Exposé Online banner

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

by Rob Walker, 1995-11-01:

Köhntarkösz Cover art

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.


by Mike McLatchey, 2018-02-15:

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.


Filed under: Reissues , 1988 releases, 1974 releases

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

More info

Latest news

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

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


Previously in Exposé...

Vander / Top / Blasquiz / Garber - "Sons" Document 1973 - Le Manor – With the relase of AKT I - Les Voix de Magma, Christian Vander launched his new label to release live and unreleased studio material to all the eager Magma fans around the world, following the...  (1994) » Read more

Baku - Sequences of My Bequest – Sequences of My Bequest is a concept album that seems to be about a father and son and life's choices of right/wrong, good/evil, etc. While this may be a worthwhile concept, the neo-prog drudgery of...  (1995) » Read more

Osada Vida - The Body Parts Party – Basing a concept album on the human body may be lazy, though happily the material and execution merit praise in this case. At first blush Osada Vida resemble other Polish progressive rock bands that...  (2009) » Read more

Steve Howe - Homebrew 2 – Yes guitarist Steve Howe continues to group together fully developed solo tracks used in different contexts in the second in his homebrewed series. It’s nearly impossible to fault Howe for being...  (2000) » Read more

Christian Vander / Offering - A Fiièh – The third and most recent Offering album appeared in 1993, with a line-up more full than the previous two Offerings. It should be no surprise that Stella Vander, Isabelle Feullebois, Philippe...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues