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Magma - Köhntarkösz CD (album) cover





4.15 | 490 ratings

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4 stars Magma - Köhntarkösz (1974)

Lately I've been sucked into the world of Magma and tomorrow (22-05-2010) I will see them live in my hometown (Nijmegen, Holland)! I first reviewed the debut and the second album, but now I had to skip on the third 'MDK' because I haven't been able to find a vinyl copy of it.

Köhntarkösz was a piece of which I already owned and adored the live version on the '75 Live album of Magma. Throughout my listening experience I couldn't help myself comparing the studio version with the live one. Since Magma has rearranged especially part 2 on the live album there are quite some differences to be found. Köhntarkösz has also two shorter tracks that were new for me. Every side begins with 15 minutes of the Köhntarkösz part 1 or 2. The rest of the side is filled with the two shorter tracks.

On Köhntarkösz Magma had once again changed their formula a bit resulting in yet more new territory for innovation. Still present are the rhythmical basis of Zeuhl-founder Christian Vander on drums and distorted bass by important Zeuhl musician Jannick Top. The haunting choirs and the minimalistic piano parts are also present. New is the Yamaha organ and the low pace of the compositions. A lot of the rhythmical experimentation that had flourished on the first two Magma albums has been replaces for atmospheric, concentrated and steady drums. The use of dissonance and abstract harmonics is what makes this album specifically interesting.

Köhntarkösz is a piece about mister Köhntarkösz who enters the tomb of Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré, and that's precisely what it sounds like! A dark opera with continues troubling atmospheres that are highly original. Somehow Vander managed to create a piece that presents the fear and curiosity of some-one who's entering a very magical and dark place. For most people this music will be very frustrating and unpleasent, whilst others who can see the genius of it or/and get carried away by its curiosity and it's magical appeal will adore it.

Having that said I must say I think part 1 is stronger than part 2 on the studio album, whilst on the live version I like both equally much. Part 1 has a long low-pace opening section with the introduction of all magical themes and atmospheres. Magma is clear from the very beginning there is no consensus-seeking spirit: this concentrated exploratory music. At about 2/3 of the track a shrieking sound scares the hell out of me. And I love it! Such a great intervention of the band! Part 2 has a peaceful opening-section and a long comeback with a minimal approach. When the themes of part 1 start to re-occur it great however and the extremes of the track are great.

The two other track on the album are both totally different. On side one we get to listen to Jannick Top's Ork Alarm. This is a haunting dark song with a minimal structure but interesting cello parts of Top. The vocals are abstract and don't seem to interfere that much with the other elements of the compositions. The song is distinctive on the album, but I don't know for sure how much I like it.. it's just very weird. Christian Vander's Coltrane Sündïa is an ode to Coltrane. The symphonic track sounds like Vander really has the warm farewell wishes for his hero. This songs has no real Zeuhl sound, but it's nice to have this peaceful, emotional ending to such an troubling album. The track works very good for me, in spite of it's simplicity.

Conclusion. This is a well composed and recorded Magma album. It's essential for Zeuhl movement and yet another original recording due to its emphasis on the atmosphere and great use of dis-harmonic themes. My only problem with the album is that Köhntarkösz part 2 has too little ideas. Though this album is very very good, I must say the live version is still the one I prefer, since they increased the material for part 2. Four stars then, but only because of the even better live performances!

friso | 4/5 |


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