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Magma + All Traps on Earth (Gothenburg 2019-11-02)

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Werneflo View Drop Down
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    Posted: November 03 2019 at 09:01
A surprisingly small crowd gathered at the Brewhouse in Gothenburg yesterday, about 150-200 people - max - in an all standing venue. It didn't seem to bother either band, however, who all seemed genuinely happy to be there.

All Traps on Earth
I listened to the album when it came out last year, and although I admire their technical skills, it didn't quite click with me. For that reason I mostly felt that seeing them live was more like a bonus for my part, rather than something I had any particularly high hopes for, but I know from the reviews here and on other sites that the album has been very well received in general.

The lineup consisted of the band's core members minus Miranda Brand (who provided the operatic vocals on the album) and with Daniel Borgegård Älgå handling all the woodwinds (alto sax, soprano sax, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet) in a one-man instrument switching show.

Their setlist started out with their self-titled song and proceeded through various songs from their only album, but I was happy to see/hear that they didn't just go through the songs mechanically but rather implemented some interesting breaks and variations; the lengthiest of which consisted of an extended solo on bass clarinet where the other members left the stage and let the clarinettist create a soundscape on his own by looping, overdubbing, and mixing his own melodies before moving back into the song.

As good as the execution of the other songs was, the highlight of their set was when they played "Jordrök" from the first Änglagård album. There's just something about their own material that's a bit too busy in my opinion, and the contrast was evident when they started playing "Jordrök". There was a shift in the atmosphere in the venue and people looked for the first time like they were involved in the music and were grooving along to the rhythm rather than passively looking at a band performing complicated music. There is a clear and concise melodic ideal that runs through the song that I feel like their own songs are missing, and judging by the crowd yesterday, I don't think I'm alone in thinking that. Obviously, different people will have different musical ideals and reactions here though.

That's not to say that the other songs they played were bad by any stretch of the imagination, it was just that it felt like there was this layer of magic that was missing. On the whole I'd give their set a 4/5, but without "Jordrök" it would probably have been a 3.5.

It's difficult to know beforehand what kind of a setup Magma will bring to a concert; will there be a choir? a brass section? two drummers? Well, this time it was two singers (one of which was Stella Vander, of course), vibraphone, guitar, bass, keyboards, and Christian Vander himself behind the drums. By Magma's standards a relatively small band.

Well, I'm glad to report that they can produce a transcendental performance even without a massive band. Many of the current members are probably younger than the band itself, but they are 100% capable of doing Magma's music justice. They started out with "De Futura", and the only complaint I have about their performance is that the first minute or so felt a bit out of sync. I think there was something going on with the in-ear monitors, but it was sorted out rather quickly and from then on it only got better and better. Towards the end of their performance when they reached the most hectic crescendos of "Mekanik Kommandoh" there was a trance-like atmosphere in the venue as the singers chanted and the band were grooving out with their eyes closed, faces turned towards the ceiling; except for Christian Vander who flailing around wide-eyed and ecstatic. When you thought it couldn't build any higher, it just did.

It was one of those concerts where I couldn't help but stand there with a stupid grin on my face the entire time, grooving with the music until my knees hurt. The whole set lasted for maybe 1.5 hours, but I wished it would never end.

An easy 5/5 for Magma!

Edited by Werneflo - November 03 2019 at 10:48
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dougmcauliffe View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dougmcauliffe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 03 2019 at 16:10
Wow must have been one hell of a show! I mostly agree with your sentiments about ATOE. Though technically and production wise, its top notch, it is too busy and drawn out at times for me. I cant deny how amazing the soundscape they create is but it could benefit from being cut down in my opinion. Undoubtedly would've been really cool live, never really listened to Magma but glad you enjoyed!
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