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Magma - Live/Hhaï (Köhntark) CD (album) cover




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The Owl
5 stars An unbelievable live document. If you're not sure of where to start with Magma, plunge in right here! You'll experience everything from rapturous joy ("Kobah") to mystery ("Lihns") to breathtaking thrill rides ("Khontark"). Didier Lockwood's violin work on here is a real treat, and I LOVE that heavy, angry throbbing fuzz-bass of Bernard's!
Report this review (#22384)
Posted Friday, November 28, 2003 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the greatest progressive rock album ever recorded. Imagine Mid period Herbie Hancock's Headhunters mixed the fury of early Mahavishnu Orchestra spliced with complex extended tracks of seventies era Frank Zappa, that is this album musically speaking. The Vocals are a different story, no other group is this complex vocally. Charles
Report this review (#22388)
Posted Monday, March 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
5 stars After 1001 , Mekanik, and Kohntarkosz , all three superb and definitive albums , they just had to do a live album and what a gem this one is . They will release many live albums from those years later on , but none as fabulous as this one. I was in Canada in the 70's and Magma albums were available only by import and chances to see that fabulous music live was unthinkable so I was so eager to see if they managed to pull this off in concert and finally this one came out. I had pestered my fave record shop almost everyday when I heard this was released in Europe . What a Blast from the first second the needle hit the wax and thirty years later what a blast when the lazer hits the silice slice.
Report this review (#22389)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars So far I've heard 3 live efforts by Magma, this one is the best:

Perfect touch and body/instrument link by Christian Vander - only listen and you will understand that he is the mind behind Magma. The singers are also exceptional, especially mr. Blasquiz. Paganotti adds a really nice tone, not to mention that he takes the bass to places where it has rarely been.

The real quality of this album is the sound and harmony: The sound is excellent, crystal clear, unlike most of Magma's live efforts, and all of the band is acting EXACTLY like Vander's vision - as one entity - especially in what I think is their best composition - Kohntarkosz, in some parts the music just flows like a calm river and is resolved by the spastic rhythm. In other parts the result is simply spellbinding: for example the crescendo which starts to boost at around 4:50, the violin and keyboard are simply crushing, Paganotti's bass sounds like an angry gas pedal of a low-profile race car (although sometimes he lets his madness burst), Blasquiz and Stella's "Doweri" could go on forever and still sound more and more ominous at any stage they advance but above all stands Vander with a drum-work so precise and to- the-point...

Some parts are better than others (the live version of Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik didn't really impresse me to be honest and the introduction of members in Ementeht-Re (in kobaian) was probably nice in Paris 1975 but they shouldn't have put it on the CD if you ask me) - but for the tour-de-force of the magnificent Kohntarkosz (spelled Kohntark for non-musical or conceptual reaons) and the other compositions, Kobah (actually Kobaia), Lihns and the others where they show they really play the music the way it IS - I give it the perfect mark. They really deserve it.

Report this review (#22390)
Posted Monday, July 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have to give this one the five stars despite the fact that the guys at Charly (the company from which I got the CD) ommited "Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik". Now, I have no idea why they did thatbut anyways, Köhntark is very good. Th version of Kobaiah its somewhat different from the original version but its and interesting version annd very good also. But what really amazed me was Mëkanik Zaïn. That fast 7/8 rhythm is really amazing and its a total brain buster for any drummer that wants to try and play it (like me).
Report this review (#22391)
Posted Wednesday, January 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
Carl floyd fan
3 stars I'm not a big fan of zheul, see my zao review, seems like there is just far TO MUCH going on. But this is a pretty good album. I wish it was instrumental as the vocals are very weird to me. I must seem to hate vocals as of late, but really I don't, I am just giving a lot of albums I dis-regarded a second chance the past few days. Prog almost never sounds bad musically I have found out, at least the bands I found on this site. If there is ever a downfall its usually the vocals or noodling.

But some of the music sounds like some of the more complex fusion..only even more complex...I can def. see this as an aquired taste and something that takes a long time to get into, not for the faint of heart/average prog fan.

Report this review (#22393)
Posted Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was certainly a musical experience for me!I think that someone either loves or hates this music.I loved it!This was my first approach and now i am looking forward for more.I found this on vynil(luckilly!).For me it's certainly 4 and a 1/2.The idea of having lyrics in a made up language is 100% progressive!
Report this review (#37987)
Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the discovering of the fantastic 'Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh', hearing this live album of Magma was a little bit of a disappointment to me. The addition of the superb jazz- rock violin-player Didier Lockwood makes the performance of the Magma music different compared to the mystic atmosphere of MDK, but especially on the first one of the two cd's (the two parts of the epic 'Köhntark'), the compositions sometimes are too tedious; evenafter several times listening. Too often, the other musicians only create a carpet of too monotonous background music where too little is happening, and Lockwoods violin makes it a kind of music that is no Zeuhl (whatever that is!), but rather a sort of jazz-rock in the vein of Jean-Luc Ponty. Don't get me wrong: I love Ponty, and I love the way Lockwood plays here, but I miss the uniqueness of the music of MDK on the first cd! The second cd is a lot better, and Lockwood shows that his violin is a great addition to the Magma music I was looking for. Especially the last song, the 19 minute 'Mëkanïk Zaïn', is really great, and offers us a great combination of the Magma form MDK and the Jean Luc Ponty from his early years. Three stars for the first cd, four for the second one and five for Lockwoods magnificent performance and for the last song; that makes it four alltogether.
Report this review (#39673)
Posted Sunday, July 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm not universally fanatical about Magma/Christian Vander's output over the years but this recording is the singular and essential contribution of his/theirs to the prog archives. Great writing, great chemistry, and inspired performances. Why do they only come to the States every 20 years or so?
Report this review (#40680)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Double live album dated 1975, recorded in Paris, a kind of resumed tunes from their early period,which is also the ideal music background for Vander & C., especially in their representation of the scenic effects on stage: two sides spent in the execution of the suite "Kònhtarck" , the other one for "Mekanik Zain", even by means of the virtuosic manner of playing regarding the style of Didier Lockwood, with his powerful usual you like or hate them, without compromises!!
Report this review (#44413)
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the best live labums of all time, and this especially because of a young violinist named Didier Lockwood, who was only 17 or 18 when this album was recorded, but who would become a major figure in jazz and fusion later. (Jean-Luc Ponty gave him the violin he himself had received from Stephane Grapelli, as a token of appreciation for his playing; this truely says something about Didier Lockwood). Magma are absolutely dark and terryfing on this album, with superior vocals by Klaus Blasquiz and Stella Vander. Christian Vander proves he is one of the best drummers in prog (too often forgotten in drum polls), and the bass is a real moster (only the bass of Nic Potter on VdGG's live album "Vital" is a competition for it). Definitely not easy listening, but Magma never were. An album that often finds its way into our CD-player.
Report this review (#48343)
Posted Sunday, September 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This record is a real jewel, a treasure. Though the quality of the recording is not very good, the music is rendered far more interestingly than in the studio versions. There is something misteriously beautiful about Gabrid Federow´s playing.
Report this review (#59261)
Posted Monday, December 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Live album released in 1975 "Magma Live-Kohntark(MAGMA Hhai)". Live that had been done in Paris from 1st to 5th in June of 1975 was collected. Bernard PAGANOTTI and Didier LOCKWOOD of somewhat 17 years old join, and the music unfolded by the enhanced lineup is power that it surpasses the studio board. Especially, a sublime playing the violin, the drum, and bass of "Kohntark" in the latter half is one of the highest performances of MAGMA. Moreover, "Hhai" is a beautiful, moving masterpiece. "Kobah" is straight jazz-rock that differs from the first work. And, huge "M.D.K" shows off the magnificence to the final tune, and the feast of frenzy reaches the climax. An overwhelming violin of Didier LOCKWOOD and a superhuman drum of Christian VANDER is wonderful. "Emehnteht-Re" and "Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik" were added to CD.

It is a masterpiece of the glory period of MAGMA.

Report this review (#80898)
Posted Sunday, June 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I first heard about Magma in late 2001,in that they were a band that played prog- rock,while singing in a Kobaian language(I have never heard of any other band that has done that!) So, I decided to check this band out for myself,and I was not dissapointed! I got the "Live'' 2-cd set by Magma at Amoeba Music for $32.00 back in early 2002...Well, on to the song's...CD1 kicks off with "Kohntark Part 1(15:44), which has kind of a free-jazz feel to it for about the first couple of minutes. Then, thing's mellow down and the opera-like vocal's come into play. This song seems to flow like a river,as the tempo of it is on the slow side."Kohntark Part 2''(16:16) is next,as the first 6 minutes of it are rather quiet,with a bunch of wooing sounds in the vocal's. Thing's really get going at 6:40,with a bunch of vocal chanting, before turning into a Mahavishnu Orchestra-like jazz rock fusion jam between 7:15 and 15:45,and plenty of violin work to go with it.Audience applause end's the song. The last song on disc 1 is the 8 minute "Emehnteht-Re'',in which there is some vocal soloing(backed by drum rolling for a bit) during the first 3 minutes, and the last 5 minutes consist of violin,drum cymbal,and vocal whisper diddling..CD2 starts of with ''Hhai(9:20),which starts off with some violin,organ,and vocal work.The drum's come into play at about 2:44, turning into a jam. The vocal's come back in at 6 minutes(while the jam continue's). At 8 minutes, a fuzz bass solo ends the song(it kind of sounds like a swarm of bees).Next up is ''Kobah''(6:36),with plenty of organ,violin,and drum work,but the singing is kind of on the tacky side at times. "Lihns''(4:53) is a quiet song,with some great vocal work,while ''Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik''(6:14) sounds kind of similar to the "Kobah'' song. CD2 ends with the 19-minute song ''Mekanik Zain''(my favorite song on this set).The first few minutes are kind of on the free-jazz side,with some fuzz-bass guitar work. The song eventually builds up,and between 3 and 11.5 minutes,there is an all out jazz-rock fusion jam (a'la Mahavishnu Orchestra,with Jean-luc Ponty type violin work thrown in) The speed of this kind of reminds me of the Velvet Underground song "European Son'',but without the distortion. It is amazing how they play this fast for 8.5 minutes. The tempo slows down a bit at 11.5 minutes,and some vocal work comes into play.Between 11.5 and 15 minutes, the tempo has kind of a stomp-like feel to it. At around 15.5 and 17.5 minutes, the tempo speed picks up again. Toward the end,a fuzz bass part kicks in and the song end's with an audience applause. You have to hear ''Mekanik Zain'' to believe it! This cd is high on a list of prog-rock cd's that I like. I can hear classical,opera, and jazz-rock influences. I recommend this!
Report this review (#109185)
Posted Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Magnificent record from a great band in the apex of their habbilities. The vocals are great, and the players are top-notch. Just to hear tha amazing Didier Lockwood in the last track is worth the price tag of this imported CD. I am new to Zeuhl but to my surprise I love It. I like much better the studio version of "Kobah" but this is not bad. Please begin your Magma journey here, you will be not dessapointed.
Report this review (#120893)
Posted Sunday, May 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars In the studio, Magma's music was a powerful, spiritually evocative experience. The fact that this live document proves they were on a completely different plane live just shows how awesome Magma really is. The only thing that will cause the listener to feel a lack of energy from this record beginning to end is the fact they will be emotionally drained after the complete 30-minute workout of "Köhntark" is finished. The band weaves it's way in and out of the complex and dynamic passages, be it the jazzy insanity of "Kobah" or the delicate elegance of "Lïhns". I feel it literally impossible to convey the sense unity between the band and the music, which only heightens the unearthly experience Magma's music is. Or to put it simply, the band is on fire. I can't forget to mention especially amazing performances by violinist Didier Lockwood, vocalist Klaus Blasquiz and the man himself, drummer/visionary Christian Vander. Oh, and the bassist Bernard Paganotti is excellent as well. Actually, everyone is awesome.

My only reservation about this album is the fact that not everyone (or the majority of people) will be instantly enamored with Magma's unique (to say the least) music. I mean, they did create their own genre of music, after all. This was actually my first experience with Magma's music, and I recommend it as yours as well. The band has a bad reputation of being totally unlistenable, but that is simply not true. They just say that because it's impossible to describe in words.

Standout songs: "Köhntark", "Mëkanïk Zaïn" 3/5 packaging: Standard

Report this review (#127034)
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was my introduction to Magma. unusually for me I have the CD rather than Vinyl.

It's hard to describe this music. A bit jazzy, rhythmical, ambient, intense all at once. You must listen to this album. When you do persevere through the opening of Kohntark. i found it a bit hard to take at times.

Kobah and Lihns take you to a whole new workd of music at which the progger will fell at home, recognise parts but not the whoel, and yet be surrounded and immersed in sheer prog heaven. Hhai continues the theme: jazzy, rocky, folky with a hippy trip thrown in: I almost expected Joni Mitchell to join in.

Mekanik Zain has a interesting repeating riff played very quickly on the bass. the drums are superb but the absolute master here is Didier Lockwood. Indescribable.

An absolute must have album. esential to any prog collection. but while this floats my boat it wil not be to everyone's taste.

Report this review (#142161)
Posted Thursday, October 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. I agree that this is their most Fusion sounding release. I have never heard so much violin either on a MAGMA record. There are times when Didier Lockwood makes his violin sound like a guitar, no i'm not kidding. He's all over this album though, while Vander and Pagnotti supply the ingredients for a formidable rhythm section. Widemann on keys, and Blasquiz and Stella on vocals are the main players on this live document. They introduce three new songs on this double live record, while they play one from their debut, and two each from their "MDK" & "Kohntarkosz" albums.

It's cool to hear "Kohntark" parts one and two played right after one another to open the proceedings. I'm not sure why there is a gap of silence between the two though. That is disappointing. Anyway, after a dramatic intro to part one the song settles down 1 1/2 minutes in. The main melody arrives 3 minutes in and I like it a lot. Vocals, drums and violin lead the way.The tension builds up to the 6 minute mark when the song changes. Check out the drumming after 8 minutes. Screaming violin after 13 minutes,but the main melody of female vocal melodies and drums is fairly mellow. It ends before 15 minutes as a pastoral climate arrives that continues into part two of this "Kohntark" track. Yes it is interupted first by a gap of silence. Violin comes in early and later after 4 minutes as the instrumental work and vocals build to a frenzy. We're are cooking 7 minutes in with a good rhythm that includes relentless bass and drums while the violin is shredding. 9 1/2 minutes in the crowd bursts into applause I believe for Lockwood's amazing violin work. What a frantic conclusion to this 32 minutes of "Kohntark". The first disc ends with "Emehnteht-Re (Announcement)" a new song. It opens with solemn sounding vocal melodies which aren't a highlight. Violin joins in 2 minutes in. It all stops as spoken words follow. We then get a long instrumental section to the end of the song that is reserved.

Disc two opens with a new song called "Hhai". It begins with reserved vocal melodies that become quite powerful. They stop 3 minutes in as instrumental work gets louder. Some great bass, violin and drums follow before vocals return 6 1/2 minutes in. Paganotti just kills on this one. A very powerful sound to end the song. "Kobah" apparently was spelled wrong as it's the title track from their first album called "Kobaia". This one is jazzy sounding with vocals. A very catchy tune with organ and guitar making rare appearances. It's hard not to move to this song. "Lihns" is another new track. This has a tranquil, laid back soundscape with vocals including Stella later on. Electric piano and drums stand out instrumentally. The last two songs are from "MDK". "Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik" opens with prominant male vocals before being joined by other vocals. Drums pound away as violin plays over top. Tempo changes early before the song settles into a groove. Guitar melodies are competing not only with the violin, but the relentless rhythm with vocals. This is great ! Some fat bass before 4 minutes. Screaming violin before the song ends with some strong vocals from Blasquiz. "Mekanik Zain" is the 18 minute finale. Check out Pagnotti making his bass make unheard of sounds. The beginning is quite experimental with lots of atmosphere to follow. A melody arrives after 3 minutes. And it sounds fantastic ! The violin starts to grind it out as bass, drums and keys provide the rhythm. The violin is amazing in this frenzied soundscape. A change comes in before 12 minutes as an uptempo melody with vocals arrives. Violin is back after 16 minutes. Lockwood gets another loud applause from the crowd during this track.

I don't think I have ever given 5 stars to a double album before. It's too difficult to have that much material that is worthy of a five star rating. Highly recommended anyway as MAGMA brings down the house on this one.

Report this review (#150080)
Posted Sunday, November 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Magma and, more generally, the entire Zeuhl genre is very often lobbed in with the avant-garde music scene. Dün, one of the later initial Zeuhl bands to record, were almost invited into the ranks of the RIO juggernauts. Koenjihyakkei's hyper-active Japanese themes make them seem a jittery, super-fast insane noise generator. Meaning no disrespect to RIO or the avant-garde scene, I find that there's a vital element in Zeuhl music that distinguishes it from other styles of non-conventional, experimental, or avant-garde music. It is celestial, grand, holy music. It is celestial without utilizing psychedelic effects, droning, or the obvious methods of a standard flower-power band. It is grand without employing outwardly epic melodies and superbly dramatic, theatrical dynamics. It is holy without belonging to any given religion or creed. It is pure, instinctive, naturally arising music. It is music of the universal might, and it is magnificent.

(I must admit however, that the lyrics are of a science-fiction disposition, and the compositions and arrangements are not unlike twentieth-century classical music, and the theme of the music is often very spiritual, so therefore my previous statements may be misleading.)

What Magma accomplish is a nearly impossible thing: making ambitiously-conceptual and outwardly avant-garde music sound beautiful and lush. Just like Köhntarkösz, and Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh, Magma continue to do so. Record in 1975, in the capital of their origin, Paris, this flawless live record introduces us to some new material, extracted from hitherto unrecorded movements. Some of these movements continue stories we've already been subjected to. For example, Ëmëhntëht-Rê is a piece from the movement of the same name, which is a direct sequel to Köhntarkösz. This means nothing to the average listener, since the Kobaïan lyrics are near impossible to translate anyway. Musically, the band are at top game, with some stellar drumming from Vander, and mind-blowing bass work from Paganotti. Think Top is the true Magma bassist? Listen to this album, then Weidorje's sole release, and you may just change your mind.

The real fear of all live albums is their knack to spit out what they had just released on the studio record. Magma is phenomenal at opposing this impulse, and instead changing tempos, arrangements, or adding or removing layers and instruments. One advantage to the oft changing line-up of Magma was the diversity of every performance. This is why Magma's large catalog of live material is extremely worth the buck: the performances are very different, and the setlists often include new material. Live, or Köhntark, or Hhaï, is their first live output, and one of their more notable ones. I would go so far as to say it is the finest live record I've ever heard.

The addition of violin to the music adds another level of atmosphere, beauty, variety, and texture. Guitar is in some cases more prominent than the studio version, and in other cases completely removed. However, if the thirty minute version of Köhntark(ösz) isn't brilliant enough for you with it's brilliant reshaping, then you still have another disc and more worth of other music. Ëmëhntëht-Rê's dark minimalism will plunge you into a stormy trance, and the gorgeous Hhaï will smoothly lift you from your meditation. The absolutely beautiful melodies will haunt you. Then the jazzy Kobah (huge re-invention of the track Kobaïa) will have you grooving in your seat. Lïhns, another new piece, will testify to Magma's songwriting brilliance, and have you even attempting to sing along in your best Kobaïan voice. And finally, a twenty-five minute elaboration, including insane violin doodling, of the second side of Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh will leave you totally satisfied.

Don't think that the intensity of the original recording is lost, don't think that the sound quality is inferior, don't think that the tracks are merely sloppy imitations of the studio performance. No, every moment on here is unique and distinct, and essential. I pity the ears that die afore digesting these sounds.

Report this review (#158763)
Posted Wednesday, January 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rating: A+

Magma are, without any doubt whatsoever, one of the greatest bands ever to walk this earth. Other than the atrocious Merci, I like all of their studio CDs, and they have a fair few excellent live albums as well. From amidst this barrage of excellent Magma music comes forth one CD in particular, a CD that epitomizes the very essence of Magma's existence. It explores their jazz-fusion influences in depth, builds around their classic spiritual zeuhl sound, and tops it all off by capturing their intense power as a live unit. That CD is Live/Hhai, the first live CD Magma released back in the 1970s.

It's not often that a band's best effort is a live one, especially for a band so compositionally based as Magma. What is it that lifts this CD up above anything else they've ever done? Well, for one, it explores every aspect of Magma's sound and then creates some new ones as well. It shows the slow-building immensity of Kohntark (in my mind the greatest piece of music ever composed), then follows that up with the violin-centric, meditative Emehnteht-Re. Side two is where the fusion elements most creep in, with the two more-fusion-than-zeuhl tracks Hhai and Kobah. Lihns, which comes next, is one of the most beautiful things the band has done. Then, to end the album, we have Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik and Mekanik Zain, which together form the latter half of their epic MDK, with the addition of a bass and a violin solo.

What is there beyond the perfect tracklisting that makes this an essential CD? Well, the perfect performance, for one. I can barely listen to Kohntarkosz (the album) anymore because the highlight of that CD, the title track, is performed much better here, thanks largely to Didier Lockwood's violin. Especially during the climax, Lockwood adds a new dimension to the music that truly makes it the greatest music I have ever heard. Couple that with the intensity of Magma performing live, and you have a simply unbeatable piece of music. On the version of MDK, the band again pump up the intensity, making the original look like plain white wallpaper in comparison (it helps, of course, that on this version the drums are audible). Everything else (except Kobah) cannot be found on any Magma studio recording, so I can't compare them to any studio counterparts, but they are performed with the same intensity as Kohntark and Mekanik Zain, rest assured.

What else makes this double-CD live offering an essential album and the quintessential Magma release? Well, the way some tracks are reworked, for one. Mekanik Zain, of course, has the long bass solo introduction followed by the long violin solo, both of which enhance the piece (as opposed to some other Magma live CDs where the bass and violin solos bring it down a bit). The real gem in this regard, however, is Kobah, a reworking of the track Kobaia from their debut. It has transformed from rough jazz-rock to a hybrid of zeuhl, jazz-fusion, and pure rock, combining the spiritual nature of the first, the slickness of the second, and the energy of the third into one unbeatable mix.

If all of that is not enough to convince you that this is a masterpiece, consider this. Despite defining Magma (a difficult band to get into), it is remarkably accessible, even to the extent that I would recommend it as the best starting place for Magma. The excesses of MDK are all but absent, and while those so-called excesses definitely are part of why MDK stands as one of the greatest CDs ever released, it's impossible to deny that they help to turn a lot of users away from Magma. In addition, the crossover with jazz-fusion means that there are more potential reference points for the potential listener, again making it easier to get into. What's the key reason this CD is one of Magma's most accessible, however? It's just so damn catchy. Hhai, Kobah, and Lihns are all absolute infectious, and even Kohntark and Mekanik Zain will induce foot-tapping (to an extent).

Given all that, how could Live/Hhai be anything BUT essential? I give it the highest recommendation it is possible to give.

Report this review (#162411)
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The best Magma live album - their first, if I remember well. Nothing's wrong here, two discs of pure zeuhl. Not the album you should've listen to if you don't know what zeuhl is - be sure to prefer to discover Magma with Kobaïa or Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandöh as well. But for a person who wants to discover new musical horizons, this is perfect.
Report this review (#163974)
Posted Saturday, March 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars There is nothing I can compare this to. You'll either love it or you'll hate it. You'll probably hate it the first time you listen to it; it won't quite fit into your music vocabulary. Well, its Zeuhl. If music ever made a spiral, this is it. I am not sure what it is these guys are tapped into, but it's something special. The sounds are fluid and warm, as for example, CAMEL, but they sound nothing like this - they are not symphonic at all. This music is structured in a completely different way, again, I'll call it a spiral. For those new to Zeuhl, this IS the seminal album, but don't expect to appreciate it right away. RIO fans though, I'm sure you're already in.
Report this review (#170894)
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Right then, Magma Live/Hhaï/Köhntark - what can I say? This legendary live double album is beloved - venerated! - by Magmaphiles and is often recommended as an excellent place to begin your personal Zeuhl Odyssey... should you be Kobaïa-bound. ;-)

'Zünd 1' starts out with 'Köhntark' parts 1 and 2 (that's 'Köhntarkösz', slightly re-titled for contractual reasons, apparently!). The studio album version of 'Köhntarkösz' is one of my various joint-favourite Magma albums - that airless, hallucinatory feel, the disturbing, inevitably-processing-precision of it, that menacing, creeping clench along your spine from music that is only just on the bearable side of sinister... ooooh, I love that! But this live version - in common with other live versions I've heard - is much more sprightly and light-hearted somehow, and as magnificent as the playing undoubtedly is, it's really a bit too jolly and cosy to have the same perspiration-flecked 'horrify me' appeal of the studio version. (Well, maybe that's just me!) Suffice it to say, in slightly less garbled language, that no live performance can ever be as acoustically-controlled as a studio recording, and letting this music spread out in a large, friendly space has a completely different feel to the pressurised-gas-canister ambience of the original.

Ëmëhntëht-Rê smears its way across your eardrums with eerie vocal harmonies, before Klaus begins to whisper creepily, mouthing the performers' Kobaïan names and invoking the good old 'Zeuhl Wortz Mekanïk'. Now the famous Magma repetition gets going - endless, punishing, ticklish percussion, vocals and keyboards obsessing over the same falling 3-note figure, before subtly swapping that for a seasick lurch around a 5-note figure... and that's it. It fades out into nothing, leaving the hardened Magma addict craving more, and the Magma neophyte presumably baffled. As I write this, I'm not enough of a Magma sage to have heard any other interpretations of this piece (unless you count that bonus 'extract' that comes with 'Üdü Wüdü'), but presumably we will hear the whole thing on the forthcoming 'Ëmëhntëht-Rê' album.

Now on to 'Zünd 2'. Which... rocks. Did I say it rocks? It rocks, HARD. :-) Whilst Didier Lockwood's violin-wrangling is rather annoying in places on the first disc, here it becomes delicious decoration - fabulous frosting! The pieces on the second disc are much better suited to this lyrical, melodious, optimistic version of Magma.

'Hhaï' bursts forth with joyous exuberance: the drumming is exceptional, stupendous, like an extension of Vander's life-force! (Oh dear, sorry, that does sound pretentious. Why is it so hard to rein in the linguistic excesses when attempting to describe this music?!) Vander's vocals are beautiful, expressive, just emotional enough without becoming sentimental. For me, 'emotion' is the key word with Magma, and especially Vander. Every note, every made-up word, is there in the service of feelings - strong and sincere feelings, which (certainly for me) more than transcend their fictional trappings. I think that's a huge component of whether you are going to enjoy and appreciate this music (beyond a straightforward judgement of how good the musicianship is). If the underlying feelings reach you and speak to you, then no amount of sci-fi silliness is going to detract from that. (Indeed, a bit of interplanetary tomfoolery to keep things lighthearted might be rather welcome!)

Next, 'Kobah' ('Kobaïa', of course, in disguise) is introduced, greeted with rapture by the audience - and here, just like on any really excellent live album, the audience almost become part of the music. I could say something 'intellectual' now about 'the timbre of the room' etc. etc., but I shan't. ;-) Anyway, 'Kobaïa'! This is just a sheer delight. The song is transformed from its self-conscious, intense, weird-jazz incarnation on the debut album, and becomes Transcendently Funky. The singers are having great fun with it - everyone is having great fun with it! If you are not dancing and singing (or at the very least, tapping your foot and humming) after about 30 seconds, then I have to ask - what is wrong with you?! On the other hand, you might have to ask the same of me if you saw me leaping around ecstatically to this music!!

'Lïhns' comes gently circling in, quickly building into rapturous repetitions. I am told 'Lïhns' means 'rain', and this song certainly has a trickling, tinkling, rain-dropping onomatopoeia about it. Short, sweet and lovely. Here is one of the places where Didier ceases to be a precocious bother and at last sounds like part of the band - part of the arrangement, a welcome addition. The pizzicato 'raindrops' are just right. This piece was re-recorded sans audience (owing to problems with the first recorded attempt on stage), but it retains that lovely expectant atmosphere of the rest of the album.

Right - let's get serious! Now it's time to get on board the mothership. I hope you remembered to pack your toothbrush. ;-) 'Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanïk' followed by 'Mekanïk Zaïn' - do words fail your humble reviewer?! Unfortunately for you, no, they don't! By now, the band and audience are Somewhere Else. It won't be long before you are, too. My first impression of this heady 'best of MDK' workout was (a) Hmm, I prefer more build up with this piece and (b) Gaah, Didier, put it away, now! But it's actually become one of my favourite versions - although I'm not a big fan of the phenomenon of the 'extended jam' on the whole, this one has really grown on me. Magma's music seems to require the listener to 'get in the zone' with the performers. You have to be (horrible phrase) 'really into it' to feel the full force of the music. If you happen to be in the right frame of mind, this music really can transport you. The best word for the playing here is 'instinctive' - it all feels very relaxed and joyful, without ever being slack or undisciplined. Everyone's fantastic but I have to call Vander's drumming 'supernatural'. Managing to pound out a repetitive beat whilst also sounding 'musical', impressing that whip-strict Magma discipline on everything whilst also sounding as free and chaotic as an attack of the giggles... how does he do it?! I think there may be a Faustian pact involved! Anyway, fair warning time - more ridiculous singing and dancing may ensue when you listen to this!

Ok, so is this really the right place to start listening to Magma? I think that very much depends on what else you like musically. If you like 'fusion' more than you like 'avant' then by all means start here. But I don't think the first disc would have impressed me much, coming to it 'cold', and whilst disc two on its own is certainly worth 5 stars, a large part of the appeal of the whole album is, for me, based on familiarity with the music from other sources. It really is a celebration, a gift to fans of the band - and thus possibly best enjoyed by the hapless, helpless, irredeemable Magma freak! If like me you have a penchant for the downright odd, you might be better off plunging straight into 'MDK', 'Retrospektïw I-II', or even 'Wurdah Ïtah'. Jazz fans could give '1001 Degrés Centigrades' a whirl.

So, how many stars from me? Four: because disc one is very good, but nowhere near as good as disc two, which is Magmanificent!

Report this review (#172316)
Posted Tuesday, May 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Jazz Fusion, Zeuhl, Psych Prog and ambient darkness - how else do you describe this?

I was stunned at how chilling this music is - a cross between celtic chanting druids and gregorian monks in a dark cathedral mixed with jazz rhythms. Actually that does not describe it at all. It is simply indescribable music and definitely not for all tastes, including mine. I found it hard to grasp and a little disturbing on first listen. Then it kind of grows on you like fungus. You tend to blend in with the music and surrealistic approach like osmosis but is never pleasant as far as I am concerned. It is just too bizarre to comprehend

Each track is unique and impossible to remember. None of the tracks are designed as real songs. Kohntark is the magnum opus like epic, so large it is in two parts. The ominous menace of the music is immediately apparent and ferociously original. The unfriendly atmosphere is captured in this live document, not unlike attending a funeral at times. It lurches forward and an unsettleing cadence sets in with repetitive chanting and off kilter, out of sync guitar. At times the music is really like having your head drilled with nails and it goes on and on relentlessly.

The drums lock in after about 8 minutes and it breaks in to a kind of African metrical pattern. The female choral vocals are loud and dominant by Stella Vander, as nutty as anything from Gong. There is a violin by Lockwood that is unbearable at times as it screams across the soundscape Magma create, especially 13 minutes in. It has the capacity to chill the marrow of your bones. The vocalisation is entirely fictionalised garb from an alien world, comparable to albums with the same trademark vocal style such as 'MDK'. The minor chords are heavily utilised in order to disturb the ear with admirable effect.

Hhai is another highlight that has an excellent hypnotic effect, almost mesmirising and you hardly notice the 9 minutes have passed before the next track begins.

Kobah is definitely my favourite track on the album as it features beautiful psychedelic chanting and is a reasonable length that does not meander for decades but tells its ambiguous story and gets out.

Lihns is very strange again with a heavy melody but not a highlight by any means.

Mekanik Zain features a rather quirky 7/8 rhythm. The ethereal bass and violin are masterfully executed. In fact the entire album is bass heavy.

In conclusion, my first taste of Magma has been rather an intriguing, if difficult to digest journey, albeit a darker journey than I expected. I feel that the overall approach to the music is akin to listening to bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sunn O))) or Sigur Ros, in the sense that it takes a few listens to really appreciate the music, and even after many listens you are still unsure of how much you like the band or if indeed you like them at all. I feel that Magma are great in small doses but can be rather draining in large doses. I understand the cult following for such a band, but they are certainly not my taste, though I admittedly appreciate the originality and influence and importance of Magma.

EDIT: In conclusion, this live album deserves its cult following, and at first Magma were not my taste but then I began to acquire the taste and could not get enough of them!

Report this review (#224922)
Posted Wednesday, July 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Describing the music of Magma will always be a challenge. In his colorful 1999 autobiography 'Repossessed', Julian Cope called the band "a Utopian Indo-European head trip who sang in their own language and wrote epic percussion and vocal-based mantras about a huge personal mythology". And here's Bill Bruford, one of the more firmly grounded personalities in Prog Rock at the time, interviewed by author Paul Stump for his 1997 book 'The Music's All That Matters': "They appeared to be an elemental force that was completely unlike anything else".

Yes, but what exactly does their music sound like? After first hearing the band on their 1975 'Live / Hhaï' double disc (twenty years late, but better than never), my own gut reaction won't be any more illuminating: imagine a division of bloodthirsty Munchkin panzers laying waste to the Land of Oz.

In more conventional terms, the music of Magma is intense, complex, operatic, obscure and hypnotic: the classic '70s Prog equivalent of what would later be called Math Rock, practiced long before the term was ever coined. References are made in their albums to John Coltrane, Carl Orff, the sacred liturgical chants of Dark Age monasteries...and if by now you're thoroughly confused, join the club. The only way to fully understand the music of Magma is to hear it, and this concert recording has long been acknowledged as the ideal introduction.

Prog fans of a certain age may experience, at first exposure to the band, a thrilling sense of déjà vu. This is music that clearly belongs on the same shelf as the early MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, or classic KING CRIMSON circa 'Starless and Bible Black', sharing the same passionate commitment to an uncompromising musical vision, and likewise featuring a mix of energetic Jazz-Rock drumming, distorted electric violin, and window- rattling bass guitar lines. Simply trade the spiky lead guitar accents of FRIPP or MCLAUGHLIN for the uncanny virtuosity of vocalists Klaus Blasquiz and Stella Vander, and the result is a not unfair comparison, here beamed down from a distant galaxy. No wonder Bill Bruford was impressed.

Sides One and Two of the first LP (yes, I opted for vinyl over the available CD: the eerie gatefold cover art was too attractive to pass up) is devoted to the epic 31- minute 'Köhntarkösz', played in its entirety. The escalating jam in Part Two is what initially converted me to a diehard fan, beginning with a beautifully understated melody on electric piano and gradually rising to a climactic frenzy, sparked by a particular drum fill by Magma honcho Christian Vander that never fails to send a shiver up my spine.

A trio of shorter sings can be found on Side Three. And the final side of vinyl is reserved for the last nineteen minutes of the fan-favorite 'Mëkanik Destruktïw Kommandöh', featuring an increasingly uncontrolled Didier Lockwood violin solo over a hyperactive, serpentine bass guitar figure, leading eventually to a typically gymnastic vocal finale that may well leave you slack-jawed and drooling.

Even better, at least one version of the compact disc apparently adds a further fifteen minutes of music not on the original vinyl (had I but known...), so it's past time to upgrade, fellow Kobaïans. Pardon the lengthy rave, but an indispensible five-star classic that opens up new musical vistas to the uninitiated deserves no less.

Report this review (#244676)
Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars France sure sprouted its share of weird bands in the seventies. Magma is the most widely recognized of those. Their music started from a willful form of jazz rock that gradually mutated into a dense sound, heavy on jazz signature drums, entrancing distorted bass, and intense vocal performances in a self-invented language.

Well, the sound - or should I say the universe - that was evoked by it was so unique and out-worldly that this kind of music became known as a genre of its own, with Magma (and a few followers) as its sole representative. Zeuhl was born.

This Magma Live/Hhaï from 1975 was the first album I heard from them and I was sold on the spot. I was already receptive towards 70's jazz-rock but this pretty much blew me away. The album contains a solid performance of Köhntarkösz (a 30 minute piece from the preceding studio album). The set list is completed by a number of very attractive shorter tracks from earlier albums and the 20 minute monolith called Mëkanïk Zaïn, which only appears on this album (as far as I know). With its heavy distorted bass guitar it kind of foreshadows Da Futura from the ensuing Üdü Wüdü. My issue doesn't contain the track from their defining album MDK nor the E-Re track, which is fine, the way to enjoy that piece is in one sitting, not by a 7 minute excerpt from it.

If you like this type of music you sure own this album already. If you don't but are curious about this magnificent band, Live/Hhaï might be your place to start. 4.5 stars

Report this review (#249786)
Posted Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Magma - Live (1975)

This would even scare extraterrestial invaders!

I recently purchased Magma's Atahkk and was blown away by this totally new sound. I had to have more of this! I've spend a bit to much money on it, but it turned out to be worth it: a vinyl copy of Magma's double live lp.

The music of Magma is hard to discribe. I'll try to discribe it by a sum of words. Dark opera, psycho fusion, dissonance, music about the beginning of the earth, not-human, spacey, classical music influenced vocals. Just listen to the music if you want the complete picture, words are inaccurate.

The sound of this live recording is good, all instruments are well mixed and there's a good difference between the low volume and high volume moments. The band plays at an extraordinary rate of precision, I know of no live record that resembles this quality. Cristiaan is a great drummer, but he knows when to freak out and when to keep it functional. The vocals are intensive, but always in a controlled way. The basslines are good and functional, the keys are perfectly played throughout the concert. The choise of keyinstruments is very good, most of them originate from the jazzrock/fusion repertoire.

Side one and two. The live version of the Kohntark composition of 30 minutes. This is the darkest part of the album. The concentration is high for halve an hour and it seems no mistakes are made. The dissonant chordprogressions with the angelic vocals work very well and it makes me enter to some strange world, like the music sucks you in. Though the music itself isn't that relaxing, I do seem to get in a trance while listening to it. I don't have this very often with music, so this is a very special experience for me!

Side three. Shorter compositions, some could be discribed as songs. Most of them have clear fusion influences, except for the vocals. Magma shows it's more gentle side. The tracks are less dark, some are even angelic in happy sence. Still I get floted away to some other world...

Side four. The technical fusion abilities of Magma are shown here. Though the dark opera side of magma is omnipresent, some fusion jams appear and succeed to keep the tempo high on this lenghty live registration.

Conclusion. I've never heard something like this before, is this the one perfect live album? I don't think more then 30% of the PA collaborators will ever get to like this because of it's heavy atmospheres and unlikable freakyness. It might be even heavier then VdGG's Pawn Hearts. If you like dissonance, psychedelica, spacerock and fusion, this is your final experience! If you just like symphonic prog of the classic tradition, this might be your worst nightmare. For me this the proof people can believe in something, though it is stranger then everything else. They did this, and it worked! I think Magma can be seen as one of the progressive end-points: this is as far as we have come in 40 years of prog. And I thank them for that. Five stars.

Report this review (#249948)
Posted Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars First and possibly the best Magma live album. Recorded in Paris and released in 1975, after the band released their absolutely essential three first albums, this recordings are "the best" collection and documentary of their golden period.

Magma's music is world for its own. Avant-garde mix of Vagner,Orff, neo classicism, fusion and dark experimentalism, this music is far from easy accessible. Unprepared listener needs many spins just to catch it. But if (and when) you will dig as deep as possible and just get this strange idea, mounted somewhere between master strokes and dark classic strings sound, you will find plenty of interesting things there.

I am quite a stranger in Magma's world, but living in parallel universe with them, I can really enjoy some of their moments. Possibly, I need more years (!) to be more familiar with Kobaian way of thinking.

But even stranger ( ok, let say - stranger with some background) could find this work interesting and even enjoyable. Because of excellent combination of extra-professional drumming, dark strings and bass-line. All them build a bit nervous, uncomfortable, but magnetic space, especially played live.

One of the most attractive Magma album for me ( yes, I am stranger in their world).

Report this review (#279655)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Magma is de Hundin

What can I say about this album, that others haven't said?

Well for a kick off I bought my copy off Ian Curtis (he worked in Rare Records in Manchester) although I didn't know then what he would become.

I've given this 4 stars as It starts well and ends well but some of the tracks in the middle are just OK.

Kohntarkosz is the best live version of this track I've heard (and I've heard a lot of versions) and blows the album version out of the water. This track alone warrants 6 stars. If only they'd remaster it and release it as one track, rather than it being presented as two parts as per the original double LP.

A good place to start if you're curious about Magma, as Kohntarkosz and the edited Mekanik here are excellent.


Report this review (#330907)
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Issued in various forms - make sure you don't get the edition with the truncated track list - Magma's Live/Hhai shows the full group on top form, right at the peak of their most fertile progressive phase. With long extracts from Kohntarkosz and Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh, hints of what would become Emehnteht-Re, a funky fusion throwback to their debut and a single original composition (Lihns), the album offers a compelling and intense tour through Magma's sonic universe. Others have already extensively sung its praises, but I want to go out of my way to praise the violin playing of Didier Lockwood, which stands out amongst the many fine instrumental performances here as being particularly noteworthy. Simply put, Live/Hhai is the first stop on any exploration of Magma's live side, and should be at the top of any Zeuhl shopping list.
Report this review (#544324)
Posted Thursday, October 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This molten boulder called Magma sounds quiet impressive alive. The musicians of Magma belong to the most disciplined ones and play alive as tight and as good or even better then on studio records, which is quiet uncommon in the progressive scene. This double vinyl contains the whole Kohntark, which fill two sides with this single composition of 32 minutes. The second vinyl contains three shorter compositions on side three and a sidefilling "Mekanik Zaïn" on the fourth side.

Magma plays dark fusion with avant-garde elements like operah vocals. The music is often played in the bass spectrum with some high pitch shrieks of woman operah vocals or violins. There is a great attack to the listener and there are no commercial compromises. The tension building in the "Kohntark" lasts very long (about 10 minutes or longer) and becomes as intense as thrash/death metal. The outburst with the theme played in great speed and tension is really impressive. The music is mainly rhythmical based on the drums of the composition writer and genius of the band Cristian Vander. There are almost no symphonic melodies and the music sounds like a whole. These are disciplined musicians with no change to show their ego's. It sounds like a train. This long composition is the best of the double record.

The shorter songs miss the great tension and complex composition styl. HHai (the last of the three) is the best and also the longest. It seems that Magma is especially good in these long compositions. The "Mekanik Zain" sounds a bit like the first composition, but is somewhat less impressive.

This work well deserves four stars for the impressive first two sides of this record. Sometimes I think these musicians take themselves a bit too serious. Most of the more extreme progrockers have some sense of humor, but Magma is constantly busy creating dark and serious music. Quiet a heavy listening, but highly original!

Report this review (#743591)
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars If there's one type of album I've had a bad history with, it's the live album. I'm from the generation that gets spoiled with VHS tapes, DVD concerts, internet streams, etc. I have no understanding of the importance of a live record and have very little urge to investigate live albums. Usually, the studio version of a song is the first I hear, and it's hard to top the first time I hear something. Every live album that has ''new'' tracks has been a dud to me, including my first try with Magma on a live album. INEDITS is not a good Magma album to get, period. So, why did I get HHAI after all I've said before?

Something told me it was time to give HHAI a listen. To be fairly honest, with the resources they have, HHAI actually works to an extent. Without a brass section to accentuate the MDK pieces colourfully, Didier Lockwood's violin adds more of a fusion-y texture to the sound. The vocals are also limited to usually Klaus and Stella (not all the time though), which sucks as the core of Magma is the operatic choirs and that's what really gave KOHNTARKOSZ and MDK their power.

''Kohntark'' is really ''Kohntarkosz'', but without as much power with much of the choir and the guitars missing (Lockwood can only compensate for so much, as good as he is). ''Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik'' is exactly the same as on MDK only sped up while its continuation in ''Mekanik Zain'' is a hyperactive jamming around the main theme of MDK before going into ''Mekanik Kommandoh'' at the end. Neither is too bad, but the studio tracks offer so much more. In contrast, the reworking of ''Kobaia'' in ''Kobah'' is done rather well as the bouncy fusion fits the track as well as that thumping proto-Zeuhl did back on the debut.

Magma really does deliver very well not only on ''Kobah'', but on the other three tracks. In particular, that title track climaxes only like Magma could do it, and it's absolutely spellbinding to hear the climb. Basically, HHAI is probably the best live album I've heard, which is good credit even if I feel passive on it.

Report this review (#754441)
Posted Thursday, May 17, 2012 | Review Permalink

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