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Magma - Köhntarkösz CD (album) cover





4.15 | 492 ratings

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5 stars Slow Burn Zeuhl

After the frantic intensity of MDK, Magma released Kohntarkosz. A much more deliberate album, the work is composed of a two part, 30 minute epic and two excellent short pieces. Dominating the album, the lengthy title track begins carefully and evolves slowly like burning embers consuming the last of the fuel from an earlier bonfire. All the classic elements of Zeuhl are still here, but the overall tone is darker, less busy, and more classical. Female vocals dominate, singing clearly more composed lines, and never really devolving into all out chaos. In fact, some sections are subtle and gentle, with clean piano and an open mix almost reminiscent of early Weather Report. Where the enormous chorus vocals dominated MDK, here voice simply play a role in the overall feel of Kohntarkosz (whose primary lead instrument is keys.) Large sections are completely instrumental, with churning drums and bass supporting electric piano and occasional vocal flourishes. By the end of the main suite, the energy builds to a tension and climax, but a sense of cohesion and organization remain. Unlike MDK, no where do I feel the music is going to completely fly into chaos.

Interestingly, the two short pieces are among my favorites in the Magma library. "Oak Alarm" is a dark fusion that evokes Univers Zero, with a rolling string a bass riff that makes me think of goblin soldiers on the march. While the vibe is amazing, the piece doesn't really go anywhere once it has established itself. This is not uncommon in Magma's music, and as this is a relatively short piece, I don't mind. The movement is in grand contrast to the title track, and the song serves it purpose well in the progress of the album. "Coltrane Sundia" is a more pleasant piano-fueled release for the record. Both the guitar swells here and some of the key work in part 1 of the epic point to the connection between Zeuhl and the classic prog artists. In addition, the more deliberate composition and chording make this piece seem more like a song than many of Magma's works.

This album takes more work to appreciate than MDK, and that's saying alot. It's more subtle, but I think it may actually have more to say artistically. Where MDK is a bombastic exposition in a new form of music, Kohntarkosz is more pure form of expression within that new realm. It may not be for everyone, and it may not even be truly essential listening because of its narrow appeal. But for those like me for whom the performances hit the mark, it still is truly a masterpiece. 5/5

Negoba | 5/5 |


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