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Magma - Köhntarkösz CD (album) cover





4.15 | 490 ratings

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3 stars Despite the auspicious beginning, I've always felt that this album was far more sedate almost soft jazz than any of the other Magma epics. As a listener, I've always found it much more difficult to stay tuned in, as if I have to consciously make an effort to stay focused on the music and musicianship here. After the opening three minutes, the pace is fairly plodding alternating with some quite delicate even alien-ethereal passages. Were I a true devoté of all things Kobaïa I might know and understand the story flow and thus appreciate the music for being the delivery mechanism for such, but I'm not. This is music. I don't know where or what "Köhntarkösz" is or why it would/could demand such prolonged stark and lumbering music.

1. "Köhntarkösz (Part One)" (15:24) aside from some occasional interesting keyboard work, the first ten minutes have very little to offer--there is even an unusually noticeable lack of vocals or vocal excitement until a little action in the eleventh and twelfth minutes. Less than what I've come to expect in the usually know-your-socks-off world of Zeuhl. (21/30)

2. "Ork Alarm" (5:29) opens sounding like an interlude or observed chase scene in a theatric stage production. Classical strings arrangement, clavinet, piccolo bass, and lone male vocal provide most of the delivery of this drawn out, monotonous song. (7.5/10)

3. "Köhntarkösz (Part Two)" (16:04) opens with some McCoy Tyner-sounding piano before quickly being handed off to electronic keys, cymbals, and single male voice. In the second minute a pleasant foundation of CHICK COREA's RETURN TO FOREVER-type music is established over within which bass, drums, and synths contribute their pensive and delicate flourishes and riffs. In the fifth minute drums and keys build in intesity before the lead saw-synth gives way to solo female soprano singing her wordless vocalise. At the very end of the sixth minute bass and Klaus serve notice to ramp things up so that by the middle of the seventh minute a quicker, more insistent (almost urgent) pace has been established. Canterbury-familiar sax-guitar (á la Phil Miller) enters to take on the lead, holding on to such for a few minutes as the urgency behind and beneath continue to build, first with increased volume from bass and drums, then with three-note wordless chant being picked up by male and then female choirs. At the end of the twelfth minute the guitar has settled into the background, the drums, bass, and choir driving the music into dangerous abandon--further evidenced by rogue voices sneaking off into tangential ejaculations. At the twelve minute mark full speed has been achieved, everything is cruising along, when Klaus enters to begin his operatic narration. Then he is joined by several other male voices adding their elements to the conversation all-the-while the female voices maintain their solid foundation in support of the "controlled mayhem" that is occurring around them. Early in the fifteenth minute everything comes very quickly to a derailment, layers being stripped away, volume being diminished, as choir of throat singing males frog-sing to the end. Now this is Zeuhl--at its best! (29/30)

4. "Coltrane Sunia" (4:14) basically a piano and electric guitar duet (with some background participation from voice). The song is most notable for opening with and being totally based upon a single chord familiar to us from the opening of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme." (8.25/10)

Other than Side Two's wonderful epic, "Köhntarkösz (Part Two)," this is a disappointing album of rather benign, banal music.

3.5 stars; another interesting if not always exciting or engaging contribution to the history and development of Zeuhl.

BrufordFreak | 3/5 |


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