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Magma - K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria) CD (album) cover





4.25 | 700 ratings

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4 stars K.A. is the first album I have heard from Magma. I've been often curious about this unique band and I felt like starting with their highly-praised modern album which I believed would sport top-notch sound production and a more accessible sound. While the album may be too unconventional for me, it appears to be exactly what the band wanted to produce and I think they really succeeded. The songwriting is simply fabulous, with different layers of sound interacting with each other naturally. The sense of dynamics is seems to have been carefully laid out, despite me not being a huge fan of the heavier vocal-led passages. Last but not least, the musicianship is very strong. Vander (drummer) is easily the highlight for me and would make even the most impressive jazz musicians proud.

In short, K.A. is an unusual mixture of jazz-fusion, intense classical music (Wagner comes to mind) and opera sung in a made-up language. In order to appreciate the artistic merit of this seemingly quirky record, you need to look at the theme. Magma created a concept of an extraterrestrial civilization throughout their discography. While the idea of writing alien songs and anthems might seem a pretentious, it works. The musical passages evoke a wide variety of moods and you need to let your mind visualize images and scenes brought by the music. Largely, this album seems to focus on prideful, joyous, and possibly spiritual anthems with a sense of community, as implied with the emphasis on vocal harmonies. Despite the music involving an alien civilization, the sound tends to be relatively acoustic and free of futuristic and electronic sounds. The leading instruments are the voice, piano, and bass&drums.

While the album is generally consistent in quality, there are moments that sound out to me, whether in a positive or negative way. The beginning of K.A. I is very memorable, with an oddly timed repetitive vocal theme being joined by the impressive rhythm section of Vander&Bussonnet. The first song is very coherent while displaying numerous musical themes, with the joyous vocal harmony around minute 6 being especially noteworthy. K.A. II also has its share of impressive passages. Minute 5 has the only guitar solo in the album, but rather than stealing the show, it plays tastefully in the background while the drums&vocals build in intensity. My only problem with K.A. II is the rather quirky vocal line that sounds something like "Beep! Beep! Pa Pa Ze Toh!". However, it is redeemed by the gorgeous mellow sections in the second half of this piece.

While you think they can't top the gorgeous second half of K.A. II, you're wrong. The first nine minutes of K.A. III involve a truly spectacular jazz-fusion jam that seamlessly builds into the most emotionally powerful vocal refrains of the album. This jazzy section features the keyboardist playing the fender rhodes electric piano and an analogue minimoog synthesizer. However, while the keyboardist takes an important role here, this section works so well thanks to the whole band, vocals included. While the drummer is consistently excellent throughout the album, he particularly shines here. He is the one who holds everything together and does it flawlessly. The next sections show a bit of anxiety and excitement and is faster-paced. Military-like drumming makes a presence before the climax. Unfortunately, the climax is my least favorite part of the album, due to it being too speedy and repetitive for my liking. It involves everybody proudly chanting a line that sounds similar to "hallelujah" phonetically.

Zitro | 4/5 |


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