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Magma - Köhntarkösz CD (album) cover

KÖHNTARKÖSZ

Magma

 

Zeuhl

4.15 | 409 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars "Kohntarkosz" is the way I like my Magma served up; dark and uninviting with mournful choirs and soundscapes of irregularity laid on the cold slab. As we approach the altar, Magma draw us in with subterranean caverns of strings and keyboards. The subversive music is guaranteed to alienate many listeners and therein lies it's power. This may be one of the darker more intense albums from the Zeuhl oddballs, and it is a delight from beginning to end. As a followup to "Mekanik Destruktiw Kommando" it delivers on almost every level. The non-sensical alien Kobaian language is never underplayed, the music is brutally off the scale, and the choral voices resonate powerfully with textures of beauty that launch un- expectantly into a mouthful of screeches.

The epic title track is incredibly bleak and yet strangely uplifting in all its transfixing dissonance. This centrepiece to the album is nothing new to my ears as I have heard it many times on the "Live" album. It is missing the raw edges in the studio but still manages to captivate. The music undulates and twists with darkened tones emanating from full blown choirs and sound blasts that jolt the listener into submission under the spell. The relentless exploration of musical form is entrancing, and Magma realise that one becomes good at something by doing it over and over, not by thinking about it. Indeed, much of the music seems improvised as are the vocals but they are sung in sync so somebody must have sheet music to this strange cacophony of sound. The 2 part epic is an amazing tapestry of colour and form, of broad-brush organisational musicianship and the obsessive minutiae of lyrical interpretation. Christian Vander's visionary perception lands clean out of the box as always, and this is the most endearing aspect of the music.

The second track, 'Ork Alarm', is horrific with piercing violin serrations and manic guitar squeals over a staccato percussion. There is a counterpoint of monosyllabic vocal intonations that are oppressive and very unsettling. This is Magma, folks! The final piece 'Coltrane Sundia' has tinkling piano, and nuances of beauty to end the album on a more uplifting note. This brings the listener out of the oppressive atmosphere on a ray of hope; the tale of Kobaian folklore cemented by a convoluted plot. The chronicle tells of an ancient mystic Köhntarkösz', who enters the tomb of the Ancient sage Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré, a master who attempted to find immortality but dies trying. While in the tomb Köhntarkösz is given a heavenly (Kobaian) vision showing him the revealed secrets of the master. None of these secrets are revealed to the average being but must be revealed within as enlightenment occurs. The chronicle would continue on albums to follow and would become more complex until the tale was discarded totally.

"Kohntarkosz" is a unique feat of imagination executed with prodigious artistry and virtuoso skill. The sheer exuberance in the music is a crucial factor that transcends mere understanding of the form; the surreal music speaks for itself and does not need to be interpreted literally. Magma always seems to prompt a re- evaluation of the meaning of music if it is meant to have any meaning at all. It is the emotional resonance that counts, as the music operates on a different level that defies the norm; a veritable stream of consciousness. The serpentine waves of musical patterns have an indigenous, almost primal quality of tribal culture that stirs the soul.

The mythology encased in the music is enigmatic, scattered in a myriad of directions and the listener can do the interpretation in their head. The music is sculpted in layers of polarised vocals that never make sense out of context but seem to make sense in the Magma realm while the album is playing. Magma overturns virtually every accepted notion of musical convention and presents an album of intense labyrinthine confusion. On subsequent listens the whole becomes an immersive experience that is easier to digest, but it takes superfluous patience as you wander down the isolated hallways of a subversive museum; a stark antithesis of the real, replaced by an outlandish mythological paradigm.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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