Album review: JAZ COLEMAN & The St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra – Magna Invocation

JAZ COLEMAN & The St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra - Magna Invocation

A Gnostic Mass For Choir And Orchestra Inspired by the Music of Killing Joke

Spinefarm Records [Release date 29.11.19]

Finding fame as a founder member of post punk band Killing Joke, Coleman became (in)famous as singer and frontman, a rasp, attitude, an aptitude for keyboards. And, as it transpires, a love of classical music. While Killing Joke continue to record and tour, Coleman has worked with various orchestras and this project with Russia’s oldest orchestra, it’s an adventurous and atmospheric project. And, one must add, instrumental too.

While Killing Joke took post punk to an epic level, there’s a good seven minute song or two in the catalogue, these songs are taken by orchestra to an extra level. It’s not a note for note classical arrangement, it’s as much Music Inspired By. In fact, if you take the full title of the project, it does what it says on the tin.

‘Absolute Descent’ acts as a good intro, before ‘The Raven King’. Over 7 mins 30 seconds of sweeping strings, taking a epic yet gentler angle of the original. ‘Intravenous’, one of Killing Joke’s harsher and more epic tracks, is given a 9 minute makeover here and while it’s not as aggressive, the use of some of the instruments adds a lot of feeling and power. A stand out, and I mean REAL standout, is ‘Invocation’, where the heavy strings and excellent use of choir reproduce the original riff with a heavy and spooky feel.

Thirteen tracks over 2 CDs, all the tracks given a minute or two over the original; some are softened, some are hardened, but all have their epic feel brought to the fore. And listening to this now you can look back at some of the Killing Joke material and understand where Coleman’s song writing is coming from.

If you have any interest in both rock and classical music, or a passion for all things Jaz Coleman, you’ll love this. ****

Review by Joe Geesin

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