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Magma - Köhntarkösz CD (album) cover





4.15 | 490 ratings

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4 stars Magma, of course, is the French band who sing in their own made up language. Their songs are about a planet Kobaia and war between that planet and Earth. Egyptian history is involved somehow. Weird stuff but the fact you cannot understand any of it only makes the music more enjoyable. There are actually less vocals here than on most of the band's albums. Most of the vocals are of the "ohh" and "ahh" variety. Christian Vander is the drummer/composer/vocalist. His wife Stella sings. I hear more than one female voice here unless she's overdubbed and double-tracked. I think Klaus Blasquiz does the majority of male vocals, but I could be wrong.

The album is basically a 30-minute piece entitled "Kohntarkosz". It was split in two and two somewhat unrelated songs were put on the album. That 30 or so minutes deserves 5 stars alone. I think it's the greatest Magma epic, with "Theusz Hamtaahk" a close second. I don't like describing very long songs because they usually change so much. You can listen to the first part of "Kohntarkosz" here on PA, and I encourage those who have never heard this band before to do so. It's some of the best music this band has done. Having said that, I like Part 2 more.

Part 1 has a grandiose beginning. It settles down into a mellow groove for awhile. Slowly it builds and the tempo speeds up. It ends with female vocals and a lovely piano part. Part 2 starts with that piano part but without vocals and it is now played on a Fender Rhodes. The trademark distorted and chunky Zeuhl bass sound is more prominent on Part 2. There is maybe a bit more vocals than Part 1 and they are slightly crazier too. Over halfway thru the second part the music goes into a punk rock level of intensity. The vocals almost sound like scat singing here. It settles back down again.

Christian's drumming is excellent throughout the piece(there are no drums on the other two songs). The music almost revolves around what he is playing. Lots of piano and organ. There is guitar but it could easily be mistaken for Canterbury-style fuzz organ. One of my favourite parts on the album is the guitar "solo" on Part 2; it sounds like someone keeps hitting the 'pause' button while the guitarist plays. But he really is trying to sound like that on purpose! No riffs or traditional guitar solos here. The last song "Coltrane Sundia" is just piano and electric guitar. Nice but nothing special. "Ork Alarm" is more interesting. It's basically Jannick Top on cello and bass with clavinets going back and forth. Some chant- like vocals. A bit of guitar near the end. Strange sounds bouncing back and forth in the stereo spectrum ends it.

"Ork Alarm" is interesting because it predates the 'chamber-prog' of groups like Univers Zero and Art Zoyd. Magma was certainly an influence on both. Most CD versions have the "Kohntarkosz" epic together as one 30-minute piece as a bonus track. The version on Hhai/Live is good too and includes violin. One of the better Magma albums for sure. Only "Coltrane Sundia" and to a lesser extent "Ork Alarm" prevent me from giving this 5 stars. So 4 stars it is.

zravkapt | 4/5 |


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