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.
There's No Time Like the Present – The Belgian band Present has been one of the best avant-rock bands in the world since its formation in 1979. Over the years since then, Present has released nine amazing albums, and now they're ready to start work on number ten. They're looking for some financial help from their fans around the world. » Read more
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
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