Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Magma - K.A CD (album) cover




From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars 4,5 stars really!! K.A. is Kohntarkkosz Anteria.

Well there was an album I have been waiting for a while!! I gather that this is the first Magma all-original studio album since the 70's. I always fear for the results of such a prolonged group absence (Vander and other musicians here have had a quite extensive solo carreer) but those fears were quickly dis-pelled as the first notes of music reached my ears. The first two movements were written back in the 70's but had not found grace to Vander's eyes (and ears) to go on vinyl at the time. Only the third movement is relly new stuff.

I had heard this full track in concert last fall, and it sounded great but I was wondering how that would translate on studio record with modern technology. Actually , except for the pleasant 70's sounds , there are precious few real surprises here as the sound of this album is very close to what they did on vinyl some almost 30 years ago! You could swear that this was recorded in the same era. Outside Christian and Stella Vander, you might get some joy knowing that Bernard and Himiko Paganotti are related to the former Kobaian bassist and that this album is very related with Kohntarkosz. The third movement does start off (the first 9 minutes or so) in a unusual Magma fashion being more standard progressive. Quite unheard of and maybe a hint for future releases. The use of the flute is also unusual.

Magma is back and in prime form (they even credited some dog for this record) but on the downside of things and aside from an odd french line and some Maghreb yoddling (female youyous), there is not that much new under the Kobaian Sun.

If you are a fan, this is a must. If not , then investigate the classic 70's albums, first before this one. Guess on which side I am.

Report this review (#34738)
Posted Monday, April 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars the "new" magma album is a absolute must for all people intrested in some orginal music that is not been beaten to death. It compromises 3 parts (some more joyful than others) where i would say part III stands out best. Pure magma and just as good as mdk,udu wudu,attahk if not better.....
Report this review (#34739)
Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars what can i write about the best band of the universe? (between 1973 and 1976 ......) ;-)))

K.A is an epic writed in 1972, never released before and it's a masterpiece all good magma elements are back again, far way of this bad and poor music that vander made since "attahk" in 1977. but the problem, now is to know if vander is able to create good music again. he think he's "pure" but he's like the others dinosaurs he hate: always and always play the same old tunes. i want to believe (i'm a dreamer) that a new magma creation can be possible soon.but the actual project is alaways an old tune:emehnteht ré....... O.P

Report this review (#34741)
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 4.5 stars at least - because if we give this 5 stars then MDK and Kohntarkosz will need 6 stars each.

This is the Magma album that fans have waited almost 30 years to hear, and it's easily on a par with the best of their mid 70s work. Fragments of this work have been heard before on Inedits, and the closing 'Alleluia' chorus can be heard on the early version of Kohntarkosz on BBC Londres 1974, but this is the first time the whole work has been presented (or finished, for that matter). In the rather convoluted sequence of Magma's Kobaian epic, this piece would come after Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh and acts as a sort of prequel to Kohntarkosz. Most of the album is closer to the Carl Orff stylings of Wurdah Itah and Mekanik Kommandoh than to the more instrumentally based Kohntarkosz or 1001 Degrees Centigrade, with Vander's trademark vocal arrangements sounding lovelier than ever. The new band are also true to the Zeuhl spirit, especially guitarist James MacGaw, whose clean tone and economical but melodic guitar lines recall the work of Claude Olmos in the '73/'74 line up.

Parts 1 and 2 are light and melodic pieces featuring dazzling interplay between piano, guitar and vocals, all underpinned by Vander's metronomically precise drums and some nicely judged bass from Philippe Bussonet. Part 3 opens with a lengthy instrumental passage (sounds like a synth but it was probably intended for flute or sax) which demonstrates the jazzier side of Vander's muse - it's surely no accident that a photo of John Coltrane is visible in the background of the snapshots of the band. Part 3 then builds to the kind of climax familiar from other Magma epics, culminating in what sounds like a distant cousin of the Hallelujah chorus.

This is also the best sounding of Magma's studio albums - modern recording techniques mean that every element of the complex arrangements is crystal clear, but thankfully the dodgy production values which spoiled albums like Merci have been abandoned in favour of a more natural sound.

As Hugues Chantraine said, newcomers would be better off starting with one of the classic 70s albums. If you're already a Zeuhl head, this album is essential.

Report this review (#39194)
Posted Monday, July 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars the missing (or unfinished?) EPISODE between M.D.K and Köhntarkösz...Köhntarkösz Anteria abreviated as K.A is probably the most surprising event in years. Cristian Vander's new band were challenged to try to defeat the time aranging everything to sound as a past line-up. Moreover, they understood (those who aren't Vander of course) the dimension of being part of the history recreating an old piece of music... and I must say the sound is simply...out of this World!!!!! (like they always used to do music...the caracteristic sound of Kobaia is present in every part as a friendly ghost). Probably this is Cristian's debt to all their fans...even it's not new music, who cares about new stuff this music will always be avantgarde art with 70's spirit.

I think that after the gathering of the Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogie after finishing the Köhntarkösz Anteria album Magma's discography is everytime more Solid than before and we will have to recognize when this Cristian Vander's task ends he has to be compared as equal with the great musicians of all times...

No matter what this album was created to be play it LOUD!!!!Believe me, it's a different experience the first time I heard it I realized that I listened almost the III parts not that loud, a little upset with myself I played it all again but louder... and only then, I even felt the Magma live experience...

Report this review (#40764)
Posted Friday, July 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars After more than 20 years K. A. is new studio recording of French Zeuhl Legend (and maybe the first real French Rock related band ever) Magma! The music is over 30 years old but never before recorded. K. A. (Köhntarkösz Anteria) includes three suggestive musical parts (with pretty good ol' soundspectrum). The line up has very much changed during these 30 years but Stella and Christian Vander have stayed (I had the greatest pleasure to see and listen Magma in concert in June 2003 in Strasbourg, France where they performed part of K. A. among some other great compositions)... The strongest delight for me were (and are - undoubtfully) the first nine minutes (with fantastic keyboard solo addition) of K. A. III - only because of these minutes this album is very worth to listening!!!
Report this review (#79297)
Posted Thursday, May 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first Album I heard from Magma, was M.D.K. At that time I found it intriguing and at the same time fascinating. I knew I was in the path to find something completly fabulous. M.D.K. is perhaps the most difficult album from Magma, the hardest to digest, but once I did, It took me to heaven.

Then, I read about the history of Magma and Christian Vander, the concept of Kobaïa, the lyrics, the mixture of Jazz, symphony, opera, etc., and I could understand the greatness of this band.

So, talking about K.A. this album made almost 35 years after magnificent albums with a new line-up, Vander shows that Magma is still alive and still producing timeless albums and execute the missing link between M.D.K. and Kohntarkösh, taking advantage of the new era of technology and released Kohntarkösh Anteria.

After all my reverence for this band, let me introduce the songs.

K.A. consists of 3 songs, let's say K.A. is just one big suite, divide into three parts, and all of them played perfectly harmonious and bringing together all that Magma represents.

K.A. I kicks in immediately with the operistic style. This track is really powerful, in the background, Vander plays his drums and the band come together making it all perfect, The thing I must enjoy are the voices, although I still trying to learn Kobaïan, I love to sing the song trying to match the words at least fonetically. Really enjoyable track.

K.A. II Still follows the same path of K.A. I, but there are here more tempo changes and you can hear the male and female voices singing separately, so you can hear them clearly and enjoy them, the first 9 minutes the songs is quick, heavy, mdk-style, the after the 9 minutes the tempo goes slow and gives you a breathe and let you enjoy the piano and the voices, once again I have the feeling of hearing Carmina Burana but heavier, really awesome! I just love it! the song keeps up letting the voices being the stars here. a great link for what it comes next.

K.A. III I don't know how to express about this track. I have the thrills just to remember the sounds of this song. K.A. III is THE song! Here is Magma at its best! This is the song that let me see that Magma is really from another planet! (from Kobaïa I supposed..) Oh my goodness, How the hell can they do something so beatiful and powerfull and so energetic with so many changes? It just that this song has no waste! Starts with a bang of the drums of Vander, then you hear the most progressive sophisticated heavy sound of your life. You hear in the fist 8 minutes of this song the synths -here the synths are the stars along with Vander's drumming- taking you in a flight to the Planet Kobaïa, for real, it is so trippy. Vander shows us that he might be old (after 35 years, you have to get older) but his spirit is still alive and young and shows us one of the most beautiful drumming I ever heard, plus the technical and all, I FEEL that drumming! Vander plays them with passion and that's what I love of his music, the drums are in the background (or the synths? I don't know!) the keyboard is played also incredible and to complement, the voices singing oohh Koba-ïaaa! minute 4:50 is everything, the keyboard is so magic and space with Vander playing the drums so incredible and keeps in that route for mixing up in a way that I cannot describe the sensations I feel when I hear, it's just perfect, simply beautiful, what a keyboard! what drums!! at 7:30 the synth and drums are truly progressive and shows what we love about this genre. complicated signatures but being played with passion, in other words, creating art.. then after 8 minutes,(don't think it's over, instead I suggest you to fasten your seatbelts!) the voices comes together and sing tremendous, and starts to go in cresendo, so, really get tight to the ground because the next thing it's a tour de force sponsored by Magma, at minute 10:20 Vander is still showing why he is the man, playing creatively and faster than ever and all the song goes in that direction including the voices, at minute 12 the tempo changes to show us that it's jazz time! I cannot but tap my feet and smile, here i have to point out that the thing I love it's the bass that keeps all together and I can hear it clearly and I just enjoy it! The voices still singing in Kobaïan creating a great atmosphere! Then once again, like it wasn't enough another tempo change, at 15 minute everything goes faster for a few seconds the return to the original sound that we were hearing before, then once again the voices go faster and after that is just a snowball going down. The drumming is still powerfull, the voices singing in chorus Hallellujah! I don't know what it's happening but I can guess hearing the music! The breathtaking sound still playing, minute 18 Hallellujah is going really faster than ever, if you haven't lost your mind until this point, keep listening because the music still flowing insanely and with power. Then an abrupt change shows at 19:30 and Hallellujah slows down, now everything is more relaxing, but let me repeat you, Vander's drumming is at its best! sounding awesome and hallellujah being sung in vibrato Haa-llee--lluu-jaah! fading out ending the song.

Yes, maybe it is not very objective, but this album moves me and I cannot rate it but with 5 stars. A must for Magma fans and even for any prog fan.

P.S. You should watch on youtube a liitle french girl singing the first two minutes of K.A I. She's learning Kobaïn! Awesome!



Report this review (#159625)
Posted Thursday, January 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rating: A+

Has the thought ever occurred to you that Christian Vander, founder and mastermind of Magma, might be a cynical, plotting, evil genius? Well, look no further than K.A. (short for Kohntarkosz Anteria) for proof. The music was written around the same time as the masterpieces M.D.K. and Kohntarkosz. Instead of releasing it then, however, where it probably would have been overshadowed by the two cds widely regarded as Magma's finest, Vander waited until 2004, a good thirty years later, to let it see the light, revitalizing interest in Magma and creating what is arguably the greatest comeback CD of all time (to the degree it's a comeback). Alright, so maybe he's not an evil genius, just a smart musical genius.

Which is enough for me, honestly. It's not often an album this good comes around, and it's even rarer when it comes from a band that hadn't released anything but an EP and some live CDs (from older shows) in the twenty years prior (twenty five if you don't count the appalling Merci album). Nevertheless, that's what Magma have done with K.A. It falls somewhere between the operatic vocal mayhem of M.D.K. and the slow-building atmospherics of Kohntarkosz, which isn't surprising when you consider it was originally written to bridge the gap between the two. As such, vocals are very often the dominant instrument on the CD, recalling M.D.K. but without nearly so much bombast. Instead, they create a spiritual beauty - I would go so far as to call this the most spiritual CD by Magma (which always was a very spiritually tinged band). However, backing this up is not a dominant brass section, but the trio attack of drums, bass, and keys that dominated Kohntarkosz. It perfectly blends the subtle complexities the latter with the trademark Zeuhl sound of the former, creating what may actually be the perfect introduction to the band (other than the awesome live CD, Live/Hhai).

While most of this composition was written "back in the day," - you can here some of it on the Inedits album and the ending of "K.A. III" is used as the ending for the BBC Live performance of "Kohntarkosz" - parts (I don't know which) of the third movement are new, and since the whole thing is amazing, it shows that Vander's compositional skills are as good as ever (which means we better be seeing more new stuff ASAP). In addition, Vander has rounded up a crack team of musicians, meaning that it's performed perfectly. It is, of course, sad that neither Bernard Paganotti nor Jannick Top (both Magma bassists of old) are featured, but their replacement, Philippe Bussonnet, does a marvelous job in their stead and could, assuming Magma continues with the quality releases, earn his way up to the legendary status of his predecessors.

If all of the praise I have for the actual music on this CD doesn't convince you to buy it (assuming you're new to Magma - if you already like them you've probably bought this already), I would like to point out that the cover art is by far one of the best among Magma's CDs. This sees Magma at their most accessible yet does not compromise their musical integrity, and it earns serious consideration for the title of greatest comeback album ever (if you consider it a comeback). I can't wait for the promised release of more older material and possibly even some new material as well. If it's half as good as K.A., it will still be worth getting. K.A. is just that good.

Report this review (#163497)
Posted Saturday, March 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I have had the pleasure of spending 2 weeks with this cd while on vacation in Florida recently. As I write this review it is the highest rated MAGMA studio album on this site, and while that does surprise me there's no denying that this is an excellent record. There are 5 vocalists including Stella & Christian Vander, 2 keyboardists, MacGaw on lead guitar and Bussonnet on bass.

"K.A I" is led by multi-vocals and keys for the first minute then bass and drums join in followed by guitar. This song gets pretty intense vocally.Guitar returns 8 1/2 minutes in. Amazing track. "K.A II" opens with dramatic vocals and the song kicks in at 1 1/2 minutes. The female vocals are fantastic. It calms down after 4 minutes then the guitar comes in soloing. On a MAGMA RECORD ? Yes it does. The tempo continues to shift and change as it picks up after 6 minutes. I like the male and female vocal interplay. More guitar after 7 minutes as it comes and goes. Another calm 9 minutes in. More guitar after 11 1/2 minutes as vocals and intensity rise and fall for the next 3 minutes.Incredible tune. Each track gets longer and for me better.

"K.A III" opens with 9 minutes of pure bliss for me. My favourite section of the album. This is subdued yet jazzy, and I love the bass lines as keys play along. Female vocals join in on this melody 3 minutes in. Vander is so precise on the drums throughout this section. Amazing drum work. I just love the vibe, the mood of this passage. Unfortunately it does have to end. It changes 9 minutes in as eventually the guitar and bass shine as Vander pounds away. There is a great vocal / bass / drum section 13 minutes in. Bussonnett is a monster here for the first time reminding me of Mr.Top briefly. Christian takes the lead on vocals and guitar joins him. It starts to become intense again both vocally and instrumentally with a lot of hallelujahs shouted out. It finally calms down 19 1/2 minutes in as the bass lines with drums and hallelujahs continue.

Sure the majority of this record was composed back in the seventies, but this is one of the great comeback stories in music. This is essential for Zeuhl and MAGMA fans.

Report this review (#163865)
Posted Friday, March 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Magma return! An even twenty years divide this release and Magma's previous studio effort, Merci. And a solid six years divide Merci from Magma's last good release, Attahk. Magma fans have gone long without fresh sustenance: but our waiting has paid off. (I say our, but I didn't even acquire my first Magma album until 2007, so I can hardly be considered part of that populace.) Composed around the time as the other Magma masterpieces, K.A is nothing short of utterly flawless, and does not dry up the Magma magic by repeating the tricks from the 70s. The composition is as strong as any Bartók, Orff, or Stravinsky symphony, though perhaps a bit less complex than the latter. But just as lingering, if not more.

Köhntarkösz Anteria is the second album in the Köhntarkösz trilogy. Theusz Hamtaahk is Magma's other mythological trilogy, though it is more popular and somewhat complete. Theusz Hamtaahk is the first movement in the Theusz Hamtaahk trilogy. Live recordings of it are easy to come by (Retrospektïw I, BBC Londres 1975, Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogie), but never was it done in studio. For that reason, the Theusz Hamtaahk trilogy is not truly complete. Wurdah Ïtah was second, and concluding the Theusz Hamtaahk movement was the celebrated and immensely popular (by Zeuhl's standards) Mëkanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh. That is their chronological order, but not their release order.

The Theusz Hamtaahk series had actually a quite coherent and meaningful story (at least, Mëkanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh did - and the others were definitely themed, though the narration was not so clearly voiced). The Köhntarkösz series has less of a clearly articulated plot the Theusz Hamtaahk. I wouldn't doubt the plot is there, I've constructed and written some very long theories and ideas of what the story may be. In hindsight, it's probably not much more than fanfiction. God that's embarrassing.

The original Köhntarkösz, recorded in 1974, had a very clear purpose and direction, but less of a design in terms of story. There is a reason for this: Köhtnarkösz is Kobaïan mythology of the long forgotten Earth: what occurred chronologically even before the tales of the original release, Kobaïa, from 1970. It is predominately a mythology rather than a full tale. Since K.A follows this plotline, which seemed to conclude fairly, it's not too easy to just guess what K.A is about. And, as is the Kobaïan tradition, Vander offers no hints. Besides the lyrics in full. In Kobaïan. Thanks.

Musically, this is of equal calibre as the 70s material. Just as powerful, just as evoking, magical, celestial, complex. It is of a much better timbre, however. The state of the art recording quality, the masterful production value, and the perfect mixing is so much appreciated. Still, though, after a minimum of twenty full listens, I am so amazed with the care and mastery with which Vander composes his symphonies. Smooth and eased accelerations steer the band's dynamics, to the extremes of intensity and volume. Gorgeous climaxes act as the segue of the tracks, giving the album even more of a mastery over flow. Köhntarkösz Anteria is a fresh and perfect addition to Magma's much too small studio catalog. Masterpiece.

Report this review (#168334)
Posted Monday, April 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars K.A. strikes the best balance between atmospheric build-up and strong musical ideas of any album I have heard. Everything is crystal-clear, much clearer than any other Magma studio release. Still many intense moments, but the sound is more conventional and should be accessible for most proggers. Everything is impeccable from about 4:00 into K.A. II to the end - which is over half an hour of music. The latter sections of K.A. II have a New Age feel that makes for ethereal background music. Close listening reveals carefully chosen piano chords, the sublime fluidity of Vander's drumming, and the expression of pure joy from all the singers. Truly beautiful music on superficial and deeper levels. K.A. I starts out with a definitive Prog feel that creates a jungle-like atmosphere. Borghi's Moog-work is always interesting. 9:00 to 16:00 feature interesting, forward-moving choral work which involves the listener just as strongly as the best passages on MDK. Those are my favorite parts; you must buy this album anyway, so form your own opinions on the rest.

K.A. deserves five stars for several great musical ideas, flawless execution, and uniqueness. More conventional than MDK or Kohntarkosz, but certainly accomplishes everything the band set out to do. I can't choose between the three studio albums, though K.A. does not quite match the other two live.

Report this review (#171139)
Posted Thursday, May 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars My first Zeuhl album. I suppose that it's important facts, because of weirdness (in neutral sense) of this genre, whole new genre (trying to be completely different). And even I used "not from this world" phrase in past, now it's literally meant to be. I have to tell that I was quite afraid of this. I expected something I will not understand and not like also.

But overall result surprised me. It's pleasant (Ray Bradbury's Martians? Also something alien?), even I understand just few basic facts about this completely new culture. For example this tracklist. Ascending from 11-16-21 minutes, almost unnoticeable, but it's here. And perfect mastering of chorals (which sounds like something you wouldn't expect in prog - hello, the name is Zeuhl). Language is its own chapter. No, I don't understand, but same thing with German/French, so it means nothing, except here it's more pleasant (than these hard languages, Italian for example is nice language for my ears). And you also know that this is alien language. Jazz elements are of course here, but just as support, not main thing. Describing this music is extremely hard (even I though same thing about other bands in past, but as time went bye, I pushed my limits), but as something different for open- minded man, it's pure progress.

But I don't dare to rate it with more stars

Report this review (#236450)
Posted Wednesday, September 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars K.A. is the first album I have heard from Magma. I've been often curious about this unique band and I felt like starting with their highly-praised modern album which I believed would sport top-notch sound production and a more accessible sound. While the album may be too unconventional for me, it appears to be exactly what the band wanted to produce and I think they really succeeded. The songwriting is simply fabulous, with different layers of sound interacting with each other naturally. The sense of dynamics is seems to have been carefully laid out, despite me not being a huge fan of the heavier vocal-led passages. Last but not least, the musicianship is very strong. Vander (drummer) is easily the highlight for me and would make even the most impressive jazz musicians proud.

In short, K.A. is an unusual mixture of jazz-fusion, intense classical music (Wagner comes to mind) and opera sung in a made-up language. In order to appreciate the artistic merit of this seemingly quirky record, you need to look at the theme. Magma created a concept of an extraterrestrial civilization throughout their discography. While the idea of writing alien songs and anthems might seem a pretentious, it works. The musical passages evoke a wide variety of moods and you need to let your mind visualize images and scenes brought by the music. Largely, this album seems to focus on prideful, joyous, and possibly spiritual anthems with a sense of community, as implied with the emphasis on vocal harmonies. Despite the music involving an alien civilization, the sound tends to be relatively acoustic and free of futuristic and electronic sounds. The leading instruments are the voice, piano, and bass&drums.

While the album is generally consistent in quality, there are moments that sound out to me, whether in a positive or negative way. The beginning of K.A. I is very memorable, with an oddly timed repetitive vocal theme being joined by the impressive rhythm section of Vander&Bussonnet. The first song is very coherent while displaying numerous musical themes, with the joyous vocal harmony around minute 6 being especially noteworthy. K.A. II also has its share of impressive passages. Minute 5 has the only guitar solo in the album, but rather than stealing the show, it plays tastefully in the background while the drums&vocals build in intensity. My only problem with K.A. II is the rather quirky vocal line that sounds something like "Beep! Beep! Pa Pa Ze Toh!". However, it is redeemed by the gorgeous mellow sections in the second half of this piece.

While you think they can't top the gorgeous second half of K.A. II, you're wrong. The first nine minutes of K.A. III involve a truly spectacular jazz-fusion jam that seamlessly builds into the most emotionally powerful vocal refrains of the album. This jazzy section features the keyboardist playing the fender rhodes electric piano and an analogue minimoog synthesizer. However, while the keyboardist takes an important role here, this section works so well thanks to the whole band, vocals included. While the drummer is consistently excellent throughout the album, he particularly shines here. He is the one who holds everything together and does it flawlessly. The next sections show a bit of anxiety and excitement and is faster-paced. Military-like drumming makes a presence before the climax. Unfortunately, the climax is my least favorite part of the album, due to it being too speedy and repetitive for my liking. It involves everybody proudly chanting a line that sounds similar to "hallelujah" phonetically.

Report this review (#242671)
Posted Saturday, October 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars After the release of "Köhntarkösz" I started to loose interest in MAGMA, they seemed to loose that lunatic freshness and started to sound as part of the machinery, what surprised us in their first albums, became boring and predictable.

So I stopped buying more of their albums, but reading the reviews in Prog Archives (due to a mention of my friend Atkingani) decided to give "K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria)" a chance, and I don't regret this decision, even when I bought the album a few days ago, I feel in capacity of reviewing it, because I have listened it several times with extreme attention, and believe me "K.A" is in the level of the best MAGMA albums, only that sounds better because of the technology used.

Sometimes a band has to recognize that their early works are their best, and even when some people believe they should keep evolving, is better to return to the roots and produce great material rather than keep experimenting and loose coherence with each album. This is what MAGMA does in "K.A" (well, not properly a return, because "K.A I" and "K.A II" are previously unreleased material from 1974 -if I'm not wrong-), they return to the roots and release an excellent album that sounds as fresh as "Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh" or "Köhntarkösz" did on their time, as a fact sounds as a long time delayed sequel of second mentioned album.

"K.A I" opens the album with strength and originality from the first instant, "Christian Vander" sounds better than ever and the chorus with male and female voices is amazing. Even when it may sound a bit repetitive, the originality of the concept and the magnificent piano performance by "Emmanuel Borghi" it doesn't bore for a single second.

The song gives no rest to the listener, they use each and every free second and cover it with music, no silent spaces, as if they didn't required to breathe. The changes are not as violent as we are used in Progressive Rock, they are gradual, but more radical than the listener can imagine. Even the habitual lunatic touches as rings, whistles and wheezing sound absolutely coherent and perfect in the context of the track.

The instrumental passages give a bit of relief after the madness, and the balance required, this is Zeuhl at it's best.

"K.A II" starts dramatic and epic, with the excess of pomp and brightness that I love so much, maybe the casual listener will find it too excessive, but the clear "Karl Orff" reminiscences are simply delightful.

Even though is as frenetic as "K.SA I" in some moments, MAGMA adds several calmed and soft passages with jazzy atmospheres and beautiful melodies, but never loosing their typical horror to silent spaces.

The blending of male and female voices is as tasteful as it can be reminding of WAGNER'S operas, not a single weak moment, the arrangements are perfect from start to end, another outstanding track.

For what I know, "K.A III" is the only really new material ("K.A I and K.A II" were written in the early 70's but never used by the band), and the difference is clear, unlike the previous songs, MAGMA starts with an instrumental section, in which they seem to jam creating a Psychedelic atmosphere only interrupted by the feminine howling chorus that provides a mysterious edge, somehow it's basic and tribal but full of beauty and imagination, but this is the longest track in the album (21:43) and we should expect some surprises.

Around the eight minute and after a vibrant transitional passage, the usual weird vocals start, they move from celestial chorus to more tribal explosions, the contrapuntal encounter between male and female voices create a violent atmosphere and Vander helps to create this controlled cacophony with the strong percussion, this guys haven't lost the touch, the music is as strong as 30 years ago.

As the time passes, the vocals become more and more aggressive, the dissonant singing is the general rule, simply delightful and brilliant specially with the unusual and frantic Hallelujah chorus that has nothing in common with Handel's. A great song from start to end.

Despite I have reviewed more than 300 albums in Prog Archives, few times I had so little problems in rating an album, in the 70's or in 2004 , "K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria)" deserves 5 solid stars without ay doubt, not a problem is other albums are more solid, I rate the releases individually and this one deserves full rating.

Report this review (#244760)
Posted Thursday, October 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars KA came as a huge surprise to me. A couple of excellent live release and that one album not withstanding, Magma hadn't released anything since 1978. That is 26 years!

Apparently, 26 years must be nothing on Kobaia as the music on KA is exactly what you can expect from vintage Magma. As if time stood still. Yes it doesn't offer any change to the sound of their golden years but I don't think that is the point of this release. It's also not what I expect from an artist this late in their career. I'm perfectly happy to see that the groundbreaking innovation of yore has been reaffirmed and that the band shows a solid musical maturity.

The album mainly consists of material written in 74 that was not deemed good enough for release by Vander back then. Some of it can be heard on the premature version of Köhntarkösz on the Live in London release. Rumour goes that parts I & II consist of old material and that part III is new. If you heard the Live in London, you'll know that also much of part III re-uses old material.

Despite all this reworking, the band sounds inspired and enthusiastic, and again their music grabs me right from the start till the end. Simply marvellous how they build up the tension and hypnotize me with their primal energy and those tribal rhythms. Part III contains some spacey improvisations that we haven't heard much from Magma, it makes for a nice interlude that is more accessible then their usual density.

Just like E-Re, this album largely consists of earlier released material. But unless you're a collector, chances are quite low you will have heard any of it. It makes KA an essential purchase for Magma fans and a recommended one to any one else.

Report this review (#284430)
Posted Tuesday, June 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars So this album was very good, nicely structured, and I really liked the vocals (Excluding the vocals of course). The biggest problem with this album is the price of it contrasted to the amount of material. Normally isn't that large of a problem to me but honestly three songs. Thats a very small amount of songs for ten dollars. Now back to the music I really enjoyed all the songs on this album I was shocked when I learned it was made 2004. The first track was an awesome intro and really had a good vibe of whats to come. The second track was great too just like the first one, it seemed like it was leading up to something. K.A 3 was an epic in my opinion it was nicely supported by the other two tracks almost like a concept album (Which really all Zeuhl is a concept).

The album was really good considering it only had 3 songs at least they were all good length wise.

I highly recomend this album to all of those who want to listen to something new.

5 stars

Report this review (#284629)
Posted Wednesday, June 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Magma is a group from France that debuted in 1970 under the direction of the great drummer Christian Vander. The music is quite unique; unlike most music which is written and then english (swedish/french/japanese/etc) lyrics are attached to it, this music was literally created from the language. Which language? Kobaïan. What's that? It's a language they invented because they determined that French "wasn't expressive enough."

They call their music Zeuhl, which means Celestial in their own language. One man described Zeuhl as "about what you'd expect an alien rock opera to sound like: massed, chanted choral motifs, martial, repetitive percussion, sudden bursts of explosive improv and just as unexpected lapses into eerie, minimalist trance-rock." That description is still lacking, but it works. You get the idea that it's really far out, and like nothing that you've ever heard before in your entire life.

K.A. is the 9th studio release by Magma. The first 7 were between '70 and '78, #8 was their admittedly pop-sellout album, and then they started up again in '04 with this album. Unlike most band whose later music is crap and worth ignoring, this album sums up everything they ever did in their earlier years (minus the pop sellout) and takes it to the next level. It's grooving, powerful, emotional, and all so beautiful in it's alien atmosphere.

The album consists of three tracks; "K.A. 1", "K.A. 2", and "K.A. 3" which all seamlessly play together into a single 40-minute piece. I've listened to it 10's and 10's of times, but it has never felt long to me, it never drops the ball, never loses momentum, and only leaves you begging for more after the final chant fades away. The effect is simply smashing.

5 people lend their voices in singing, and they all are simply stunning. They blow through complex harmonies and rhythms with ease, and fade into background rhythms ala Camina Burana through beautiful chant motifs. They really are five of the best singers I've heard, all sharing the spotlight together.

If you can't tell already, I have trouble finding any fault with this album. In fact, many people have crowned it the album of the latest decade. This truly is a must-have album for anyone who wants something more than pop can give them.

No hesitation, five stars. Bravo.

Report this review (#292851)
Posted Saturday, July 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars How's this for a surprise story; Magma returns after a near 20-year dormancy period, and they produce a contender for the best Zeuhl experience ever. It gets even more incredible if you were a Magma fan before hearing the album (as I was) and discovering that K.A. has so much in common with the 70's Magma works, it's as if they never took a break.

K.A. is short for Kohntarkosz Anteria, and the music has a strong connection to the '74 classic Kohntarkosz. The organic nature of the compositions in Kohntarkosz is mixed here with the strong choir work that made MDK a Zeuhl classic. In essence, K.A. sounds like the halfway point between MDK and Kohntarkosz, so any classic Magma fan would not be disappointed with this release.

Part 1 has the most in common MDK with it's many different choir-led themes in the first five- odd minutes, great enough to be considered a modern Zeuhl classic. The second half is more embryonic and heavy (for a bit) then soft. Part 2 chiefly revolves around one operatic figure but goes through several morphs and configurations that could only be described as Zeuhl. Part 3 begins with spooky, spacey synth thingys gradually building in intensity until we get the scary apocalyptic type of music only Magma could deliver; the kind that subversively scares you.

MDK will always be THE classic Magma album. But with the way the album is structured, how it morphs and shapes throughout and how powerful the compositions sound, this is already worthy of ''classic Magma'' status despite not yet being ten years old (at the time of writing). It's what we all want out of a Zeuhl album.

Report this review (#295479)
Posted Friday, August 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Comeback of the millenium!

This was my first Magma and first zeuhl album. On my first spin, I was pretty astonished. I though to myself: "Is this music too intense for me? Are all these singers a little too over the top? Is a made up language a little too pretentious for my tastes? (which is saying a lot for a prog fan)" I put the album away for a while. A week later, I though "Oh what the hell? I might as well give it another shot." Luckily for me, it was better this time around. I started to really "get" the singing style and other things. Still, it was only about 3 stars. But in hopes of it getting better, I listened and listened and sure enough, it became a definite masterpiece. My mind was now open to zeuhl and I continued exploring. But enough about me, lets talk about the album!

A description of the music: The album takes off right away with "K.A. I." It is, like all Magma, a dark song with bombastic chanting and great basslines. The drumming is chaotic, but amazing. This is an amazing song absolutely full of highlights and great moments. The best on the album. "K.A. II" isn't quite as good, but is still amazing. Like the former, it is a dark song with loud chanting. This song is a little less in-your-face than "K.A. I," but is entertaining nonetheless. "K.A. III" is the longest, but weakest song of the album. But then again, thats saying almost nothing! It's still an amazing track with and the only one that opens with an instrumental section. A lengthy one, but still entertaining. This song is all great, but the only part that drags it down is the "hallelujah!" section. This part gets slightly repetitive, which is why it drags the song down. Still, it is an amazing song altogether.


Vocals: The vocals could probably scare a first time zeuhl listener away as they did for me. But once you get used to them, they are absolutely impeccable. The way everything is sung and chanted makes you almost want to prepare for war.

Bass: Many incredibly catchy basslines in this album, my favourite of which is near the beginning of "K.A. I." The tone is also great and it doesn't fall behind the rest of the instruments.

Drums: The drums here are absolutely insane. Playing in very wacky time signatures and fast tempos all the time. It really catches your attention.

In-your-face: The way this music is so in-your-face makes it impossible to ignore and magnifys the emotions of the music. It's very effective.


Repetitiveness: Most notably the "hallelujah" part of "K.A. III." There are a few parts and melodies that just drag on for a bit too long.

Song ratings: K.A. I: 10/10 K.A. II: 9/10 K.A. III: 8/10

Recommended for: Zeuhl-heads. People who have yet to discover zeuhl who are looking for a twist in their daily music.

My rating: 5 shining stars. This is the greatest comeback album of all time besides Godbluff, but Godbluff wasn't as epic since the wait wasn't too long, whereas K.A. was a 20 year wait.

Report this review (#298059)
Posted Wednesday, September 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Unrelenting assault of Stravinskian jazz with a space rock edge.

It still baffles me how Vander managed to put together (and perform; oh god the drumming) such a fantastic album like this one at such a late point in his career; unlike other old school bands who wither in quality and creativity as they age, Magma made a record that is, I'd say, better than their golden era ones.

Too bad they made up for the lack of umlauts on this record with Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré, which frankly isn't as awesome as its predecessor :(

A pretty strong 5 for this one. It's an alien cantata, for god's sake.

Report this review (#308945)
Posted Monday, November 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars Not many were expecting a new Magma album in the 2000s. K.A. turned out to be not only one of the band's most consistent efforts, but the best sounding up to this point as well. The first two parts were composed in the 1970s; this was supposed to follow MDK but come before Kohntarkosz. In fact K.A is short for Kohntarkosz Anteria. Christian and Stella Vander are the only members from the '70s here.

"K.A. I" starts off jazzy. Things get more interesting after 5 minutes. The vocalists are chanting "Kohntarkosz". Some nice Fender Rhodes near the end. "K.A. II" starts with the beginning part of "Kohntarkosz Part 1". After about a minute there is an upbeat and joyous sounding section. Great vocals in this part. This section comes back later. You rarely ever heard Magma so happy sounding. The very end of this track reminds me of Univers Zero.

"K.A. III" was a new piece written for this album. It begins with a piano chord and cymbals. It then goes into a part with guitar playing similar to what David Gilmour does on The Wall; also the same kind of playing you hear in songs like "Edge Of Seventeen" or "Eye Of The Tiger". There probably is a term for that kind of sound, but if you know the songs I mentioned then you know what I'm talking about. With that guitar there is a mini-solo on synthesizer. Christian does some great drumming in this part. Later there is a real synth solo. Before 14 minutes there is a really good section. I like the female vocals here. Near the end you hear what sounds like "Hallelujah" repeated. It's actually "Alleluia".

The bass is not as prominent as on other Magma albums. Both the male and female vocals are well done. The Rhodes and synth playing are very '70s sounding, even on the more recent part three. This would actually make a good introduction to Magma. Even though the lyrics are in Kobaian, the singing sounds like it's done in an actual Earth language. One of the best prog releases of the 2000s. 4 stars.

Report this review (#317637)
Posted Saturday, November 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Magma - K.A (Kohntark Antenna) (2004)

This is the very promising comeback album of Zuehl and Avant-garde prog legend Magma, headed by composer/drummer Christian Vander. This concept album is the latest release of the Konterkosz triologie, but it's actually the opening momevent (with Konterkosz as a second and the 2009 release E-Re as the third piece).

When it comes to sound this album reminds me most of the Wurdah Itah album of 1975. The piano plays a central role, the arangments aren't too bombastic (no wind-section, relatively small vocal arrangements) and there's plenty of space for break-through rhythmical composition and adventerious atmospheres. The bass-guitar s distorted and the drums highly fanatic, just perfect. Magma is clearly recognisable, but it doesn't repeat it's old methods. There is more use of the guitar, the opening section of K.A III shows Magma playing a modern interpretation of fusion and some parts have atmospheres the band didn't play before.

Besides that, the album is also a rather positive sounding Magma record. From the three parts (K.A. I, II & III) of this 49 minute piece both K.A. I and K.A II sound rather encouraging and sympathetic, with some darker intermezzo's we wouldn't want to be without ofcourse. K.A III has many faces. The opening section evokes a feeling as if you were in some jungle, but when the great rhythm section starts (in a very odd time-signature) it becomes a slight dark, moody, repetitive but strong effort. I'm not too happy with the long digital moog solo, but the vocal arrangements on the end of this opening section are a real treat. The middle- section of K.A III is again a fairly positive and adventerious one, if rearranged it could almost fit in with 'normal' progressive rock. The long ending section (with the long Hallelujah secton) is a bit dissapointing for me. The instrumental parts are good enough for me, but when the continues Hallelujah vocals come in I loose interest. It's a pitty the very ending of this till then perfect album doesn't work for me.

Conclusion. I couldn't think of a band more welcome to join our 21th century progressive rock genre then Magma. Most come-backs are about finding balance between maturity and accepting bands can't always play as good as they did in the seventies. But not for ths band. Magma has become even better and their live performances are still perfect in every aspect today. This album proves that old material lying on shelves can be reproduced and finished and that the result is perhaps the best album of 2004 (though some might have difficulties with the Zeuhl genre). Four and a halve stars for this one.

Report this review (#428585)
Posted Thursday, April 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
5 stars I really want to know what they're saying

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

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

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

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

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

Report this review (#434228)
Posted Friday, April 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars K.A ? 2004 (2.8/5) 10 ? Best Song: I'm on my hands and knees, here.

And here we are once more, in the battlefield of the broken hearts. And here we are once more, in the shadow of another Kobaian epic, this time around it's a prequel to the archeologist from the Kohntarkosz album who entered the tomb of Emhentehtt-Re to be programmed into the future leader of the human race or whatever bull[&*!#] it is they're peddling these days. The good news is, they're bac on track, and have cast the 1980's production and writing techniques aside for the more favorably organic and professional recording techniques and sound manipulations of the newest decade and millennium. The other good news is that, while being carried by this, it's not 'new' material. If I read correctly, the grand majority of the music involved with K.A. is based on old archived writings and recordings Vander kept over from the early 1970's. Was this man's idea fully formed right from the beginning?

All at once, it's as if happened at the very first day and the very last. The songs are loud and IMPORTANT! There are things going on and we all need to take notice! Never you mind the fact that the songs are no longer even given the old college try at sounding remotely personal or individual, and you know them crazy college students will stuff anything up their

You can call me a mud in the stick, but I'm not going to budge on this one. I don't love K.A. It's bloated, terribly derivative of the style (and even if they practically invented it, that's not a lifetime pass), and, forgive me for this, lord of song, but is it so bad that I want a few guitar solos? That's not a crime, is it? It's not a crime at all to want one measly minute of awe-inspiring and confrontational and identifiable guitar wizardry in all the fifty minutes of this extended alien symphony behemoth? I hope not. Instead we get the big pomp and circumstance blowharding of the symphonic keyboard pro, whoever the hell his name is, and I didn't ask for no keyboard solos (even if they're nice). Hmph.

Report this review (#443280)
Posted Thursday, May 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars In recent months, come to discover the wonderful world of progressive rock .Exploring "more of the same",only to explore new and unknown bands, I found myself in a night of boredom and I made a decision.

And then I heard the strangest album of my life.

Magma is a French progressive rock band formed in 1969 that created alone the genre Zeuhl (whose name came from the language itself created by the leader of band, Christian Vander-it Kobaian).35 years after they release one that may be his masterpiece and that left me completely bewildered.

There is a moment of complete sense here.I have no idea what is being sung (they could swear to my mother and I do not know). This furious fusion jazz, vocals, intriguing and mystical lyrics (which takes a man to create its own language?), K.A. is reminiscent of a few more unfinished projects of band in 70´s years and is the second in a trilogy that began with "Kohntarkosz" (1974) and ended with "Ëmëhntëhtt-Rê"(2009)-though on the order things are not exactly so.

3 stars.Ugly and strange, as I never saw.

Report this review (#450355)
Posted Friday, May 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team
5 stars A very polished, mature MAGMA, with some new sounds (vocally), some great sound recording, some missing sounds (horns), and one of the best Zeuhl 'songs' I've yet heard (I'm still very new to this sub-genre, but I LOVE ZEUHL!! I think this is the music I've been missing--that I've been waiting for--since 1989 [when I gave up on rock/pop/prog music].): part "III"--and part "II" is right up there, too.

While I am rating this 5 stars--for it is a masterpiece of progressive rock music--I do not hold it as dear as MDK or even Wurdah Ïtah; there is something magical about the energy and spirit of those 1970s records--perhaps it is youthful idealism (Did Christian Vander believe he could create a personally- and even socially-transformative mythology back then? Does he still?) Still, I admire he and his crew of Kobaians who have stood steadfastly within this music and its message over the past 40 years.

Report this review (#471575)
Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sonic perfection...

The second album in the Kohntarkosz trilogy.

The Good: There are very few bands that are able to return to the studio after twenty years and recapture the essence of their classic era. There are even fewer who go on to produce their best work to date yet Magma somehow manage to pull this off with what is simply one of the greatest albums ever recorded! Whereas some of their older material had me absolutely captivated for half of it and looking at my watch for the rest, these three pieces are just flawless from start to finish. Despite being a member of one of the more obscure genres known to man, K.A is also strangely accessible and I was able to successfully introduce a friend to zeuhl through this album, and he rarely ventures from his safe haven of hard rock and country. I could bang on all day about how mind blowingly amazing K.A is, but rather than wasting your time reading about it you should get out and actually listen to it!

The Bad: Like asking Edwin Starr, what is war good for?

The Verdict: If this isn't your cup of tea then your tongue is probably dead.

Report this review (#500846)
Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Twenty years after Merci - a Magma release in name only -and nearly three decades since Magma's studio albums began drifting away from the epic album-length Zeuhl suites the group were known for, Magma make a triumphant return to the studio to finally lay down a definitive version of Kohntarkosz Anteria. The golden age Magma style of Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh, Wurdah Itah, and Kohntarkosz is back in full force, the band's reunion for the Theusz Hamtaahk trilogy concerts in 2001 clearly being more than a flash in the pan, and with modern production values applied lovingly to the recording they've ever sounded better. The original and best flavour of Zeuhl is back!
Report this review (#674622)
Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the best returns ever!

Only three songs are enough to say that Magma have came back! I love this one because it's one of the first Magma albums i heard (along with 1001º Centigrades and Udu Wudu).

This album is the second part of the Kohntarkosz trilogy, being Emehnteht-Re the third and final part of the trilogy. I think this is the best album of the three.

The first track explodes, it's VERY intense from start to end, without stopping. The drums are better than never, and the choral voices are very strong. In the middle of the song, there's a cut with Stella singing "üts, kohntarkosz kohntarkosz kohntarkosz" that destroys my head!. Amazing track, just listen, my words are useless. The second track is more spiritual than its predecessor, but longer too. The chorus are fantastic and the music has different emotions and textures. A good track! The third track is INMENSE! it can be divided in two parts: the first 9 minutes and from there to end. The first part is a sad jazz fusion jam. It's important to mention that the song Om Zanka from Inedits (1976) was used to make this moment of the album. The drums are fantastic and awesome. The groove is beautiful!. The second part is the heaviest part of the album. It gathers intense every time, ending with an apocalyptic voice by Christian, that are perfect for what would happen the next record...


Report this review (#807048)
Posted Saturday, August 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Take percussionist Christian Vander, throw in some bass by Philippe Bussonnet, mix in Electric Piano by Fr'deric D'Oelsnitz, sprinkle over Guitar by James Mac Gaw, blend in Piano by Emmanuel Borghi and then garnish over with layered choral vocals by Vander, Antoine Paganotti, Himiko Paganotti, Isabelle Feuillebois, and Stella Vander and what do you have? A plateful of Magma. 'K.A.' is typical of their trademark sound, that nobody would dare try to emulate. This is going to test the ears of many listeners but for those initiated into the cultish Magmaverse it is a mesmirising journey that hold immeasurable power.

I have already been officially weaned on Magma through force feeding myself an overdose of 'Kobaia', '1001 Centigrades', 'Me'kani'k De'strukt'ẁ Ko'mmando'h', 'Wurdah Ita', 'Udu Wudu', 'Attahk', 'E'mme'hnte'htt-Re' and 'Live/Hhai', so this album 30 years or so from their last, was definitely no surprise; and in fact exactly what one should expect from Magma, right down to the alien Kobaian vocals. These intonations that are indecipherable and remain hidden for eternity, are without meaning and yet brimming over with vitality and a sense of grandeur that every Magma album must have. After a hiatus the band were back in full force and playing the type of music that has earned them a huge following that has never faltered. The vocals on this first track are beautifully realised, especially the female choirs, they are very moving and so well performed. Especially so when it breaks into that uplifting melody at 6 and a half minutes in. It sounds like the vocals say, 'sit down my slave, this is meaningless', then there are vocal trills and snake hisses which would perhaps send the average music listener running for cover. It is not essential to understand the meaning as one brings their own meaning to this music. It is so absolutely out of the box and unique, it is admirable. Once it locks into your cerebral cortex, it is like a drug where you want more and it hypnotises with its rhythms and insistent vocals. At one point it sounds like the choirs are singing, 'why stab a murder song', why indeed. There are angelic passages of beauty at 10 minutes in, and I love the way it moves into a dreamy atmosphere.

Part II starts with a grand choir of vocal intonations lifting higher and higher and then levelling out as a bass groove locks in with some nice percussion hi hat work. The female voice has a beautiful timbre in her voice, then a choir sounding like 'beep beep my faster car, beep beep my faster car, followed by a male singing proudly, 'I have a fat saveloy.' Despite the hilarious task in creating false translations that Magma often ensues, the music is very infectious. The Koba'an language is quintessential to the distinct approach along with the avant-prog nuances, and switching of time signatures, mixed in with theatrical choir arrangements. The Zeuhl genre is incomplete without Magma of course, the progenitors of the movement, so it is impossible to criticize their uniqueness and bombastic other-worldliness. The part at 9 minutes sounds like 'the music scattered Robin Hood', and I agree, except Robin Hood would be swinging clear of this type of music. I really like the way the music simmers in the frying pan at one point and some sweet female voices sing over a plaintiff keyboard, chanting over and over 'a manic symphony' which may be an apt explanation of the music. One can easily hear 'Allelujah' at one point which is not Kobaian but works. It builds into more forced choirs and the mood gets as dark as Magma can get with staccato piano crashes and a tirade of drum detonations to finish it off as a mercy killing.

Part III is an epic that continues with more fast paced tempos, a cool guitar riff chugs along sounding not unlike Pink Floyd's 'Run Like Hell' from 'The Wall' at one point, and it locks into a pleasant funky groove with some outstanding atmospheric chimes and woodwind. Vander's drums have that wonderful sporadic tempo that has made him one of the drumming geniuses of our age. This builds with wailing choirs that have a haunting ethereal quality along with the jungle sounds, shivering rattlesnake shakers and tribal rhythms. The choral voices build into a loud frenetic chant that could be translated as 'Nobody sold out Rolling Stones', when we all know they did. When Vander sings on his own at the next point it sounds more like German than Kobaian. A lead guitar takes over as the male and female choirs continue to argue with each other. The drums win the argument and then it all breaks into a jazzy exploration with some of the best metronomic tempo changes on the album and the oddest time sigs on the planet. The sheet music would be a mess one would have to think. The Wagnerian opera music finally breaks into bass and drum blitzkrieg. Then more vocals try to explain what is going on and it can be translated as 'who had sat there, we'll do something, don't lick the mustard, do it Monday, do it Sunday, the mighty Sunday, very simple, as it can be, not so sooky, don't preach the candy, bury the sunbeam, berry sun cream, women love me, women sulking, messy sun cream, messy sun cream.' It is a hoot to listen to as it is all nonsense and it makes as much sense as it needs to as it backs up the frenetic music shapes and metronome swinging tempo meters. The choir chant 'Allelujah' again, the only English I can decipher and it is quite stunning as an augmentation to the wild musical expulsions. It builds at the end with threatening power to explode all over the planet, spreading the Magmanificent music worldwide.

At the end of the album as usual with Magma I can only shake my head in awe at the boldness of the group and how music like this can be created. It is incredible with it's primal energy and primitive dynamism and will appeal to their target audience, though I have no idea who that is. Magma are popular enough to pull decent crowds and their return to the studio after so many years of hiding on planet Kobaia was definitely well received. They seem to be more popular than ever judging from the recent colossal box set and DVD packages. Nothing had changed in their music from the germination of the group on 'Kobaiah' to their resurrection with 'K.A.'; if anything, they had become more daring, extreme and adventurous. This album may not measure up to the astonishing genius of 'M.D.K.' but I can still respect 'K.A.' as yet another glorious triumph for the mighty other worldly Magma.

Report this review (#850907)
Posted Sunday, November 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not out of this earth!

Everybody kind of got the picture that there are some "prog sub-genres" which were actually fashioned to fit the "untaggable" or the "new" or the "yet to come", progressive bands. The ZEUHL's category obviously was designed for MAGMA. Kind of a privilege if you come to terms with the idea.

Music wise or composition wise, ZEUHL's rootings are Neoclassic, Romantic, , Modern and Fusion (which means modern Jazz). And I will add "Opera and Operetta" as in MAGMA's "K.A." , 2004.

The material was in large part, originally composed by drummer Christian Vander during 1973-1974. Aside from Christian Vander's made up spoken "language", K.A. is really not that extreme or obscure. Opposite to that, it is quiet friendly for anyone used to RiO or AG's plasticity in musical languages.

As far as "K.A.", which was released like 30 years later, continuing MAGMA''s undisputable legacy, the 3 musical movements or "acts" (they are not exactly songs) are composition wise "flawless" and yet stuck in time by its own date of composition and influences.

So it is not actually a 2004 MAGMA project. It sounds like an un-released 70's project, and some of its then "modern" Classical music "likings and influences", have inevitably aged, therefore some of K.A.'s musical passages do not sound that "modern" or novel, nowadays. I do prefer the newest 2012 release, in that regard, but this one is good enough to hold on to.

****4 "for any progger who appreciated the genres mentioned above" PA stars.

Report this review (#1252711)
Posted Sunday, August 17, 2014 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'K.A' - Magma (96/100)

I wasn't aware of Magma when K.A (otherwise known as Kohntarkosz Anteria came out in 2006, and even had I been, I doubt I would have been able to appreciate the magnitude and significance of their comeback. The overlords of Zeuhl had remained silent for decades; the interregnum between K.A and the infamous pop attempt Merci in 1984 had seen the emergence of plenty of would-be Zeuhl and otherwise Magma-influenced bands, but suspicious little from Vander and co. It's been over a decade now since K.A came out, and it still strikes me with a bit of amazement that Magma were able to go so long without releasing anything of substance, and return with their most beautiful, energetic and impressive, yet undeniably accessible album to date. Ranking it within Magma's own accomplishments isn't enough to testify to its quality however; this is one of the greatest albums I have had the pleasure of hearing, in Zeuhl, in avant-garde and progressive rock, in adventurous music in general. The prospect of comeback albums usually entails something half-baked and dated. A surprise achievement like K.A is virtually unheard of.

Calling it a true comeback might not be entirely accurate; band mastermind Christian Vander had written most of the music in the midst of Magma's most prolific and successful years. Why he decided to sit on the music for half a lifetime is beyond me; needless to say, it's a good thing he finally decided to let the cat out of the bag. K.A is a considerably livelier album than Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh or Kohntarkosz. Where M.D.K was slow to start, K.A hits its full stride in less than a minute; following a soft entrance, Magma lets loose a surge of cosmic chamber rock, replete with the feminine choral arrangements and cerebral grooves the band have earned their reputation on. In many ways, K.A is a manifestation of Magma at their most accessible. Without having streamlined or cheapened the depth, they distilled some of the more jarring elements of their execution, namely the dissonant antics and caterwauling. The screechy parts of Magma's sound were a large part of why it took me so long to warm up to them, even when their talent was readily apparent to me. The band's signature blend of alien operatic fusion will still likely make for some uneasy digestion for newcomers, but given that Magma are-- if nothing else-- known for their eldritch and challenging material, that comes with the territory.

I'll offer a lapse of my authority as a reviewer by openly admitting I have little idea what the concept or 'story' of Magma's music is all about, much less this particular chapter. From what I understand, it's some apocalyptic saga of the planet Kobaia; the French have always had a cunning grasp of sci-fi pulp and space opera. While M.D.K gave the martial impression of a fleet preparing for war, K.A is much more optimistic, as if the planet Kobaia were celebrating some unlikely victory. Although there's not a lot of semantic sense to be made from the Kobaian language, there is an expanse of feeling in the voices. Magma's vocal arrangements tend to hum around a repeated choral motif, with a lead voice guiding things along. In many ways, the stars of the show are the female voices. Stella Vander, Isabelle Feuillebois and Himiko Paganotti are quick to grab my attention, not by the strength or 'hook' of their melodies, but the wealth they've invested in their harmonies.

Magma love to turn to repetition when they've got a good thing going on-- a focus on melody may have served to wear the ideas out, but close attention reveals that the harmonies are constantly in motion. There are several times throughout the three movements where I noticed the band returning to, and completely refreshing a past motif by the merit of an added voice, a shift in focus, an ever-so-slight change in the harmony. Part of what sets has long set Magma apart from so many of their contemporaries (and inevitably, has made their style that much more alienating) is the sense that they don't dissociate the vocals from the composition. Where most rock n' rollers see vocals as a guide above the sea of instruments, the vocals here are another instrument.

Zeuhl has been a tricky thing for me to get into over the years. If the way I've fumbled through this review is any indicator, the genre itself is pretty hard to pin down, and virtually any discussion of Magma and their acolytes should come with the caveat that their music is not for the faint of heart. Regardless, I am incredibly glad I finally managed to get into their music. While their appeal baffled me throughout high school, I do wonder if I would have had an easier time getting into them had I been introduced via K.A. Even beyond the album's context as a 'comeback', this is Magma at some of their most inspired and passionate. Where other albums of theirs have usually demanded at least a few listens before I start to appreciate them, this one was love at first listen. And unlike so much of the instantly gratifying art out there, this album has never seen fit to lose its magic for me. The connection has only grown with the passing of seasons and subsequent listens. To be honest, it's rare that an album hits me with the emotional force of K.A. The three movements flow together virtually seamlessly; although my cynical side might like to criticize the third act for being a little more longwinded, less compelling than the first two, the journey Magma takes with this album feels just about flawless, if not in the perfect technical sense, then certainly in an emotional one.

Report this review (#1394940)
Posted Monday, April 6, 2015 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is Magma and everything is said by that. Extensive porridge of improvised sounds, heavy bas lines, proud drumming and operatic chorusses, all that is here. Not enjoyable for anybody who looks for a harmony in music. Magma is more for people who actually seek something really very original, other worldly, and who looks for joy in loud and heavy improvisation sound, but not metall, please. not much is changed in the sound comparing to other albums, it is still the same concept, thematically and musically. Me, I can not stand more then three minites of this, which in my ears sounds like a cacaphony . I would like to give it a one star, because I realy don't like this music. But then, 1 star = only for completioners. Which here cannot be true. There are lots of funs of Magma who can appreciate the music.
Report this review (#1498022)
Posted Thursday, December 10, 2015 | Review Permalink

MAGMA K.A ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of MAGMA K.A

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives