Magma, Attahk

If you're going to pull the lyrical stunt of singing in an incomprehensible bespoke conlang, and remember that my own undergraduate degree is in actual linguistics, man, then make it worth listening to. And this is! Holy crap, it is! The style of the nearly unanalyzable tracks lurches from hard rock to rock opera to art rock to acid jazz and even gospel (the wonderful "Spiritual"), but the jams are all exceptionally performed and arranged with a minimum of meandering, and while you won't understand a word they're singing their eye-widening vocal range powers the most incredibly emotive vocables I've heard this side of Clare Torry. Backed by full instrumentation and a choir that's just as crazy, you get trilling, bubbly high-notes, growly scatting (was that a belch I heard on "Maahnt"?), resonant kabuki and even a faux vocal kazoo, and the delightful musical surprises and sudden stylistic left turns just hold your listening attention like a vise. It's an exquisite effect: all that apparent gibberish means everyone must experience this album in some unfamiliar language not their own, leaving the listener to intuit and discover its meaning which by design is never made plain. I don't know what he's singing about on "Dondaï," but baby, with a solo like that sending chills down your spine, I sure can feel it. The first track ("The Last Seven Minutes") is a little tedious at times and the grotesque H. R. Giger cover art with monstrous safety pins through piggish noses creeps me out, but otherwise this entire album is an unalloyed breath of fresh air. I have no idea what on earth I just listened to, and this most approachable of their discography is still going to be too weird for some listeners, but I gotta say: I really liked it. (Content: your guess is as good as mine.)