Monday, April 8, 2013

Why MDK?

Why is Magma's 1973 release Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh my fourth favorite album of all-time?

The power of the performances. 40 minutes of non-stop, high energy technically demanding music taking the listener on a rollercoaster ride of epic and spiritually exhausting proportions.

The sustained power of the music. There is not a lull or let up in the 40 minutes of ebullience and exuberance.

The feeling that this group is singing about something very important, sacred, even spiritual to them.

The operatic drama. I've heard that the works of Carl Orff (Carmen Burana) and John Coltrane were instrumental inspirations to Christian Vander.

The driving, repetitive rhythms and grooves that seem to run non-stop for 40 minutes.

The way the music provokes raw animalistic, reckless abandon--and dancing.

The sheer audacity of Christian Vander to compose such music--such demanding music--of and from his band-mates/performers.

The guts and passion with which all of the singers sing but none more than their leader, Christian Vander, in his amazing falsetto.

My review from ProgArchives:

The first Magma song I ever heard, last year, was the rather innocuous "Coltrane Sundia." But then "Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanïk" came into my life. As with Song of Copper's April 2008 review, within two notes time I knew I was going to love this music. Steve Riech, Phillip Glass, Brian Eno, After Crying, are familiar musics that come to mind, but nothing, nothing can truly compare to MDK. Quoting the second paragraph of Song of Copper's review captures my feelings quite accurately:

For me there was no 'getting into it' or letting it play until some barrier dropped in order to let me appreciate it. The moment it started up, 'MDK' grabbed hold of me and dragged me into its sonic labyrinth! You'll have to excuse my superlatives in this review, but I haven't fallen in love with an album in quite such a profound way for a very long time.

After my first complete run through the album I had to get on line to find out as much about Magma, Zeuhl, and Christian Vander as I could. I was not surprised to discover that the "crazed" or "orgiastic" "soprano" vocals/screams (such as on "Nebëhr Gudahtt") were performed by none other than Christian himself. (I had been suspicious of that "female" voice line from the first: especially knowing the sound of my own voice in the shower trying to sing Minnie Ripperton's "Lovin' You" or Frankie Valli & the Four Season's "Sherry"). Bravo Christian! Go crazy! Sing your heart out!

I LOVE the reckless abandon, the feel of near insanity of this music. And yet it is controlled, it's constructed, it's orchestrated, it flows, and it helps to tell a cool story. I find myself smiling in amusement and admiration, shaking my head in amazement at the sheer guts and emotion conveyed here. Every "song" (the whole album has the feel of being one integrated, linear "song") has distinct highlights for me, so I'll not try to name a fave or deconstruct each one. They're all amazing! Now I'm afraid to try other Magma albums because I'm afraid they'll never be able to live up to the standard of experience I've had with MDK. But, K.A., Retrospektïw I-II and Köhntarkösz will, I'm sure, find their way into my collection SOON.

A true musical, psycho-spiritual masterpiece. Five full stars!

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