Home > Music > Magma – Attahk (1978)

Magma – Attahk (1978)

folderAttahk is the sound of a Magma allegedly more influenced by late ’70s pop trends such as disco, funk, contemporary R&B, with the caveat that such things (or at least their antecedents) might have played a role in shaping Magma’s initial signature sound. Does it mean anything that I can use to successfully interpret local musical developments? Not really, but it might be worth investigating if you have the resources to do so. I find that Attahk is structurally more accessible than most Magma recordings due to its shorter tracks, but otherwise doesn’t seem too out of field.

Magma does, however, end up more upbeat and manic than average. This is mostly a case of tempo; Attahk doesn’t peak as fast as some of the other tracks throughout Magma’s discography, but it’s more consistently rapid than their average album even when you allow for ballads. The condensed songs probably made it easier for the band to pull this off, but even then, the Magma of 1977 was an experienced band with a good deal of performing and gigging experience under their belts. Given that Magma spends a lot of this album exploring their “funky flow”, some velocity kind of comes in handy, although luckily for listeners this doesn’t prevent them from exploring a lot of the progressive rock ideas that permeate their discography. It does, however, mean that this album is rather less militant than something like Wurdah Itah.

That Attahk explores the excesses of the ’70s is with its ups and downs. At its worst, it results in abject filler like “Dondai”, which is a sugar-coated turd of a track for any band; I pity musicians whose entire output is in such a saccharine style. The rest of this album is better at employing some of the same elements, perhaps because they’re restrained a bit. It does result in a few particularly wacky excursions, but ironically, some of these tracks are strengthened by their oddities, like the goofy pseudo-disco of “Liriik Necronomicus Kanht”. That one has a strong rhythmic section backing it up and showcases yet another strength of this era of Magma – especially virtuoso bass, which backs up skilled play with a tone that’s actually influenced my ideas about how such an instrument should sound in my own work.

I’m definitely going to recommend this album, although some prognards (hurr) might have some issues with how it’s constructed, and how it’s admittedly less elaborate than most of Magma’s work. You won’t find this to be a problem, will you?

Highlights: “The Last Seven Minutes”, “Liriik Necronomicus Kanht”, “Maahnt”

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  1. 2015/09/01 at 12:42

    Oh man, I totally disagree on “Dondai” – what a beautiful track. Given how off-the-rails this band usually is it’s nice to hear them reign it in a bit and come up with a melody you can really hold on to. I also dig “Otis” from Merci – very similar. Anyway, I love this album. I wonder if some of the drum fills in “The Last Seven Minutes” or “Nono” would be sampled in drum n’ bass if they hadn’t found the Amen Break first.

    By the way, if you like this album, seek out the track “Retrovision”. Never recorded in studio but they played it live a lot, notably on the Retrospekiw III album. I was led to believe it was a medley of tunes from this album but it’s something very different – sort of a funk epic (!) with some really funny/goofy vocals and a few awesome hooks. And it’s 20 minutes long!

    • 2015/09/01 at 14:10

      Personally, when I want to hear a prettier and more accessible Magma, I listen to Felicite Thosz, which pulls it off pretty well. Attahk has Rind-E for a more immediate example of a similar style, but the version showcased on Emehnett-Re is more to my interests.

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