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Magma - Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h CD (album) cover

MEKAN¤K DESTRUKT¤W KOMMANDÍH

Magma

 

Zeuhl

4.29 | 1163 ratings

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handwrist
5 stars The first time I heard of Magma was 5 years ago through a co-worker at my new job, who was a prog afficcionado. He recomended MDK as a start, and I obliged. At the time, and despite finding it interesting, it didn't really click. 'Too weird' I thought and left it at that.

Fast forward to the present moment, and a few dozen listens of this album, and I can say it is indeed the masterpiece that it is thought to be by some. Certainly not for everybody, Magma's style, which is an all- encompassing sci-fi/quasi-religious concept that incorporates its own made up language, is its own thing demanding deeper study - taken on its own, the music is very interesting, exciting; eery, yet seductive.

The album kicks off in amazing fashion, with Hortz Fur Dehn Stekehn West, with a strong, singular beat, developing a somewhat somber theme. All the music is developed around this basic theme, with some small intersections adding color here and there - with repeating patterns of strange vocal utterings. A weird voice proclaiming something celestial, that is after all the epitpeth given to their genre of music, derived from Kobaian, the made-up language. The keys and drums lead the march, then the horns come blazing through announcing grandiose, yet tragic spectacule, building up to a climax of epic porportions, then taking a darker tone before returning to the starting place.

We continue in beautiful fashion to Ima suri Dondai, more calm and subdued at first. The melodies are beautiful, subtly crafted, and the repetition is never too strange. The sounds are hopeful and inspiring, with loud choruses proclaiming glory. The language Kobaian is supposed to be made up of germanic and slavic sounds, and yet in this track to me it evokes more italian/latin sounding music and themes. A build up starts to bubble with the whole ensemble participating, containing some of the most memorable musical phrases in this album - which contains many of those.

The next track, Kobaia is de Hundin, jumps right into another build up, with many promises of jams, that end up sadly cut short, and the promise never gets fulfilled. The next track, Da Zeuhl Wart Mekanik, ends up suffering from this. Coming right after the short fade out on the promising jam that never delivers, it seems like a slight variation on previous themes. It would have been preferable to just go all out into full improvisation for a few minutes. One can only imagine what the likes of Frank Zappa or Jerry Garcia would do with such an opportunity. This editing choice alone prevents me from giving a perfect score to this album, but it was still a tough choice, given its briliance.

After this relative slump, the album picks up again even stronger with Nebher Gudahtt, with another beautiful backing track for the chilling falsetto of the mastermind behind Magma, Christian Vander, wailing imcomprehensible but beautifully inspired. Again, this type of musical exploration is not for everybody, but to me the word celestial comes once again to mind listening to the interplay of the band, with no instrument ever overshadowing the rest, a great lesson in cohesion and respect, as well as the cathartic screams of Vander.

Mekanik Kommandoh, coming right after without missing a beat, jumps into another crescendo, offering the culmination of the melodies from previous tracks, clearly anouncing the grand finale, one that finally delivers on a jam. Very subdued and gentle, the bouncing melodies and rythms of the whole band, carrying the listener in a trance of weird, beautiful music.

The last track delivers the epilogue, slower, more epic and soulful, almost reminding one of something like 'A Love Supreme' by John Coltrane, whereas the vocals evoke something like Zappa's 200 Motels (not the first instance in the album either), but it ends in a darker note, harkening back to the harsher, more inospitable places where the album started.

Unique, daring, sincere and beautiful - this album has everything a prog lover will value in a truly rewarding listening experience - its classic status is well deserved.

Four and a half stars.

handwrist | 5/5 |

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