Magma — Magma
(Philips 6395 001/002, 1970, 2LP)
by Rob Walker, Published 1995-11-01
Magma's earliest incarnation found its musical roots in the experimental electric jazz scene of the late 60s. Their debut double album, featuring a lineup of keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums, augmented by a trio of horn players, straddles the fuzzy line between progressive jazz-tinged rock and the exploratory jazz of the day. While it is at times reminiscent of Soft Machine or early Chicago, and at other times suggestive of Sun Ra or McCoy Tyner, this recording stakes out some relatively unique musical ground, which on ensuing albums will be expoited to incredible ends. Though Christian Vander's compositional peak was still several years away, both his skill and direction are quite evident here. The jazz element of the music manifests itself less through overt improvisation, despite the jazz background of the band, and more through the increased harmonic vocabulary and timbral variety Vander draws upon in his pieces. Hints of the voice-as-instrument concept, which grew to such prominence in later works, can be found here, along with the first examples of Klaus Blasquiz's manic high-pitched screaming fits. One of Vander's real strengths as a composer is his ability to poignantly portray the emotional contours of the lyrics or the story with his music. On Magma he effectively captures the different experiences of Kobaïa's founders, mingling ominous and aggressive pieces with more hopeful and ethereal atmospheres. The structural elements Vander uses to convey these emotions, combined with the indecipherable Kobaian lyrics, give the music of Magma the characteristic other-worldly feel which came to define the zeuhl sound.
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more