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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Magma

Felicite Thosz

Review by Gary Hill

I have to admit, despite wanting to hear them for a long time, this is the first time I’ve gotten to check out Magma. I really like their sound. I liked the concept behind them (and particularly their artificial language) for a very long time. It’s good to finally make the connection. I’ll certainly have to look up more Magma releases. If there’s one complaint to be made, though, this disc is short, even by the old LP standards. Still, it’s quality over quantity on this release.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Ëkmah

This powers in dramatic and very classical in nature. It’s strange, but also very cool. It resolves out later into a mellower musical motif that’s quite tasty.

Ëlss

There’s a more traditional progressive rock sound to this, but it also has more of that symphonic element. It’s a short movement and even reminds me a bit of Renaissance.

Dzoï

On this movement some Asian musical elements are incorporated into the same kind of sound we heard on the first two sections.

Nüms

More dramatic in some ways, there is almost a jazz edge to this movement. It still does a great job of continuing the central musical concepts and sounds, though. It’s just that more jazz-like tendencies seem to emerge here.

Tëha

At over five minutes in length, this is the longest movement of this epic piece. It also represents the biggest change to this point. There is a real joyful exuberance to it and it calls to mind a lot of the music of the late 1960s in many ways. It’s energetic and powerful and very accessible. It’s also driving and just plain fun.

Waahrz

This piece is another of the longer sections, at over four minutes in length. It’s a change in that it’s an instrumental, and , in fact, it’s basically a classically based piano solo. It’s dramatic and a great way to change things.

Dühl

Rising back up, this is more traditional progressive rock. It’s a short movement (less than a minute and a half) but it’s also quite melodic and accessible.

Tsaï !

While this kind of continues the musical concepts of the last movement, it’s a driving jam that’s quite powerful. Short little bursts of sound create a tension that’s accentuated by drums. The vocals are enchanting and powerful. Then around a minute and a half in, it drops way down to a mellow movement. That section is very classical in nature. Male vocals bring a theatrical, almost operatic sound along with them. It alternates with that more sedate one and the bombastic, dramatic sounds. Then the earlier sound returns to take the movement out.

Öhst

Coming in dramatic and powerful, I’m again reminded a bit of Renaissance, perhaps with some Nektar in the mix. It works out to a more symphonic section from there, stripped back and then becoming very theatrical, like opera and Broadway musicals at the same time. There are some vocal sections that are almost yodel-like. Some of the other vocals are almost scat-like. This is an unusual, but also very effective movement. The final section of the piece really combines a 1960s rock style with jazz and Broadway theatrical elements.

Zahrr

Weird bombastic music merges with chanting to create an otherworldly backdrop. Female voices over the top add character and beauty before it ends abruptly.

Les hommes sont venus

Gentle and intricate music starts this tentatively. Then female vocals join in over the top and it gradually builds upward. While those musical elements do build a bit, it is really the multiple layers of vocals that carry this track.

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