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Magma - Christian Vander: Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah Ītah] CD (album) cover





4.19 | 306 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
4 stars I'm thinking of an Off-Broadway musical rock opera performed by escaped patients from a sanitarium who are convinced that they are among an elite class of citizens from an undiscovered country between Germany and Denmark. They also forgot to bring a guitar for their opening night performance, so the piano has to make up for the missing instrument by being perpetually busy while the bass is given some extra volume as further compensation. And the drums, those rhythmic patterns that make a 4/4 beat sound downright vital and visionary at times, like jazz musicians forced at gunpoint into a marching band.

The vocals are the key as to whether this album clicks or not. Admittedly, the first time I listened to this opus there were times in which I almost had to laugh. Not being invested enough in this particular piece of art, it was difficult accepting the fact that these guys & gal were belting out complete gibberish with conviction, heart and a ton of vibrato without finding the whole concept a bit goofy. Certainly during the second track or the hilarious Ẁaīnsaht!!!, the vocals emote in an operatic fashion quite clearly over the somewhat sparse number of instruments, like a smorgasbord of Teutonic blathering that only those in the land of Magma can comprehend. And yet I suppose it's not mere blathering since it is an actual created language and not just pointless syllable spouting.

The fact that this monstrous piece was also a soundtrack to an art film about two ill-fated lovers makes Wurdah Itah an even more enigmatic creation. The music is often as sweeping and romantic as two helicopters colliding, but I haven't seen the film, so I can't say whether the soundtrack gives the film a reason for viewing, although I've never heard "Tristan and Isolde" ever mentioned alongside heralded French films of the early 70s.

It's jazzy with a driving beat. It's a bit wacky and wild with the choirs and vocals, but strip away the language barrier and the voices themselves are quite skillful. Speaking of skillful, Vander does not mess around on drums & piano. The album flows by pretty fast as these short tracks blend into each other. It took a few listens, but I eventually got it, and I'm looking forward to checking out some more Magma material in the future.

Prog Sothoth | 4/5 |


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