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Magma - Eskähl 2020 (Bordeaux-Toulouse-Perpignan) CD (album) cover





3.57 | 5 ratings

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4 stars So Magma, one of Prog's most daring bands ever with their use of more classical sort of sounding rock music with that weird and powerful sound and performance that really gives them this whole new identity separate from what one might expect. They are definitely one of my favorite bands of all time next to stuff like Genesis, King Crimson, The Flower Kings, and or Haken.

Magma made some incredible albums, like their main staple Mekanik Destructiw Kommandoh, and other works like Udu Wudu, K.A, and Kobaia. They created a legacy for themselves in the Prog sphere with their genre being that of Zeuhl and inspiring many artists to take the Zeuhl torch like Koenjihyakkei, Weidorje, Universal Totem Orchestra, and or Zao, heck they even inspire non Zeuhl bands or musicians like Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols and Public Image LTD, and Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth. They definitely shouldn't be discredited for their importance in Prog as a whole. With that, when I saw their release of a live album that happened in 2020, I was very intrigued and excited to hear more of this very amazing and wonderful band.

This is a 2 CD album with the first CD being the Theusz Hamtaahk trilogie of suites, starting with the classic Theusz Hamtaahk, however in a fragmented and more excerpted form than the usual 30+ minute song. This time it's 16 minutes, making it a bit more digestible. With that it removes some parts of the suites, but keeps the important ones intact like Malawelekaahm, and Se Lah Maahri Donsai. I won't deny that I do miss the full version, and I guess that is the problem with this first CD. Due to these songs not being the full versions, it leads to me feeling like something is missing with these songs. It's not that big of a deal really, but if anything it can feel a bit weird listening to what should be nearly 40 minute suites tucked down to merely 16 and 20 minutes.

Wurdah Itah is similar to Theusz Hamtaahk being 16 minutes and being a smaller version of the suite, however it starts off with Waïsaht instead of Malawëlëkaahm, making it start half way through the suite. One thing I like about this suite is that Christian Vander, despite his old age, can clearly drum with amazing proficiency. His drumming aged like a fine wine and it seems to have gotten better over the years, so his drumming definitely really does shine with this album, and this song as a whole. Wurdah Itah isn't really my favorite, but it gets the job done for great Zeuhl music.

And with that, one of the best song on the album plays, which is the second half of Mekanik Destructiw Kommandoh starting with my favorite Magma song, Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik. This song takes a back seat on the crazy of the original and goes for a more contemporary feel, and I am all for it. While I love the original, it definitely was very crazy and could get kinda annoying admittedly, so with this more laxed and focused version of the song it really shines the whole entire focus of the song, and that beginning where the guitar lead goes into the song, it's just super cool and I love it. But after that, it goes into a more ambient sorta quiet version of Nëbëhr Gudahtt. Usually in live settings it's very bassy and haunting, however here it's a very tranquil and almost beautiful experience. Not my favorite and not what I come for, but certainly an interesting experience. But everything comes back around when Mekanik Kommandoh plays and wraps a nice bow on this entire 3 segment suite. It's kinda magical, and really adds a ton of flavor with how the band can come together and play their hearts out for one last song. Absolutely incredible.

Now do not touch that dial since there is a second CD that has various songs from other albums, the first of which is the fan favorite Kobaïa. I have a soft spot for this song, so hearing it again certainly is a great time. Still gives out that fun, more jazzy side of Magma and I love it, and they add some extra stuff in the song like a guitar solo and some weird bits and pieces to really modernize and revolutionize this already amazing song. I think this may be the best version of the song with how it adds and gives, bringing life to the 50+ minute suite. It's very awesome, definitely the best song on the album.

With that, we travel to somewhere into the 80s or with a more pop-like side to Magma's sound with For Tomorrow. This is a very interesting song in the fact that it feels and flows like a more traditional jazz or fusion song which I enjoy, with a more popular music flair. It's enjoyable, not my favorite but certainly enjoyable. Though what I don't like is the lack of weirdness and complexities most of the songs on this album have, which is what I come to Magma for, that weird yet complex and smart music. It leaves a bit of a weird taste in me, that's all.

Well, this is interesting. After For Tomorrow we got Auroville. I'll say, I like this style of music, it's nice and calming, I do not like Magma making this type of music. I am not saying they are selling out for their typical sound, it's just very jarring how we went from something crazy like Kobaia and Theusz Hamtaahk to Auroville and For Tomorrow. It's weirder than Magma's music really. That is certainly the main issue I have with the second CD. If the first CDs problem was that the suites were very shortened down and fragmented, then the problem with the second CD is the fact that half of the CD is composed of very weirdly less weird songs if that makes sense. I cannot say I hate it, it's certainly good, I just can't really like it due to the fact it doesn't feel weird.

However, not all is lost. We got Tröller Tanz. Now we are getting very weird with this song, coming back to a time where Magma was on the hold of a strange time for the band where they seem to not really knew what to do, but they still knew that they at least needed to be weird, and weird they got. This song has some odd bass playing, singing, keyboard playing, and everything and far between. It's certainly not their best work, and certainly not their oddest sounding work, it is very welcomed after those two, more lesser songs of Auroville and For Tomorrow, wrapping a nice bow around the second CD, making it an odd but worthwhile experience.

So all in all, I really like this album. Sure some parts are a little hit and miss but those things aren't really bad, just sorta ok. You get that with a Magma album most of the time so this isn't really much to worry about. So yeah, this is certainly a good album to hear if you are a Magma fan and love their music. I Highly recommend it.

Dapper~Blueberries | 4/5 |


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