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Magma - Magma [Aka: Kobaļa] CD (album) cover





4.04 | 410 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars After King Crimson opened the floodgates and allowed the big bang of progressive rock to explode its pyroclastic flows into the world it was a signal to the Kobaians that the Earth they had fled so long ago was ready to hear the strange music they had evolved on their adopted planet. This MAGMA flow was originally an eponymous release but immediately was tagged with the name of the first track which is indeed a planet out there in a galaxy far, far away. And subsequent releases have carried the title KOBAIA ever since. The year was 1970 and the world was treated a Close Encounter of the Musical Kind as the Kobaians released their strange otherworldly music to an unsuspecting human race. This debut album tells the tale of their decision to leave a world so plagued by hatred and violence and the journey involved in getting to their new chosen planet and the colonizing and evolving in a different direction. The dramatics are in the music for all lyrics are in their own invented Kobaian language.

This double album has the honor of being both accessible and truly bizarre at the same time. Using jazz-fusion as a template, MAGMA, led by the overtly ambitious drum machine Christian Vander leaves no jazz and rock stone left unturned. Whether it is a more traditional fusion typical of the late 60s that introduces the album on the first title track or a slow and pastoral type that is filled with pleasant flute melodies, one thing you can count on is the urge to morph the music into something completely unrelated in nature. For example on the title track we get pleasant jazz-fusion followed by a frenetic sax solo followed by another phrasing of jazz-fusion followed by a very strange guitar solo. The second track "Aina" starts off slow and somber but speeds up to a more brass rock type of sound followed by a flute solo which finally gets accompanied by heavy rockin' guitars. In addition we get countless other things going on like the flute giving way to a military march in "Sohia" to the piano, bass and jazzy drumming with dissonant piano and a capella Kobaian lyrics on "Sckxyss."

Although this debut album is considered to be strictly jazz-fusion in nature, the fact is that the Kobaian creation known as zeuhl actually makes its debut here as well. How very clever of them to ratchet the music up from one track to another showing us how to change familiar 60s style jazz-fusion into their trademark zeuhl laid out on a musical journey. It finds its first Earthly contact on track number six "Aurae" where the familiar by today's standard zeuhl rhythms come bubbling through in the form of the flute and drum interactions. Soon the whole band is playing in the newly born style as well. After the zeuhl rhythms have sunk in they pretty much continue on the second half of the double album finding a more frenetic pacing on "Thaud Zaia" which continues the unexpected time signatures interlaced with pleasant pastoral lulls and interesting musical developments.

As the album reaches its final destinations we are treated to the most terrifying of screams at the beginning of "Stoah" which usher in dissonant guitar chords and a zeuhl piano run. Whether it's the bluesy rock influence in the album's closer "Muh" which also ends with jingling bells and avant-garde Kobaian chanting or the Earthly ethnic influences ranging from African drumming to Gypsy swing, one thing is clear, the Kobaians have what it takes to weave their musical vision into a cohesive whole that flows effortlessly from beginning to end despite the staggering array of influences on board. The most successful of these hurdles comes in the complete fusion of the classical, jazz and rock worlds with smatterings of a gazillion other sounds making their appearances here and there. I can understand why some may regard this double album as one that is too long because there are parts that wander on for times that may be deemed a little too long but on my part I find the first two MAGMA albums to be the most exciting of the lot. All the sounds that came after make their debut here and later albums are basically stripped down approaches of the ambitiousness that is found on the very first album. This is a treasure trove of infinite musical variations all stuffed into one single release. I am extremely impressed by this musical extravaganza and find this one of my favorite ambitious musical projects ever. Can you tell I like this? A lot!

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |


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