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Magma - K.A CD (album) cover

K.A

Magma

 

Zeuhl

4.28 | 424 ratings

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Andy Webb
Forum & Site Admin Group
Admin / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars I really want to know what they're saying

If I could have my pick of the oddest genre of music available today, my pick would certainly be Zeuhl. A mixture of jazz fusion and opera and a host of other otherworldly music genres, Zeuhl is no run-of-the-mill music. Magma, the French band that singlehandedly created the style, also created their own language to sing their "lyrics" in, Kobaian. On every album, a host of operatic singers whip out wooping and warbling melodies attached to this peculiar language. K.A., short for Kohntarkosz Anteria, shows no variation from this crazy style. Filled with great harmonies and melodies and jazzy piano and rhythmic work, the album is really fantastic. In the concept of one fifty minute long track, it flows beautifully, creating a massive and grandiose soundscape for pure aural pleasure.

To start off, let me first express the level of difficult in reviewing music such as this. I'm still what one might call a Zeuhl "noob", with little experience other than this album and one of two others, so decrypting the complexity of such music proves? well? difficult. KA 1 starts off with a rocking operatic jazz fusion piece, with some fantastic rhythms by Christian Vander and some melodic hooting from the various vocalists (of course I would comment on the concept if I had any idea of what they were saying). The part whips in an out of rocking Zeuhlian rock beats and jazzy breakdowns and melancholy sections, all crescendoing into the climax: a tongue-rolling, buzzing, soaring section of great avant-garde mastery, and a fantastic conclusion to this section of the track.

KA 2 stars off much slower than I, with a more drawn out feel. The track very slowly builds, with that constant quiet underbeat. Eventually it begins to break into the main theme of the track, with various jazzy breakdowns along the way. The guitar work on this track is nice and Oldfield-esque, with mellow folky solos and minimal, quiet use. The rhythmic backings are again superb, with Vander's unique drumming style being used to its fullest extent. The whole part has numerous part changes and dynamics, adding to the overall ambience of this great track.

KA 3 is by far my favorite of the three, and also the longest and most grandeur in stature. Crashing open with a bang and quickly retreats to slowly build into a killer synth-based section, the song has no trouble becoming one of the more diverse Magma songs I have heard. With a much chiller, more calculated approach to sound, the song adds a fantastic dynamic to the album, with a much more "traditional" prog sound, as well as obvious Zeuhl influences. The entire track is much more heavily instrumental, with much less emphasis on the wooping vocals, which is a nice break from the hollering and other vocal noises (which are nice, but can get tiring). We can see Vander and co at their best performance, whipping out an epic 20+ minute jam session between each instrument. The jazzy communication between each member is superb, sound almost like complete and total improve throughout. Overall, this track is certainly my favorite on the album, and a stupendous Zeuhl song overall.

ALBUM OVERALL: As a very "immature" Zeuhl fan, I can say that this preliminary album is a perfect pseudo-introduction to a blooming love of the genre. Fusing opera with jazz with prog with rock with avant-garde with so many more genres, Zeuhl is truly the definitive "everything" fusion genre, and this album certainly exemplifies those qualities. Overall, the near 50 minute long track contains some really superb moments, and although I can't understand what the vocalists are talking about, the vocal melodies are superb and really fit the atmosphere of the music. The album is certainly a fantastic starting point for any prospective fan of the band or the genre, as I was and I'm sure others will be. Although this phrase may be rather cliché in describing this band, this music really is not of this world! 5 stars.

Andy Webb | 5/5 |

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