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5 stars This was the last live appearance of vocalist Klaus Blasquiz and what a note to end on. This is the band at their finest. Theusz Hamtaahk is particularly stunning with Christian Vanders drumming at it's very best. The vocals of Blasquiz and Stella Vander soar to new heights and the piece builds to a remarkable climax.
Report this review (#22372)
Posted Sunday, January 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Their best life album as far.And so...I recommend everyone to visit a life-concert from Magma nowadays.Other musicians...yes...but they excactly sound similar as so many years ago.Other musicians,but as brilliant.
Report this review (#22374)
Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I began to post this review, the warning blurb about "making sure" the album is worth five stars came on - I brushed it aside with annoyance in my haste to concur that this album (and Retrospectiw V.3) are fantastic, brilliant live recordings of Magma at their powerful and magnificent best. I have the LPs and want the CD versions, but the sound is excellent and brutal - the inside picture of V. 1+2 depicts the audience dead in their seats after the "killer" concert while Christian Vander's baleful and triumphant portrait hangs over the stage. These albums are unique and deserve the highest possible recommendation.
Report this review (#22375)
Posted Sunday, October 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yes - this one is just another great double-LP live album by Magma - yet with Didier Lockwood on violin, Beniot Widemann on keyboards and Klaus Blasquiz on vocals... and includes only two longish compositions "Mekanik Destruktiw Kommand÷h" and "Theusz Hamtaahk" - but very fine live versions of those. Fortunately I have had a wanderful chance to be in Magma's concert in Strasbourg in June 2003. So they performed "overview" of this "Theusz Hamtaahk" and by this was my first experience to hear this tune (my real fave was "Zess" there). But - both live versions of them - "Mekanik Destruktiw Kommand÷h" and "Theusz Hamtaahk" on this double LP - are very delightful, powerful and hypnotic - this is undoubtfully Magma at their best!!!
Report this review (#97497)
Posted Tuesday, November 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ok, so this review must come with a caveat: 'tis long, and very flattering!

There seems to be a fair amount of debate on the topic of 'Which album is the best starting point for those who want to investigate Magma?' I think my personal suggestion would be this album.

First of all, from my somewhat inexpert and fondly fanatical perspective, I think if the essential ingredients of Magma are going to appeal to you, then you'll be impressed by this album. It delivers all those signature aspects (supernaturally brilliant drumming, gut-threatening bass, seraphic vocals, addictively hypnotic rhythm, sinister/spiritual unison) in spades, and at the highest quality. Basically, if you like this, you'll like Magma.

Secondly, to get the measure of a band, a live album is often more illuminating than a studio album, especially when the studio albums represent such dramatically different stylistic extremes. (The early 'weird jazz' stuff, the classic 'doom oratorio' stuff, the mathematically precise 'difference engine rock' that you get when Janik Top is at the helm. they're all pretty different, despite all being instantly recognisable as Magma.)

Thirdly, this album is a more straightforward listen than some, having a clear and beautifully-balanced live sound (rather than what some would call the claustrophobic, airless, muffled studio sound of 'MDK', for example). This allows a clearer view of just what is going on in the music. To my ears, Magma's music seems made up of countless interlocking three-dimensional shapes. It's both simple and complicated at the same time, which makes it rather difficult to describe without sounding fairly idiotic! Anyway, the framework, the construction, is more discernible here than in some of the studio albums.

Lastly, it features some truly excellent playing. The drumming especially is remarkable - genius - Christian Vander manages to be propulsive without being needlessly ballistic, delicate without being fiddly, fast but not just for the sake of showing off, full of dramatic flourishes without hogging the limelight. It's like the punctuation that makes a piece of writing comprehensible. Amazing stuff!

On to the music then! This album contains two long compositions: 'Theusz Hamtaahk' (the first movement of the trilogy of the same name) and 'Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h' (the third part of the 'Theusz Hamtaahk' trilogy). (The second part of the trilogy, not included here, is 'Wurdah ¤tah'.)

This version of 'Theusz Hamtaahk' is reckoned to be the definitive recorded version, and, well, it's stunning. If you've heard and enjoyed the studio version of 'MDK', with its furious intensity and moody choral textures, then expect a somewhat similar style of composition, but providing a subtly different experience here. It is partly down to the elegant, evenly spaced live sound, but there feels like there's more light and space in this piece. Also, the arrangement is more sparse - no brass, less of the accusatory singing, and the spotlight falls frequently on the majestic coupling of bass and drums. There are parts of this recording where the interplay between Bernard Paganotti's bass and Christian Vander's drumming is nothing short of stunning. Hypnotic, transcendental. I could go on, but you'd probably get bored before I ran out of adoring things to say about it! Anyway, that over-used word 'tight' is inadequate to describe this performance - oh my, the precision, the dramatic speed over some difficult musical terrain, the instinctiveness - wow. (Compare it to the early and rather faltering version on 'BBC 1974 Londres', and you'll be impressed!)

So to sum up, this piece isn't as relentless and crushing as 'MDK', but it is cut from the same fabric; and it's a very excellent performance.

I should, without further ado, mention the magnificent Klaus Blasquiz, vocalist par excellence. This record was his last act as Magma's singer, and he gives it his all. Spitting fury one minute, keening tenderly the next, he imbues the tongue-twisting Koba´an lyrics (which could be really annoying, let's face it) with an intensity, a sincerity, that almost makes you forget that this is a made up language. When Klaus's alien torch-singing combines with the angelically melodious celestial choir of female voices, and Christian Vander's weirdly high pitched juddering flurries and deep angry growls, some kind of vocal alchemy emerges. Magical!

Which brings us neatly to this bleedin' fantastic version of 'Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h'. This rendition of Magma's most famous piece is really excellent. They make great use of variations in the tempo here - instead of stolidly chugging along, they play around with slow and fast passages, giving a thrillingly theatrical feel to the music. It loses the slightly monotonous, cult-ritual air of the studio version, and you can hear the sheer enjoyment of the performers through every note. (Indeed, you'd think they'd have got a bit bored of playing this, but this performance exudes nothing short of hearty enthusiasm!) Every note, every word, is crisp and polished. You may even (if you're as sadly obsessed as I am!) find yourself trying to sing along!

Not only that, there's a frantic, sizzling, thickly sexy bass solo from Paganotti at around 23 minutes in that will resonate through you like the purr of a tame panther!

It's followed by a violin solo by Didier Lockwood - personally, I'm not a fan of violin solos (more often than not, all you get is some aimless squeaking), but it is not too unbearable, and it is accompanied by some feverishly quick and brisk drumming from Vander.

The climax to 'MDK' is (already! I'm still new to this music really!) one of my all time favourite musical passages, and this rendition of it is lightning fast, passionate, vehement, assured. The final ecstatic chord falls away into a brief cacophony, some rapturous audience noise, and then a feedback tone (happily not as ear splitting as the one on the studio album!).

Seriously, what a marvellous album! I think it's my joint favourite (with K÷hntark÷sz) of all the Magma music I've heard so far. If the definition of a good live album is one which features a good quality recording of an excellent performance that takes a familiar piece of music and takes it somewhere different from its previously known studio incarnation (or, if it doesn't exist in studio form, represents the best recorded live expression of the piece), then this is a damn good live album.

I'm aware that there are references here and there to this not being a 'completely live' album, but I'm not sure enough of the circumstances to say anything useful about that.

Whatever manner of beast it is, however, these are magnificent performances of two wonderful compositions, and if you are destined to be a Magma acolyte, you'll LOVE it! Five stars!!

Report this review (#168684)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's 1981: three years have withered since a release, studio or live, from the fathers of Zeuhl. After a so-very-slightly disappointing quasi-swan song like Attahk, Magma dug out these very fine recordings, to be called Retrospekt´w I, II, and III, and released 'em. Retroskept´w I-II and III (released as two entities) must have been a pillar of hope for members of Uniweria Zekt, whose appetite for new Magma material was intensifying. It also marks the first official recording of Theusz Hamtaahk: first movement in the three-part series of the same name. Part two is Wurdah ¤tah, and part three is MŰkan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h, both given studio treatment (the latter being a celebrated anthem of Zeuhl). Theusz Hamtaahk, on the other hand, has only ever been recorded live. Retrospekt´w III also contains a good deal of new material. So it's no doubt Magma fans met these twins with drool-clad chins.

There are a number of bands whose enthusiasm and intensity are immensely more present on live recordings than studio work. I think it's pretty clear I'm about to label Magma as one such band. Magma is one such band. Shocker! Previously recorded material is vastly rearranged, so don't think that a Magma live recording and a Magma studio album are at all superfluous. This version of MŰkan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h has a very brief but incredibly serene and heavenly introduction, as well as a completely renovated second half, where a De Futura bass solo from the beastly Paganotti precede the greatly improvised, jazzy march of Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekan´k.

As for the performance, all musicians are in top form. Vander's drumming is rarely as ferocious or inspired as here, and Paganotti's bass is equally fierce. Keyboards play a largely role than usual (note the three keyboardists [gasp!]), often due to the lack of horns, but don't ever become too present. The whole choir is in fabulous shape, with Blasquiz playing a relatively large role in the vocals, which is a nice change from previous studio outputs ▄dŘ WŘdŘ and Attahk where Blasquiz's vocals were dimming to extinction. Sound quality is, believe it or not, far superior to the majority of Magma's studio albums.

ZŘnd I, Theusz Hamtaahk, is extremely similar to Wurdah ¤tah in many regards. But it is indubitably far superior compositionally. It begins with the aggressive introduction that launches Wurdah ¤tah, but slowly melts into something much more menacing and atmospheric: into a slow, boiling, seeping motion. This expresses the narrative perfectly. Theusz Hamtaahk is the Time of Hatred, the period on earth where we mortal men fall to our most heinous. After the malevolent boil, and a chilling vocal climax, the we come to the furious conclusion. After the final applause, a few minutes of pained cries supported by a devilish keyboard pattern sound hammer the idea of Theusz Hamtaahk firmly into us.

By contrast, ZŘnd II, MŰkan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h, begins with a most beautiful and loving vocal melody, supported by a serene keyboard phrase. This also goes with the idea here: MŰkan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h represents the salvation of mankind, and their march to spiritual purification after the Theusz Hamtaahk. A bass solo from Paganotti, taken from the famed ▄dŘ WŘdŘ track De Futura (which is a song about time travel, the future, atomic war, and the like), sounds of violence, pain, destruction and despair sound. Is this a glance to what will be the future if mankind continues their downward plummet? Or perhaps it's NebŰhr Gudahtt's warning to the Earthlings. Or perhaps it's merely a look outside, to the current state of the world. At any rate, whatever this is meant to symbolize, it sparks a change in the Earthling's march against Gudahtt and his Koba´an teachings (feeling lost? Read my MDK review or my Magma blog) and starts them on their march with Gudahtt, towards perfection.

Three years divide these companion live albums from the next Magma album in either direction. It's a ray of light in a time of darkness. An inarguably perfect performance, with brilliant production. It's a masterpiece, and essential for Zeuhl or Magma fans, and highly recommended for everyone else with an open mind.

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Posted Monday, May 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This double live album takes us back to June 1980 in Paris, France where MAGMA were performing a reunion concert. They played three nights. Two thirds of the "Theusz Hamtaahk" trilogy have been included, in fact the first self-titled movement had never (at that time) been on any of their recordings until this one. The second album consists of the third part of the trilogy "MDK" the self titled track from that famous record. This song is different from the original in that there are synths in place of horns and we also get some great violin from Lockwood.

"Theusz Hamtaahk" opens with fast paced vocals and outburts of drums. When they settle the crowd roars it's approval. Faint vocals start to build and it kicks in before 3 1/2 minutes. It settles again as female vocals come in. Nice.The tempo continues to shift. Keyboards after 6 minutes start an excellent instrumental section until about 10 minutes in. Amazing sound and rhythm here. Love the bass from Paganotti. I should mention that Gauthier and Widemann are both playing keyboards on this double album. Blasquiz and Stella are helped by four other vocalists including Christian Vander of course. Check out the nasty,growly bass 17 minutes in ! Things get a little crazy after 22 minutes followed by some equally crazy vocals. Spoken words 26 1/2 minutes in as we get some atmosphere until it kicks back in before 31 minutes. Applause after 32 1/2 minutes is interupted by waves of synths, some screams and all around freaky stuff.

"Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh" opens with keyboards as female vocal melodies sing over top. Bass and drums take over as the crowd cheers. Spoken words join in. Male vocals come and go along with the female ones. Prominant guitar after 7 minutes. The drumming is incredible before 11 minutes. Piano follows. It settles 13 1/2 minutes in. Christian comes in vocally as it kicks back in. Check out the filthy bass solo after 22 1/2 minutes ! The song kicks in after 26 1/2 minutes with piano and drums as bass continues to dig deep. Violin joins in as Lockwood ends up taking over. What a display he puts on ! He ends it around 33 minutes. Amazing ! Female vocals come in as bass, keyboards and drums lead the way. Intense. Drums and guitar before 34 1/2 minutes impress. That repetitive rhythm continues until about 36 minutes in when it changes. Guitar lights it up briefly after 37 minutes.

A must for MAGMA fans out there.

Report this review (#218288)
Posted Monday, May 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars My own belated initiation to the alternate universe of Magma came in the late 1990s, with the blind purchase (on vinyl!) of the band's 1975 "Live/Hha´" double disc, generally regarded as the ideal point of entry for aspiring Magma novices. But this more recent (and likewise live) album, from a June 1980 reunion gig in Paris, may in fact be even better, presenting vivid sound quality, inspired performances, and a choice of material taking full advantage of compact disc technology: fitting two long, uninterrupted songs on a single CD.

Each is an album all by itself, the back-stories of which can be found in other, better informed reviews here at Prog Archives. "Theusz Hamtaahk" is a relentless, hypnotic anthem for marauding alien armies, building in lock-step intensity for over 22-minutes before shifting suddenly into a more up-tempo but equally energetic vocal interlude lasting another quarter-hour, with the trademark Magma chants and harmonies interweaving and overlapping like perfectly meshed, pan-galactic gears.

And there's even more drama waiting in the opening chords of "Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h": a truly awesome introduction to an obvious fan favorite, judging from the rightfully ecstatic audience reaction. The entire 1973 album is presented in all its widescreen fury and grandeur, clocking in at a full 40-minutes, without a wasted moment among them (I'm assuming the quick fade to Bernard Paganotti's juggernaut bass guitar solo, near the mid-point of the opus, marked the vinyl transition between sides three and four of the original twin-LP release).

Over the epic length of each track there isn't a single instrumental break or vocal cue left to chance. And yet the entire set flows with astonishing grace and precision, albeit more powerful at times than a cresting sheet-metal tsunami. The remarkable, near telepathic synchronicity is all the more impressive when you consider how crowded the stage must have been: a total of twelve performers were needed to effectively render 'MDK', all playing and singing simultaneously.

I just now noticed the frequency in this review of superlative adjectives: remarkable, astonishing, awesome and so forth. Hard to avoid when writing about this band, but employed here without a trace of hyperbole. In deference to the Prog Archives guidelines I considered holding my rating down to four enthusiastic stars, but this one album captures the Magma sound so flawlessly that it easily wins a full five-star rave.

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Posted Tuesday, October 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars retrospectiw I-II documents the 2/3 of the infamous theusz hamtaahk trilogy while being "the best" compilation album for magma it is also a showcase of magma's live performance... and the material here is simply superior anything heard before the album opens with "theusz hamtaahk" famous never "studio-recorded" first movement of the trilogy shares the same name and what we heard is simply the best performance of this song while bbc recording was lacking the strong punch hide in the music this one finds it and turns the song into one scary, untrustworthy experience especially blasquiz's vocals are the winner here he really carries the song for solid 36 minutes... the other song is the third movement of the (so called) theusz hamtaahk trilogy the amazing mekanik destrŘktiw kommand÷h. this is the part where things get complicated for me because while being a huge fan of the original mix of the kommand÷h and really adore the brass parts vander was thinking otherwise and he was unhappy with the mixing of the album in his mind the brass lines were occupying too much space while zeuhl music was identify itself with strong rhythm section so this signature rhythm section need to be heard by the audience so what did vander do he clean all the brass line and re-arranged song with thundering drums and basses so all these live shows/"shows" this approach and i'm not saying that this is a bad performance i mean this is a freakin' genius performance about middle of the song the music breaks down and we hear top begins moving to "de futura" than violin solo jumps in out of nowhere and blews our minds after that we are connected to epic ending of the kommand÷h this is very very solid performance and closer to the vander's plans but without brass kommand÷h just can't give me that satisfaction it just dont look that grand or epic anymore and those are very personal matters and about musical tastes and all that never changes the fact that this is the maybe one of the most solid live album in the annals of prog. rock and deserves a credit for solid musicianship and performance my humble opinion goes along with those numbers 5/5
Report this review (#418104)
Posted Friday, March 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another excellent live Magma album, this time presenting Theusz Hamtaahk and Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh in versions performed at a reunion concert in 1980. The style of the performance is very much in the mode of the classic Magma sound of the mid-1970s - the funk experiments of Attahk are not in evidence here - and the sound quality is decent, though as far as live performances of Theusz Hamtaahk go I don't think this one quite beats the BBC 1974 performance. Still, this is a great little introduction to Magma, and if you don't already own Theusz Hamtaahk on one or another of its renditions it's as good a pick as any.
Report this review (#565638)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Surprised!

I had $2.03 left on a gift card from a MP3 download site and this album was there for $2.00. I had not listened to any Zuehl before and so I thought what do I have to lose. I must admit that after reading the definition of Zuehl in the PA sub-genre section, I was prepared to give it a 1 star before I even listened to it as it did not sound like it would be my cup of tea, but kept an open mind.

I was surprised by the instrumentation and its similar elements of Jazz/Fusion, as well as the muscianship of the members. The gurgling, throbbing bass is interesting concept throughout the two song live album. I tend to like MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h better than the first song. Both songs grow on me each time I listen.

The vocals are the hardest part for me to warm up to and is the main thing that will hold my rating back. Considering where I thought I would rate compared to what I will rate it at is actually good. Also, I do not know enough Masterpieces in this genre to compare it to.

I still give this a 3 Star rating. Can't beat that for $2.00.


Report this review (#820668)
Posted Friday, September 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars You've probably heard the story before: Magma is a tough band to swallow at first. I've had a hard time trying to "get" their music. My first album of theirs was Mekanik Destructiw Kommandoh and, to be honest, I didn't understand what was happening. The vocals were too grating, the beat was too repetitive and the music sounded too chaotic. Magma scared me. It took me a lot of time to understand what they were doing, years, to be a bit more precise. But one day it clicked. I don't know how to explain it. One day I played it and it all made sense. The jazz-rock, that I didn't even realized at first because of the shock of all the music, grooved throughout the whole album and I was chanting gibberish and dancing all the way until the end. The chaos in their sound started to take form and everything, even the vocals, were necessary for it to click. The repetition made it all more intense and engaging (it'll grab you, alright, and it won't let you go.) Before I knew it I was downloading albums like crazy. I was hooked on Magma like a junkie. To be fair, some albums weren't as good, but I still went through.

But if you, reader, want to get into Magma, don't do as I did, don't start with MDK. Heck! Start with K.A., since everything sounds so crisp, pounding, aggressive compared to the studio version of MDK. But if you really want to know what all the MDK fuss is about, then you should do yourself a favor a get this live album. MDK is a beast! For starters, the studio version of MDK gives more importance to the orchestration and it drowns the sound of the band. In Retrospektiw the sound is evenly balanced. The rhythm section, which is the driving force behind Magma, sounds crystal clear and up front. This is the important thing here and it does make a difference, since THEY are the band, not the orchestra. The music sounds more organic and less polished, though not less tight. Magma needs to sound gritty for it to be effective. The other composition, Theusz Hamtaahk, is no less interesting, though it is a bit less explosive. The middle section of Theusz will put you in a trance and you'll end up nodding your head without even knowing it.

All in all, this live album is a must for Magma fans and for people trying to get into 70's Magma. Considering that you're knowing what you're getting yourself into, this album will deliver, and how it delivers!

4.5, but I'd rather give it a 5 than a 4. It deserves it, and you deserve this album, too.

Report this review (#929091)
Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | Review Permalink

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