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Various Artists (Tributes) - Hamtaï! Hommage à la musique de Christian Vander CD (album) cover

HAMTAÏ! HOMMAGE À LA MUSIQUE DE CHRISTIAN VANDER

Various Artists (Tributes)

 

Various Genres

3.13 | 4 ratings

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CPicard
3 stars So, even French 70's rock scene is now taken by the 'tribute mania' started nearly 15 years ago. The compilation we are talking about right now is nothing but a gathering around one of the strongest musical vision ever born in France, in Europe, in the world, in the whole universe! Remeber it: Magma is, will be and had always been the best band in the universe (and that is written in the booklet of ''Retrospektïw I & II''). More seriously, it was time for a tribute to Magma and its leader, Christian Vander, for the band is an influence for many and had revealed a lot of musicians (Jannick Top, Didier Lockwood, Bernard Paganotti...). ''Hamtaï'' is a double CD, nothing less, with 27 bands. Not surprising when you keep in mind that Magma had been able to create some true jazz/rock/ symphonies. Yet, the various artists worked on small fragments of each standard, otherwise Welcome Records would have to make a four CD boxset! Among the bands, we find several former members of Magma : violonist Lockwood, bassist Top, vocalist Klaus Blasquiz, keyboard players Patrick Gauthier and Benoît Widemann; a lot of French bands: Patrick Forgas, Zaar, NeBeLNeST (I love you guys, but your name is a pain to type), Vital Duo; and some people crossing the seven seas: Koenjihyakkei, eX-Girl, Mats/Morgan Band and Steve Shehan. A nice guest list, isn't it?

But, at the very end, what can we say about this tribute? It seems that the majority of the musicians have choosed to stay in an 'orthodox' path, keeping a jazz-rock feeling in their covers, as if they feared to damage a monument. As examples, the versions of ''Hhaï'' by Post Image or ''Day After Day'' by Troll are not bad, but they lack of personality. NeBeLNeST or Kafka, despite of being close to a heavy metal sound, stay in the footsteps of Vander. Also trying the metal approach, Kramus only manages to make us think of Faith No More... Even the oriental flavor of Sidji Moon doesn't prevent them of being boring. Patrick Forgas is alone with his keyboards on ''Lïhns'' and offers a delicate sound, a bit too mawkish.

But some tracks are truly innovative and striking! Opening the dance, Koenjihyakkei performs a crazy medley, condensing 20 years of Zheul music in 3 minutes and 45 seconds! A reminiscence of Yoshida's previous band Ruins, but a fun thing, like a bunch of open-minded punks. Then, we can hear Klaus Blasquiz ALONE WITH A MIC. Nothing but his voice overdubbed in a manner to create a virtual and powerful virile choir. Tellurical. On the other hand, Cernunos gives us a sunny version of ''Retrovision'', sounding more, let's say, carribean than kobaïan. Refreshing and loveable. The ''M.D.K. / Würdah Ïtah'' medley by Steve Shehan starts as ''aquatic'' and turns to be the most majestuous version ever recorded of ''M.D.K.''. With the same song, Lockwood only shows his technical prowesses, just as Kafka. Not that the Shehan version is perfect: it's suspiciously close to some new age follies. EX-Girl tries ''Rïah Sahiltaak » a cappela (well, it's true that we can hear a few bells and tinkerbells in the background, but there is no other instrument). Not as impressive as Blasquiz (who did the same thing alone, like a grown-up boy), but quite good and original. When Patrick Gauthier hammers his piano and his keybords, he summons ghosts on ''Theusz Hamtaack''! Maybe more repetitive than the original version, Gauthier's ''T.H.'' is a breath-taking trance. Talking about synthesizers, Mats and Morgan prove us that Vander would have been a terrific composer for video games: I can hear the Nintendo feeling in their take on ''Tîlîm M'dohm''! Humorous, enjoyable, funny, you can start the dance! But when coming to Vital Duo's ''La'' Dawotsin... The Payssan brothers open a fascinating historical perspective: what if Vander worked with, let's say, Jon Anderson, Ian Anderson and maybe the guys from Genesis? These seven minutes (not the last ones) are a view on a musical uchronia. A beauty maybe naive, but nevertheless touching and moving. Ending this album, Le Gré des Vents plays the ''Hymne Kobaïen'' (Kobaïan Hymn), a blooming astral flower rooting deeply in the mind: the bagpipes and the hurdy-gurdy join the wonderful voice of Addie Déat in a choir which started with reminiscences of the so-called celtic folklore, but, soon, becomes an example of a possible universal world music, as the influences from soul music softly arise.

As a manner to conclude, we have to wonder if this record is a masterpiece. Many people have listened this tribute album with mixed feelings, and so do I. As I wrote, some versions are not convincing, if not boring or forgettable (even the performances of some former members of Magma!). On the other hand, some other bands have managed to give their own sound to the music of Christian Vander, would it be electronic, acoustic, folkrock-like... If talking only about the music, it would be a three-stars rating. If keeping in mind that this tribute is nearly a ''manifesto'' for the Zheul and the Magma disciples, it would be a four-stars rating: these two discs may have a historical importance for the years to come. As I am honest and tell the truth most of the times, I would say : simply good and well done, but may become essential later.

CPicard | 3/5 |

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