Magma

Kohntarkosz

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Magma's famed "Kobaian" saga took a detour with this 1974 release. Drummer Christian Vander's band had heretofore specialized in a brand of progressive rock that had more in common with the Teutonic grandeur of Richard Wagner than the Baroque ornamentation of Yes or Gentle Giant. Kohntarkosz witnessed a change in sound to something altogether stranger, yet by many accounts, more conventionally beautiful. Vander is on record as saying he was worried that other artists had been "stealing" his ideas (most notably, Mike Oldfield, who had been a studio visitor during the sessions for Mekanik Destruktiw Kommanoh), and that may have been the impetus for the new direction. This album emphasized smoother, more textural arrangements than previous Magma efforts. The cyclical themes in the two-part title suite, along with the trance-inducing repetition of the group vocals, were a far cry from the controlled martial fury of earlier records. However, the lengthy solo jam in "Kohntarkosz, Pt. 2" demonstrates that Magma was hardly married to convoluted themes and languages; the band could work up an improvisational fire with the best fusion bands. Jannick Top's "Ork Alarm" is a short piece featuring aggressive cello and guttural vocals that is perhaps out of place on this album; Vander's gorgeous "Coltrane Sundia," an homage to the late jazz legend, ends Kohntarkosz on a solemn, peaceful note. Although the definitive version of the title suite is found on 1975's Magma Live, this record stands alongside the best Magma studio releases.

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