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Magma - Concert Bobino 1981 CD (album) cover





3.44 | 52 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is one of those albums that really surprised me. I guess the fact that this concert took place in 1981 should have been a heads-up that it probably won't be your typical MAGMA recording if there is such a thing. This is more of a commercial beast although listening to some of the crazed vocals featured on here reveals that this is very far away from the mainstream. Still I was left intrigued by what I was hearing. Usually an album with the focus on the vocals doesn't do a lot for me but perhaps it's my appreciation for Vander's other project called OFFERING that prepared me for this. By the way I haven't heard the 1984 MAGMA release called "Merci" that some people reference when talking about this double live album. I should also mention that Patrick Gauthier's "Bebe Godzilla" was released the same year as this concert was played and half of the MAGMA lineup here played on it including the Guillard brothers(horns) who were also part of WEIDORJE. Just a killer lineup anyway with Chevallier offering up some ripping guitar at times and Bertam who played with ZAO and solo Jochk'o Seffer adding some prominant bass. Plus we get dual keyboards from Widemann and Khalifa.

So yes a double album which starts with "Zain" and it begins innocently enough with piano before that weird and spacey atmosphere takes over with Vander speaking at times with passion. Female words too. The music kicks in before 4 minutes sounding really good. Check out the bass after Vander says "Magma!". So much going on as the horns blast. Feel-good female vocal melodies come in around 6 minutes. "Hhai" is classic MAGMA no doubt, and the crowd certainly agrees. Christian starts to sing. I really enjoy this as female vocals help out followed by a second male vocalist. There's a real urgency to this one. It's 4 minutes in when the instrumental work of the band comes to the fore. So good. Check out the guitar and drum work here, then the bass that follows. Nice. The vocals return before 8 minutes. Just a fantastic track. "Urgon Gorgo" opens with some killer drum work as Bertram jumps in with some great sounding bass lines. The tempo picks up before 3 1/2 minutes. The focus here is certainly on the bass and drums and it's a pleasure to listen to. "Retrovision" ends disc one and it's almost 20 minutes in length. The female vocals early on surprised me as she sings in a theatrical manner as we hear some intricate and complex instrumental work helping out. It all settles in around 3 minutes. Male vocals lead before 5 1/2 minutes but the female vocals do continue. A calm 2 minutes later then it builds before kicking back in. An instrumental section takes over before 9 minutes that is quite impressive. Vocals are back to the fore 12 1/2 minutes in. Intensity follows. The male and female vocals seem to compete with one another 18 minutes in.

Disc two begins with "Who's My Love" and as Phil mentions in his review this second disc really reveals the direction the band was heading and that direction would be summed up with the studio album "Merci" a few years from this concert. This is a commercial sounding tune, quite catchy although I love the intensity late to end it. And what's with the English vocals?! "Otis" takes a couple of minutes to get going after many spoken words. This is a song about Otis Redding and it's laid back for the most part. This is good. "Zess" is the over 30 minute epic and without question one of the highlights of this live recording. It's fairly dark and atmospheric to start then vocal melodies join in. The drums kick in just before 5 minutes as the tempo picks up and the vocal melodies stop. Vander comes in speaking words as the drums continue. The same melody continues and then Christian starts to sing the words, eventually getting very dramatic with his vocal style. Crazy but so good. I really like how repetitive this is. Check out the ripping guitar solo after 17 minutes. Man that rhythm section is so intense and urgent sounding. Horns continue to come and go then another fiery guitar solo sets the soundscape ablaze as he lets it rip for a very long period. Vocals kick back in including female vocal melodies. Just an amazing track that makes this worth the price of admission alone. "You" is the ten minute closer. Back to the more commercial sounds with this one. I like the vocal melodies from Christian early on. Catchy and passionate stuff. Everyone seems to be having a great time anyway. It picks up before 2 1/2 minutes.

This reminds me of when I first started doing reviews on here, I used to often struggle with my rating. Well, in my world this is a low 4 star album. The appeal is hearing MAGMA sounding different than the past but at the same time they combine the old and the new. This is a less serious MAGMA at this point but it's still the same band and i'm really glad I own this. By the way the DVD version of this is rated very high.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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