AMN Reviews: Magma – Slag Tanz (2015; Jazz Village)

cover_slag_tanzMagma is back with its second EP release in three months. Following rapidly on the heels of the re-recording of Rïah Sahïltaahk, Slag Tanz once again features the modern Magma lineup performing music reminiscent of their arrival on this planet 45 years ago. The recording features Stella Vander (voice), Isabelle Feuillebois (voice), Hervé Aknin (voice), Benoît Alziary (vibraphone), James MacGaw (guitar), Jérémie Ternoy (piano), Philippe Bussonnet (bass), and of course Christian Vander (drums, piano, voice), which with the exception of Ternoy, has been the core group since 2008.

For Magma fans, Slag Tanz has a lot to like. The familiar, layered call-and-response vocals, jagged bass-and-drum-driven rhythms, and distinctive potency of the compositions are on display. The eight short tracks sum up to about 20 minutes, and run together in a suite form. While Slag Tanz breaks less new ground for Magma than, say, Félicité Thösz, it marks a return to the more complex scores Magma worked from in the 1970s. In fact, according to Christian Vander, Slag Tanz was originally written in that time period.  It has been performed several times since 2009, reportedly evolving from show to show.  Thus, it is hard to characterize this effort as a remake like Rïah Sahïltaahk.

Still, you could call Slag Tanz retro, but doing so would unduly dismiss the pure joy that is Magma in peak form.  The operatic choruses, heavy angular riffing, atmospheric vibes, and superb rhythm section are transcendent.  Bravo.