Exposé Online banner

Magma — Köhntarkösz
(Seventh Records REX VIII, 1974/1988, CD)

by Rob Walker, 1995-11-01:

Köhntarkösz Cover art

For the recording of Köhntarkösz, the Wurdah Ïtah quartet was augmented with two keyboardists and a guitarist, giving the band a much more flexible lineup. With Vander and Jannik Top also contributing keyboards, the band is able to create some of the most intricate and dynamic music ever recorded under Magma's name. Vander unquestionably reaches his compositional peak here, fulfilling the musical goals he'd been exploring since the first album. The epic title track, split in half over both sides of the album, is the embodiment of everything that makes Magma's music so remarkable. Melodically sublime and harmonically unfathomable, the music is dark and intensely fierce while maintaining a sense of ethereal beauty and haunting mystery. The simple three note ascending motif, which serves as the unifying element of the piece, is supported by countless harmonic and rhythmic variations, allowing the most repetitive element of the music to also be the driving force in the development of the composition. The voice continues to evolve as the primary melodic instrument, here avoiding lyrical content and simply singing syllables a majority of the time. The emphasis is now clearly on the music as the main vehicle for the Kobaïan narrative, the specific details of which have understandably become much more enigmatic. The two short companion pieces on this album, closing out each side as a sort of coda, presumably each highlight some element of this story. On "Ork Alarm" Jannik Top uses his cello combined with dramatic vocals to create a dark and frantic mood which rises to a furious climax. Contrasting that is Vander's "Coltrane Sundia," which closes out the album with a beautifully peaceful acoustic piano and guitar theme.


by Mike McLatchey, 2018-02-15:

It's hard to remember a life before Magma, but one of the earliest impressions I have is seeing this in a record store and bringing it home. Even then their iconography set them apart from other albums on the racks, and they had that heavy mystique going: "They sing in their own language," "the music is really weird," etc. Back then they hadn't gone through their impressive revival phase and the CD reissues hadn't quite begun to happen, so everything was word of mouth and they had that lure of the transgressive in play. I bought Hhaï / Live around the same time and some of the fusion jams on that grounded the work a bit better for my tastes at the time, not to mention the live version of this album was at least as good. So Köhntarkösz ended up being a slow grower for me, but eventually it paid off hugely, something helped by repetition, other live versions and then getting to see them live myself. So while you can describe the album as a slow grower from a listener's perspective, the album itself does the same thing, it starts out strange, morbid, slow, and dissonant before developing slowly over its length and increasing its pace and managing to impart quite a sense of musical drama and theater as it goes. By the second side of this record (or the second half of the piece when played in full live), it starts to walk, then trot, and then eventually gallop to some really powerful climaxes, all while still remaining a bit claustrophobic and insular — in all the best ways. It remains really at the top of the list for difficult works worth sticking with, because once you get to know it, you actually anticipate and look forward to its bizarre development.


Filed under: Reissues , 1988 releases, 1974 releases

Related artist(s): Magma, Jannick Top, Stella Vander, Christian Vander / Offering

More info

Latest news

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more

2021-02-10
Chick Corea RIP – The sad news has reached us that Chick Corea has Returned to Forever, so to speak. The innovative keyboardist and composer died on February 9 at the age of 79. With a career that spanned from the 60s until shortly before his death, Corea touched many listeners with the incredible variety of music he produced in his lifetime. » Read more

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Richard Johnson and Jud Martindale - Creatures of Habit – For those interested with tracking down the roots of master acoustic fret bender, Richard Leo Johnson, look no further! Uncovered from the independent release catacombs is a 1993 gem from Johnson and...  (2000) » Read more

Peter Frohmader & Fuchs-Gamböck - Das Ist Alles – German rock journalist Michael Fuchs-Gamböck and Peter Frohmader met at a Faust concert in 1997. Their mutual interest in Krautrock and experimental music led to a lasting friendship and now a...  (2001) » Read more

Various Artists - Caged / Uncaged - A Rock / Experimental Homage to John Cage – Produced by John Cale, Caged / Uncaged was created as the 'soundtrack' for the exhibition "Il Suono Rapido delle Cose" in Venice in 1993, and is – as the subtitle states...  (1995) » Read more

Magma - Inédits – Released in 1977, Inédits contains live excerpts from six unreleased pieces, recorded over several years during the early to mid 70s. The recordings capture some of the Magma lineups not...  (1995) » Read more

Richard Leo Johnson and Gregg Bendian - Who Knew Charlie Shoe? – Guitarist Richard Leo Johnson has again created a mythical context for the material on this latest disc, a story about a young boy who was transfixed by an old guitar-playing hobo at a church social...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues