The Harmonic Tremors of Magma's "Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh": Prog Review #24

The Harmonic Tremors of Magma's "Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh": Prog Review #24

There's a musical statement here: a garbled, manic, exuberant statement. Is it worth the effort to decipher? Probably not. Magma's Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh (1973) provides the levels of weirdness I expected from Zappa. I do enjoy the cacophony of instruments. There's also seamless transitions between songs, and you know I love that. The epic choral vocals, symphonic swells and complex arrangements would be appropriate for the battle scenes score of a Lord of the Rings film - if that film were a melodramatic parody. It's not bad, but man is it exhausting.

After a while, the operatic chanting and percussive keys become quite compelling. Nevertheless, this is all too much for me. There's a lot of stuff I'm excited about coming up, so I'm taking a pass and quoting Rolling Stone's comments below. On to the next album I guess.

With Magma, French drummer-composer Christian Vander literally created a new musical language — "Kobaïan," named after a planet he also invented — melding manic opera, Coltrane-influenced free jazz, thunderous avant-rock, and extra-terrestrial lyrical themes into a self-styled genre known as "zeuhl." Vander perfected his particular brand of insanity on Magma's third LP, a barrage of choral shrieks and tricky time signatures that ranked Number 33 on Rolling Stone France's 100 Greatest French Rock Albums. Mekanik's expansive explorations are basically "prog" at its purest, pushing conventional rock structures into strange new territories. But Vander rejects any such definition. "'Zeuhl' music means 'vibratory music,'" he told The Big Takeover this year. "It is definitely not a subset of prog, and Magma isn't a prog group. Magma is an institution." R.R.

Rolling Stone Rankings                       

  1. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

  2. King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King

  3. Rush - Moving Pictures

  4. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

  5. Yes – Close to the Edge

  6. Genesis - Selling England by the Pound

  7. Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick

  8. Can - Future Days

  9. Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

  10. Yes - Fragile

  11. Rush - Hemispheres

  12. ELP - Brain Salad Surgery

  13. Pink Floyd - Animals

  14. Genesis - Foxtrot

  15. King Crimson - Red

  16. Gentle Giant - Octopus

  17. Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells

  18. Frank Zappa - One Size Fits All

  19. Premiata Forneria Marconi - Per Un Amico

  20. King Crimson - Larks’ Tongue in Aspic

  21. Camel - Mirage

  22. Rush - 2112

  23. Tangerine Dream - Phaedra

  24. Magma - Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh

ASK Rankings

  1. Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

  2. Genesis - Foxtrot

  3. Camel - Mirage

  4. Yes – Close to the Edge

  5. King Crimson - Red

  6. Gentle Giant - Octopus

  7. Genesis - Selling England by the Pound

  8. Rush - 2112

  9. Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick

  10. ELP - Brain Salad Surgery

  11. Rush - Moving Pictures

  12. King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King

  13. Premiata Forneria Marconi - Per Un Amico

  14. King Crimson - Larks’ Tongue in Aspic

  15. Pink Floyd - Animals

  16. Frank Zappa - One Size Fits All

  17. Yes - Fragile

  18. Rush - Hemispheres

  19. Tangerine Dream - Phaedra

  20. Magma - Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh

  21. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

  22. Can - Future Days

  23. Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells

  24. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

Bugging Out to The Mars Volta's "Deloused in the Comatorium": Prog Review #25

Bugging Out to The Mars Volta's "Deloused in the Comatorium": Prog Review #25

Podcast Review: Obscure with Michael Ian Black

Podcast Review: Obscure with Michael Ian Black