usually depends on how well my attention is kept and how well the song is actually composed. How often are these long songs either boring are terrible, sounding like a bunch of junk sewn together. I digress. The first song does hold my attention, and quite well. Each section lasts the right amount of time. Not an equal amount of time of course, just write. The song never drags, each section is long enough to be enjoyed but not too long to slow or monotonous. Anyone can make equally timed sections though, and that could get boring over the span off 22 minutes. No the emotional roller coaster has the perfect height in its dips and lifts. Truly awesome song, both musically and in composition.

"Iss" Lanseļ Doļa. Almost entirely a jazzy song, it ranges from smooth to free jazz, of course with sections of minimalism. The middle section is quite mellow before giving way to a slowly increasingly frantic section, the pace being kept by some sweet drumming. As a drummer, and one who loves jazz drumming, I was quite struck with Vander's drumming. It is spectacular. Any drummer or jazz fan must enjoy it! The frantic climax is halted with a very minimal and kind of creepy outro. A moaning over a disturbingly simple piano riff, ending with a shivering sound and a growing clock ticking. Enough to drive a sane person to the brink of madness! I loved it.

Ki Ļahl Ö Lļahk. Starts off very jazzy. Like the other two songs this is the foundation throughout, but of course there is variation. This song has some the best piano and bass playing on the album. The bass is really cool, but the piano is awesome and has a really wild jazz solo at one point. There are solos all over the place, with lots of different instruments of course. My favorite part of the song may be the middle part, which is a mellow jazz section with what sounds frighteningly close to nazi rally chants over it. The tempo quickly picks up and gives way to an ominous piano and then an upbeat folk dance! Which would not be complete without off tempo piano!

The music on this album, now onto the vocals. On my first listen I thought this was in a strange German dialect, or maybe some obscure or archaic European language. Something folk maybe? No. Turns out it was a language made up by Christian Vander. The language is Kobaļan, the language spoken by the people of Kobaļa. Though made up and is a gut reaction to the music, the language has the feel of German, and looks Nordic.

Anyway, I really like it. Sure, to many it may sound silly, but doesn't scat singing? That is what the vocals remind me of. Scat singing is not about a message, (obviously) but using the voice as another instrument. A way to truly improvise the vocals, and a way to match the music on a primal level. That is what Kobaļan is like. Though there is a story, the lyrics are less about conveying the message and more about matching the music. Just like scat singing it is not really "thought" out and constructed but comes from the soul, in a way its more meaningful than the words I am typing.

The vocals themselves vary greatly. Everything from regular singing to tribal chanting, and even militaristic sounding marches. Sometimes they are melodic, sometimes they make you want to dance around a communal fire, sometimes they are abrupt, staccato barks, and often dramatic. Multiple vocalists are used, sometimes in a back and forth manner, sometimes weaving around each other. Sometimes they are in unison like a choir.

This is an excellent album. Sure, this made up language is a bit pretentious. I won't deny that, but I like to look at it another way. Unique. With a common gripe about music being that nothing is new or original, no one can say that about this album. This is not a story about another universe, this is a story IN another universe, in their native language and not English, whatever that crazy language is! More importantly, it really does blend well with the music and compliment it.

This is a brilliant and unique album. Highly recommended.

FOUR STARS

JJLehto | 4/5 |

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