French prog-jazz-rock legends Magma are back with another new recording of classic material. Following rapidly on the heels of their rerecording of Rïah Sahïltaahk, Slag Tanz once again features the modern Magma lineup reinterpreting the style they’ve been perfecting since their arrival on this planet over four decades ago. The record features a trio of vocalists, vibraphone, guitar, piano, bass, and of course the ever-present Christian Vander on drums, piano, and vocals.
Slag Tanz features Magma’s signature layered call-and-response vocals and spiky, syncopated rhythm section. The eight short tracks run together in suites and in total make a mini-album that runs about 20 minutes. If it sounds eerily similar to the deep, complicated compositions Magma released in the 1970s, there’s a good reason for that: According to Vander, all this music was originally written in that fruitful time period. It’s been performed several times since 2009, supposedly evolving from show to show. As such, it is hard to characterize this effort strictly as a remake like Rïah Sahïltaahk.
This record is symphonic and intense. A lot of ideas are packed into these quick 20 minutes. It’s a master class in operatic, heavy, and angular jazz-metal weirdness and an instant classic from an ensemble who have been forward-thinking and ahead of their time for 45 years now. Maybe in another 45 years the rest of us will catch up to them. In the interim we’ll just have to settle for being blown away.
Slag Tanz is available now from Seventh Records. Magma will be performing live at Brighton Music Hall on April 11.