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Magma: Zëss (Le Jour De Neant)

One of the most popular questions I get from readers of Sea of Tranquility and viewers of our YouTube channel, is why we rarely discuss Magma? The Zeuhl legends have been around now for 50 years, and with a wealth of albums released in that time span and their continued popularity amongst long time progressive rock followers, how come we haven't given them the love they probably deserve here? Well, for starters, I've personally tried very hard for decades to discover in their music what so many people seem to adore, and I'm still not hearing it. Zëss (Le Jour De Neant) is their latest opus, recorded with The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Adam Klemens, and it's perhaps their most symphonic/classically oriented album they've released in years, though still a very vocal driven affair, with leader/founder Christian Vander not sitting behind the drum kit this time but solely acting as one of many singers, along with Stella Vander and no less than seven other vocalists. Though they are a French band, Vander & Co. created a new language called Kobaïan, which appears on all their albums, so right there you might have an obstacle for some listeners, though I would advise accepting the vocals as simply another instrument with the music of Magma.

An aspect of Magma's music that I often found off-putting is the repetitive nature of their arrangements, and that's utilized yet again here on Zëss (Le Jour De Neant), with piano and drum patterns rarely changing for minutes on end as the Kobaïan delivery drones on and on. "Streüm Ündëts Ẁëhëm" however does have some glorious moments of enormous orchestral swells that are quite breathtaking, but I just wish there were more of them. At 37-minutes in length, much of the album just flies along at a similar pace, rhythms repeating, the vocals either something you love or hate, and the music not quite fitting into any sort of a hole, not quite jazz, not quite classical, not quite opera, and not quite prog-rock. Perhaps it's just me, as I know plenty of people who worship this band, and while I do appreciate some elements of their music, as a whole Magma just continues to confound this listener, and I've tried for many years to rectify that situation to no avail. Zëss (Le Jour De Neant) hasn't helped either, but your mileage may certainly vary.

Track Listing
1. Ẁöhm Dëhm Zeuhl Stadium (4:57)
Hymne au Néant
2. Da Zeuhl Ẁortz Dëhm Ẁrëhntt (6:22)
Les Forces de l'Univers - Les Eléments
3. Dï Ẁööhr Spracer (5:12)
La Voix Qui Parle
4. Streüm Ündëts Ẁëhëm (6:04)
Pont de l'En-Delà
5. Zëss Mahntëhr Kantöhm (8:08)
Le Maitre Chant
6. Zï Ïss Ẁöss Stëhëm (3:15)
Vers l'Infiniment
7. Dümgëhl Blaö (3:58)
Glas Ultime

Added: August 3rd 2019
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1162
Language: english

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