(All Album Reviews by Burgess Penguin)
Not sure where to start if Magma ever struck your "curiosity bone"? Aside from the brilliant Magma-Live, this 1978 release is another excellent starting point for the uninitiated.
Here, Magma, in God only knows which permutation of its lineup (it changed quite often) covers a dizzying range of musical styles, yet never loses its distinct character in the slightest. You might say this is the most "listener friendly" album in the Magma canon. Here, seemingly unlikely musical flavors like R&B and Gospel get thrown into the mix along with the ferocious funk, choral blasts, frantic drumming, angry fuzz bass and spacey keyboards (and for the first time, a Chamberlin makes an appearance in Magma's dense sonic stew, utilizing flute and string sounds).
First, you get a ferocious full-tilt fusion workout in "The Last Seven Minutes", complete with lots of that "Klingon Singing" seamlessly worked in, and then somehow, the song mutates into a joyous R&B/Gospel thing at the end. "Spiritual" picks up where the last cut left off and provides us a glimpse of what gospel singing by the planet Kobaia's inhabitants might have been like. "Rinde (Eastern Song)" abruptly shifts gears, harkening back to the neo-classical stylings found on some of the earlier Magma albums, just rippling piano and a warbling chorus of haunting beauty that segues to "Necromikus Lirik Kant" a furious funk workout featuring that driving fuzz bass and a melody line that sounds like it was played by a kazoo section. "Maahnt (The Wizard's Fight Against The Devil)" is a frantic battle song, complete with guest brass players, harkening back to some of the earlier Magma, yet more digestible. What comes next is a most unexpected flavor in the Magma stew,"Dondai(To An Eternal Love)" a beautiful majestic love song, complete with interweaving male and female lead vocals, smoky vibes, a catchy R&B groove, brass fanfares towards the end, and that beautiful haunting Chamberlin interjecting at key moments. The closest we'll ever get to a Klingon love song I'm sure. The album closes out in grand fashion with "Nono", a rip snortin' funk workout with those Klingon vocals!
All told, I would say this is an essential part of anyone's prog collection, a great exercise in how to be experimental and yet not lose the audience. Soon, you'll be conversing in Kobaian too!!