For 1,001 Degrees Centigrade, Magma underwent several personnel changes: guitarist Claude Engel departed without being replaced, and Alain Charlery and Richard Raux made way for Louis Toesca (trumpet) and Jeff Seffer (sax, bass clarinet). This was the second installment in Magma's Kobaïan saga. With lyrics again performed in the band's invented language, the album chronicles the Kobaïan people's return to Earth to save the planet. Despite that conceptual continuity with the group's self-titled debut, this was a somewhat transitional work in musical terms. It shares the first album's jazz direction but also anticipates Magma's subsequent journey into a genre of its own making, one that owed as much to Carl Orff as it did to rock music. 1,001 Degrees Centigrade's divergent sonic identities are encapsulated in the track distribution on the original vinyl release. Penned by Teddy Lasry (woodwinds) and François Cahen (keyboards) respectively, side two's "'Iss' Lanseï Doïa" and "Ki Ïahl Ö Lïahk" are fairly standard exercises in Soft Machine-style jazz-rock. Apart from some complex instrumental sections and some idiosyncratic Kobaïan vocal stylings, there's nothing especially memorable, and certainly nothing innovative, about these numbers. The record's original side one, given over to the 22-minute Christian Vander composition "Rïah Sahïltaahk," is another story entirely. Again displaying a jazz orientation with its multiple phases, its abruptly changing time signatures, tempos and intensities, as well as its shifting instrumental emphases (horns, woodwind, electric piano), this epic track also breaks new ground for Magma. Although it lacks the fluidity and the truly grand symphonic gravitas of the band's subsequent magnum opus, Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh, it more than hints at that album's strident, martial rhythms and its Carmina Burana-esque choral dimensions. Ultimately, 1,001 Degrees Centigrade is by no means a classic Magma record, but "Rïah Sahïltaahk" stands out as an excellent document of a band approaching its masterpiece.
AllMusic Review by Wilson Neate