Part of the massive 12-disc Kohnzert Zund boxed set of Magma‘s official live recordings, Triton Zelekt Zund 1 captures a 2005 concert. Unlike many Magma live releases (official or otherwise), the music herein is sourced exclusively from their self-titled debut, their mid-to-late 70’s efforts Üdü Ẁüdü and Attahk, as well as 1984’s Merci. While these three albums are usually not listed as “essential Magma” by fans, this recording may change a few minds.
Kicking off with Stoah from 1970’s Magma, the harsh vocal utterances on the studio version are replaced by distorted guitar. Then, the entire group heads into a chaotic free-improv jam, something that Magma rarely has done in the studio. Otherwise, this version of the track features the expected martial chanting, dominant horns, and flute interlude.
Next up is De Futura from Üdü Ẁüdü, opening with that track’s signature guitar lead, followed by 17 minutes of pounding, bass-heavy rhythms and ominous chanting. Toward the end, as the tempo increases, and the mix of male and female vocals reach a transcendent crescendo. The Last Seven Minutes from Attahk, follows, with its bristling repetitive bass lines and catchy-yet-strange choral voices. Magma turns up the speed on this one, moving through the track at a breakneck pace, yet making it last eleven minutes instead of the nominal seven.
The next tracks are two that I had never felt much affection for on the studio albums: Nono from Attahk and Otis from Merci. For the former, I’ve now done a 180-degree turn, as the version herein makes the vocal melodies quite appealing, while the rhythms slowly build tension and then release. In fact, I’m finding Nono to be the unexpected highlight of this release. Otis also has its appeal, as a slower, more straight-forward, funk-inflected Magma piece.
Kobaia, the opening track from the band’s first album finishes things off with more free-jazz blowing and distinct vocal phrasing. This choice is quite fitting – the album comes full circle, as Magma has to some extent. Known for putting out their most powerful material between 1971 and 1975, forty years later Magma continues to record and tour, producing some of the best material of their career. Triton Zelekt Zund 1 is yet another excellent post-2000 recording from this venerable, yet cosmically powerful group.