(All Album Reviews by maribor)
Originally published by http://www.therocktologist.com
After stunning dedicated fans with the 2004 release KA, Magma returned in 2009 to grace us with yet another treasure that was supposed to be released some 30 to 35 years ago. Emehntehtt-Re shows Vander yet again returning to his old debts and finally delivering on his promise of unleashing the beast known as Emehntehtt-Re, a piece that has been floating about for many years on various recordings, but it had never been recorded in studio prior to this release.
Emehntehtt-Re was released amidst ugly (unconfirmed) rumours regarding the main man, drummer Christian Vander and the reasons for the departure of vocalists Himiko and Antoine Paganotti and keyboard player Emmanuel Borghi. These rumours are only rumours, so there's no need to involve them in the description of this latest Magma effort.
Emehntehtt-Re comes complete with a fabulous booklet, with the cover art showing an Egyptian/alien deity that needs to be awaken. This displays Vander's thematic inspiration throughout his career – the traditional history of our planet, combined with science fiction elements of the fictional world of Kobaia. The band also decided to release a DVD with the making of Emehntehtt-Re, where you pretty much get the standard insight into the production of an album. Most of the talking is done by Christian Vander and given his eccentric nature, there were bound to be a few interesting moments. This does indeed happen on a few occasions. In particular, the scene where Vander wants the vibraphone to “growl” is precious.
The album opens with a vocal introduction, one that has been around for quite some time and it definitely didn't come as a surprise to major fans of the band. “Rinde (Eastern Song)” is also an old piece (taken from Attahk). We are confronted by another older remnant, when Vander repeats a chant from KA and develops it in a slightly different direction. Then the band kicks into “Hhai”, a number that's been in circulation since the 1970s. Here, Vander takes center stage as the lead vocalist (as in other versions of this piece) and he again delivers an emotional performance, with some of his most beautiful vocal compositions and singing techniques up to date. After that comes the “Grand Zombies” section, which is also familiar music, from Udu Wudu (song Zombies), except that here, the themes are much more developed, so much so that they actually seem half improvised, but still with an underlying main idea always running underneath it. This is followed by another vocal section led by Stella’s stellar vocals. The final funeral section is new and finishes the album in an amazing and somber fashion. Vander's chanting at the end (just like at the beginning) rounds off the album perfectly.
Considering that many of the parts of Emehntehtt-Re had already existed prior to this release, the album flows quite naturally and the transitions between segments are smooth and effortless. Because of this, I do believe that it was indeed Vander's intention to put these parts into this long piece from the very start (or he's just that good at writing effortless transitions). My only major gripe is that we don't really get to hear all that much new music. A lot of it has already been heard on various albums, be it studio or live. It is, however, nice to hear this music as it was meant to be heard, in the original order and with the storyline to back it up. The music describes the descent into the underground tombs and the horrors that await there perfectly and this might make this album Magma's darkest effort to date (at least from the "Zombies" section on).
Emehntehtt-Re is another epic release. In terms of complexity, it is probably a step up from KA, but that's like comparing apples to oranges, as the two are really not all that much alike. On KA, the emphasis is very much on the multi-layered choral vocals, whereas Emehntehtt-Re favours the more instrumental segments (even though Vander always comes up with breath-taking vocal sections) and a looser approach.
So, after all these years, is Magma still relevant in the world of rock? Well, in the mainstream media nobody was really aware Magma existed in the first place (except maybe in France) and that hasn't changed, but in the world of progressive rock and avant-garde rock, Magma are still giants of the game. Why? Perhaps because of Vander's unrelenting vision and quest for musical perfection, a quest that's never ending, but probably very rewarding.
Whereas KA was open, melodic and even cheerful, Emehntehtt-Re reveals a totally different side of Magma – dark, demonic, brooding, intense, full of introspection and intensity. This is heaven and hell rolled into one. Pain and ecstasy are one and the same! KA is perhaps more rewarding from a strictly musical and aesthetical point of view, as it is quite tame, accessible and beautiful in all its heavenly glory, but Emehntehtt-Re stands on its own merits as a completely different musical beast, creating its own aesthetic and totally different musical standards. May Magma live for many years to come!
Rating: 9 out of 10.