One of music’s mightiest volcanos is active again with fresh intensity as avant-prog titans Magma commence marking their 45th anniversary.
Over 2015 they’re reissuing their monumental back catalogue on vinyl, an album per month until November. Fans are sure to welcome this campaign – apart from being able to replace worn-out faves with spanking 180-gram vinyl, the French band have suffered in the past from poor mixing and mastering, while later works have only been available on CD.
After last September’s maiden voyage of second album rework Rïah Sahïltaahk, the project’s worth is further vindicated and elevated by leader Christian Vander’s Köhntarkösz trilogy making up the next three releases.
After the Magma concept arose from Vander’s vision about mankind’s spiritual and ecological future, he started the Kobaïan saga (concerning doomed Earth and idyllic
planet Kobaïa) on the first two albums, followed by igniting the Theusz Hamtaahk trilogy on 1973’s breakthrough _Mëkanïk Dëstruktï`w Kömmandöh_. Vander then switched to a new theme, the Köhntarkösz trilogy, concerning a modern archaeologist who discovers the Egyptian tomb of murdered Pharaoh Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré, with tumultuous consequences.
The original track is classical in structure, stoking its escalating tension with rising themes and mesmeric chanting before the screamingly cathartic finale. Modern remastering has given the work new power, the full awesome strength of Vander’s apocalyptic virtuosity finally captured.
2004’s K.A. (Köhntarkösz Anteria) featured music written by Vander in 1972 as a prequel to the 1974 album, concerning the first things revealed to Kohntarkosz before he enters the tomb. Shelved for 32 years, the piece took 18 months to reassemble, with three sections numbered K.A. one to three, Magma enjoying modern recording techniques as they focused on their spiritual jazz-funk side.
Originally released in 2009, the 50-minute Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré concludes the trilogy by working tantalising snippets which had already appeared on previous albums into an organic juggernaut of livid, flowing energy charged with incandescent massed chorales and mind-blowing levels of ecstatic terror, making for one of Vander’s most towering achievements.
Magma consistently prove they are one of the few 70s-originating bands still creating vibrant music, but this restoration programme repositions them as one of the most fearlessly visionary of all time. And enormous fun too.