In 1974, after the release of their mind-blowing concept album, Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh, Magma went back into the studio and released their fourth studio album entitled, Wurdah Itah. Originally released on the Egg label, and reissued this year on the Seventh Records label, it was initially released as a Christian Vander album in the late ‘70s as the film score to Yvan Lagrange’s Tristan & Iseult, but it’s considered as a Magma album.
It was recorded in one month just as the band were getting ready to work on their fifth album entitled, Kohntarkosz. And it is also their second movement of the Theusz Hamtaahk. When translated in Kobaian, Wurdah Itah means “Dead Earth.” It has this dystopian atmosphere of Earth now turned into a nightmarish planet that has gone straight to hell and no chance of finding peace. Now since I’ve mentioned this as a film score of Yvan’s take of the tragic tale between Tristan and Iseult.
I’ve seen some clips of the film on YouTube. It is bizarre and surreal take. Imagine Ken Russell teaming up with Alejandro Jodorowsky and creating this tale and blaring the sounds of the story up to 100. Believe me, when you watch the clips, it is not the best adaptation of the story, but the music which features some of the core members of the band, it’s gothic, surreal, avant-garde, classical, operatic, and jazz like no other.
Christian Vander, Stella Vander, Jannick Top, and Klaus Blasquiz are at their best. While they are singing in the Kobaian language, they have given the intensity and the power to perform at maximum volume. While Christian not only plays drums and sings, he plays piano brilliantly. Following in the steps of Coltrane’s pianist McCoy Tyner, Christian plays some menacing chords.
At times he goes from mid-tempo speed to relaxing moments throughout the sections of the second movement. You can hear the aspects of the third movement which would be Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh and parts of their Kobaia album thrown in there. You can imagine feeling the tense moments of listening to Wurdah Itah as if you, the listener, are on a tightrope and you can never tell if the rope is about to be cut or not.
Christian himself is very much a composer and conductor and giving cues for Klaus, Stella, and Jannick knowing when they are coming in for the right moment. The bonus track in which is a 25-minute rough version of the suite. It is an early development of the movement. It’s rough, raw, sinister, weird, and brilliant. This is also the original demo that was used in the Yves’ bizarre film.
Wurdah Itah is not for the faint of heart. Again when you listen to Magma’s music whether you love it or hate it, it is challenging music. For me, admiring the Magma machine, their fourth album reissued this year and hearing the raw demo, it’s spellbinding. And I had goose bumps all over my arms hearing the 25-minute piece. Again, I recommend checking out Wurdah Itah.