Exposé Online banner

Magma — Köhntarkösz
(Seventh Records REX VIII, 1974/1988, CD)

by Mike McLatchey, 2018-02-15:

Köhntarkösz Cover art

It's hard to remember a life before Magma, but one of the earliest impressions I have is seeing this in a record store and bringing it home. Even then their iconography set them apart from other albums on the racks, and they had that heavy mystique going: "They sing in their own language," "the music is really weird," etc. Back then they hadn't gone through their impressive revival phase and the CD reissues hadn't quite begun to happen, so everything was word of mouth and they had that lure of the transgressive in play. I bought Hhaï / Live around the same time and some of the fusion jams on that grounded the work a bit better for my tastes at the time, not to mention the live version of this album was at least as good. So Köhntarkösz ended up being a slow grower for me, but eventually it paid off hugely, something helped by repetition, other live versions and then getting to see them live myself. So while you can describe the album as a slow grower from a listener's perspective, the album itself does the same thing, it starts out strange, morbid, slow, and dissonant before developing slowly over its length and increasing its pace and managing to impart quite a sense of musical drama and theater as it goes. By the second side of this record (or the second half of the piece when played in full live), it starts to walk, then trot, and then eventually gallop to some really powerful climaxes, all while still remaining a bit claustrophobic and insular — in all the best ways. It remains really at the top of the list for difficult works worth sticking with, because once you get to know it, you actually anticipate and look forward to its bizarre development.


by Rob Walker, 1995-11-01:

For the recording of Köhntarkösz, the Wurdah Ïtah quartet was augmented with two keyboardists and a guitarist, giving the band a much more flexible lineup. With Vander and Jannik Top also contributing keyboards, the band is able to create some of the most intricate and dynamic music ever recorded under Magma's name. Vander unquestionably reaches his compositional peak here, fulfilling the musical goals he'd been exploring since the first album. The epic title track, split in half over both sides of the album, is the embodiment of everything that makes Magma's music so remarkable. Melodically sublime and harmonically unfathomable, the music is dark and intensely fierce while maintaining a sense of ethereal beauty and haunting mystery. The simple three note ascending motif, which serves as the unifying element of the piece, is supported by countless harmonic and rhythmic variations, allowing the most repetitive element of the music to also be the driving force in the development of the composition. The voice continues to evolve as the primary melodic instrument, here avoiding lyrical content and simply singing syllables a majority of the time. The emphasis is now clearly on the music as the main vehicle for the Kobaïan narrative, the specific details of which have understandably become much more enigmatic. The two short companion pieces on this album, closing out each side as a sort of coda, presumably each highlight some element of this story. On "Ork Alarm" Jannik Top uses his cello combined with dramatic vocals to create a dark and frantic mood which rises to a furious climax. Contrasting that is Vander's "Coltrane Sundia," which closes out the album with a beautifully peaceful acoustic piano and guitar theme.


Filed under: Reissues , Issue 8 , 1988 releases, 1974 releases

Related artist(s): Magma, Jannick Top, Stella Vander, Christian Vander / Offering

More info

Latest news

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Nektar - Remember the Future – For me, Remember the Future has always been the Nektar album. It was the first one I heard, and the others have seemed like variations on its format (disregarding the later albums, which don’t...  (2005) » Read more

King Crimson - Level Five – Initially a limited edition live CD, Level Five joins the set of other interim releases prior to The Power to Believe. The process for airing new King Crimson material again is to rehearse a piece for...  (2003) » Read more

J.B. Lee - We Know You Can Hear Us, Earthmen – An interesting and somewhat haunting musical expedition, Lee performs the six instrumental compositions here on programmed synths and sequencers using a variety of instrument voices. It took a couple...  (1997) » Read more

Saga - The Human Condition – The Human Condition is Saga’s debut release with new vocalist Rob Moratti. Not surprisingly, the group’s sound has changed with Moratti’s addition. After all, in addition to being...  (2010) » Read more

Robert Rich - Inner Landscapes – There is a wealth of music to be found on Audion / Ultima Thule’s Auricle cassette label. Right off the bat, there are the Peter Frohmader classics Jules Verne Cycle and Orakel / Tiefe, the...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues