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Magma - Köhntarkösz CD (album) cover





4.15 | 492 ratings

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5 stars After the all out intensity present in Magma's previous album, MDK, Kohntarkosz definitely marked an interesting and somewhat unusual departure from what was expected. Rather than the bombastic, apocalyptic feel of MDK, bursting with blaring horns and operatic wails, this album goes for a very different approach, being far slower and more repetitive, focusing on a very long, drawn out buildup that sounds downright hellish by the end, which ends up working excteptionall well in the end, providing the listener with an atmosphere that is far more compelling than anything on MDK. With that said, I do find this to be an inferior album overall, as what MDK may lack in relative atmosphere, it makes up for it with the way it took all preconceived notions of what progressive music could sound like, and then absolutely smashed it in a burst of epic glory, creating one of the single most exhilirating albums out there. While in comparison, this may not quite measure up to the absolute greats, that's not really to diminish the quality of this album, more to just really highlight how great Magma is, as this album manages to evoke some amazing atmosphere and imagery.

The extremely long title track is the obvious highlight and immediately starts off strong, with long, droning organ notes as the drummer goes mad already setting a very different sort of precedent to the heavily rhythmic opening passages of MDK, with the intensity coming much more from the latent energy that's building up. While some may find the fact that this takes so long to really get going to be a bad thing, as I did at first, the extremely drawn out rising notes that are continuously repeated really effectively create a lot of tension, especially once the incredibly heavily distorted guitar is introduced to kick things up another notch, complemented by a gradually steadying beat. The tempo gradually increases as it goes on quite subtly, taking about 10 minutes of constant repetition over a variety of solos from a range of instruments to hit its peak before settling into a minimalistic piano melody that then continues into the next section, this time played on an organ however. The second half of the track is considerably more fast paced, carrying on from the lengthy escalation from the previous part, making it all the more satisfying. Once again, there's a long period of time where very little new happens, instead really immersing the listener in the atmosphere, all before rising again and falling into a groove that manages to simultaneously be steady and chaotic, erupting into an incredible guitar solo that unleashes the true power that the entire previous 20 minutes had been leading up to, further accentuated by the repetitive vocalisations making it feel as if I've just become witness to an occult ritual.

I find the thing most impressive about this track to be the fact that it doesn't even end there, but manages to become even more insane, bringing back the operatic screams so high pitched and dramatic that they cross over into the realms of absurdity, yet the overall chaos of literally every element of the song making it just add to the disorienting madness being put on display, all before settling down, low pitched throat singing making it all still maintain this very occult feel to it. Ork Alarm once again focuses on long periods of repetition, except within the length of a 5 and a half minute song instead of a 32 minute epic, but the effect ends up being favourable due to how great the motifs used within it are while still throwing in enough Zeuhl weirdness to keep it from being even close to generic, and ends up being one of my favourite short Magma songs. Coltrane sundia meanwhile fully embraces the jazzier aspects of the band's sound, taking a lot of clear influence from John Coltrane's work, particularly A Love Supreme. While this is not up the the same incredible standard as the previous tracks here, it's nonetheless a very nice jazz piece that ends the album off in a nice way.

On the whole, despite the fact that I personally don't think this is quite as good as MDK, the complete transformation of approach taken here is something that I find extremely cool, especially given how well it was done. I love the sound of this album revolving around repetitive buildups into occult sounding chaos, especially given how downright sinister it manages to sound. It's also definitely one of those albums that took a while to really grow on me, but ended up being quite a rewarding experience as a result once I really immersed myself in the weird, intense world that the album conjures. While MDK is still the Magma album I'd start with, the anazing atmosphere of this really makes it another absolute gem in my book.

Best tracks: Kohntarkohz, Ork Alarm

Weakest tracks: None

Verdict: This album focuses heavily around buildup and atmosphere, and definitely requires a lot of patience to really get into. With that said, I highly recommend it to those who do like very drawn out, weird and intense music like this, as this is what I consider some of the best music of this sort of description. While it takes a couple of listens for sure, I highly recommend it to those who are into the slightly slower side of Zeuhl, as I think that this will appeal greatly.

Kempokid | 5/5 |


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