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Magma - Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie au Trianon CD (album) cover





4.34 | 60 ratings

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4 stars Strong performance that stays true to the classic Magma sound

Sub-genre: Zeuhl (These are the founders, what more needs to be said?)
For Fans of: Jazz/Rock Fusion of all kinds and dark themes.
Vocal Style: A blend of operatic, chant and jazz styles from multiple male and female voices. Strong harmonies and melodies all sung in fictional Kobaian language.
Guitar Style: Jazz tones to lightly distorted rock; definitely not the dominant instrument in Magma's music.
Keyboard Style: Rhodes electric piano is the primary key sound with occasional grand piano (from midi source). Some Moog sounds are heard here and there. Rhodes is usually lightly overdriven.
Percussion Style: Varying styles from busy syncopation to laid back shuffles, Played on a somewhat subdued jazz kit.
Bass Style: Occasionally distorted (not nearly as distorted as heard in earlier Magma works) electric bass.
Other Instruments: 4 piece brass (2 trumpets, 2 trombones) on MDK

Summary: It has become common place amongst classic progressive bands to water down their music to appease the masses and attempt to sell more albums. While there was a certain 80's effort from Magma that has been looked down upon, the bulk of their work has held true to the spirit and energy of their origins. Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogue is a prime example of that. While this version of the ensemble manage to make these pieces unique in there presentation with subtle nuances not heard in previous versions of the trilogy, the sound remains unmistakably Magma and captures energy one would not expect from performers well in excess of 30 years into their careers.

Theusz Hamtaahk: The opening piece is not available in any studio releases from Magma. The song has a very dark energy with long sections of hypnotizing droning. The song has stronger interplay between the musicians than earlier versions. A prime example of this is roughly 25 minutes into the piece where Stella Vander sings a very busy scat duet with the guitarist. The balance between guitar and voice is perfect. It is easy to detect that these 2 practiced this section to perfection and thoroughly enjoyed the interplay. A similar interplay follows with the primary male vocalist and the Rhodes. The piece closes in a flurry that heavily contrasts its opening.

Wurdah tah: Originally released under Christian Vander's name, this is surely a Magma piece. A very similar dark energy to Theusz Hamtaahk, the pace is faster and more adamant from the opening. The vocals throughout have more chants than the other neighboring pieces. Overall the more adventurous of the 3 pieces.

Mkank Dstruktw Kmmandh: MDK is considered by many to be the definitive Magma work. This is a very strong version. The live stage fills to capacity with the addition of brass. The vocal section is comprised of 3 male and 3 female voices. The intro buildup is much longer than the studio original and creates an anticipatory tension. Most of the remaining song holds pretty consistent with the original with the exception of a protracted solo sections for bass and guitar. The Nebehr Gudahtt section (Chapter 6) has a long retard. The energy displayed by Vander often makes it appear his head may spin right off.

The only possible drawback to this DVD is that I would have liked to have heard a 5.1 mix. The PCM Stereo track is of excellent quality, but the overall live experience could have possibly been enhanced by a couple mic's toward the back of the theater. The other thing that comes to mind is a very minimal DVD package. While some releases tend to be a little over the top with the packaging, a little more background and info would have been nice.

Final Score: I see very few prog fans not enjoying this DVD. For those in the U.S., this can be a very pricey release, but well worth it. The performance is amazing, but it would have been nice to have the available tools for DVD sound fully utilized. Although, by the same token, I suppose that sort of stubbornness helps to maintain the strength of the Magma sound. 4 stars.

Tapfret | 4/5 |


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