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MERCI

Magma

Zeuhl


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Magma Merci album cover
2.47 | 142 ratings | 18 reviews | 8% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Call From The Dark (Ooh Ooh Baby) (7:20)
2. Otis (5:20)
3. Do The Music (4:25)
4. Otis (Ending) (1:32)
5. I Must Return (6:32)
6. Elephas Levi (11:15)
7. The Night We Died (3:40)

Total Time: 40:24

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Christian Vander / vocals, piano, Celeste, keyboards, percussion
- Stella Vander / vocals
- Guy Khalifa / vocals
- Benoit Widemann / synthesizer
- Simon Goubert / synthesizer (1,3)
- Francois Laizeau / drums, drum programming
- Marc Eliard / bass
- Phillipe Slominski / trumpet on (1,3,4)
- Christian Martinez / trumpet on (1,4)
- Michel Goldberg / saxophone on (1,3)
- Liza Deluxe / backing vocals
- Jean Pierre Fouquey / Rhodes piano on (2)
- Michel Gaucher / saxophone on (2)
- Freddy Opsepian / trumpet on (2)
- Christian Guizen / trombone on (2)
- Alex Ferrand / vocals on (3)
- Jean-Luc Chevalier / guitar on (3)
- Patrick Gauthier / synthesizer on (3)
- Paul Bayle / saxophone on (3)
- Denis LeLoup / trombone on (3,4)
- Arrigo Lorenz / Soprano sax on (3)
- Maria Popkiewicz / backing vocals on (4)
- Jerome Naulay / trombone on (4)
- Zaka / percussion on (4)
- Michel Graillier / Rhodes piano on (5)

Releases information

CD-Seventh-REX III-1984 / Lp-Du Bon Independant-2403371-Fra-1985

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Import
Seventh Records/Le Chant du Monde 2009
Audio CD$15.99
$14.95 (used)
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Jazz Village 2015
Vinyl$19.98
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MAGMA Merci ratings distribution


2.47
(142 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
8%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(17%)
17%
Good, but non-essential (35%)
35%
Collectors/fans only (25%)
25%
Poor. Only for completionists (15%)
15%

MAGMA Merci reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Magma's glory days were a long way behind them when they recorded this oddity. Vander more or less quit the drum stool for this album, and it took something like 18 months to record in dribs and drabs. It gets off to a shaky start with 'Call From The Dark', which sounds like a stab at Zeuhl Euro-Disco. The Linn drums really sound out of place on a MAGMA album.

I imagine a lot of fans switching off at this point, but the album is worth sticking with. 'Otis' is a tribute to the great Otis Redding, which sounds incongruous but actually works remarkably well - Vander always drew on a variety of sources for inspiration, and Redding was as outstanding in his field as Carl Orff or John Coltrane were in theirs. The album is really lifted by a Renee Garber composition, Eliphas Levi, which starts and ends with some beautiful flute and is largely built around piano and massed voices. Haunting and beautiful, another side of Vanders muse which would be explored further in OFFERING, although in my opinion nothing by OFFERING can match it.

The cast of thousands, and the absence of any of the core MAGMA players aside from Christian and Stella Vander, make this seem like more of a solo project than a proper Zeuhl album. Persevere with the 80s production values, though, and there is plenty that is worthwhile on "Merci".

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#22382) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2004

Review by Progbear
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I remember my first time with this album was when a friend lent me a tape (with no track listing) of it. I had never heard of it, but I was curious, as I never knew Magma released anything after ATTAHK at the time.

My first thought: "Is there a Kobaïan word/phrase that sounds like 'Oh Baby'?"

The R&B touches that first surfaced on ATTAHK start to take over here. It sounds like they were trying to make a Prince album, but sort of got cold feet at the last second, and sang most of the tunes in Kobaïan.

The result is indescribably weird! Not necessarily in a good way, though.

I really can't think where Vander's head was at when he instigated this album. If he thought it would be a more "commercial" venture then he failed. Pop fans would definitely be put off by the dark tone and weird singing on this album. The more conventional musical constructs and very 80's touches like drum-machines are bound to turn off Magma's hard-core fan-base. Really, the only ones I can recommend this to are hard-line completists and the perversely curious. As it is, indeed, pretty perverse! A definite oddity.

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Send comments to Progbear (BETA) | Report this review (#46582) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Review by Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album is very interesting, we have songs sung in English, French and their native Kobaiian language. A friend of mine once said he'd pay to hear Magma from the 80's, as we were only familiar with the 70's material, of which 'De Futura' was an obsession !! Getting back to this album - it's surprising that the music is not harsh and relentless as usual, we have some funky tracks (I Must Return, Do the Music), and more meditative tracks - like the 11+ min 'Eliphas Levi', which is the most beautiful Zeuhl piece EVER !! It was composed by Rene Garber (who made sporadic appearances with the band in the early days), although he doesn't appear on the album itself. The musician list is long with some familiar (and more unfamiliar) names. 'Eliphas Levi' is full of magical flute playing and other wistful soundings, delicate piano play from Vander himself and I can't stress how wonderful this track is - worth the price of admission alone. ' Otis' is also very pretty. Call From the Dark (ooh ooh Baby) - this is Magma ?? (please ditch the sub-title) - is a funky, up-beat, almost Euro-Disco number which features some powerful vocals from Stella Vander sung in English, with some blowing brass arrangements - most people may say this track is a mess, especially in terms of Magma, but the track sits fine with me, uncharacteristic for sure, but a cool, 'cruisey' song. Disappointing that Vander was not behind the kit, mostly insipid 'Linn drum' programs, but Francois Laizeau's drumming on 'Do the Music' is very Vander-like. A great, diverse album which can be enjoyed immensely, but it's not to be compared to Kohntarkosz, 1001 Degrees Centigrades etc.

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Send comments to Tom Ozric (BETA) | Report this review (#88754) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 01, 2006

Review by laplace
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars The best Magma album, if you like funky disco-pop and hate the subtlety of their earlier releases.

Not much of the sane Kobaïan line-up remains on Merci (just the Vanders and Mr. Gauthier if I'm reading this correctly) and perhaps this is why this album spirals out of control into dreck - if only a Top or a Blasquiz or a Widemann had been there to dissuade him from this voyage into Kobasploïtation.

Side one has a lot of a funky danceable songs to its dubious credit, and it has to be said that they're very well made (allowing that you can forgive the drum machine) and poppy - they could probably chart if they were sung in a language originating on Earth. If you couldn't stand "Spiritual" from the previous album, then turn away now. In fact, most of side two is equally goofy. The lone relevant song here is "Elephas Levi", which is a hauntingly symphonic bed of peace written by former member Rene Garber (for more gentle symphonic music made by Magma alumnae, investigate Laurent Thibault's "Mais on ne Peut pas Rêver Tout les Temps) with very slight zeuhl undertones thanks to the electric piano repeating small figures and the beauty of the role the choir plays here. Apologies for being harsh when other reviewers seem to have derived more from "Merci" than me, but Garber's composition should be the deciding factor on whether you purchase this accursed disc, because everything else contained on it makes the angel of light weep.

BONUS SECTION: Having ignored my advice, you've purchased Attahk and Merci and you've come to understand that I was right. Do this:

1. Rindaë 2. Liriïk Necronomicus Kanht 3. Elephas Levi 4. De Futura 5. The Last Seven Minutes

- to generate a perfectly listenable "new" Magma album that lasts about three quarters of an hour, hopefully mollifying your anger over spending so much money. It's what I did. Maybe you could call the thing "Theusz Laplace". ;)

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Send comments to laplace (BETA) | Report this review (#132630) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, August 11, 2007

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Mercy me? Merci!

Well, um?

There's a lot to say about this one and yet, not much at all. Perhaps one of the most hated albums of all time by fans and anyone who has ever heard it, Merci is infamous French-mutant-jazzers Magma's attempt to pioneer a more viable ground for the subgenre of music, Zeuhl, that they had founded in the 70s. This would be an impossible task in hindsight, being that any Zeuhl will, and always has been, a very, very, very acquired taste - a subgenre where the majority of the sane population (proggers, of course, exempt) will laugh at hearing the best of the best of the albums to come from this scene if they don't understand the purpose of it.

All things aside, Merci is like the lovechild of Magma and Abba when the two of them were piss drunk at a rave one night and decided to get at it without protection. Of course, Abba did a lot of drugs during the pregnancy. When the baby was finally born in 1984 it was this - the bloody mash-up of Zeuhl and disco which vomits all over itself whimpering, ''please kill me?''. Right off the bat from the faux-oriental strings of Call From The Dark (Ooh Ooh Baby) (yes - a band who sings in a made up language from another planet called the opening track Ooh Ooh Baby) the band trips over its own horn section and attempts to get on its way.

Now we all have to admit something before we continue - as disgusting as it is - this album can be terribly catchy. Somehow, in some way, listening to Vander sing soft sections meant to seduce some kind of deaf woman on Otis or the Meatloaf-esque sections of I Must Return are actually rather amusing, and may actually prompt you to listen to the album a couple more times before your make your final judgment on it - hating yourself and crying a silent tear the entire way, of course.

Musically, compositionally, this is nothing like the Magma of yore, which is probably the only reason why they have fans in the first place. People seem to like that tense atmosphere and the whimsy of the chanting sections, or the tight-as-hell playing on the previous records that makes one wonder how a band were ever capable of playing so well. Merci is not like it - it's the bubble-gum pop of the progressive world, right up there with Big Generator and Love Beach - worse, perhaps.

The sole song worth saving on here, as others have mentioned, also happens to be the longest piece. Unfortunately, it still pales in comparison to the majority of Magma's library, being that is ranges somewhere between Disney soundtrack and Jon & Vangelis. Still, Eliphas Levi is worth listening to at least once or twice for the hardened Magma fan, since its atmosphere is actually somehow as tense as it was on MDK - but still, it's no crowning achievement.

Overall, a good album if you're into very strange disco ? for everyone else, this is an avoid. However, since it comes with the newly released Studio Zund, I still recommend that fans take a listen to better appreciate Magma's classic works, and maybe get a cheap laugh. 1 star out of 5 - for Fans only, and don't buy it unless it's coming with the rest of the box set - seriously.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#219216) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, June 01, 2009

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
2 stars Magma's Merci is their well known career dip. At least it is when you would be expecting one of those mind-expanding Zeuhl experiences. For some reason Vander and Stella gave up their longstanding Kobaian chants and instead of sounding as far from pop as they used to, they turned completely disco/soul/funk on us!

The shock experience starts with Call From The Dark. A track sung in English, with disco drum machines instead of real-live drums and poppy soul songwriting. And guess what? It is an excellent track. The musical expertise of this Magma line-up proves to be still strong enough to pull this kind of groovy pop off. Especially the vocals are great, if you like powerful female soul vocals of course.

Otis is more relaxed R'n'B, sung in French. A couple of harmonies and some vocal weirdness still reminds us this might be Magma indeed, the music won't. This one isn't my cup of tea as much as the opener but it's a good poppy soul track, not blatantly commercial or too cheesy. Do The Music is a strange hybrid of shameless 70's disco and Magma's funk-inspired traits as known from Attahk. I can't say the marriage works really well. Also the gospel/soul of I must Return leaves me untouched.

Eliphas Levi is a more experimental track with a pulsating atmospheric drone created by soft bass and piano playing. Harmonic minimalist vocals are added. I'd say most Philip Glass fans and 'normal' Magma fans might like this track.

I must say I've been pleasantly surprised by this album. Of course, 25 years of stubbornly not wanting to listen to it might have lowered my expectations quite a bit. Still, this shouldn't have been released under the Magma banner. Apart from the last track, nothing has got anything to do with the Magma you know. I don't think it's a bad album though; it's just that with its obvious tribute to soul, disco and funk, it's exactly the type of thing most prog fans won't like at all. 2.5 stars

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#287292) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, June 19, 2010

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
1 stars One shouldn't expect to find 70s disco-funk when is expecting Zeuhl. "Ooh Babe" is a something that worked well within "The Wall", that's full of "oohbabes" and has some disco- like moments, but it doesn't work the same when you are expecting a communication from outer space in kobaian.

But let's listen to it without thinking that they are the Magma. Is it still so bad? Yes it is. The first part of Ooh Babe is not so poor as somebody says, but Earth Wind and Fire are better if you are looking for this kind of music.

The start of "Otis" is more promising but just for about 10 seconds. When the electric piano starts we have something that could be the soundrack of a TV serial like Starski and Hutch but filmed in Paris.

"Do the Music" has at least 30 seconds of Magma, but also this song is not enough. Without the 4/4 chorus it would have been better. However it's quite acceptable.

"Otis (ending)" is a filler but it's probably the best moment of the album as it contains no disco and no funky. An organ chord with singing. Less than two minutes of fun.

"I must return" ---- Please no. At least not in this way.... sometimes Vander seems to remember who he is and what music he is able to create, but they are just flashes. Hey, where is Phil Collins ? This could be one of his 80s hits.

Then it comes the reason why I wouldn't rate this album 1 star only: An 11 minutes song from Magma. Not at their best also here, but this is closer to that kind of music that one can expect is coming from a distant planet. "Eliphas Levi" is not destined to remain in the history, but it's absolutely not bad. It partially saves the album. The repetitions here are hypnotic and not boring.

"The Night We Died" is nothing more than a slow melodic song that closes the album.

If you are new with Magma this album is misleading. This is NOT their music.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#299467) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 17, 2010

Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion Team
2 stars Six tales about death...an apt summary for this work.

When you open the CD case for this one you are greeted with some wonderful artwork and a nice little three lined "poem" about death. Underneath is the line Six Tales About Death. This filled with me with positive feelings. Everything surrounding the disc had been wonderful. (Even the simple cover art is somehow soothing, in a strange way. Of course, I knew the story of Merci and its massive downturn in quality for Magma, and in terms of the music in general. However, being a completionists I felt compelled to own this album.) And then the music started, and everything changed.

Gone is everything I love about Magma. The deranged vocals, the hard driving bass, the powerful and captivating drumming, the new sounds, and the energy. In its place...synth drums, Vander's enormous absence from the drum stool, pop influences everywhere, and English lyrics. All of these things spell disaster, IMO. However, it did have something going for it, which other Magma albums do not. It is hilarious. Unfortunately, I fear it was unintentional. The opening track is the perfect example. As soon as the vocals and fake drums begin, the laughter ensues. Not even the presence of the horns can save it. Admittedly, the weirdness scale is off the charts, but for all the wrong reasons. If this was any other group, this wouldn't be as strange. Sure, faux-discozeuhl sounds unusual, but that's only because of the supposed Zeuhl tag. (Perhaps if it was sung in Kobaian it would have gained some points!) At any rate, the humor is really the only plus (unless you want to annoy people, although the good side of Magma may be able to accomplish that feat as well), but I fear that may fade over time. Similarly, the terrible Do The Music and the flat I Must Return, keep the main points of the opener, without the humor, and honestly, without the ounce of enjoyment Call From The Dark may give. To be fair, I Must Return has a hard rockin' backbone, which is somewhat of a plus, in a way, sort of. (In short, Do The Music is easily the worst song in Magma's catalogue, especially if we are coming from a prog standpoint.)

However! Not everything on this album is a train wreck. Otis (both parts) is fairly enjoyable. A nice bassline (although nothing really Zeuhlish about it), and a strong Vander vocal performance punctuate a tune that could actually have your toes a-tappin' and head a-bobbin'. The Night We Died is quite a strong tune, ending the album in a fairly melancholic way, with an excellent vocal trio. But, the main attraction here is the absolutely wonderful Elephas Levi. A sprawling song that is as close to old Magma as this album can get, with wonderful minimalism influence. A bed of percussive sounds flows underneath vocals, and piano, that have nothing in common with banal influences of the beginning songs. Atmospheric, floating, haunting ...excellent. Unfortunately, that's truly the only reason someone would need to own this album.

All in all, this is one hell of a misstep in the Magma discog. Really, it is quite confusing. This really suffers without Vander's drumming, and with the English lyrics. I can understand them wanting to bring in other influences and do something different, but why replace the best part of Magma (aside from the very strong songwriting [which really isn't here either]) with drums that don't even sound like they are trying to be drums? And when you want to have actual drums, why bring in another drummer? And at least put in the effort to write in a language that you made up! But, this issues aside, there are a few good (read: enjoyable) moments, and one excellent moment. For this, I'll rate Merci two stars. For fans of Magma, and nothing more. Please, start elsewhere in the Magma discography.

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Send comments to Man With Hat (BETA) | Report this review (#424481) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review by SaltyJon
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Almost all bands have somewhat of a misstep along the way. Some are large, some are small, and some are flat out confusing. Some still make you burst out in laughter, wondering what in the world the band was thinking. Merci starts off seeming entirely like the last (with a bit of the flat-out confusion), because of the infamous first track, "Call From the Dark (Ooh Ooh Baby)". The track...defies all logic. Here we have a band known for their great brand of music, with heavy, chugging bass, explosive drumming, and vocals sung in a language of the band's own origin. What do we get on this track? To start, a drum machine instead of Vander, no bass to be impressed with at all, and lyrics sung in English. Where's the Magma we all know and (some of us, at least) love? I'm not sure, but they've been replaced for this track with a funny disco/pop/whatever you'd call it. Play this track if you'd like to trick someone into liking Magma, or if you're in the mood for a good laugh.

The rest of the album, however, is a step up from this track. The bass, when present, is fun and tasteful, albeit not anything like the Zeuhl bass of past days. We get some of Vander's most inspired vocals on the great "Otis," along with some good bass, well-constructed music in general on this track. Most of the album is definitely down the funky/soul road that we start to see on tracks on Attahk. For me, at least, it's not a bad thing, as I've liked funk and some soul longer than I've known anything about Magma or prog in general. As others have mentioned, the sole track on the album which could be considered close to the Zeuhl standard is "Elephas Levi." While it's a great track, I find myself enjoying "Otis" and "Do the Music" most from the album.

Everything on the album is interesting for one reason or another - whether it's the unintentional humor of the opener or the funky feel of much of the rest of the album, or even the Zeuhl feeling provided by "Elephas Levi," I find something to enjoy in just about all of the album. However, being realistic I can't recommend it to any Zeuhl fan, unless they're also a fan of funk and soul. My rating for PA is lower than my personal rating - here, it gets a 2, I'd give it a 3 or 3.5 on a general music website.

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Send comments to SaltyJon (BETA) | Report this review (#449816) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review by GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars It's kind of sad I don't appreciate this album. There are many an occasion I find the oddball albums being very pleasant but that isn't the case with Merci. The overall feel of the album is messy and confused. I can appreciate what I think is the main idea behind the album, making music quite accessible and thus reaching a wider audience. However, I do not appreciate the end result. It's not all bad, that's hardly the case with musical brilliance, as evident on basically all other albums. Theres sparks on here, sparks that glisten but after a spin you find yourself unimpressed and unattentive. Merci do not have the power to hook you and keep you locked in the experience until it's over. Merci is kind of Magma goes Asia. It really mustn't be a bad thing but it's certainly not a good one.

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Send comments to GruvanDahlman (BETA) | Report this review (#879315) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2012

Latest members reviews

4 stars Why people hate this album? It's a very good record! This one has Otis, Eliphas Levi and The Night We Died, three killing tracks! Obviously, the drums are not aggressive as the previous albums, but it's not bad. Only it could be better... The only song i don't really get is Do The Music, i th ... (read more)

Report this review (#807047) | Posted by mau | Saturday, August 18, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars It took me some time to really understand this is in fact a Magma album. The opening track 1. Call From The Dark, with undertitle Ooh Ooh Baby, is simply a track most horrid. Euro disco and with English vocals. Braindead vocals too and I am starting to wonder what Magma really is singing about ... (read more)

Report this review (#564698) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, November 09, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An album that lot of people don't like because have an ordinary stile and comercial music for listeners that not understand the hard work of the producers. This is an album to listen to a stereo unit with good quality, with the listener right in the middle of the speakers,get to enjoy the ster ... (read more)

Report this review (#451337) | Posted by João Paulo | Monday, May 23, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Merci ? 1984 (3.4/5) 11 ? Best Song: Call from the Dark Well if this album's ingredients aren't a veritable checklist for disaster and woe! It's the 1980's and the group simplify their sound. The percussion (always a notable element) have been replaced by arena-rock drum machines and synth ... (read more)

Report this review (#443279) | Posted by Alitare | Thursday, May 05, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well, Im a new user, but not new to the page. I`ll start with this one a long list of revews so that I can leave my thoughts about the Albums I like. Merci: I choose merci for my first revew. ¿Why? you might wonder........ It isn´t my favourite album, it is not even close to be, but I found th ... (read more)

Report this review (#213444) | Posted by 12212112 | Saturday, May 02, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Call it sacrilege. Call it heresy. Call it blasphemy. Call it what you will, but I really like this record!! Perhaps to the chagrin of Prog purists, I am also a huge fan of funk, soul, and R&B music...particularly that from the years 1969-1985. This record is a middle ground between two of my ... (read more)

Report this review (#172916) | Posted by themootbooxle | Tuesday, June 03, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Nice album, but not comparable with earlier albums. Overall sound is closer to Joe jackson, Jacques Brell, or Al Jarreau than with anything Magma did in the past. Of the original line- up only Christian and his wife Stella remain, so it's safe to say it can be concidered a solo Vander album. ... (read more)

Report this review (#102525) | Posted by tuxon | Monday, December 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Ok, this is a long way from MDK, but still its a very nice album (except for I must return, which i cant stand) Otis, Do the music, elephas Levi, the night we died are standout tracks. If you are into magma musik you must have this one too! ... (read more)

Report this review (#22379) | Posted by zebehnn | Monday, January 12, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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