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Magma - Concert Bobino 1981 CD (album) cover





3.44 | 52 ratings

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Man With Hat
3 stars A fairly solid live album from a band on decline.

I think most people would agree that 1981 wasn't the best year for Magma musically. Many years have passed since the release of their classic albums and many of the main players from those days had departed. Also, more and more of a funk/streamlining influence pervaded the music, at least the newer stuff. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, this Magma is definitely a different beast. Especially with the addition of a second drummer. Unfortunately in a realm where rhythmic complexity could shine, it is rarely so. Though there are multiple sections where you can distinctly hear the two drummers playing different parts which is nice. Also, the addition of horns and brass in the band is great to hear, perhaps harking back to early Magma days, although they are used in a completely different context.

Disc one is where this concert shines. For the most part this is classic Magma (for the time period at least). Zain starts things off well with plenty of instrumental delights and a couple of fun twists. Hhai continues this with a fantastic instrumental jam section after the main vocal part. It must be said though, that I don't find these "new" vocalists to be particular appealing. While they aren't bad, they can't really hold a candle to the power and prowess of the powerhouse vocalists Magma had used in the past. This is particular evident on Retrovision. Musically, I enjoy it much more than the version on Retrospektiw III, however vocally I do believe it suffers slightly. Urgon Gorgo is a fun funky track with some excellent drumming, easily my favorite for the entire concert.

Disc two takes a bit of a nosedive in the sense that this disc fully shows 80s Magma (Merci) is all about. All of the tracks are fairly similar. A very steady rhythm section lays down a beat and essentially keeps it the same throughout the song while the vocals (some of them in English!) take the lead, which is a bit indicative of a pop influence in their music. Musically both Who's My Love and Otis are fairly uninteresting, however there is a bit of perhaps perverse interest in both of them in the sense that they are almost fun to listen to, as so far as I can listen to them both and not lost interest, even though they are fairly long and static. Zess is fairly similar, however vocally much more impressive, no doubt thanks to Vander's singing and some instrumental soloing. You is a strange song with a damn catchy opening section, which then unfortunately falls into the same trap the other songs on disc two do. Though there is a strange bit tagged on to the end, which in a way sounds like band introductions, but with alot of screaming and various instrument sounds.

All in all, this is a decent album. There are definitely faults, but considering the time period its not as bad as it could have been. Disc one is easily a four stars album, where disc two is a sufficient showing of the "new" direction Magma wanted to go (with Merci coming three years later). Newcomers to Magma should avoid this until later in their adventure of the Kobian universe. For the initiated there is some interesting material that should at least be heard. 3 stars.

Man With Hat | 3/5 |


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