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Magma - Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h CD (album) cover





4.30 | 902 ratings

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5 stars The Innermost Circle of the Church of Progtology

So you wandered into our not so humble little community after enjoying some 70's synth, chuckling at the guy with the reverse mohawk, or via the modern door of the nerdy English guy and the Swedish growler. You explored the big names, sampled some Camel, braved some extreme 70's fashion while listening to fusion, and finally learned about Canterbury and Krautrock. You moved through Zappa and discovered Univers Zero and even Henry Cow. Now, my acolyte, you are ready for the highest secret of the genre. The most simultaneously pretentious, gaudy, and brilliantly exploratory of all prog. Magma. My first album, appropriately was the first fully realized product of the band's created subgenre of Zeuhl. MDK. The black album with the gold bug thingy.

Though MDK may not be the best album Magma made, it's close, and it's certainly the most emphatic and prototypical. Nominally, Magma's music is supposed to be combination of John Coltrane and Karl Orff. The Orff sound is obvious, the Coltrane less so. If one were to take the pulsing choir sounds of Carmina Burana, fold in some jazz / fusion drumming, a small smackerel of rock backbeat, and a heaping helping of avant theater ethic, you might begin to understand what Magma is all about. MDK is the most Orff like and the least fusion-y, and also the most frantic offering I've heard from a band that more than earns it's reputation as one of the craziest bands of all time.

The vocals here are all over the place but make sense in context. While there are screams, yodels, trills, demon choruses, and of course the made-up language, within the musical scene it works. The songs tend to hang on a tonality or chord and slowly build in intensity before switching to a new section. Some of these sections are quite long, and it feels as if the band has been anticipating a climax for an eternity. The payoffs can be frenetic, monstrous drops in energy, or sometimes more repetition. In fact my biggest problem with the Zeuhl sound in general is that a broken record feel occasionally comes through. One must listen to the multiple layers intertwining and exploring in order for the music to maintain its interest. There is an overall arc of movement and mood that finishes quite satisfactorily with the female chorus that sounds vaguely like "soon, oh yes so very soon."

Listening to Magma is like reading literature from another era, it takes awhile for the brain to shift into the style, get over the wierdness. But once you do, this really is a unique style that for me can be quite rewarding. While E-re may be a better album overall, MDK has a historic edge as being the first true incarnation of this visionary sound. It also maintains a youthful energy that the more recent albums appropriately have replaced with mature pacing. For the true prog fan, saying MDK is essential is obvious. It may not be your cup of tea, but to deny its place is folly. 5/5

Negoba | 5/5 |


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