Magma — Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
(SP-4397, 1973, LP)
by Rob Walker, Published 1995-11-01
With the almost complete overhaul of Magma's lineup in 1972 came a similarly drastic shift in musical style and direction. Two of the group's main jazzmen, François Cahen and Jeff Seffer, departed to form Zao, and with them went virtually all traces of jazz from Magma's sound. Vander's first album length composition instead focuses heavily on vocals as the main melodic "instrument" and repetition as the primary structural device. Eight vocalists are utilized to weave layers of repetitive motifs with their powerful and insistent chanting. The other instruments are relegated to mere supporting roles, providing an incessant rhythmic drive and occasional harmonic and countermelodic figures to compliment the vocals. Vander's drumming is exceptional, subtly avoiding the spotlight while providing enough rhythmic variation and complexity to keep the melodic repetition from becoming overbearing. His drumming style has changed as well to fit the music; the jazzy feel and snare offbeats are less prominent, replaced by an often heavy downbeat emphasis evoking the marching theme of the lyrical narrative. The cumulative effect is both mechanical and dynamic; machine-like in the repetition yet always driving forward and developing towards the dramatic finale.
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more