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Magma - MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h CD (album) cover

M╦KAN¤K D╦STRUKT¤ẁ KÍMMANDÍH

Magma

Zeuhl


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daniel@tutis.
5 stars Polarizingly innovative, hypnotically dramatic.. The use of minimalism is magnificent (D minor and D major all along) and conveys the feeling of charisma and discipline. In a way, the ultimate prog record. Didn't like it on 1st listen, but the Vanderian (or should I say Wagnerian?) charisma forced me to give up quickly. A must-hear (I'm trying to avoid commercial-sounding endings like "masterpiece!", "a true classic!" or "a must-have!" but if the prog is in your veins, you must hear it at least once. Then decide whether you like it or not).

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22314)
Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
renedebot@yah
5 stars If Carl Orff still should be alive,he probably should make his music in the similar style as this album.A lot of wild choirs are involved in this album.Possible the most vocal album from Magma,together with the usual bass,drums,guitar,keyboards and...a lot of horns!Wild!!!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22316)
Posted Tuesday, February 03, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars As the peak of a mountain disgorges lava and it becomes art , Magma created from this volcano an endless flow of fusion from the gaping mouth/crater between classic(Stockhausen and Orff) , jazz (Coltrane) and transformed it into a rock and it is an extremely fine blend. This is some of the most essential music ever written and in 100 years , this should be considered a masterpiece of classic along with Mozart .Think I'm exagerating ,uh? Try it because this music is only waiting for a sensible mind to invade. This was recently re-released as a part of Theuz Amtakh trilogy .

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#22317)
Posted Tuesday, February 03, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Nothing to say about of this jewel. Only one thing : if your are interrested by Zeuhl and if you want to understand the heart of this music, listen "M.D.K. - Alt. Version". It is a version without voices and horns. Maybe you will discover that it is a generous and joyous music, not a freak music for gore movies.

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Send comments to Tauhd Za´a (BETA) | Report this review (#22318)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
hitandrun2@ho
5 stars This album defies comprehension. Welcome to the world of Magma, its over the top, full of singing and full of power. Lots of saxophones, and the singing is like instruments, since they arn't saying anything intelligible anyways. The only weird thing is that this album feels like only one song, which is kinda strange. I can't ever pick up the song changes until the last song. Not that it matters with song titles like "Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik" you won't remember the names anyways. And besides, this album is so good, you will have to listen to the whole thing!

Well if you are ready for something crazy pick this album up.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22322)
Posted Friday, June 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
neil_bruford@
5 stars This is my first Magma acquirance and I must say that I was really blown away by such weird music. I only find the introduction quite long but its interesting the way the vocals are arranged and the things they're saying, certainly I dont understand a damn thing but it sounds cool. When the music really starts its breath taking how Vander combines elements from rock,jazz and opera to create his own style. One thing that really amazed me was the part when Christian Vander is playing plain,easy 4/4 when the whole other band, including the opera singers are following a 7/8 pattern,it just sounds amazing. Well I dont actually remember if its the whole band or just the voices but it really sounds very special. I really recommend this album to people who can actually get it 'cause its a pain in the ass just trying to find it, and also those who like weird,experimental music,oh and also to prog fans of course.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22323)
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a very Teutonic-sounding album, due both to the Kobaian language that the band's French founder Christian Vander (percussionist and composer) concocted for the purposes of his ambitious multi-album musical project, and to the music being reminiscent of German composer Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana". Kobaia, by the way, is supposed to be a planet of spiritually enlightened humans who left Earth and formed a new civilisation. This particular album tells the story of the Theusz Hamtaahk (Time of Hatred).

Apart from the superficial similarity to Orff's music, the music on this album also has clear jazz-rock influences. There is a lot of repetition within tracks, both in the melody and in the choral chanting, and in my opinion the music is less sophisticated than many would have you believe. Nevertheless the overall effect is pleasing and I do not find the album difficult listening. The repetition is almost hypnotic in places.

From the perspective of Progressive Rock history, MAGMA is an important band; indeed the Zeuhl genre came into being with MAGMA (the word Zeuhl is a Kobaian adjective meaning 'celestial'). I believe fans of Progressive Rock will find the detailed sci-fi concept (with its strong spiritual message) interesting, and the music itself progressive and enjoyable, although this album is not one that I would say is essential from a musical point of view. If you enjoy Orff's "Carmina Burana", jazz-rock fusion and Wagnerian opera then you will probably like this 1973 release. It's not something that I personally would rush out to buy, so I'll give it 3 stars (Good, but non-essential).

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Send comments to Fitzcarraldo (BETA) | Report this review (#22324)
Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars OH WOW! This is what they call the Zeuhl style, a progressive rock subgenre! How does it sound like? This record is partly a mix of the Frank Zappa's "Teenage prostitute" track, his "200 motels" album, the Philip Glass' Photographer album, the Mike Oldfield's 70's work and the Pink Floyd's "Atom heart mother" track (the vocals)! The combination of Zappa- esque trumpets of the early 70's and orgasmic & emotive male + female opera singers is absolutely delightful! Add some excellent percussions (small bells), rhythmic piano parts, a complex bass, elaborated drums and you get this wonderful Zeuhl record of the early 70's. The mood principle is to repeat incessantly some brief complex parts made of emotive opera vocals, safely enhanced by rich bass, percussions, drums, piano and horns arrangements. ALL the tracks are excellent! "Nebehr Gudahtt" is absolutely hysterical!! This record is very sexy, and it seems to celebrate the pleasure in its most orgasmic, magmatic form.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#22326)
Posted Saturday, February 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the craziest things I've ever heard... There's a guy who keep on yelling, it's almost funny, but also a little bit scary, because you have no idea of what they're singing... I would not call it masterpiece, but a very good album... Worth the check mainly because the crazy vocals... I guess i like this album.

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Send comments to Fant˘mas (BETA) | Report this review (#22327)
Posted Saturday, February 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
rguabiraba@ho
5 stars A really impressive album. Weird vocals ? Yeah, but who cares ? Furious, rhytmic and unconventional music played and sung loud. A definitive masterpiece for those who like that "fat" sounding hammond organs and electric pianos, fullfilled with inspired textures and dramatic vocal passages that really drives you into a parallel world. I just like to know how these guys can play so fast and so repetitive without seem to get tired or bored troughout the whole album (seven tracks that works like a big one). A trully inspired composition by Vander, but, unfortunately, his drums are too "hidden" in this album that it's really a shame. Bad, bad mixing. The female choir? An obviously highlight in this work. Quite fascinating. In summary, a very different recording, and believe me, that's nothing like MDK in rock'n roll music. If you don't like it, all you can do is enjoy this unique oportunity.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22328)
Posted Friday, February 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Quick generalization: do you like the often-sampled "O Fortuna" from Orff's Carmina Burana? Then you'll probably like MAGMA's "Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh".

There's really very little else to compare it to, though it takes influence from several other sources: modern classical composers as well as bop-era jazz and a smattering of rock elements. The album is a largely choral work with some orchestral instrumental embellishments over a rock/jazz combo, all of which meld to form a heavy and unique ensemble characterized by Teutonic intensity, hypnotic repetition, and cathartic exultation. The language used, Kobaian, is an essential part of the creative structure, having been developed specifically for the music by the band themselves (mostly by the original MAGMA visionary, Christian Vander). This album is part of an extended narrative with elements of spirituality and science-fiction, portraying a group of spacefaring refugees from Earth and the history of their new society. Howver, since you have to be fluent in Kobaian to understand it, you may want to track down a translation to attempt to appreciate the story for yourself.

There's really nothing quite like the album. Opinions are pretty polarized, with many feeling that MDK is a work of complete originality and genius and others asserting that it is nothing but noise and nonsense. It's perfectly okay to laugh at it, or be a little scared, at first- but once these initial impressions have dissipated you will be in a much better position to either appreciate MDK (in which case you'll probably want to check out the rest of the trilogy, as well as other Zeuhl albums) or discard it as unfit within your concept of music. Nothing I could write would alter that decision one bit. So buy, borrow, or otherwise find a copy of MDK and decide for yourself...because with a work this original and momentous, the only mistake would be to never have heard it.

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Send comments to James Lee (BETA) | Report this review (#22330)
Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
prog-zilla@ya
1 stars This stuff is just too bizzarre. The idiotic, manic singing is what kills it for me. Oversampled is the word - they latch on to a Karl Orff-like theme from Carmina Burana, and beat it to death. The whole album of that? Nauseating.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22331)
Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
arteum_boe@ya
4 stars I have a lot to say about "MDK". This was my first zeuhl album and it is not surprising I am bubbling with impatience to express my opinion. Having read a gread deal of reviews on MAGMA, I was so intrigued by it that a secret masochistic desire (masochistic because allegedly some people, if we are to believe their reviews, felt the urge to vomit after hearing MAGMA) to listen to one of their albums was never leaving me afterwards. Somehow I expected to hear what I have eventually heard and somehow I had always known I would like it. Some people perhaps have a natural predilection for zeuhl although they might have never heard it. I remember, when I was a ten year old kid, and frequently bored at home or just in need of a change, I would pace to and fro in my room and chant some crazy tunes, first in my native Russian (making up purposefully meaningless lyrics as I sang), and later it turned into simple exploration of my voice accompanied with rather strange dancing. My voice was horrible, I knew it all the time, but it was insignificant in comparison with the weird artistic form of expression I had discovered for myself. Of course, I knew nothing about zeuhl then, and my amateurish, playful and silly singing was not zeuhl - it was rather a primitive joy of music (in fact, zeuhl has the same roots, that is, the primitive joy of and celebration of music, which Christian Vander implied, in my opinion, in some of his interviews). But in this unprejudiced feeling for pure music I find my liking for MAGMA. You may think that with my apparently bizarre childhood and liking for MAGMA my prog "orientation" might be a bit rainbowish too. But yet, my five most favourite prog bands are PINK FLOYD, GENESIS, ─NGLAG┼RD, PORCUPINE TREE and MARILLION, liked and respected by every proghead, irrespective of his attitude to zeuhl.

MAGMA reminds me slightly of a famous Russian group AUCTYON (unfortunately, still not present at progarchives.com) with which I became acquainted when I was sixteen or so. AUCTYON is a mix of traditional rock, RIO and probably zeuhl (in its Russian form). I love AUCTYON dearly to this day. And I think AUCTYON was another preparatory stage which allowed me to take MAGMA calmly and with an avid interest, unlike some people who rate MAGMA's albums with one star.

Now, about the very album, "Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh". It is very difficult to rate it for me, since I have not heard any other zeuhl albums yet. It is like asking someone at the beginning of the 20th century to rate the music of Britney Spears. I am sure, poor Britney would be considered sheer prog just because her "Hit me baby one more time" would seem somewhere around 1900 as original, innovative and technically highly accomplished music. The same to me is zeuhl - I have nothing to compare it with, and as it sounds fantastic and delightful (and invokes in my mind the songs which witches in fairytales would sing, when meeting in great numbers at the top of the hill under the full moon), I am tempted to give it all five stars. And the more I listen to it the more I like it. The same recurring rhythm and the minimalism principle have a hypnotic quality and I may play and enjoy the album five times a day. The parts I like most is where the women sing with great effect something like "Yes, .!", "Yes, .!" . (around 7:50 of "Hortz Fur Dehn Stekehn West" and especially around 6:07 of "Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik"). "Nebehr_Gudahtt" is almost hysterical - in this I agree with one of the reviewers.

In summary, I give "MDK" four and a half stars. Four is too few because not many other albums in the last year or so had such a profound influence on me, and five is too many since I cannot (or still am not bold enough) to number "MDK" among "Wish You Were Here", "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" and "Epilog". But I think four and a half stars is a very high rating nevertheless, and I am dying to listen to my next MAGMA album (which I already have), "1001 Centigrades".

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#22332)
Posted Thursday, April 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I really don't see what the big deal with this album is. I mean, I tried my best to enjoy it. I even find the music a bit enjoyable, too. The biggest problem I have with it is the vocals. Ranging from annoying to god-awful, there isn't really one moment of the operatic bombasticness of the vocal performances I can enjoy. The music also tends to drag on, and feels as if it is going no where. I can appreciate what Magma has done for progressive rock, and I can appreciate their creativity on this album, but I feel that it just isn't good music.

The worst track on this album is definitely Nebehr Gudahtt, which features a rather bland jazz beat, topped with nonsensical screaming that can't do anything less than annoy.

Although I find so much wrong with this album, there are some nice jazz beats dispersed between the operatic maelstrom. If you can stand such bizarre concepts, than this might be for you. However, I'll give it a 2/5.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#22333)
Posted Monday, May 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brilliant album. A mix of classic music, opera, Jazz rhythms, repetitive frases, that keep getting stronger, and more intens, all on a firm symphonised rock foundation. Carl Orff's Carmina Burana is mentioned before, and rightfully so, if you like veni, veni, venicula, or Oh Fortuna, you will surely like Magma's MDK.

The vocals are operatic, with no real meaning to me, it's supposed to be a language, and have a meaning, but for me that doesn't matter, and I listen to the vocals as another instrument increasing the impact of the wonderfull music. In which so much happens I can't describe it really.

Magma managed to integrate several windinstruments, piano, guitars, drums and vocals to an organic mix of raw power, and subtle beauty. Maybe not everybody will like this type of music. But for me it's the discovery of last year, and I will buying and listening a lot more Zeuhl bands.

Highly Recommended. Maybe not everybody will like it, but I think everyone should have listened to this at least once.

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Send comments to tuxon (BETA) | Report this review (#22334)
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Are you into massed choral vocals a la Carl Orff's Carmina Burana? And if you are, do you want to hear a whole album's worth of that kind of music? If your answer to both questions is yes, then you will definitely belong among the massed rank of Magma fans (who call themselves Kobaians) and think that Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh is an unparalled masterpiece. Unfortunately, despite the fact that this Christian Vander-led outfit boasts some very skillful musicians, I just cannot get past the dominance of the vocal style, and I am beginning to suspect that I am someone for whom the Magma (space?) ship appears to have sailed.

For those who aren't in the know, Magma blend sophisticated jazz-rock and certain modern classical techniques with the chorale vocals (sung in a made-up rather Teutonic sounding language) to create a unique, but ultimately polarizing style of music. On this album in particular the vocals are an overpowering force that detract from the occasionally outstanding music. I should say that I enjoy Magma tracks (from other albums) like Kobaia's excellent title track and Troller Tanz (from Udu Wudu) that don't have quite such a dominating vocal presence.

The songs that stand out despite inspite of the grating vocals are Kobaia Is De Hundin, the groovy, brass-laden Mekanik Kommandoh and the frightening Nebehr Gudahtt, but in other cases like Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik, Magma's repetitive style is exceedingly tiresome.

I must say that one worrying thing about this album in particular, is that I've enjoyed it less and less each time I've returned to it. A couple of months ago, this might have been a 3 star album, but now it simply isn't. ... 44% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#36311)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
hevvi_b@hotma
5 stars This is one of my favourite albums. To you who gave one star; have you ever heard classical music that uses a choir before? That's the inspiration for the repetition. Anyway, I love the way everyone plays together like if the music flow through them. This is just great. Also love 1,001 degree centigrade

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#39244)
Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars After having heard the free MP3 download of 'Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik' on this site, I was so impressed that I bought this cd immediately although I had never heard a single Magma song before, and I praise that day: 'Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh' has become one of my favourites immediately. I don't know whether it is progressive rock music or 20th century classical music, because it is incomparible with any popular music I ever heard before, and indeed it reminds me of Carl Orff or Wagner if anybody. Kobaian is a beautiful language to sing in for this kind of music; I don't care if it's bizarre or pretentious to create your own special language for your music (all great artists are pretentious!), but it works for me, and I really love the choir singing - although in general I don't like female opera singing at all (which makes it even more incomparible to me!). You like the MP3 download on this site? Do as I did, and you enter a whole new world - in every meaning of the word! (And at least every proglover should give it a try.) A masterpiece of music.

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Send comments to Paul de Graaf (BETA) | Report this review (#39670)
Posted Sunday, July 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
ILIAKIS1982@.
5 stars If you want to listen just one Magma album this is it.The album runs as one piece of music in parts.The music the structure and the feeling here is pure inspiration.You can find all the Magma sounds here:from repetative symphonic,more jazzy,crazy voise soloing and the drums of a master!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#43583)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
frenchie
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Man, I am freaking out! All good reviews start with that! I'll be honest, I have absolutely no idea what's going on in this album! It sounds like French opera meets jazz fusion with a bit of minimalist noise rock and a thick coating of "Holy crap this is weird!". Musically it is pretty good. The album relies heavily on repetitive droning piano work and some crazy vocals from both French males and females who sing without fear of embaressment. Some jazz and guitar creep their way subtley into the background behind the insane vocals too. Some good pulsating drum beats, though sometimes they are buried in the mix.

This is my first dip into Zeuhl and it's pretty crazy to make up your own language. They musta been sitting around a piano one day (possibly off their faces), thinking... "You know i've never been a good lyricist, feck it lads! Lets make up our own language!". Well i guess it works, yet I am puzzled at how a French band sound more like they are singing in German. It worked for Sigur Ros too.

The music on this album can get on your nerves yet it is strangely intruiging and really not that bad at all. The vocals are the biggest problem, not technically bad, but rather in your face, overcramped into the songs, often with barely a moment of just instrumental work. Sometimes the music gets very directionless as it doesn't really build to anything, yet there is somehow it seems to work well and keeps the listener (me) listening till the end even at times i start to question why the hell i didn't stop at track one.

The best tracks are 1 and 4. Though each track doesn't really differ vastly, it sounds more like one big concept of craziness. There is weirder stuff out there, namely Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa, but this one still leaves you puzzled and thinking, "WTF?". A good listen overall, luckily they album is kept short so it just managed to avoid getting too repetitive. Definitely not for everyone, probably an acquired taste to really enjoy getting lots of Zeuhl albums, but as this is the only one I've heard I say it's a good start. I probably won't be expandiny my Zeuhl collection though. Recommended for those after something different, this album is very well recognised as being a masterpiece but I'll settle for 4 stars. Good but it definitely has flaws.

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Send comments to frenchie (BETA) | Report this review (#44223)
Posted Thursday, August 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Progbear
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars A quantum-leap forward in Magma's oeuvre. Earlier albums seemed to be mainly a struggle between Vander's singular conceptual vision and Franšois Cahen's jazzier leanings, but this album is totally Vander's baby.

Essentially a single, uninterrupted multi-movement piece, MDK is for sure not for the faint of heart! Starting with a pounding piano figure and barely letting up for the duration of the album, the entire album consists of a sort of sustained intensity, gradual build-ups to almost orgiastic frenzy, counteracted by more somber moments. For this disc, the band is augmented by a five-piece female choir (including, for the first time, Stella Vander, Christian's wife) which adds an eerie texture to proceedings and is one of the things that absolutely sends this one into the stratosphere.

In short, this is where Magma quit being a jazz-rock band with a weird gimmick, and started becoming Magma. Open-eared listeners please apply here.

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Send comments to Progbear (BETA) | Report this review (#46576)
Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Zac M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is probably the best place for anyone to start listening to Magma or Zeuhl music in general. Christian Vander manages to combine elements of jazz, prog, rock ,and classical with operatic vocals thrown in. The previous albums all had less of a Vander influence and definitely had a jazzier feel to them. While this one keeps some elements of jazz, it manages to combine other genres, themes, and elements that help make this Vander's magnum opus.

Although all of the lyrics are in the made-up language, Kobaian, this album is still quite enjoyable, but is still not for everyone, as evident in the other reviews of this album. Everything flows nicely together and builds. The music itself and the concept are truly excellent (althouh I'm not auite sure totally what the concept is, I'll have to reread the album notes). It's hard to pick a best a track seeing as the album all flows together, but I guess I would choose Ima Suri Dondai. It combines all of the elements, themes, and overall feel of the album in to one song.

This album is highly recommended, although you may want to listen to an mp3 of the band before you go out and buy any of there material. Every Zeuhl fan must own this. It is truly a masterpiece of the sub-genre. No doubt about it, 5 stars all the way!

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Send comments to Zac M (BETA) | Report this review (#47081)
Posted Sunday, September 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars No possible words in any possible language (except perhaps kobaian : ) ) can serve as sufficient means by which to describe this unbelievable and indescribable album. This amazing recording is easily my all-time-favourite. The power, the intensity and the fascinating choral work (which I can't believe anyone can find annoying!) all function as reasons why I absolutely adore this album. Composition wise I believe it's very cleverly put together, It starts in a very sombre and dense mood (as to illustrate the intolerant and foolish earth-people, that, with intent to destroy, march against the prophet Nebehr Gudahtt, who only tries to save them from the inevitable doom, that continuation of the way in which the earth-people treat the earth, undoubtedly will result in) It slowly evolves to a more mesmerizing, captivating and hypnotizing feel typified in the piece entitled "Da Zeuhl Wortz MŰkanik" (where the earth people begin to realise that the prophet is trying to save them, and then they start marching with him). The piece concludes perfectly in the last pieces "Mekan´k Kommandoh" (where the intensity tops) and the sheer beauty of the very last piece "Kreuhn Iss de Hundin."

The plot about the prophet, the doomed earth people, etc. may be a bit too much for some, (even I find it a bit silly). But it is NOT the plot that should be focused on, it's not written I Kobaian for no reason. It's the sheer brilliance of the music that should be focused on. Vander tries to get his message through to us by his music alone, and I believe it's very open for interpretation. I mainly see it as a very cleverly communicated comment that people should try to be more considerate, and treat each other and the earth with more respect instead of destroying it. If not, it will conclude in an inevitible destructuion of ourselves.

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Send comments to ummagumma08 (BETA) | Report this review (#53304)
Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Well, I must admit I've found very interesting all this idea of a new language, celestial music, excentricism,etc,etc. I've also found pretty interesting and original the first track. It may become rather boring after some time but...to repeat this nonsense choirs, with repetitive backing music along the seven tracks that comprise the album isn't a very good idea. It's extremely dense and monotone: It doesn┤t matter which track you hear, after all, they are all the same. It could have been a nice experimental work if it wasn't for this huge mistake...This is the first Magma's album I've heard and I don't believe it's a good "introduction": Anyway, I will hear other albums as I would like to give this band a second try as they are quite original.

I'd give it 1,5 stars really

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Send comments to Igha (BETA) | Report this review (#67827)
Posted Wednesday, February 01, 2006 | Review Permalink
Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Since I heard Christian Vander in a long interview on a French Radio I was fascinated by the person and shared his love for John Coltrane.Christian Vander has like Zappa and his 'Conceptual Continuity' or Richard Wagner and his 'Gesamtkunstwerk' constructed his oeuvre around a personal mythology, that integrates music , lyrics, and graphic design : the famous 'Koba´an mythology', in big outlines a mythology about 'Koba´a' a planet with positive vibes in opposition to the corrupted planet Earth. Vander created even the imaginary language of the planet 'The Koba´an', which forms the basis for the vocal work of 'Magma'. 'Mekanik Destrukt´w Kommandoh' forms the third part of the 'Theusz Hamtaahk' cycle.

I liked the first two 'Magma' records and was surprised by the new orientation, that Vander took on M.D.K. The lighter instrumental Jazz-Rock/ Brass/Vocal arrangements leave place to a heavily vocal/choir oriented record, influenced by Carl Orff, Richard Wagner and the pulsating rhythm of Coltrane's Quartet, a combination which doesn't work too good IMO. The whole record, build up like a long suite( not unlike Coltrane' Love Supreme') moves on like a tank, a heavy pulsating rythm ponctuated by the alternating solo vocals/choir arragements. Even the light weighted soft Machine like brass arrangements of 1001░ centigrades leave place to unisono brass blocks. I was never a big fan of Carl Orff's Oratorios and I don't know to what extent Stella Vander is responsible for the vocal & choir arrangements, but the result is not very convincing either : a mixture of free vocal expression and over simplified harmonic blocks Ó la Carl Orff.

Now, the musicianship is excellent and the music itself is well executed, but I don't like at all this mixture of a neo-classical oratorio with a heavy jazz pulse and I am not very sensitive to the seriousness the 'Koba´an' dimension took on this record. This record is missing some lightheartness and humour.

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Send comments to Alucard (BETA) | Report this review (#73233)
Posted Monday, March 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh (MDK) is Magma's third album and is as good a starting point as any if you are new to Magma. If you have already read all the other reviews of MDK on here, then you'll already have some idea of what it sounds like, so I'm not going to say too much more about that. The choral singing does sound quite a lot like Carl Orff's Carmina Burana but, personally, I believe Vander's inspiration is more likely to have come from Stravinsky and Wagner rather than Orff. Repetition is absolutely key. If that is going to get on your nerves, then Magma is unlikely to be the band for you. Imagine something like Philip Glass's Koyaanisqatsi played by a jazz rock band that is somehow managing to evoke psychic visions of the Apocalypse and then you are perhaps vaguely approaching the Magma sound.

MDK was Magma's second stab at a studio recording of this piece of music. The first studio version of MDK was recorded about 3 months earlier and is now available as "Mekanik Kommandoh". There are also various live versions of MDK now available.

Although it is separated into 7 different tracks, MDK is actually just one long piece and it doesn't really make sense to listen to the separate tracks in isolation. MDK is the third movement of the Theusz Hamttaahk trilogy. The first and second movements are Theusz Hamttahk and Wurdah Itah, but MDK was recorded and released before either of those pieces.

As far as the instrumentation and the lineup goes, this is the first "classic" Magma album of the 1970s with the core elements of Christian Vander on drums, Jannick Top on bass and Klaus Blasquiz and Stella Vander singing. As with most of Magma's music, electric guitar is used relatively sparingly. There's a brass section on here and also flute and clarinet and, of course, the unmistakable Fender Rhodes which is essential to the Magma sound.

I first heard this recording of MDK about 3 years ago, having already seen Magma play live at Queen Elizabeth Hall in, I think, January 2003 when I didn't know any of their stuff. I suppose having seen them live gave me the advantage of having an idea of what to expect from their music and having recognised Christian Vander as a drummer of staggering skill and a musician who has always remained true to his own vision. Also the sheer conviction that was evident in the performances of all of the band members made a lasting impression on me. What can I say? - they really mean it. However, I can't pretend that on the first few listens I recognised MDK for the work of genius I now believe it to be. I liked what I thought of then as the over-the-top pomposity of the piece, particularly the choral singing, and the constant hypnotic pulse of the keyboard part that runs through the whole piece and really draws you in. It was another 4 months or so of repeated listens to this, and other Magma recordings, before Vander's true genius began to dawn on me. Even now, it's hard for me to say exactly what that is. I love strange and complex music, but this is not the strangest or the most complex by any means. I just find myself coming back to it time and time again and each time there's still more to get from it. I have heard Magma's music described as "devotional" music and I think, maybe, that captures the essence of Magma better than any deconstruction. Christian Vander has said - not when talking about this piece, but it applies equally well to almost any of his music - that he wants people to go into raptures when they hear it. Certainly the repeated themes work like a mantra and can send you into a trancelike state. From its dark, ominous introduction and aggressive Germanic themes, MDK gradually transforms into a joyous, celebratory freak-out that leaves me feeling uplifted every time I hear it. This is celestial music indeed.

The fact that the vocal parts are all written in the Kobaien language is important. As far as I have been able to discover, Kobaien is not really a language at all in the sense of each word having particular meanings and the thing being translatable as a whole. Vander usually explains that the words just come to him as they are and, although he will sometimes give particular meanings to individual words, it is more about the sound of the words being right for the music. For me, this is part of what takes the importance of MDK beyond what could have been achieved if the vocal parts were written in any recognised language. It makes the piece more purely musical and above ordinary, earthly concerns. It seems to be the best way to address the Big Questions of human existence.

Vander's aims seem to be higher than those of your average and even most of your above average musicians. It is not essential, as far as I am concerned, to look too closely into the concept of the planet of Kobaia etc to gain a profound appreciation of Magma's music. Particularly as this was abandoned on later albums anyway. What is essential, in my opinion, is a sense of Vander's absolute commitment to his musical and spiritual ideals. Whatever they may actually be, is not so much the point. The point is that his music is an expression of them and this is what really comes through.

Despite the above, I do have my gripes about this particular recording. It is by no means the definitive recording of MDK. Although the cymbals and hi-hat cut through well enough, the rest of the drumkit is way too quiet. Vander is the best drummer I have ever seen and that I am even aware of; and I don't say this lightly. His skill is exceptional and he is able to be endlessly inventive; he can somehow manage to communicate life, death and matters of great cosmic significance with a well-placed fill, a single snare stroke or an almost impossibly light touch on a cymbal. The earlier studio recording, Mekanik Kommandoh, has the advantage that you are able to hear Vander's drumming, but the vocals are not brilliantly recorded and the Choir of the Stockhaus Orchestra that was drafted in just isn't zeuhl enough. Also Jannick Top isn't playing bass on the earlier version, there is no brass section and the piece just doesn't seem quite fully realised.

For the best MDK experience, you have to look to the live versions. For a start, the drumming is very clearly audible on all of the live versions I have heard. Whilst 1975's Theatre du Taur is a good quality live recording, the version of MDK on it suffers from not having enough vocalists to sing all the parts; the same goes for 1976's Opera de Reims. I never saw Magma during their1970s heyday - I was at primary school then - so I can only speculate here, but I wonder if MDK was ever performed to its true potential before the retrospective concerts at Paris Olympia in 1980. This live version of MDK is available on the double album Retrospectiw I-II and it kicks ass. Klaus Blasquiz and Stella Vander are accompanied by 3 additional female vocalists. Vander himself sings some parts in his wonderful falsetto (which also appears on the studio version of MDK). There is no brass section but that is made up for with synth brass. There are 2 keyboard players, 2 guitars and a violin. Bernard Paganotti plays bass and he is an absolute virtuoso; better than Jannick Top for my money if you are talking about sheer skill and dexterity. Didier Lockwood's violin solo in the middle section is certainly worth a listen. This is a really good version of MDK and you also get an excellent version of Theusz Hamtaahk on the other disc.

For me, however, the definitive version of MDK has to be the one on Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogie au Trianon, a live recording of Magma's 30th anniversary concert in Paris in 2000. There are 6 vocalists in total, 3 male, 3 female and a brass section. The core band is largely the same as the current line up comprising drums, bass, guitar, keyboards and four vocalists. Philipe Bussonet may be the best bass player Magma has ever had, although older Magma fans tend to disagree with this view. James MacGaw is an brilliant guitarist, but I have to say I'm not so keen on his solo here as his style doesn't seem to fit in that well. Fortunately, his solos have become much more Magma since then. Keyboard player Emmanuel Borghi is some kind of zeuhl machine in the most positive and complimentary sense. I'm reliably informed that if you were to cut him in half, you would find he has the Magma logo running all the way through him. Of course, the great thing about buying this version of MDK is that you get the whole of the trilogy. Although MDK may be a good place to start ,Theusz Hamtaahk and Wurdah Itah are at least equal to it and I would say better in their different ways; but I'm not going to go into that now.

Finally, if you are going to buy the studio version of MDK on CD, it's better to get it on Magma's own Seventh label rather than on Charly or Tomato or any other label as Christian Vander apparently doesn't get any money in royalties from them and I gather he isn't fantastically well-off.

Although I don't think this the best version of MDK available, I am giving it 5 stars because it's certainly a masterpiece nonetheless and essential listening. It was my initial path into the world of Magma and, if it worked for me, then I'm quite sure it can do the same for anyone else.

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Send comments to Dawn (BETA) | Report this review (#75767)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I bought this album solely based on hearsay. My first experience with Magma was ▄dŘ WŘdŘ, which was essentially bought on impulse. After reading an intriguing biography and some reviews, I determined that Magma was definitely a band I needed to hear. While the consensus was that Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h was the group's masterpiece, ▄dŘ WŘdŘ was the album I was able to get my hands on first. It was a difficult release to get into (I will expand upon my thoughts upon reviewing that album), but it did enough to keep my interest in hearing he rest of the catalog. Also, I had gathered that the album I chose as my first experience with Magma was quite different from the album I had initially wanted to hear. A month or two later, I received my copy of MDK. Not knowing at all what it would be like, I popped it in my CD Player...

WOW! What unprecedented innovation! This is so original, and extremely difficult to sum up in words. What we have here is a very tight musical core, with a unique sound rooted in jazz and rock, with operatic vocals (comparable to Carl Orff) on top. The vocals are all over the place; they sing, chant, yell, etc. It is very interesting and often amusing; I can get a laugh out of some of this stuff, whether it was meant to be comical or not. There is mainly one man doing the vocals, but there are some vocal contributuions by other men. Along side them is a small female choir. The instrumentalists all do very well. The arrangements are so tightly constructed; all of the players function together as a single unit most of the time, meaning there isn't much room for standout parts or solos. It is a very complex piece, that incorporates odd times, polyrhythms, tempo shifts, etc. and requires a great deal of focus.

Vander (the mastermind of the group) is an excellent drummer and songwriter. He single- handedly wrote this piece, and invented a sound of his own with this album. Every fan of progressive music, or creative music in general should at least give this album a try. I guarentee it will surprise you. It will most certainly take a while to get the full effect of the song/album, but that is practically a given with all intellectual music. The only disclaimers I have here are: 1) The lyrics are in a made up language (Kobaian), if for some reason that is a deterrent for you, don't bother. 2) The piece takes a little while to really get going, so if you've gotten as far as obtaining this, don't be so skeptical three or four minutes into it- just hang in there. Not all will enjoy or appreciate, but there is no denying the innovation.

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#77086)
Posted Wednesday, May 03, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The third work released in 1973 "M.D.K.". It is the first work by a new member. Work by which Jannick TOP and Stella VARDER joined. Music has changed into the eccentric one to repeat the repetition obstinately with the rhythm section centering on the chorus. An enchantment repetition and a heavy performance have been filled with a stifling tension feeling. It is indeed good at Jannick TOP. It keeps being sung that Stella VARDER went mad with Klaus BLASQUIZ. This brightness and powerful make extraordinary frenzy come to the surface before long. MAGMA finally took off the veil. The music sounds like devil's feast. Especially, "Ima Suri Dondai" has gone mad really. Rock has already been transcended. The female chorus dashes in "Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik". A strange shout and the chorus bury and carry everything out to "Nebehr Gugahtt". Moreover, final tune "Kreuhn Kohrmahn Lss De Hundin" is one of the highest masterpieces of Christian VANDER. Masterpiece to have gone forward on sound with originality MAGMA. It is an overwhelming chorus. You must hear it at least once.Highly recommended.

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Send comments to braindamage (BETA) | Report this review (#80399)
Posted Tuesday, June 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
erg@hotmail.c
5 stars a masterpice linked together as one long journey, it tells the story of kreuhn korhmann who is a visionary, incredible music, the first track is sort of angry, while it smoothens out afterwards, the drums,piano,vocals and bass is perfect, this album may take some rounds in your lp player before you can fully understand and enjoy it (i listened to it many times and not liking it in the beginning, but then it just sort of creep into your brain, and never goes away) i love to sing along with this album.This is music and this is composion on a HIGH level, Christian Vander is the most important songwriter since Igor Stravinsky or John Coltrane, A MUST HAVE for all progressive rock fans!!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#82924)
Posted Thursday, July 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars An essential masterpiece, with an air of forboding. I found this album rather daunting at the first couple of listens, although the album has 7 tracks listed in reality they're movements of a full blown album length epic much like Thick as a Brick and Tubular Bells. This album is full of operatic vocals reminiscent of Pink Floyd's epic Atom Heart Mother, the music quality is full of finesse; I think it is great rhythm and classical feel use of brass and great melodies on the piano, there is a marching feel in the album especially at the beginning of the album, perhaps it is to do with war in the Kobian mythos. I quite like the high pitch squawking in some of the singing it adds a certain energy to the song. This albumj does not resemble rock but is rather very classical sounding, with Vander's energy in itwith his drumming and singing. There are often parts of this album that have a kind of building up feeling to it, but yet their is also a feeling of doom. I picture battles being fought when I listen to this album. I don't think I do this album justice in this review,read the other five star reviews they do a better job in describe this perfect masterpiece. All I can say is it has no weak parts, full of energy and beauty its kind of a dark opera with rock guitar , drums and bass. I especially love the ending to this album with the building tension and energy in the music. Five stars absolutely essentail no weakness in it, it can be daunting like Thick as a Brick is because its a full album epic, but I think you will be amazed at how much a supurb composer Vander is and be bewildered why few prog fans have heard this classic and why it isn't in the top twenty of this website.

An absolute classic essential flawless masterpiece.

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Send comments to Cheesecakemouse (BETA) | Report this review (#86529)
Posted Thursday, August 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars MDK is an album that is perhaps one of the most pretentious works I have, yet, the majority of this still works. Combining elements of tribal drums, operatic vocals, with large doses of jazz, and an even larger dose of mere creativity. To say this album is interesting is an understatement.

The first track is one I am instantly drawn to, as it reminds me of a battle theme from Lord of the Rings, it would fit perfectly with it. When the horns come in at 2:20, I feel the power in myself that the music has. The speed picks up with the 2nd track, with a symphony like atmosphere with lots of repetition and a thundering background.

Vocals are the name of the game with this album. Always dramatic and full of meaning, even if you don't necessarily understand that meaning. That being said, the repetition can be a bit much at times. The first half of the album is better than the second. Still, one of the most creative and interesting albums I own.

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Send comments to OpethGuitarist (BETA) | Report this review (#93691)
Posted Saturday, October 07, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I remember as a teenager seeing this album in record shops and alway being slightly tempted to buy it, but thought it looked a bit 'heavy rock'. How wrong I was!

Having finally heard the MP3 clip of Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekan´k on PA I decided to take the plunge, being a big fan of Orff's Carmina Burana.

Tonight I got stuck in several traffic jams and gave it a complete listen for the first time in the car.

Uttely remarkable, like nothing I've ever heard before. It's not comfortable listening but it's just so unique I have to applaud them for conceiving and performing it. I'm particularly enthralled by the female vocals which are truly haunting.

I may have to get more Magma if this is typical

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Send comments to zedkatz (BETA) | Report this review (#102051)
Posted Thursday, December 07, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Utterly ridiculous, what is this nonsense? It is not music, that for sure, this is the case of a prank going too far. The first two recordings from this group were in fact OK, I even like them a lot, but now I am lost. I just can't stand the threatical chorus and the little room it leaves for the music itself. So if I were you I'd just restrict myself to the first two CD's and would leave this one alone forever and ever. The only practical use I have for this CD is to play It loud when my neighbors come for a visit, they leave very soon and stay afar from my home as possible. Nice.

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Send comments to steelyhead (BETA) | Report this review (#118455)
Posted Sunday, April 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is almost perfect. Almost. There's one slight inconvenience on this album that destroys the ebb and flow of the whole thing and that's it's random fade out/pause in the middle of the album. Now I fully understand that that's because of side 2 but still. It doesn't change the fact that the change is abrupt and annoying.

Everything else about this album I love. Everything else about this album I love. Everything else about this album... I love. It's... it's... weird! I love it. Yeah, yeah, you try to explaining it.

It's driving, it's vocal, it makes perfect sense. Yet it seems completely irrational. The whole made up language just makes it even more...it. Talk about power.

This is a particularly dark album, you can hear the desperation in the voices including the voices of the instruments. It's fanatical. It's tribal and yet it's sophisticated. It transcends any conceptions of what progressive rock is to me. It's completely different from what I've heard before and it baffles me.

Before, when I wasn't familiar with it, I was just entranced. I couldn't focus on anything else while this was on. Now that I am familiar with it... I catch myself singing to my favorite parts finding out what certain passages mean to find out that I didn't really need to find out what the lyrics meant to understand the what was taking place. The lyrics provide the details but that's not really the point of this. It's not about those details that a lot of people find important to albums.

Despite it's one shortcoming, I can't help but give this work a full 5 stars for even though it has that one little tear it defines "Prog Masterpiece". And even because it has that shortcoming, this album is still Essential.

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Send comments to jimbrown87 (BETA) | Report this review (#120712)
Posted Friday, May 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I fully understand that most people praise this album and consider it as masterpiece or at least excellent rating. Look at the average rating at this site which is 4 plus. So, it must be "something" so peculiar about this album. Well, on musical terms this album can be considered as excellent album as the musicians who created this album must be geniuses! Performing music like this is not an easy task as it contains repetition of existing chords over and over without any chorus at all as in typical music making.

As I know my taste that in most cases I enjoy prog music is due to complexities, harmonies and (sometime) with good melody. I have never been exposed to the kind of Magma MKD. It seems difficult for me to digest. Here is what I feel: when the song finishes and where is music interlude or chorus? Everything is just repetition. The challenge is how to keep pace with the music. If I'm asked for a reason why I can digest the music offered by Magma, it's probably the harmonies of music created here even though in most cases lack melody line. Of course some people would enjoy this unique music by Magma.

Overall, I cannot push myself go into deep analysis of the music offered by magma but definitely I know that this is not a simple composition. I presumably believe that each song was created for a such a long time long before recording was taken place. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#121044)
Posted Monday, May 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I ain’t an Avant stuff devotee. There are very few bands I can listen to, and even less I can enjoy. Strangely enough, MAGMA (and MDK specially) falls into the first category. I remember picking that album first in 2002 or 2003, when I wasn’t aware even of some Symphonic and Art greats, and I’ve been completely blown away by it. I failed to love it – I just burned it in on CD-R hoping to “get” it later. Well, now is the time it seems.

Hypnotic, monotonous, repetitive themes, built around one or two melodic lines, usually in “cracked” rhythm, supplied with choirs and sometimes insane female vocalism (the closest vocal I can think of is CRADLE OF FILTH’s one! :) ), quite jammy, groovy and jazzy stuff after all…Probably their darkest and most Zeuhlish album, MDK is a discovery that you should explore by yourself. Recommended even if you’re not in weird stuff like me – just try!

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Send comments to Prog-jester (BETA) | Report this review (#123546)
Posted Sunday, May 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars When Cahen and Seffer left to form ZAO they apparently took MAGMA's Jazz element with them. This is MAGMA's most well known recording and the emphesis is squarly on the vocals. The five member choir along with the other three vocalists sing and chant methodically and repeatedly throughout this whole recording. This is what makes or breaks this album for people, can you handle it ! I found the vocal melodies a little more harsh then the other Zeuhl bands i've listen to, but I actually enjoyed them for the most part. Many of these tracks blend into one another, some even having the same melody for a while.

"Hortz Fur Dehn Stekehn West" opens with a catchy beat as spoken words are followed by vocals and then a multitude of vocals. The vocal arrangements and vocals themselves are pretty incredible. We get some organ 6 1/2 minutes in followed by horns and guitar. "Ima Suri Dondai" opens with piano and operatic vocals. A good section 2 1/2 minutes in with female vocals, drums, horns and guitar. More vocals join in after 3 minutes. "Kobaia Is De Hundin" again begins with piano as this one is more uptempo with some frenzied vocals. Guitar and piano end it.

"De Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik" features more great vocals with drums, guitar and bass. I like the way the guitar plays over the hypnotic and relentless vocals.The bass shines on this one as well. "Nebehr Gudahtt" opens with piano as the female vocals get a little crazy on this one. Some scorching guitar 4 1/2 minutes in as the vocals get even more bizarre. "Mekanik Kommandoh" sounds amazing, this is my favourite song on the album. Horns, organ and vocals all become fast paced. "Kreuhn Kohrmahn Iss De Hundin" is slower paced with heavy drums 2 minutes in followed by sax melodies. The male vocals are crying out.

This is where Zeuhl started really along with ZAO's debut. Must-haves !

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#136976)
Posted Friday, September 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars #1 Hortz Fur DŰhn StekŰhn West::::::::::::: Strong intro, the bass is what hits me first. Crazy vocals with trippy soundscapes in the background. After awhile horns become present and it gives the song more depth. The vocals are my focalpoint in this song (and much of the album), they are done beautifully and with lush arragments. Towards the end of the song, the guitar starts to shine and sing very good.

#2 Ima Suri Dondai::::::::::: Starts off with good and strong. I think of this as a sequil to the albums opener track; Hortz Fur DŰhn StekŰhn West. Great intense drums and superb bass playing. Once again the horns come in making the genre of the song even more hard to describe.

#3 Kobaia Is De Hundin:::::::::::: Great song, very surreal. This song has so many interesting parts about it. This song features great interplay between all the members and progresses fairly quickly.

#4 Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekan´k::::::::::::::: Starts off with the phrase you hear throughout the entire album. Once again, amazing bass, insane vocal arragments, and haunting overtones. This song clocks in at nearly eight minuets.

#5 Nebehr Gudatt:::::::::::::::Mellow intro, nice piano in the backdrop, while the guitar plays harmonics (which I love). This song is the most diverse out of the first four: Hortz Fur DŰhn StekŰhn West, Ima Suri Dondai, Kobaia Is De Hundin, and Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekan´k. Once again the vocals will drive you wild. The horns come again to add a dramatic theme. This song is six minuets long and blends into...

#6 Mekan´k Kommand÷h:::::::::::::::: I consider this a continuation of the previous song Nebehr Gudatt, just like Ima Suri Dondai continues Hortz Fur DŰhn StekŰhn West. Very psychedelic and upbeat, some great guitar playing also occurs in this song, and the vocals will leave you breathless.

#7 KreŘhn K÷hrmahn Iss De HŘnd´n::::::::::::::::::::: This softest song on the album; very weird, unusual, and tripppie, just like much (if not all) of the album. Weird ending to a weird album.

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Send comments to Jake E. (BETA) | Report this review (#138456)
Posted Saturday, September 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I do not go to proove that this album is a masterpiece. For me it is an evidence. I listen to "Mekanik Destructiw Kommandoh" for twenty years and in every listening I always feel the same fascination for this unique music.

I would just like to give some recommendations to people who clearly dislike MDK.

MDK is clearly an acquired taste because the music is completly different of everything you already know.

So take your time with this one. Don't judge it too fast. And more important, don't begin your exploration of Magma's music by MDK even if it's the better one.

Listen to their CDs chronologically. First "Kobaia" (jazz moods already treated in a personnal way), then 1001░C (a transitional record) and finally MDK (there are no more visible links with the jazz, and all elements of the music of Magma are pushed up to their max : rhythm still and always, the riffs of brasses, singing coming from another world,...)

Essential : a masterpiece of progressive music. One of my personnal top ten.

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Send comments to H.NOT (BETA) | Report this review (#140132)
Posted Sunday, September 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
Dim
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Before you read on, I have no idea how to aproach reviewing this kind of music in anyway, so excuse my lack of deatail. My first encounter with zeuhl, and I'm extremely impressed. I cant understand a single word they're saying, and the music is not pretensious or virtuosic like what progressive scene was all about back in the day. The album continuosly flows, and never breaks the atmosphere it creates from song one to 7 (NO, I am not going to attempt spelling any of the lobain words). Operatic vocals with some horns and pianos are what drive this album with very few electric instruments except an electric guitar playing little arpegios and lead lines. Now I will attempt reviewing the music...

The album starts abruptly with some piano and simple drums, after a while Vander, and his merry group of men come in with their vocals, just for the women of the group to bounce right after them. The setting of the song moves often from then on out, but even on first listen you realise the piano, horns and guitar play the exact same chords/notes as the vocals at the same time. After this song, the next song starts quickly to go into some short phrases, then shout whatever they are all singing in short bursts, accompanied by horns. This song also debuts Vanders organ in the album, and some really cool snare work towards the middle of the song while the females are singing the same phrase over and over. The song then climaxes, then goes right into the next song just like the last transition. The into to this song is fun with two piano's palying off each other and some WEIRD stuff played on the guitar. By this point, I am starting to think the female vocalists are the primary vocals in this album, I dont know any other albums, so I cant tell you if that is the usual magma trend. After some ensembles by both vocal groups, a nice instrumental outro goes into the next song... which starts on the phrae the females kept on repeating in song number two. This song is just like the last couple of songs, but I am told that this particular song "de zeuhl wortz mekanik" is considered the holy song of all kobaia, but I am a super noob to this music and religion so I have no idea what I'm saying. If you want me to be honest, the rest of the album kinda flows with this trend of piano intro, vocal bouncing, short instrumental, climax, outro. Except song number five, where whoever the lead vocalists of each group start screaming there lungs out and sound like they're about to have a panic attack. This may sound like the album is repetetive and boring, but every song has a new aspect to each of the couple of elements I siad, and is extremely great to listen to.

The first time I tried listening to this, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, with weird shreeking people and simple music, I was immediatly turned off, but after about two more listens, I just wanted to listen it it more and more, its infectious and is amazingly fun to listen to. The album as a whole, is the essence of zeuhl, no doubt about it, and a great place to start with this genre.

*EDIT* After the hype of the first listens, the album gets very dull, definately not cut out for daily usage.

4****

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Send comments to Dim (BETA) | Report this review (#143754)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Absolutely strange sense of music. Very hard to listens but very highly constructed.

The atmosphere in this album was very marching. My heart was shocked when I listening this album. The opening track's strong. The next two tracks were similar in style. Track 4's little calm. The next track was less heavy than any song in this album. It fades to a more marching sounds into the sixth track. And the last track was a good closing of the album, it gives the climax effect to this album.

Overally, there's no trouble when I listening through the album. But, for common listener, I think it will be hard to understand (or even enjoy) this album. But, I think this was an essential piece of music. Very unique and well constructed. I should give 5 stars rate to this album, but it's little bit hard to listen and not so memorable. So, the actual rate would be 4.5.

If you were an adventurous listener, try this album out.

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Send comments to progeater (BETA) | Report this review (#145702)
Posted Thursday, October 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I ne'er knew true beauty 'till this...

Magma's third release, three years since their first, is stamped with those three recognizable letters: .M.D.K. Perhaps that's why it is the most popular of Magma's releases. All others, except for '84's Merci (and a few live outputs), where Magma were, by their own standards and not those set by other Progressive Rock artists, "selling out"; all these albums are branded with a complex, long, and umlaut-ridden Koba´an name. Indeed, this album's proper name is a complex, long, and umlaut-ridden Koba´an name, and to make things worse, there are two accepted spellings. Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h it is called; or, if you'd like, you can spell it MŰkan´k, with an additional umlaut above the first E. Why is it so? Well, on the CD's cover, rear, and spine, it is spelled without the additional umlaut, but within the booklet (and it has also been commonly referred to in this manner) it has the additional umlaut admitted. Is this a fault on the Koba´an proofreaders? Is it a joke Vander is having? We will probably never find out. So, to the ease of the speller, it is most commonly referred to as .M.D.K. And, much to the liking of the Magma ignorant, the title is easy to remember! Who wants to memorize something long like Kh÷ntark÷sz, or to figure out how to pronounce ▄dŘ WŘdŘ?

But the reason for Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h's popularity (as far as the Zeuhl genre can offer) has nothing (or very little) to do with the name. It has more to do with the product within. Magma's two previous releases were much different than the territory they had landed in this time around. Their debut, Koba´a, was a very quick paced Avant-Garde jazz extravaganza. The sophomore effort, 1001║ Centigrades, dropped a lot of the Avant-Garde-isms, and developed the jazzy feel and.something new. This second quality wasn't near fully developed, and maybe the band members weren't ready for it yet. (Indeed then, the legendary bassist Jannick Top hadn't joined Magma's ranks, so perhaps it was a good thing they didn't go all out with this quality until now.) In short, this second quality is Zeuhl. And Zeuhl is a very, very unique thing. Ever had the feeling that musical ingenuity has run itself into a dead end? Ever felt that musical fruitlessness, that sense of everything being futile and unoriginal? Well Vander clearly did, and decided to do something about it. This new genre will first be seen as a branch of the Avant-Garde seen, but a first listening of MŰkan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h will show that the only thing avant-garde about it is the vocals. The rest of the music is extremely symphonic and clear. In short, Zeuhl is jazz that has been taken by Igor Stravinsky, Carl Orff, BÚla Bartˇk, and whoever else, and re-arranged to fit their liking.

Zeuhl has many faces, but this form of it is the most recognizable: the extremely complex compositions, the very 20th Century Classical structures, the marching and operatic themes, and the spiritual core to it all. A number of bands from France and Japan followed Magma's lead into Zeuhl territory (many formed by former Magma members). Many of them (most notably Japan's Koenjihyakkei and Ruins) focused more on the quick, complex, jazzy Zeuhl, which Magma developed more with their two initial albums. Many other bands focused on the spacey, hypnotic, and still jazzy Zeuhl of '76's ▄dŘ WŘdŘ. But when we hear 'Zeuhl', we think Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h. Musically, it has virtually nothing to do with the Prog scene of the early 70s. Vander clearly expressed in interviews that he felt no connection to those bands. Anyone who has heard this album will undoubtedly agree. Horns and reeds, along with a choir, are an integral part of the sound. They don't just appear on a few songs, but they are a part of the foundation of it all. That's something you wouldn't see Genesis doing (not while the Gabe was still in, anyway).

The two previous albums made the foundation of a long and complex story. In short, separatists of Earth left to travel to Koba´a, and there settled and started a new civilization, free from Earth's evil ways. Many years into the future, some Earthlings come to Koba´a, pleading for them to return to Earth and preach their ways to the Earthlings, in hopes they will see the foolishness of their ways and repent. They go, however Earth authorities are not too fond of the Koba´ans and instantly imprison them. After being threatening by Koba´a's 'Super Weapon', the Earthlings release the prisoners to their fellow Koba´ans. Now the Koba´ans are gone forever, and agree never to return, and the only hope left for Earth lies with those who heard the Koba´an story, those who spent time with the prisoners, and believed in what they said. These people were few, but chief of them was a man named NebŰhr Gudahtt. He was a very spiritual man, and is the main focus of .M.D.K.

The album's story begins with NebŰhr Gudahtt finally doing his best to show the people of Earth that their ways will ultimately bring them to their own destruction. He preaches the Koba´an message: the only hope of impeding this doom is through purification of the self, and the redemption of the individual. The people instantly reject this claim, and instead of simply ignoring him, they speak against his ways. Before going on, it is important to note that we are currently in a period called Theusz Hamtaahk, which translates to 'Time of Hatred'. This signifies the period of time between the Koba´an's departure and the end of .M.D.K.'s story. Seems odd, yes, to name a whole 'period of time' after what happened over the course of a single album? Well, this is in fact the third album in a cycle of three (the series being called Theusz Hamtaahk). The two previous movements in the series will not be recorded until later (and the first movement never being recorded in studio). It is unknown what Vander's goal was in recording the albums in reverse order, but it is not detrimental to the quality of the production. The main point I'm trying to make here is that a lot of time (who knows how long, perhaps ten years, maybe a hundred) has passed since the end of 1001║ Centigrades, and the Koba´an's departure. Maybe NebŰhr Gudahtt wasn't around when the Koba´ans came, maybe his grandfather was, and passed the teachings down through the family. Or maybe the guy is just a hundred years old. The story really reads as a mythology, and the finer details should not be worried over.

So, as the Earthlings preach against Gudahtt, and reject his invitation to march with him, they get the grand idea of marching against him. So they do: like an army, they assemble themselves and march. (I like to picture them in neat ranks, and stepping in time not unlike Nazis.) Gudahtt and his very, very few followers also make their proper march: their march to spiritual enlightenment, and towards communication with the divine being, Kreuhn Kohrman. As the fury boils within the wayward Earthlings, they begin to think about Gudahtt's message, and then begin to consider what they are doing in marching. Eventually, their thoughts turn to questioning their own existence and purpose, and slowly, one by one, they abandon their fellow Earthlings, and join in with Gudahtt's march to salvation. This continues until the very last of them are all together, marching. Thus ends Theusz Hamtaahk, the Time of Hatred, with this iconic event: the entire human race seeking purity together.

Such a titanic and potentially controversial topic would go to waste should the music be sub-par. Thankfully it is not! The melodies and arrangements are all mind-blowing, and still interesting after the hundredth listen. The atmosphere is consistently celestial and grandiose, and often sounds as if Stravinsky wrote it. It is as lasting as Mozart's music, and hopefully, one day, will be revered as such. Sadly, though, it is haunted by some of the worst sound quality I've ever heard on a remaster. The drums are mixed to a barely audible degree (which is a great shame, as Vander is one of the greatest) and bass sometimes is overcome by muddy sounds of everything else. The vocal work is still odd, but also operatic this time, and the quality doesn't sound too great either. However, with the singing, a new dimension is reached. Instead of just sounding experimental, they have a really aggressive healing power to them. On some moments, you can feel as if the words carry powers of exorcism, as Vander himself has expressed to feel. This is because the Koba´an language was not made, but it rather arose naturally for Vander, he states that he didn't form the words consciously, but rather they imposed themselves onto him.

But despite this all, despite the composition being one of the finest ever (for the album is truly a single composition), and despite the concept being extremely interesting, despite the phenomenal musicianship of all members, despite this: this album is no longer one of Magma's more popular. My assumption is that Magma fans expressed their love for .M.D.K., and non-Magma fans decided to give her a try, and being appalled by Magma in general (not necessarily by this album in particular) reviewed it lowly, or spoke against it. They claim it just isn't their type of thing. However, I can't help but feel that every human has the capability of getting this album. One must only approach it with a completely clear, and completely open mind. Have no prejudices, have no expectations, and certainly do not judge the thing until you've heard it a number of times.

Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h is unarguably flawless. Enjoying it is only a matter of taste. In my case, according to my taste, it is the greatest album ever recorded. I pity the ears that die afore digesting these sounds.

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Send comments to Shakespeare (BETA) | Report this review (#154727)
Posted Saturday, December 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
ghost_of_morphy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars What a strange album! MDK is often cited as an album that is challenging to the listener. Certainly, if one isn't familiar with Magma, this album will be a listening experience set quite apart from normal expectations. It's a very good album, though, and it's impact and influence have been wide ranging. I'll give it four stars here, as it really is a landmark in progressive music, but Magma has done better.

First of all, don't let the track listings fool you. This is one epic work, not seven short songs. It was meant to be listened to in one sitting, where the listener lets the magic of the album wash over him. The epic is unified by a recurring chord progression (usually and most notably played on the piano) which the various voices of Magma riff off of. This structure will recur again in the more stately (and to my ears, more masterful) K÷hntark÷sz.

The musicianship on this album is outstanding. Of particular note are the intricacies of Vander's drumming and the amazing bass playing of Jannik Top. Two great musicians at the top of their game, supported by a scintillating band, make this album special. I can't talk about the musicianship without mentioning the vocals, because the vocals are an integral part of this album. Indeed, MDK is all about vocals as instruments. That is where people seem to find the challenge in this album. The operatic style and the nearly incomprehensible lyrics are what give the most dedicated progger pause here. Listen to them as if they were instruments, however, and MDK will make a whole lot more sense, even though they occasionally go a bit overboard. (I find the soprano a bit annoying when she is riffing at the top of her range.)

So let's sum this up by saying that this is a Magma album that every progger should want to own. It is pompous, bombastic, overblown, challenging, and totally in the spirit of the '70's progressive movement while breaking fallow ground. 4 stars.

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Send comments to ghost_of_morphy (BETA) | Report this review (#155993)
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars What do you get when you have one of the most unique sounds to grace these pages of the history book of progressive rock, an avant-garde mindset, instruments and ideas spreading out, an imaginary language, and phenomenal jazz musicians? This album is the result of such a combination, probably the best combination of those elements which characterized Zeuhl pioneers, Magma. This album is diverse, exciting, and ultimately, unique, especially for its time.

As I said earlier, these musicians are incredible. This album draws a lot of its particular energy from the chanted, screamed, sung, or shrieked vocals. The chorus of voices is the most prevalent instrument on the album, which is something really cool and unique about it. The background music can get a bit repetitive over the course of a song, but those vocals, those unintelligible lyrics, that's what keeps people listening. Listening to this album is something that requires the listener's undivided attention because it is an album so complex and diverse that you can't afford to make it merely background noise, you have to really get in to it, and it is positively worth it. Usually I'm really big on melody first, but this album is a delightful exception where melody is actually tastefully replaced with bursts of atonal madness, vocals included. This album is highly dynamic, with more swells and bursts than expected by most jazz albums of the time, but this album is no ordinary album. It is in a league of its own, a league that not everyone might be up to visiting. However, if you are looking for a ride through space that is exciting, truly experimental, and you are ready for a ride with one of progressive rock's premier creative forces, this journey to escape the planet should find its way to your collection.

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Send comments to moreitsythanyou (BETA) | Report this review (#162170)
Posted Tuesday, February 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I would give this album 3,5 stars. Why? I like it, but prefer some of their earlier works, a bit more jazzy mood. I' m very much in fusion. Take for instance their Kobaia album, that is the record full of different phrases and moods, record that simply cannot be worn out. On the other side, here's to much repetition, the general theme is good, but album climax comes fast, in the first song, after that is hard to keep it so high. Dominant vocals, and not very good musical (tehnicaly) moments behind it. Orf? Stravinsky? One thing is sure - they are unique.

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Send comments to kinezer (BETA) | Report this review (#162762)
Posted Tuesday, February 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm so impressed with this album that I simply had to submit a review. (It's my first one for this site; I hope to contribute more as I continue listening to all kinds of interesting and unusual music!)

It's not many records that I put on for the first time and within 2 notes of the music, know that this is going to be an instant favourite. For me there was no 'getting into it' or letting it play until some barrier dropped in order to let me appreciate it. The moment it started up, 'MDK' grabbed hold of me and dragged me into its sonic labyrinth! You'll have to excuse my superlatives in this review, but I haven't fallen in love with an album in quite such a profound way for a very long time.

How can I describe the sound of this music? I can but try, but I warn you to expect some overworked imagery here!

This music surges, pounds, swells and roars. Small elements of repetition build on one another like superimposed images - I really don't want to use the word 'palimpsest'; that is really too much music-journalese, but. oh well. There it is! Precariously stacked textures form thick, laminated layers - most music is linear, its progress is basically horizontal, but this music has a vertical dimension to it as well - like stratum upon stratum of (yes!) solidified volcanic flow. The bassy, dark sound of it resounds and rumbles like an approaching siege engine. The whole unwieldy contraption towers and sways until it reaches a stupendous conclusion, with all the bristling fervour of some strange primitive rite conducted in a cave. And yet it's not unpleasantly heavy sounding - the vocals, which are cleverly weaved into the music's tapestry, like golden threads, leaven the mixture.

Above all, this music manages to be catchy! Maybe it's the repetition of the musical motifs, but, well, it's invaded my brain to the extent of bits of it making my 'in-shower set list'!

The words, of course, are in the constructed language of Koba´an. When I first heard about Magma, several years ago, the impression I was given was that the made-up mythology was a pretentious and self-conscious extravagance. But having now at last listened to some of their music, I don't think that's the case. The mythology's larger themes are played out in such an earnest and heartfelt way that this strange, guttural language, telling its peculiar saga, absolutely does not act as a nonsensical distraction or detract from the music. If anything, it makes it more immediate and emotionally accessible than it would be if this were straight instrumental music.

The playing on this record is top notch: tight, united, with none of the sloppy, unfocused noodling that plagues some so-called 'progressive' music. Other reviewers have pointed out that it would be better if Christian Vander's brilliant drumming had been brought more to the fore in the production. That's probably true, but one thing that strikes me with this album is that it's presented as a 'group effort' - as mentioned, there's no flaccid soloing to nap through, and the knitted-together texture of the music leaves no room for any one contributor to hog the limelight or show off.

In short, this album manages to be unusual and hard to pigeonhole, yet immediately appealing and always intriguing. Innumerable repeated listens have failed to bore me yet! Most of all it's made me want to seek out as much 'Zeuhl Muzik' as I can get my hands on. I can't give it fewer than five thoroughly Celestial stars!

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Send comments to song_of_copper (BETA) | Report this review (#165541)
Posted Wednesday, April 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's all Kobaian to me...

Magma is one of those obscure little bands that gets a lot of attention thanks to their hardcore fans, but for all those of us outside the circle they can be one of the most threatening to approach. This is for a number of reasons really - Magma is not exactly your run of the mill band (which can be good and bad) in that they're a French band that sings in a made up language while using multitudes of musicians to create a bizarre mix of jazz and prog which they call Zeuhl. Not to mention that any music by the band is bloody impossible to find in stores since they are just that obscure. Cds and vinyls by them sell for ridiculous amounts of dollars in some places, although with the advent of (legal) downloading they're becoming a lot easier to find.

From the moment the needle hits the grooves with this one you know you're in for something, you may not know what that something is, but you're in for it. This music really is thicker than a brick (no prog pun intended) in that the music is impossibly layered with everything you would never expect to hear. Tonnes of instruments give life to the screaming and chanting nonsensical vocals which really do dominate the album. Like others have mentioned previously, while there are seven tracks listed on the pressings of this album is would be more accurate to call it one giant song in seven parts since the tracks segue so smoothly that you'd never notice the difference between the tracks. A good thing I suppose because I really would not like to have the chore of trying to remember the names and pronunciations of each individual track name.

It does go into repetition here and there, which seems to be many people's beef with the album. I find it quite orientating in the sea of music that is Magma, because without that much structure it would simply turn into endless, pointless jazzy noodling with pianos and screaming women all over the place. One thing that Magma is quite good at is developing an idea before moving onto the next. Good enough in fact that the songs on this album can actually get stuck in your head because despite being monstrously complex and incredibly bizarre they are, somehow, catchy. Bass and drums tend to be dominant along with the piano making for a very trudging feel (in a good way) to the album while the vocals shout and shriek overtop.

Tips for listening to Magma (it's a talent): First and foremost - unless you know how to speak in Kobaian, just ignore the vocals completely. Think of them as another instrument, otherwise you may become eternally frustrated with the album. Secondly, expect anything. Don't go into this sitting down and thinking it will be an undemanding experience, because Magma will kick you in the face if you're not expecting it. And of course, give this a number of listens. The first listen you might find yourself thinking, ''what in the name of...?'' because if you're used to more traditional prog like Genesis or Yes, this ain't it. If this album is going to catch on with you (and it might not) it's probably going to do it in the third or fourth listen.

I can't quite call this album an essential one, but it certainly makes for a good listen when you're in the mood for something out of the norm. 4 Kommand÷hs out of 5, great if you're interested in what they're doing, but given the price of their music at times you might want to check out some samples before diving headlong into the ocean of molten (prog) rock that is Magma.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#174132)
Posted Monday, June 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
obiter
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is marmite music ... you will love it or hate it.

Take an excerpt from a 1930s fascist rally with all the trappings ... add to it the backing track from Conan the barabrian as Conan and his mates are stalking through the temple of the priest Thulsa Doom and you can start to appreciate the militarisitc/ritualistic/hypnotic/grandeur and power of this incredible album.

The album conjures up an image of a choral female train racing down the endless tracks urged on by Vander's drums: sometimes careering out of control straining at the tracks; occasionally slowing before building up another incline before freewheeling down the other side.

This proabably gives you very little idea of what to expect, but one you listen to the album you will understand. I suppose I should put in the normal comments about jazz, and Carl Orf moments but that won't prepare you for this either. It would be remiss to leave out the occasional vocal outburst which sound like a baboon being castrated (well what i imagine a baboon would sound like both before and during the procedure).

It's good, you should definiitely listen to it. But, I would recommend Live and 1001 before MDK.

I would also agree that this is an album tobe listened to occasionally: not an everyday staple unless of course you are still fighting the Vietnam war from a base deep inside Cambodia and are quite insane. In which case listen away ...

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Send comments to obiter (BETA) | Report this review (#191161)
Posted Sunday, November 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
horsewithteeth11
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Combine one part operatic, zany vocals, one part tribal and jazzy drums, and one part driving bass rhythms. Mix in with large doses of jazz, rock, and original creativity.

Yes, I know the majority of music I listen to is on the more...aggressive side of progressive rock. Although, to say that this isn't fairly aggressive music wouldn't be very truthful. I normally don't listen to a good deal of avant-garde music, but there's something about Magma that makes me keep coming back for more. Maybe the zaniness is part of it. Maybe it's the fact that the vocals are all over the place, from chanting, yelling, shouting, and even sometimes creepy whispering. Or maybe it's the fact that this is one of the most original-sounding bands I've ever heard. Yes, I will admit; I am a huge Magma fan. I will listen to this album and chant along to it, even though I still don't know what half the words mean. Magma is a band that takes a long attention span and being really, really patient. This might be the ultimate definition of "acquired taste". But when they grab you, they grab you hard and never let go.

This was the first Magma album I ever heard, and by the end of it I was craving more from the band. Since then I've acquired all of their studio albums and a healthy collection of their live albums. Yet this is the one that I find myself coming back to most often. This is very catchy music in a good way and almost begs you to chant along to it. Vander's drumming is obviously very jazz-oriented, and is quite complex, but more in the subtle things he does. Piano and bass are also very prominent in this music, as it's very rhythm-driven. There are many touches of minimalism and repeated riffs, often accompanied by very excellent drum build-ups. Vander's creativity practically oozes out of this record, as well as the rest of the band's discography (well, except maybe Merci, but us crazed Kobaians like to pretend it doesn't exist).

I'd like to do a track-by-track review, but I don't think I could honestly do the songs any justice. Instead I'll end with this. If you like jazz, avant-garde, minimalism, or just want to hear something very original, check this out. It will take most people repeated listens before they can start to even begin to digest what is going on, but it's more than worth it. With this being one of my top 5 albums (it's THAT good), as well as Magma's best work, I'm giving it 5 chanting choirs out of 5.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to working on my Christian Vander shrine.

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Send comments to horsewithteeth11 (BETA) | Report this review (#199659)
Posted Sunday, January 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first Magma song I ever heard, last year, was the rather innocuous "Coltrane Sundia." But then "Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekan´k" came into my life. As with Song of Copper's April 2008 review, within two notes time I knew I was going to love this music. Steve Riech, Phillip Glass, Brian Eno, After Crying, are familiar musics that come to mind, but nothing, nothing can truly compare to MDK. Quoting the second paragraph of Song of Copper's review captures my feelings quite accurately:

For me there was no 'getting into it' or letting it play until some barrier dropped in order to let me appreciate it. The moment it started up, 'MDK' grabbed hold of me and dragged me into its sonic labyrinth! You'll have to excuse my superlatives in this review, but I haven't fallen in love with an album in quite such a profound way for a very long time.

After my first complete run through the album I had to get on line to find out as much about Magma, Zeuhl, and Christian Vander as I could. I was not surprised to discover that the "crazed" or "orgiastic" "soprano" vocals/screams (such as on "NebŰhr Gudahtt") were performed by none other than Christian himself. (I had been suspicious of that "female" voice line from the first: especially knowing the sound of my own voice in the shower trying to sing Minnie Ripperton's "Lovin' You" or Frankie Valli & the Four Season's "Sherry"). Bravo Christian! Go crazy! Sing your heart out!

I LOVE the reckless abandon, the feel of near insanity of this music. And yet it is controlled, it's constructed, it's orchestrated, it flows, and it helps to tell a cool story. I find myself smiling in amusement and admiration, shaking my head in amazement at the sheer guts and emotion conveyed here. Every "song" (the whole album has the feel of being one integrated, linear "song") has distinct highlights for me, so I'll not try to name a fave or deconstruct each one. They're all amazing! Now I'm afraid to try other Magma albums because I'm afraid they'll never be able to live up to the standard of experience I've had with MDK. But, K.A., Retrospekt´w I-II and K÷hntark÷sz will, I'm sure, find their way into my collection SOON.

A true musical, psycho-spiritual masterpiece. Five full stars!

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#219259)
Posted Monday, June 01, 2009 | Review Permalink
Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Since I'm listening MAGMA, I understand less the Prog listener, when people talk about the genre being pretentious, bombastic and even self indulgent, they use ELP, probably one of the most common bands in Symphonic, but nobody mentions MAGMA, for God's sake, MEKAN¤K DESTRUKT¤W KOMMANDÍH sounds as an adaptation of Carmina Burana for an epic movie in the vein of Conan the Barbarian....This is pretentious, self indulgent and bombastic.....And what's the problem? In Prog this can be seen as a virtue and I like it.

Now, even though the album is divided in songs, the reality is that we are talking about a multi part epic, because all the tracks are united, so we have almost 40 minutes of uninterrupted music., but lets try to review it song by song.

The opener "Hortz Fur DŰhn StekŰhn West" is like a dream for a classic Proghead, all the wonderful excesses we learned to love are present in this song, from the strong vocals in the fictitious language Kobaian to the excellent chorus and pompous arrangements, I can't stop listening this and don't understand how I could spend so many years ignoring this excellent music.

"¤ma SŘr´ Donda´" follows in the mood of the previous track with an excellent opening by Christian and the feminine choir, the music is brilliant with almost no Jazz connections contrary to what could be expected, more like a combination between Neo Classical and Symphonic Orchestral Prog, not a weak second.

"Kobaia is de Hundin" is a direct continuation of "Ima Suri Dondai", this time the piano intro is simply delightful and the chorus adds that bombastic sound that's so preeminent in this album. The radical changes don't change the mood of the song, but the increasing speed creates some sort of claustrophobic feeling due to the lack of silent spaces, no time to rest. "Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekan´k" starts with a mysterious chant but now the keyboards add some sort of electronic sound that reminds a bit of Vangelis, but almost instantly returns to the main chorus that reminds as a constant until the end of the track.

"Neber Gudahtt" keeps the main tune but this time with a soft piano and a repetitive guitar in he vein of MIKE OLDFIELD, the vocals are almost a narration, with Christian Vander showing his versatile range, this song leads with no pause to "Mekanik Kommandoh", would dare to say that both songs are heavily influenced by Wagner's Operas.

"KreŘhn K÷hrmahn Iss De HŘnd´n" is by far the most dramatic track, Vander exploits his vocals to an extreme nut sadly he goes to far reaching annoying ranges and that final ring simply destroys my timpani, a good track ruined by the vocals and the final effect, a bad way to close an otherwise outstanding album.

The bonus track is the 34 minutes "MDK alternate version" which is simply magnificent, but as usual I will not comment a song that doesn't come with the original album. Loved the album almost in it's integrity but I consider "KreŘhn K÷hrmahn Iss De HŘnd´n" offensive because that sound at the end is physically painful for the listener

Before that track I was ready to rate the album with 5 stars, but after three hours of ear pain, will have to go with 4 stars.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#223471)
Posted Saturday, June 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Gooner
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Bah! I GET IT...but that's not the point. This is possibly the most overrated album on progarchives.com. Before you get your knickers in a bind, it's worth noting that I am a Magma fanatic...and I even own the new boxset. MDK has to be the most unlisteneable album in the Magma discography, even worse than _Merci_ which actually has 2 gems on it(_Otis_ and _Eliphas Levi_). As noted by others, this album has Teutonic written all over it, but not in a good or glorious fashion(re: Beethoven's Ninth). It almost sounds like a soundtrack for the bunker, if you know what I mean. Just insane. Nothing cohesive whatsoever. On par with a rant after a nervous breakdown. Say, I even smell burnt almonds! I have a hard time giving this 1 star, but that's what I have to do to give it a review. This is most definitely not the place to send beginners of prog.rock(or veterans for that matter) for an introduction to the Zeuhl sound. A mess and annoying.

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Send comments to Gooner (BETA) | Report this review (#225770)
Posted Friday, July 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars A unique work of art. There is nothing else like this, there's really nothing else that even comes close to this. MEKANIK DESTRUKTIW KOMMANDOH gives new meaning to the term ''magnum opus'' as this is easily the apex of Magma's career. They've made many other great albums, but MDK is special.

From the moment the first note comes in, Magma are out to set an apocalyptic trance that draws the listener into their world. ''Hortz Fur Den Stekehn West'' can be described as mesmerizing for those who get it. The choir lines, chanting, and brass overhaul are just the icing; the pianos and bass have already set the tone and have no intention of letting go.

From the moment ''Ima Suri Dondai'' comes in, the tempo picks up and the piece becomes more demented. Sure, we're more dance-y than trance-y here, but MDK has become more intense here if you can believe it. The piano at the beginning of ''Kobaia Iss de Hundin'' is one of the most gripping things I've found in music.

The second half revolves around the strong choral work, essentially becoming a manic operetta that keeps you entertained by the sheer intensity of the music. I tend to forget what they're singing about or the Kobaian language at this point; it's all melodrama and suspense from here. The beginning of ''Nebehr Gudahtt'' is particularly scary as it starts out unassumingly beautiful yet slowly ascends into a manic cry out for help. Fantastic.

If that wasn't enough, the tempo goes out of control halfway through ''Mekanik Kommandoh'' and you're hanging by the seat of your pants trying to figure out when the madness will stop. It does temporarily for ''Kreuhn Kohrmahn Iss de Hundin'', but the soft piano piece gets more intense with vocals near the screaming range.

There's not one note, vocal or transition that I would change; MDK is as close to a perfect album that I've come across without actually getting there (let's face it, no album is perfect). MDK is a rarity for me that every moment from beginning to end is gripping and I prefer to listen to MDK in that fashion. I may be superfluous in saying this, but this is the real deal folks. This is a masterpiece in every sense of the term.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#229558)
Posted Sunday, August 02, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Magma is a very unique band, blending classical, jazz, opera, prog, rock, space rock, and who-knows-what to make very good, though not very accessible, music. This album was my first experience with Magma, and I must say that I was very pleased. The made-up language works very well with the music- giving it an otherworldly, futuristic feel, like the music of-, well, a future society on another world- called Kobaia. Well, that's the whole point, and it succeeds.

The album begins on a very high note, with the amazing Hortz Fur DŰhn StekŰhn West- this track is very addicting, and chanting, horns, and keyboards are used extremely well here. This then melts right into ¤ma SŘri Donda´, which again uses chanting and instrumentation to very good effect. Then comes Koba´a Iss De HŘndin, which is more of the same juicy Magma goodness, featuring more great vocals- the male ones even get close to a death metal growl at times. The rest of the album pretty mushc follows in the same tradition of these songs- in fact, the titles of various songs are founs within the lyrics of other songs- Hortz Fur DŰhn StekŰhn West has many within it, and Hortz Fur DŰhn StekŰhn West itself is found in Koba´a Iss De HŘndin and Da Zeuhl Wortz MŰkan´k. Overall, it is a very good and very strange album; recommended for anyone interested in progressive rock, and my recommended starting place for Magma. Though it's great, it isn't an "essential masterpiece" and whatnot; it deserves 4.5 stars, but alas, I cannot do that, so it gets 4.

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Send comments to Neurotarkus (BETA) | Report this review (#247742)
Posted Sunday, November 01, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Zeuhl music since its beginnings has prompted a very clear response over listeners. Basically or you love it or you hate it. And this album as the first one ever released having the 'classic' Zeuhl sound, is not far from this almost binary discussion. And this point makes it immediately an absolute masterpiece and a must have for being a groundbreaker work.

Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h (MDK) contains one of the most risky and innovative proposals in prog-music for that time (released in 1973). And if you consider that Progressive Rock looks for a fusion between rock (guitars, keyboards, drums, electric bass, etc used in producing the music), chamber music ('small' ensambles not orchestras specifically), contemporary music (dynamically changing complex metrics, dodecaphony structures, polyphonies dynamically changing with monophonies, etc), jazz (solos, virtuoso-style musicians, etc) (you could put some other variables in here, but IMHO these may be the basics of ProgMusic), so considering these factors, Christian Vander mixed them all, resulting in an 'Orffesque' ritual (The very beginning of 'Hortz Fur DŰhn StekŰhn West' and 'Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekan´k' for example), recalling Stravinsky at some points (the ending part of 'Hortz Fur DŰhn StekŰhn West' and 'Mekan´k Kommand÷h' for example) and of course reminiscences to Rock and even jazz. But you can dismember this album all you want, anyway what you will find is Zeuhl.

An absolute masterpiece, essential in any collection.

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Send comments to Zortsung (BETA) | Report this review (#248279)
Posted Thursday, November 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars A masterpiece, in a strange and unlikely way.

Vander's visionary and genius is very slighty brought to the frontline here. MDK had 7 tracks, but let's just ignore them, because this is an endlessly moving piece of music (and you don't want to pronounce all the track's name, do you?). The repetitive piano chords, virtuoso drumming, complex arrangement and the highly operatic vocals sung entirely in Kobaian (which divides the opinion of proggers here: some thought it was annoying, while others praised it brilliantly) gives soul and power to their music, called Zeuhl by the fans.

But, strangely while it was a turmoil of piano, drum and high choir voices, this is, in another strange way, catchy. This is where Vander cast his magic spells. His brilliancy secured Magma's place and MDK legendary in their own ways.

Overall, no debates 5 stars from me.Period.

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Send comments to dantd95 (BETA) | Report this review (#261922)
Posted Thursday, January 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Can I do this?

Can I review this intimidating creature? I have no idea what it really means. And not because the language is not English. I listen to foreign language vocals every single day and while I don't know what the words mean, I can often understand the emotions the vocalist is conveying. Not here. I find the secrets mostly impenetrable. Do I like the music? Does it move me? I honestly couldn't tell you. I often feel differently about the album on different days, something which doesn't happen often for me. I suspect that outside of the Magma fan base, one's tolerance for an experience like this has more to do with situation/surroundings and state of mind/mood. Listening to it while writing is somehow stimulative. Listening to it in a darkened bedroom can be creepy but effective. Listening in my car during rush hour makes me want to kill other drivers.

Probably more accurate than saying "I like it" would be to say I appreciate it, and very much so. It is amazing music. This continuous 39-minute endurance test pummels the listener with repetitive waves of building tension, the "background" aura of the music always sounding similar, while the foreground of the beast is decorated with wild vocals and horns. It is the vocals that are so mind blowing here. This goes beyond just elaborate construction, it is almost pathological how much time and effort must have gone towards getting the female operatic chorus just perfect. The chants, the wails, the off-setting male guttural sounds, all blended over intense music into this cacophony which sounds like a soundtrack for life beginning again in the muddy pools of a post-apocalyptic planet. Or perhaps the soundtrack for a killer walking to the gallows. Or maybe a kid furiously pumping the pedals of his bike as he heads to the field to beat up another kid he's been jousting with. Occasionally there are brief respites where the incessant vocals fall away or simmer in volume, giving you but a moment to catch your breath, before they return in earnest and perhaps with driving electric guitar behind the vocal line to emphasize more power. It can be exhausting or exhilarating, again, I believe having as much to do with how you feel than anything else. I love how comments from other reviewers have ranged from "sexy" to "addictive" to "sick and somber" to "perfect" to "not music" to "an excerpt from a 1930s fascist rally" and finally to my favorite, "a rant following a nervous breakdown---I even smell burnt almonds." Put those comments together in your head and you'll have some idea what you're in for.

I've wracked my brain trying to figure out how to adequately review such an album as this and ultimately failed to capture it. But perhaps the less said the better. Sometimes a person simply needs to hear the music to experience it. It's an amazing accomplishment and despite being one I don't always enjoy, deserves the high rating for its audacity and true progressive spirit.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#263782)
Posted Monday, February 01, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars MDK - Mindblowing Delirious Knock-out

From the first time I heard this album, Magma became one of the most applauded bands in my collection, and this album in particular became a subject for idolisation. There are plenty of reasons for that reaction; this music is absolutely unique, it's huge, passionate, challenging, visionary and much more. But a good 20 years (and almost as many Magma studio and live albums) later, my view on this album has changed. While I would still call it a monument of prog, it's not a Magma album that I have continued to play. At least not this studio recording of it.

While MDK is a stellar work of art, I don't think it brings out the best in Magma. The big orchestrations sometimes veer off in overtly dramatic overstatement. Sometimes it simply has too much going on to make any kind of impact: there's a brass section, flutes, piano, percussion, organ, piano, guitar and a 9-heads counting histrionic choir. It congests the mix and submerges the driving instruments of Magma's sound: both Vander's drums and Top's bass guitar barely rise above the wall of sound created by the rest of the orchestra.

Magma would re-record and re-release this work on plenty of occasions, sometimes in the studio, many times on live albums. In all those cases, Vander rearranged the instrumentation to bring the focus on the strongest features of this work: the heavy rhythmic impetus and the brilliant vocal arrangements. A good example can be found on the Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogy recorded in 2001. Also Vander's 1974 solo-album Wurdah Itah, that followed the release of MDK would take a more stripped-down approach.

The conclusion I draw is that MDK is a product of a band that was too good at everything they did when they made it: too many players that were too skilled and had too many ideas. It's an album born out of bold enthusiasm and creative imagination. Unfortunately they recorded it before they learned restraint. But Magma did learn that eventually and would never make the same mistake again.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#273535)
Posted Monday, March 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Theusz Hamtaahk Part 3:The Ultimate (Prog) Opera

One of the most cult Prog Rock bands is the French band, Magma, and their third release, Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h, is their most renowned work for a reason. You should know that, Magma indeed plays a one-of-kind style of progressive rock, influenced by jazz, but foremost classical music; M.D.K, specifically, sounds like an actual 'opera', you've got the hugely talented choir, delivering a wide array of moods, from the dramatic to the chaotic to the angelic and to the ecstatic, something you're typically expecting from an opera, and then there's the essential brass instruments giving the classical feel.

The actual band compromised of bass, guitar, drums/percussion and keyboards, aren't the main protagonists as you would have thought, although they're obviously an integral part of the music. The actual highlight of Magma's music is, overall, the compositions and the execution of these; it's the unique blend of the dynamic rhythm section with the complex choral work and the backing horns, though for me it's primarily the euphoria you experience with the sum of all these elements that makes Magma's music so original and so good, but M.D.K specifically.

Being sort-of an 'opera', you should expect a story, right? Well, as you should know, the lyrical work of this band is incomprehensible, unless you are one of those fortunate (or unfortunate?) guys who have Koba´an as a school-subject, it's really impossible to know what they're saying. Anyway, to tell you the truth, I couldn't care less if the singing is in a made-up language; Koba´an is undoubtedly a very ingenious language that works perfectly to express whichever feeling you want from music. Since I grew up listening to grandiose operas such as those from the maestro Giacomo Puccini, I am certainly able to perceive the same unique vibe and energy delivered in those operas when listening to M.D.K, so the operatic kind of vocals are really a bonus, so is the occasional ''yodeling'' which resembles Leon Thomas' style of vocals, the singer of the grand free jazz composition, The Creator has a Masterplan.

As for what we can get to know about the story is that, it tells about the fictional planet Koba´a and one of its prophets, Nebehr GŘdahtt, informing the people from the Earth that so as to be saved from themselves they should believe in the supreme being, Kreuhn Kohrmahn. However, the humans reject this at first (no surprise), fortunately they later begin to see the enlightment and follow Nebehr GŘdahtt. You can easily deduce by knowing the story solely, that the music will obviously have a lot of dramatic and tense moments.

So the question now is, how did M.D.K. became Magma's most significant and remembered album since undeniably most of Magma's works are of equal magnitude in composition and musicianship terms? Well, Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h with its single 38 minute song divided in 7 tracks is one of its unique attractions. Another of its singular aspects of the album is that each track is mainly constructed in the basis of progression, which means that each song slowly evolves, and each passing minute the more instruments are involved and the tighter the music becomes, yet the rhythm rarely changes.

M.D.K being the most opera-driven of all Magma's albums is definitely one of its unique and greatest charms. It has the perfect balance of the debut's complexity and K÷hntark÷sz's darkness. While M.D.K might not be as fun or as groovy as 1001║ Centigrades can be, M.D.K. is undoubtedly Magma's most rewarding album in ecstatic terms.

When it comes to the composition of the entire 'epic', as already stated, it's very inclined in Opera themes, the melodies and vocals are extremely reminiscent of that style of classical music. While when it comes to the jazz/rock and complex part of the music, it definitely reminds me of the complexity and big band work by the one and only, Frank Zappa. The whole composition is flawless, with seamless transitions, though, unquestionably, the apex of it is Mekan´k Kommand÷h with the unbelievable choral work that slowly starts getting more complex with the outstanding supportive band full-filled with drums, vibraphone, organ, bass and horns. The simple guitar solo that appears after the climax, while for some it may be seen as anti- climactic, for me its appearance is crucial and of very effective use, showing that that was the peak of the album and that what comes next will not be by any means intense.

The closing track, KreŘhn K÷hrmahn Iss De HŘnd´n, is indeed Zeuhl music in its first two minutes, meaning that it's 'celestial music' with out-of- this-world vocal aerobics, while the remaining minute is a haunting ending that gives you an insight of how the story ended, the people of the earth finally praising the supreme being, KreŘhn K÷hrmahn, in Koba´an. An extremely original way of closing such a masterpiece, it's so unexpected.

Trying to conclude the review, M.D.K. definitely marked a point in Magma's discography and surely in music history; both previous albums to this were headed more towards jazz rock, while what would come next would vary, from the very dark themed, to the more accessible, yet all of highly considerable quality and originality. While the music of M.D.K. or Magma for that matter, may not be the most accessible or, going to the other extreme, complex, I sincerely doubt we, music fans, will ever hear something like this and that's something to really admire.

A masterpiece created by Magma and definitely an essential album if you're a serious Prog fan.

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Send comments to The Quiet One (BETA) | Report this review (#275625)
Posted Tuesday, March 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars There are three things everyone should eventually do in the life: to get a job, to get into Prog and to experience MDK at least once. So much has been already said about this cult Prog album, so I think I'm going to share some specific thoughts only.

Actually I've never been as shocked, dazzled and 'mind-blowed' as by this. Listening to this album, you slowly start to understand what Vander meant by saying that he wants to let people 'live'. MDK (and Magma's music in general) is a special way to live and to think, it's a unique state of mind and a parallel universe. So, that are quite silly and banal things you are going to think about at first encounters with this work of art if you got luck to be able to 'get' this album of course. I remember my first impression about "Hortz Fur DŰhn StekŰhn West" clear: at first two minutes I was like "what a great disappointment it's going to be", but it was followed by "what a great pleasure it's going to be" at the central part, and finally "what a Tremendous Brilliant it's going to be!". Don't really remember anything about the rest from my first experience, but it left me lying in bed having no idea what exactly just happened. I guess there are three kinds of initial reactions on MDK: either shock in a good way, or shock in a neutral way, or huge disgust. It's definitely a love-or-hate album and you have to have extremely strong nerves to be left cold after being in touch with this magma-like music (no pun intended)*. Some people find this incredibly intense ceaseless flow of music and vocals very hard to listen to and quite annoying at best, or unlistenable hypertrophically pretentious noise at worst, others get emotionally dazzled, stunned and devastated after all the emotions and even involuntary chaotic moves again and again even after countless listens to this brain-burner. And such polarized opinions don't come up as a surprise, since this album does have something of out-of-this-world extraordinariness.

* - Even if you think that "Magma" is an excellent name for the band while listening to MDK, you probably can't say exactly same thing about album's title and cover. If I didn't know the date it came out, I'd probably expect to hear some metal or even industrial. The alternative cover of 1001░ Centigrades would fit by the way. Nevertheless, such a minimalistic cover probably was supposed to make MDK the most representative Magma's album and MDK basically is, although each album in Magma's discography is very different from the others and no doubt that Magma is a classical example of what should be called true Progression when true artist looks for something qualitatively new. And I guess "Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h" seems to have its place in the album's concept, but not knowing what exactly this mysterious "Kommand÷h" is, I don't seem to be too familiar with album's concept and Koba´an mythology in general, so I think I shouldn't touch album's concept this time. That's a shame and I should correct that later. And probably learn Koba´an.

Now let's talk about the music itself more or less objectively. Everything that should be said was already said, Magma presented on MDK a very unique, almost unparalleled type of music, sounding like opera and being influenced by jazz and classical music*. Therefore, being truly unique piece of art in all ways, MDK seems to be one of the first albums of pure Zeuhl, so I think it's not an exaggeration to say that MDK basically created the sub-genre. There was a mystery, even some kind of paradox, which has bothered me for a while: how, being not the most complex thing ever and quite repetitive and monotonous at times, this album could have such an enormous impact, even on me, liking complex, subtle and hard-to-get music in general? Yes, I do (and did) find MDK easy to listen to and to get into and I fully enjoyed it already at second listen. How so many people consider MDK Magma's most complex album is beyond me. It's neither complex album in musical terms, nor complex one to get into, but whether you 'get' it or not may actually depend on suggestibility and sensitivity of your mind rather than being or not being able to 'get' actual music, thus you may 'get' the actual musical sense, but getting such a monumental idea appears to be nearly impossible for quite a good amount of music lovers. Second problem about MDK being hard-to-get is HUGE contrast between musical form and musical content, respectively unbelievably intense orchestration, requiring enormous efforts from listener to be able to discern each thing which is going on at the moment, plus extremely emotional vocals that are really an organic part of the music and vary from beautiful opera-like choir through hypnotic chanting to absolute hysteria, AND, actual musical harmonies and structures being quite simple and repetitive, although there are still lots of unforgettable unique moments in terms of both of musical form and musical content. I suppose this contrast, creating a truly unique combination and enormous effect, is the reason why musical form qualitatively creates musical content here. MDK is one of the few cases where I could say that (form creates content).

* - Sometimes people tend to exaggerate the influence by "Carmina Burana". Although the influence and superficial similarity are obvious, I really don't think there's anything that would go beyond that. Univers Zero was influenced by Stravinsky, Magma was influenced by Orff. That's it.

Now, I'm going write some specific stuff, part-by-part (and not "track-by-track").

Hortz Fur DŰhn StekŰhn West. A unique beginning, sounding brown rather than light-yellow* as the rest (yeah, you get it, I'm talking about musical color). Second part. Very emotional singing and brass section still ain't that intense and relentless, and the music is quite simple, but it's where the Magic begins. At times, one half of me was like "man, it's a couple of simple chords!", and the other one was (and is) - "you know, when the female choir joins in after the first two minutes, the fact that I'll hear only four chords during the next 5 minutes is the last thing in the world I worry about." The vocals are as outstanding as musicianship and always will be the dominant part of the music, although brass section comes close. Third part. The only part (on the whole album) which I'd consider Complex in terms of musical content. Combining this with "room-clearing" and "ground-breaking" musical form, you get arguable apex of the first side of the album. Incredible music. Incredible effect.

* - How many people consider the ambiance of MDK 'dark' is beyond me, although second half of the album is definitely darker. Not the lightest thing ever, but still extremely sublime and 'celestial'. Also, I tend to use word 'pretentious' somehow in a positive way, meaning more of 'sublime' than 'snooty'. MDK is THE most 'pretentious' album ever recorded. That's it.

¤ma SŘr´ Donda´. There're two conditional parts. The final moment of the first one, the chant "w´ w´ ess ess w´ w´ Řss Řss" and the ending of the second part are respectively arguably the most touching moment on the whole album, the most pleasant moment on the whole album and the other arguable apex of the first side of the album.

Koba´a Is De HŘnd´n. Listen to the end of it. These words sounding like spells, and piano at the very end...

Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekan´k. ...Second side opens just exactly like first one closes. This shows Vander's great aspiration to go against LP format and make his masterpiece single. And you'll have to belive that MDK IS a single composition. Consider you've fallen asleep during listening to DZWM. This track is by far the most repetitive and hypnotic one on the whole album, thus considered by many as the weakest and most boring. I actually didn't enjoyed it at first listen. At second one... I was sent into heaven. The vocals are extremely emotional and touching at times. The thing I especially like about DZWM (and the further chant "Ziss Řnt et- nah, ziss Řnt et- nah" as well) is the way how short melody line gets offset relatively plain rhythm each time it starts over. This offset isn't artificial and is caused solely by the actual structure of melody. Great detail, I like to focus on which every time I listen to MDK.

NebŰhr Gudahtt. First half is some sort of respite before the tremendous things you're going to get through. The moment when drums and chant in the background with the amazing offset join in seems to me extremely important because you realize that it was the last moment when you could breathe more or less normally. The way Vander sings (yes, I do find it singing) is amazing, whether this is normal voice or falsetto or shocking scream. The second half of "NebŰhr Gudahtt" is also a part you shouldn't expect to enjoy at first listen. At first listen, it's frankly scaring. At second one... you just got the idea and the feeling it was supposed to convey. You always can focus on the background female chanting after all. That was the 'hysterical' apex of the album, but the 'ecstatic' one is still ahead.

Mekan´k Kommand÷h. The favorite Magma's piece for many fans. Starts with the same extremely hypnotic chanting and you wish it did stuck in your mind for a hour. Then some indescribable psychedelic metamorphoses, a wonderful chord progression, and... the apex of the whole album. Two chords. Dazzling complexity and intensity of vocal melodies and rhythm. One of the most intense thing I've ever heard. While the guitar solo may be the only thing on the album that theoretically could be better, it definitely has a conceptual value in terms of composition's structure. It's a short respite between the two waves of mind-blowing assaults.

KreŘhn K÷hrmahn Iss De HŘnd´n. Sublime ending, epic final chord sounding like a shot into the sky, and ... unexpected ambiguous final, which is the third thing that you quite don't get at first listen. It isn't a possible flaw as it was often considered, it's just so weird and ambiguous and I have no idea what exactly it could mean, either people followed Nebehr GŘdahtt, or rejected him or something else. As about the final squeak, I really don't know what's such a big problem with it, it's neither painful nor unpleasant. Since second half of the album tend to be more repetitive and less loud, I usually increase sound volume to the maximum while listening to the second half, however never decrease it at the very end. Actually, I'd interpret this squeak as you being thunderstruck by MDK sounding as thunder.

(Note, I was talking about first-and-second listens only, but actually I've relistened to MDK like 50-70 times at this moment. So my review wasn't a hype of the first listens or anything like that.)

I didn't know what is beauty until I heard this. At least, if it comes to the beauty of musical form and vocals. If you're into straight side of Prog, you should expect a huge disappointment rather than your usual days, when Pink Floyd is everything, to end. Still, I believe there's always a chance for everyone to get what's the point here. If the band, which created a unique type of music and a new sub-genre, isn't one the most innovative bands of Prog rock then I don't know what is. An art piece of monumental originality and enormous effect, that everyone should experience. Maybe I'll change my opinion a bit. However, not today and not tomorrow. There's a lot of masterpieces in my collection, but this one claims to be THE greatest one in many ways (except musical complexity and musical subtlety) so if I could give it more, I would, but now... at least 5 stars.

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Send comments to Psychedelist (BETA) | Report this review (#277395)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars My personal history with this album:

This album is special. The first time I listened to it (my first encounter with magma) I couldn`t make it to the 3rd song, I was shocked.... I remember that I thought: "Holly ****! how can someone like this ****?" And then I started laughing.....

Two weeks later I saw magma`s history on internet, about koba´an, christian vander... and I thought that the fact that the guy is a visionary (he made his own language for gods sake) was cool, so I listened MDK again, and complete. I have to admit that I didn`t LIKE it, but this time I thought it was ok... different than other things I`ve listened so far.

Now, the third time I listened to it (a good friend of mine gave me the discography) I started liking it,, and now when I listen to it I totally love it.

and here`s why:

Magma`s MDK has 7 tracks, but it is only one big big song. And it is opera!, I finnaly understood, that it is opera. A story, a full story is being told and the music goes with that story. The musicians are incredible, vander is a drum god. That one big song is amazing, its parts never repeat, some parts can be heard on several states of the song, though... but it is on purpose....

It is not rock... not pop... not punk.... it`s like nothing you`ve heard before... This is zehul.... and it`s here for good.

Five stars, mr vander... may the force be with magma!

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Send comments to 12212112 (BETA) | Report this review (#277531)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the ultimate "love-it-or-hate-it album". Except for most Slipknot albums, but that's a completely different story. This was my first journey into "Zeuhl" territory and the bizarre, almost deformed-like melodies and just plain weird use of instruments caught my attention immediately. The vocals can go from sounding like a speech from Hitler to a church choir on heroin. These elements can either pull you towards wanting more or running away screaming.

What makes the album work is the original "charm" to it. It feels like an opera for...I don't know who. Each song has its own feel to it, but still revolves around the same overall tone and structure. It's like a car wreck. It's terrifying, but you can't look away. Well, most can't. My advice would be to check out the first song, and if you want more, buy it and if not, never come near it again. I personally had to get more but I'm not everybody.

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Send comments to CinemaZebra (BETA) | Report this review (#277549)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
5 stars Innovation, diversity, originality, intensity, dynamic hyper-music, Kobaian language... This is Magma!

Preheat the oven to moderate jazz, rinse the jazz in tribal chants and drain well, combine the mixture with some operatic vocalisations, and stir in a made up Teutonic alien language based on Orff's 'O Fortuna' from "Carmina Burana" over medium heat until completely immersed into the mixture, this will become Kobaian when it is thickened, then cover over with sporadic drumming and virtuoso musicianship, place in oven and cook until the cheese has melted through, any watery radio commercialism must be fully drained out, to serve, spoon the extra flavour of RIO and Krautrock, then top with slices of avant garde and a dollop of Wagnerian Opera, serve immediately. Enjoy your plate of Zeuhl.

My expedition into the murky Zeuhl territory began with Magma's live album that I half noticed in a specialist store. I was slightly disappointed at first as I hoped it would be accessible enough to enjoy. However, somehow the music has the effect of osmosis, it grows on you gradually creeping through your system transporting its gradient effect into your consciousness. The input of energy on this album, the ferociously original approach is astonishing. Nothing can be compared to Magma. 'Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h' is hailed as a Magmasterpiece and for good reason. It broke down barriers of genre creating its own. Jazz infused rock opera would be one way to describe it but it is not sufficient as the language takes this to a different level. The otherworldly language of Kobaian is alienating but somehow appropriate. The iconic symbol emblazened on their shirts and albums is another aspect that seals the mythological essence of the group. An iconography creates that mystique that is so essential to the group.

The room goes dark as soon as you put this on and it is definitely not for the faint hearted. My family heard some of this and were more concerned than fascinated so I have been confined to earphone listening ever since. It is made for headphones too. Nightmarish music to immerse yourself in, with a disturbing edge could appropriately describe this music, although it may have the curious effect of being a source of uplifting encouragement to certain listeners. The tracks run together in a seamless epic. Depending on your mood at the time may depend on your overall impression; let the music take you into which ever direction it decides as personal interpretation is essential in the Magmaverse. The musicianship is tight as a drum and Vander is stunning on drums and vocals, his second instrument, he seems to be the face of Magma, the voice of Magma and the sound of Magma. On track one for example we have a lot of trumpets and a shimmering Hammond sound, I am not sure what it is but we hear chimes, jingles and happy organ. The guitar is very unusual as a background instrument, but the staccato hammering organ is a dominant force. There is a definite beat though it is sporadic.

The vocals are an absolute delight and you will hear Gregorian chanting, choral yelling, high octave shrills and deep resonances. You can even hear words that you think you recognise but it is all an illusion. On the first track for example it sounds like 'he pulls his pants off, he is seen at congress, he's fubar he's fubar, he's all tone deaf, he's a dunce.' Honestly it is that weird it is often hilarious. But the vocals are sung and chanted with such utter conviction it is quite chilling at times. Of special note are the high pitched soprano screeches, which are part of the sound on every album. Vocalists Stella Vander and her estranged husband are the centrifugal force of this album.

The vocals are very in your face and impossible to ignore sounding familiar at times, in track 1, Hortz Fur DŰhn StekŰhn West, I swear those females are singing: 'play a sony, play a sony, play a sony, play a sony please for the loon, please sing a song, please play a record. '

The voices are even weirder on track 2, ¤ma SŘr´ Donda´, and sound like 'We musn't raid our fire, we musn't raid our pools, please!' Then later, 'I never see, I never win, I never see I won won won,' then the females answer, 'baby the lotion, baby the lotion, baby the lotion...' there are huge sections of woodwind that is all over the place, jazzy and dislocated from any one time sig. The low bass is keeping some semblance of rhythm but it is as fractured as it can get. This is mesmirising.

The complexities of the polyrhythmic time signatures are intense, and at times the music takes surprising detours, such as track 3, Koba´a Is De HŘnd´n, with sustained atonal chord progressions and tribal drumming metrical patterns. The piano is a real feature on this too and I particularly like that relentless droning sound that becomes almost subliminal but is everpresent. The female vocals caress the sound with strange words 'manamanamana, oooooooooh oooooooooooooh oooooooooooooh.' They gradually build to a crescendo until the beat breaks into a German sounding chant: soundslike 'Oz is dark for those who dare'.

The next section on track 4, Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekan´k, is very memorable as I heard this on the live album, the female chant is overpowering: 'Is he single for he's so hot.' The repetition is entrancing. This is my favourite track on 'MDK'. There are staccato stabs that darken the sound and these are contrasted by very light passages of minimalist strings. At one point the females sound like they are going into a painful frenzy.

Track 5, NebŰhr Gudahtt, settles into an ambient guitar and piano minimalist passage, there are no words for a time until Vander decides to mutter some unintelligible mumbo jumbo. A soprano gives out disturbing bird calls, the contrast of light and shade are astonishing. Beauty and the Beast. The vocals become screechy and tortured, screams of terror and a repetitious mantra of female choir voices. This is the dark nature of Magma and could send many music listeners running for cover. The section at five minutes in I must admit is chilling to the bone, some of the scariest music you will hear. Though I guarantee a lot of listeners will find this hilarious as it is so over the top. The Vanders scream until their throat is red raw.

Then it merges seamlessly into track 6, the fan favourite, Mekan´k Kommand÷h. The females sing sounding like: 'He's superman, He's superman, He's superman'. I love the staccato Hammond crashes on this and it speeds up the tempo with imperfect timing. There is a guitar solo! The voices are fuller with male and females in full voice chanting out Kobaian: 'Ai! Ai! Ai! Komissioner pummels my eye, Ai! Ai! Komissioner pummels my eye, Ai! Ai! Komissioner pummels my eye...' This is another definitive highlight track that stands out.

Track 7, KreŘhn K÷hrmahn Iss De HŘnd´n, ends this album with a slow somber but majestic ascending operatic piece. The choir sound like: 'Soon it's very very soon'. The drums are fantastic on this, very tribal and layered with woodwind effects. It is anti-music atonal jazz, the ear simply resists this and the way Vander groans and shrieks is unsettling. It ends on a high pitched piercing beep. Wow, we got through it.

Vander is the sole writer and it is good that he can secrete his creative juices on this otherwise he may well be locked in an asylum somewhere. I am reminded of Henry Cow at times and even King Crimson or Zappa or The Residents, but Magma stand alone and proud as their own entity. There is extreme repetition which may turn many off but this is hypnotic and compelling. It is soul stirring stuff and wraps itself around your cerebral cortex until you are addicted. The only thing left to say is once experienced, never forgotten. Magma have opened up a whole new realm of music. Try the delicious recipe for yourself and you may well enjoy the taste.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#279186)
Posted Saturday, April 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars What do I put on when asked to throw on my weirdest, most bizarre, yet somehow undeniably good album?

Magma's MDK, of course!

There's lots of bizarre, weird and innovative prog out there, but most of that stuff just isn't very good, as in rocking and catchy. MDK comes through in meeting all criteria.

First off, a couple points to keep in mind with MDK: 1) It's hilariously, ridiculously over-the-top, so don't take it too seriously--in fact, I still can't help but smile in places to think about how goofy but somehow enjoyable certain sections can be. 2) This is not just Carl Orff-inspired chantings put to jazz. Actually, I hear very few jazz influences here, with much more rock instead, with a definite symphonic flair. That's probably why I like it so much!

Why is this music so unique? One reason is that unlike most set-ups, nearly every band member is essentially a rhythm player, with very sparse keyboard, guitar or vocal solos. It's nearly all rhythm and syncopation--and often in 7/8 time to boot--sporadically punctuated by some great horn additions (effective) and Vander's screechy wailings (not effective).

Highlights: the beginning and the ending. The first 15 minutes or so are great, started by establishing a great groove and adding tons of musical ideas in rapid succession. The last 10 minutes are also fantastic, with a wonderful freakout in 7/8 that transitions into a thrilling double-time finale, with a somber conclusion to finish the affair.

In between these highlights? Lots, and I mean lots, of chanting and Vander-screechings. It's not terrible, but not particularly interesting either. I don't understand how a band can be bursting with creativity for much of an album and yet include these repetitive parts.

All considered, MDK is my favorite from Magma, and when I skip a few tunes toward the middle of the album, I've got nearly half an hour of what I consider to be incredibly creative, unique, and enjoyable music.

A must-have in any comprehensive prog collection.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#282201)
Posted Sunday, May 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h' - Magma (6/10)

Considered by many Zeuhl afficionados to be Magma's defining work, Magma's 'MDK' is certainly not a piece of music that will appeal to many outside of the sub-genre's rabid following. Taking martial beats, an unsettling mixture of jazz and avant-opera and throwing it a flair for Teutonic ramblings to top off the style, it would be near-impossible to give a concise label to this music, had the 'Zeuhl' label not been developed to satisfy it. Christian Vander has composed a very interesting apocalyptic epic here, although while the genius of the music is evident, many of the unwelcome nuances and screechy vocal additions only deter from the enjoyment of what would otherwise be a very good avant-garde listen.

The two most prominent traits of 'MDK' are the orchestral/jazz instrumentation and the operatic singing. Ironically, the former is the album's greatest strength; the latter being the biggest weakness. At any given time, there will usually be several instrumental layers doing their own thing, only serving the intensity and dynamic of the music. Things are very repetitive, and while that might turn some people off of this music, I personally find that it can often be as pleasantly hypnotic in parts as it is irritating in others. Having a very strong military march feel about it, the music is slow but very looming and powerful. Contrasting the deep feel of the instruments are the generally high-pitched and whimsical vocals; most of which consists of shrill female chanting, or the absolutely deranged ramblings of Vander himself. There are a few vocals sections that work with the music, but the majority of those consist of baritone Teutonic chanting, which helps to give the music a 'scarier' feel.

The entirity of the album follows a very similar sound and flows very well as a result, at the loss of variety to the sound. However, at a length of thirty eight minutes, it doesn't go on long enough to get boring.

While there are certainly parts of this album that I know I will never be able to appreciate, the work is slowly growing on me, and I can certainly see why it is considered a masterpiece. However, in terms of how much I actually enjoy the album, there is plenty of music out there that I would be better off with.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#298061)
Posted Wednesday, September 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Magma - MDK (1973)

and Zeuhl was born..

Much has already been written about this Magma albums that somehow became more known among the common prog listener then other albums of the band. Though the sound seems to have changed a lot when comparing MDK to 1001 Centigrades, it's actually a quite consistent release when looking at the compositions. The big difference is however that MDK is the first Zeuhl album to feature the recognizable female vocals. The atmosphere is dark, the intensive rhythm changes and repetitive intelligent piano-parts, the angelic and war sounds.. this could be seen as the the basis of all Zeuhl.

When comparing MDK to later Magma albums I must say the mixture of both a wind-section ßnd female choirs is quite rare in their discography. The Wagnerian use of heavy wind arrangements make the strong compositions of Vander sound even more impressive.

The recording is of the album is quite good for it's time of release. It must have been hard to give all instruments/vocals a good place in the mix.

Now the big question is, is this the right place to start your Magma collection? This band is very hard to get into if you used to listen to symphonic prog only. Its surely is a good album and it captures Magma quite good, which wasn't always the case on later studio albums. Perhaps this is the good start for newcomers, but I do advise to watch some live material (dvd's, youtube) in order to understand how special this music is. There are also numerous live version of MDK on the retrospektiw and trianon albums for example. All are quite good.

Conclusion. Recognizable Zeuhl is born with a worthy third album of Magma, which should be in your collection. It's really atmospheric, it's a big technical achievement and the composition is plain brilliant. This must have a real shock back in '73. Five stars, with the last halve star earned by it's historical significance. Perhaps Konterkosz and Wurdah Itah are even better Magma studio albums.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#299174)
Posted Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is hilarious ! Gong doing Carmina Burana?! I advise you this review is going to be as demented as nonsensical...but how do you convey in any image how this music feels like?... Well i would try ...my warning has been done..... Firstly i want to be clear, this is just aesthetical concepts, no social or political, this is just imagination like a Comic Strip....Imagine the contraculture had happen in a Teutonic hiperboric land. Imagine that in some German valhalla scaped from the nuttiest Pangermanist imagination, a tribe of viking demi-gods have found some vinyls of Coltrane, they made them sound by chance in a stereo found near, ant took it as a present from the Asses, or as a magical item, aoutrageously they find some strange mushrooms and some weird weed, took it as a sacrament and start doing a ritual....a war ritual to conquer other world! Thats exactly how it sounds like X) Imagine Gong enrapted in time by a spell made in an old German court, and then imagine they start partying, glidding, and goofing with incredible conviction together while the Pot head pixies and Odin are descending from another plane to make them testify!! The musical result is asthonising..... it relays in repetition with such willpower and maestry, that is just doesnt stop like a monstrous machinery, on and on, climax after climax, non stop. Is indeed quite sexy yes...as long as you dont identifie musical sexyness with funk or something akin. Is sexy in a incredible bizarre way, because the martial aspect is absolutely blended with the sexy aspect, nuty and impossible i know but hear and see it by yourself...is not sleazy, not bluesy macho style, is like an orgy of valkirias and opera singers X). Extatic, when it grabs you is simply extatic, you sing you yell you cry of pure joy you laugh to death...demented. Is one of the most particular and special things that i heard, literaly incomparable as you see by my crazy efforts. You have to ask it? Five stars!!!!! I will not comment any song because they are a gigantic symphonie and as repetition is the main ingredient you just dont know were one ends and the other begins. Unless you see the mp3 of course X) A must have for any freak with humour, not disgusted by willpower over-the-topness.

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Send comments to shockedjazz (BETA) | Report this review (#299842)
Posted Monday, September 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
SaltyJon
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Hello ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the "official" beginning of Zeuhl. While Magma's first two albums showed sure hints and signs of what it would sound like, this album is where it really came into being. It didn't come in softly and quietly, rather choosing to thunder through the gates proclaiming "Here I am!". Right from the beginning of the album - booming, pulsating drums and bass, and those ever-enchanting Koba´an vocals. Stella and the rest of the female vocalists finally took part in the album, and it makes a great difference. Combine that with the new bassist, a certain Jannick Top, and the keyboards and the horn section, and we've got a wonderful formula for success here. Words can't quite describe what an ear-opening, mind-opening album this was for me. From first listen, I was enchanted. I knew that this band was just what I'd been looking for since I first started to really appreciate music. This album, as my first venture into Magma territory, is the album which is responsible for my fanatic love and adoration for this band which will surely last until I die. Christian Vander's music is so wonderful...yes, it's bombastic, yes, it's bizarre...it's also beautiful, unique, haunting, and (dare I say it?) unparalleled by just about any other music we know about.

While this isn't my favorite Magma album anymore, it's still one of their most powerful works, and it will always be positively adored by me. It is definitely in my top ten studio albums by any artist. I think my rating should be clear enough - one of the easiest, most instinctive five star albums I've had the pleasure of listening to.

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Send comments to SaltyJon (BETA) | Report this review (#300034)
Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I am deliberately going to keep my review short. This is my first review of a Magma album and it has taken me about 4 months of repeated listens to get ' into' the music. My perseverance has paid off. I can honestly say that I finally get what all the fuss is about. This is the work of geniuses. The music is not just 27 years old either. It contains thematic sounds dating back to medieval renaissance periods. If anyone ever dismissed ancestral influences within music then Magma would be a good example to prove them wrong.

This album whilst consisting of seven tracks really does flow as a whole unit. The vocal harmonisations and choral tapestries abound and play a decisive role and key component to the overall Zeuhl sound. The flutes and guitars are simply incredible, Claude Olmos is an excellent guitarist. The layers of sound are such that it will take many more months to fully digest and appreciate, not to mention Christian Vander's drum and percussion work. Another observation is the similarities to another French band, Clearlight. No surprise there but there is something Canterbury about Magma too! This was 1973 and yet if I listen to Mike Oldfield's Incantations from 1977, maybe, just maybe he was influenced by these extraordinary pioneers? Four solid stars.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#301432)
Posted Friday, October 01, 2010 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After two first albums, still heavily influenced by jazz fusion, Magma pushed that component to back stage and just made their most important step - invented Totalitarian Bombastic Dark Teutonic Chamber sound (shorter - zeuhl).

After some line-up changes tribal rhythm section of Vander/Top became absolute leader in band's sound (plus chamber choir as well). Music is complex, well made and really sounds inventive and interesting. Like you that sound or not - it's more question of personal taste. But it happened - first Magma's album of real zeuhl was released.

It is so much written about this album I can's see no reason to go on details. Totally agree (by my head) that this album is one between best Magma's zeuhl releases ever, I (by my heart) just prefer two earlier their albums. Possibly the reason is I have strong allergy to pathetic totalitarism.

Speaking about pure zeuhl, I obviously prefer ecstatic and raw Japanese zeuhl to refined Teutonic Magmian... Still really very strong album though.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#302748)
Posted Friday, October 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h This album should be in the Top 10, yet it's not currently even in the top 100 - scandalous.

I've loved this album for 35 years. I discovered it not long after release. It came with a lyric sheet and I set about learning all the lyrics and became totally transfixed by it and MAGMA. As with most MAGMA albums it doesn't blow you away straight away. You need to listen to it a few times and let it get under your skin. They way the lyrics are chanted, they way the music slowly builds to a crescendo, the fantastic drumming all make for an album that belongs up there with the greats. The whole album works as one piece so it's impossible to recommend one track. ProgOpera anyone?

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Send comments to tw0sheds (BETA) | Report this review (#326684)
Posted Saturday, November 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars I don't speak Kobaian, but basing of what I know of this fantastic planet, I see a lot of parallels with Wagner and Nietszche. Vander has been accused to have sympaties for the Nazi ideology, and the mixture of French and German that composes the Kobaian may make us think so, but I think that even if the Nazis have borrowed some concepts from the musician and from the philosopher, this doesn't mean that Vander is a nazi.

Why am I writing so? Because this "first act" of Zehul music is Wagnerian in the maestosity of the operistic parts directed by Stella Vander, and in Kobaia I see the realization of something between Nietszche and the Aquarians. A new state of mind, an utopic world for a new "supermen" race that's to be intended as a natural evolution of the human race.

So Kobaia is closer to SciFi than to history. It's the same kind of utopia on which L.R. Hubbard based his artificial religious sect, initially helped by the Slan's father A.E.Van Vogt.

Back to music, this album has often been defined as "chellenging". I don't think so. Of course it's not light or easy, but it's first of all good music. It has jazz and classical. It has guitar and bass. It has everything one can look for in a prog album.

It's not easy but it's never boring or challenging. You only need to be in the right state of mind for it, as for a lot of non-easy listening music.

"Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik" is my favourite track, but this album is a whole. MDK was often played entirely in "one shot". As many Magma works, it's not a collection of songs but a symphony with several movements. So forget all the discussions about Vander's political side and enjoy a masterpiece of progressive music.

For newbies, I suggest starting with the first two jazz-rock oriented albums before attempting this one. It will help in getting familiar with those sounds and this kind of music.

This is THE masterpiece of Zeuhl, and if zeuhl is prog it can only be rated the maximum. Not suggested to fans of neo-prog and melodic stuff.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#365242)
Posted Monday, December 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Who will enjoy this album?

Hard to say??. Zeulh fan of course and they probably have it already. But as well being a classic of the genre anyone who wants to discover Zeulh. This is so far the best album of that category I have heard. Even so it is a difficult album to get into and not everyone may like it.

What do we have here?

A music very hard to describe especially if you never heard any Zeulh before. Rich, dense, intense album. The recipe of that music: almost omnipresent choral feminine vocals lead by the male crazy inhabited voice of Klaus Blasquiz on an instrumental "magma" of what we could call a power electric jazz-rock. The overall sound like a mix of Carmina Burana and John Coltrane. The tempo is obsessive, aggressive, martial and no breaks are given. The rhythmic section, the drum of Christian Vander and the bass of Jannik Top keeps the band going.

The music sounds orchestral and will resonate in your head even once the album over.

Why I rate it 5 stars:

It is a love or hate it album. It took many listening before I got the rewards. This album is now one of my all-time favorite. This opus goes beyond Zeulh or progressive music in general. An experience for sure and probably a masterpiece as well.

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Send comments to Theriver (BETA) | Report this review (#382561)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I generally don't enjoy Magma so much for a few reasons, and when I do listen to Magma, I prefer their more funk-influenced albums, like Udu Wudu or Attahk. Having that said, Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh is absolutely delightful without sounding like either of the albums listed above. I think that might be because this album alone is what zeuhl is supposed to be.

Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh is one of the most dramatic and occasionally goofy albums ever, with its strong Gesamtkunstwerk-type sound - operatic, extreme, obnoxious, oppressive, powerful, and surprisingly heavy at times. For the time that this was released, I'd say this album was most likely the most progressive in its time, because I've not heard any one other band that sounded like this before Mekanik was released. A main part of this album is the plot line, which is about aliens coming to earth and tanks and everyone hates each other or whatever, I don't care - the music is good though. The musicianship here is strong, precise, and repetitive like you wouldn't believe, but it seems to work quite nicely. The sound of the album as a whole seems to suggest a type of revolution or some German-speaking dysphasia suffers. I think one of the main elements of this album that makes it stand out from the other super-dramatic Magma albums is a sense of earned energeticism, rather than being slow and boring and weird and nonsense all at the same time, which is an overwhelming concatenation of descriptors.

Seriously though, this is the definitive zeuhl album. I recommend this highly to anyone looking for super-eccentric progressive rock of the weirdest variety.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#441036)
Posted Saturday, April 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh ? 1973 (4.1/5) 12 ? Best Song: Don't make me choke you. Okay, so Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekaniw rules immensely All hail Krreuhn Kormahn and his Theusz Hamtaahk! May his Kobaian tribal chanting live long and forever into the imperial realms of inner and outer special existence! Hurdaaa Kahhka Delicwhiw! Contraflibsti hewww! Herr mon fii lii zzilllo vahnaaa dillenew! I don't know what the hell I'm blabbering on about. But I do know that Magma took the boring, extended Gregorian war-march chanting that was so boring and gave us more extended Gregorian war-march chanting that isn't as boring, and there are even electric guitars in it!

What a mess. How do you rate a piece of music that is supposed to represent a war-torn journey so far removed from contemporary humanity that it seems impossible to relate with? I suppose I'll have to do for Vander what I had to do for Jon Anderson with Close to the Edge ? pretend that the incoherent nonsense was actually deeply meaningful, and pay full attention on the musical aspect, instead. Even that is difficult, though. Whether or not I praise the group in all their manifestations, I could never deny their originality or conviction. I don't know who is the primary creative vehicle, but because the only name I've been able to attach myself to all these years is Christian Vander, I'll assume that without him, the group wouldn't have gotten one song complete (I know I'm wrong, go ahead and prove it to me).

The electric guitars are soft and chiming behind the wall of terrorizing opera vocals (both male and female this time) on 'Kobaia Iss De Hunden'. Another fabulous habit you'll find within the vocals (aside fom practically everything involved) is how each song will start slow, barely boiling, working toward a near-orgasmic climax. I also must say that the shorter song lengths and more concise album format only add to the intrigue of the record, making it my favorite so far.

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Send comments to Alitare (BETA) | Report this review (#443196)
Posted Thursday, May 05, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars A decade or so ago I was well on my way to prog geekdom. Having cut my teeth on the various "big name" prog acts ? a misnomer if there ever was one ? I wanted to venture out and see what else this genre had to offer to those hungry ears of mine. It seemed there was an endless supply of weird and wonderful music under the prog banner, and soon I was troubling my local music store to import me obscure albums from all over the world, including one Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh.

Much like every other album I was picking up at this time I really wasn't sure what to expect from MDK, or Magma in general, just that it had garnered high praise from the prog community and was supposedly quite dark. I remember the initial spin of the disk, found the first track kind of interesting, but overall it was too repetitive to hold my interest after the first 20 minutes or so. In truth, this album was just too different from anything else I'd heard at this stage of my musical journey, being not at all like the more "song based" prog I was used to ? Yes, Genesis, Banco, etc. I gave it a few more attempts but it never grabbed me, and MDK, as well as Magma, were shelved.

Fast forward to 6 months ago. Tired of the music on my portable MP3 player I decide to shake it up a little bit. Not nearly the prog fanatic I was all those years ago, I clear out my current playlist and try and reacquaint myself with some neglected prog. I don't know what caused me to give MDK another spin, but I'm very glad I did.

The music grabbed me in a way it never did before. The relentless rhythms, growling bass guitar, furious chanting, screeching vocals? why had my ears not latched on to this all those years ago? Whatever the reason, I was hooked.

It's futile to break MDK down to individual tracks as this monster really needs to be appreciated as a whole. Having said that, the Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik segment represents perfectly in nearly 8 minutes the trademark Magma Zeuhl sound and is probably the highlight for me. While I think the final 3rd of MDK is somewhat weaker than what comes before, that's a minor quibble given the quality of the album.

While Magma most definitely isn't for everyone, MDK is arguably their strongest album and the wisest starting point for those interested in exploring this unique group. Just be warned, it may take a little time for the music to sink in!

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Send comments to Dr. A (BETA) | Report this review (#445481)
Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
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

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#480358)
Posted Monday, July 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is the album on which Magma transitioned from the heavily fusion-influenced approach of their first two albums and created the primal Zeuhl sound that they are known for. With a massed choir intoning the vocals with passionate fury and the band playing just as hard, the album blends elements of jazz, rock, and opera to produce a stirring and unique mixture that has to be heard to be believed. The Kobaian lyrics involve the people of Kobaia bring the corrupt Earth to justice after the killing of an ambassador sent to bring the beautiful Kobaian truth to the home planet, or something like that, but that isn't really what matters - what matters is that by writing the lyrics in his invented language, Christian Vander liberates the listener from having to listen to them as words and allows you to listen to them as sound - like fellow influential prog drummer Robert Wyatt, Christian Vander is aware of the potential of the human voice as an instrument in its own right, and uses it to dazzling effect here. A firm candidate for Magma's best studio album, and it wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest it's their best album overall.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#505553)
Posted Friday, August 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars For me, this is an album that define Magma and zeuhl. Teutonic, repetetive music based on a simple jazzy, funky piano theme broadened out with insane sounding male and female vocals and with added textures added by bass, keyboards, drums, choirs, guitars and flutes. It sounds like a declaration of war against everything sane on this planet. And that's what it is.

This is the third Magma album and for me; the album where Magma really got their sound right. Where their first two albums was much more jazz and fusion orientated, M'kan'k D'strukt'ẁ K'mmand'h is all out zeuhl. If you like this album, you also like zeuhl. Call it the acid test.

A handful of piano themes is developed into a full opera. This is what this album is. It sounds simple. But it is not. M'kan'k D'strukt'ẁ K'mmand'h is a very dense piece of music which confuses the listener and finally; enthralls the listener. It is also a kind of music I am not familiar with and it has taken me a unfamiliar long time to get around to write this review. The digestion period is long when it comes to everything Magma. Their music is a challenge.

I have landed on four stars because M'kan'k D'strukt'ẁ K'mmand'h is a genuine great album. It has some great theatrical moments like every opera have. It also have some pastoral melody lines. It is a massive piece of music which leaves me gasping for air. It also makes me wanting to hear more from this band. Hence my four stars.

4 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#545637)
Posted Saturday, October 08, 2011 | Review Permalink
GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I cannot begin to tell you just how much pleasure MDK has given me the last couple of weeks. I've listened to it several times in the past but never quite gottrn beyond the feeling that listening to Magma is like listening to giants talk. They are awesome but quite frankly hard to understand and harder still (sometimes) to fully appreciate. The musical vision is such that it seems un-earthly, which in fact fits in well, bearing in mind the sci-fi theme of Kobaian mythology.

When I bought the wonderful box Studio ZŘnd I was far from clear about the musical content, locked within those cardboard walls. I grew aware but none the wiser after listening to the albums. However, the mist soon evaporated and I got some sort of vibe, clue and/or idea what it was all about and yet I found myself puzzled.

Now, MDK is a true masterpiece of prog genius. The whole body of music is like a long, furious march, relentless and uncompromising. I've rarely heard music so agressive as this. It's so furious. Although I keep coming back to the track "Mekanik kommand÷h" there's no such thing as s bad or lesser track on there. The horns, the organ, the chanting and the drumming... It's plainly speaking mindblowing and I cannot see how I could rate this album anything less than 5 stars. I think it's a milestone in progressive rock music.

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Send comments to GruvanDahlman (BETA) | Report this review (#604049)
Posted Friday, January 06, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars After hearing and reading so much about Magma on this site I just had to investigate what all the talk was about. Could they be as strange as people said? Yes. Could they be as good as people said? Also yes. This music is just so damn hard to describe... Battling choirs? Singing ogres? Alien opera? I have no idea, but it is unique and incomprehensible and pretty good. These folks know hot to rock out and mix jazz with rock with opera with whatever. Favorite song? I have no idea since I can't remember the titles of any but I think the 3rd one. I am not sure if it is a masterpiece but it is, without a doubt at least a 4 star effort. This may be what prog music really is all about.

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#649893)
Posted Wednesday, March 07, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars First thing i can say about this masterpiece: it's not for everyone. If you're very into "classic" prog stuff, you will not get this one.

This record is the Zeuhl bible. The gem of a whole genre. This one is Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh, considered by many fans, the best Magma album (i don't think so, because i love all their material).

Hortz FŘr Dehn Steckehn West is the first track: i always thought this song is something like the trains that went to Aschwitsz. It begins very dark with a teutonic sound and intense bass. The majesty begins with the choral voices, having to Stella as the leader. The tempo increase every time. Infernal track.

To not mention all the songs (7), i'll mention three more. I know you aren't attracted by my opinion (?).

From De Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik to Kreuhn Kohrmann is de HŘndin, the music is destroyer. But the most important moment here is Mekanik Kommandoh in my opinion. And i'm gonna tell you why: all the darkness and tension accumulated in the previous 5 tracks explode, making a devastation in your soul. When you hear it in any live record, you'll se that you end up tired. This music is really intense.

The last track (Kreuhn Kohrmann is de HŘndin) is like a zombie procesion with a legion of antichrists. It's one of the most apocalyptic songs i ever heard!

Definitely, this album is revolucionary. Anything sounded like this back at the time (and neither now). So, i have nothing more to say.

10/10

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Send comments to mau (BETA) | Report this review (#807027)
Posted Saturday, August 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars If I put this record on, my mother comes to my place and looks at me with her weirdest face. And I understand her. Really, this album is crazy (and, perhaps, so I am).

First of all, I love the story behind: it's about an extraterrestrial prophet that wants all of us to follow his religion. At the beginning, nobody wants him but in the end all of us fall in his suggestion. The funniest thing is that you can recognize in the music this progression. At some points it gets quasi-operistic (maybe Wagnerian?).

This is clearly not for everyone, but as far I'm concerned this is one of the most peculiar things I have heard.

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Send comments to cris_ostoma (BETA) | Report this review (#997929)
Posted Sunday, July 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Delivering a genre of music completely unfamiliar to me, I was fascinated by the prowess of M.D.K. and the musical talent therein. A sinister record with equally fierce vocals, this album is a dark journey through transcendence and dissonance itself. Each instrument harmoniously working together are at the same time alone in their melodic voices. The vocals range from chants to choir soundscapes and deliver something of an insanity to the music. The piano serves to prove that this insanity has a purpose and should not be disregarded or frowned upon, but cherished as the other instruments. There are memorable themes side-by-side with challenging passages that, in the end, seem to work out together in a grand masterpiece of progressive music. For anyone keen on expanding their range of musical tastes or curious to see how far some prog musicians can go with their creative impulses, this album is a must.

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Send comments to ebil0505 (BETA) | Report this review (#1177063)
Posted Sunday, May 18, 2014 | Review Permalink

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