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Magma - Concert 1992, Douarnenez:  CD (album) cover

CONCERT 1992, DOUARNENEZ:

Magma

Zeuhl


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Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Or Magma unplugged. This is an absolute gem of a live album, a crystal clear direct-to- digital recording from a 1992 jazz festival. As the title and line up suggests, the emphasis here is on Christian Vander's brilliant vocal compositions and arrangements, and the instrumental backing is generally minimal.

The album opens with the 8 piece choir singing Emehntet-Re, a fragment from the Kohntarkohsz sequence unreleased on any mainstream studio album, over a simple piano backing. It's a piece of ethereal, celestial beauty that sets the scene for what is to follow in the next 40 minutes. Then we're into C'est Pour Nous, an Offering era piece which features Christian and Stella Vander in a vocal duet over a piano and bass accompaniment, with Philippe Dardelle doing a sterling job of propelling the piece with a bass line worthy of Jannick Top or Bernard Pagannotti.

The main attraction is the two lengthy pieces which follow. Zess (extrait) is a sizeable chunk of another work as yet unreleased in a studio version, although fragments are on Inedits, Mythes et Legendes and sundry live albums. This is Vander's Kobaian vision stripped down to its essence; massed vocals and a McCoy Tyner style piano with the trademark Fender Rhodes present and correct . Some of the themes will be familiar to long term Univeria Zekt heads, but rarely have they been performed with such simplicity and clarity. The proceedings close with a lengthy extract from Wurdah Itah, in which the already stripped down original gets a bigger vocal arrangement but another minimal instrumental backing. The essence of the Theusz Haamtaak trilogy distilled and compressed, it's a glittering jewel which may be a good starting point for those overwhelmed by the original 70s albums like MDK.

As well as being a superb drummer, Vander is a genuinely gifted composer and this album is a brilliant showcase for his ability to write rhythmically complex but melodically accessible vocal music. Although he is credited with drumming on this album, for most of the time any percussion is so low key as to be inaudible. Bass and electric keyboards surface when required, but mostly this album is just what it says; les voix, in all their glory. 5 stars if you're already a Zeuhl fanatic, but at least 4 stars whatever your taste in music.

Report this review (#107489)
Posted Sunday, January 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is indeed a splendid Magma recording. Probably not essential, as it dispenses with certain elements which might attract many people to Magma's music (this is just what the title suggests - the voices of Magma in all their unadorned glory).

If you are already a Magma fan, then this album may well be an essential listen. It certainly proves one thing - there is much more to Christian Vander than bombastic, virtuoso drumming and idiosyncratic vocalizing. The man is quite the composer, and what better way to showcase that than by bringing the group vocals to the fore with nothing more than piano accompaniment (OK, there is more than just piano - I'll get to that next).

Along with the brilliant piano accompaniment, there are Fender Rhodes (thank goodness they brought a real one out for this!), Yamaha DX7 or some variant thereof (there is no mistaking that sound!), Bass, and Vander's (very occasional) drumming. In fact, the only time I remember hearing any drums or percussion is at the end of Wurdah Itah - which closes the show.

This is a beautifully recorded concert, and a rare chance to hear Magma Unplugged as it were...

Bottom Line: If you already like Magma, get this record if you can find it. If you've never really listened to much Magma, while this is certainly a nice record, this is not the place to start. I recommend: KOBAIA (the first album) if you're more of a jazz/rock fan (certainly if you enjoyed Soft Machine's Third). M.D.K. if you're brave and you are ready to hear the full onslaught of what makes Zeuhl music so unique. ATTAHK if you'd like to start somewhere more...er...accessible - that is, more song-oriented and more grooves that you can dance to! If that's your kind of thing.

Report this review (#172714)
Posted Saturday, May 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This to me is an interesting live MAGMA album because it's so focussed on the vocals. I mean we get 8 singers, well nine counting Christian Vander who is prominent at times vocally and so impressive doing it. How can some guys get so much talent as this man is recognized as a World class drummer, and while he does drum some here(very little) he is mostly singing or playing the piano. There is a definite connection between this lineup and the OFFERING project that was going on at this time as they share all the singers plus one of the keyboardists and the Vanders of course Stella and Christian.

This live event happened back in 1992 while the OFFERING band put out it's last studio album in 1993. So we basically get a keyboard, bass and vocal setup here. Two keyboardists, well three counting Christian. Right from the first spin this felt like home if you know what I mean. I'm not usually big on vocal dominant albums but I can't tell you how talented this bunch is and I am a pretty big fan of OFFERING because of that. Oh and one of the keyboardists is Simon Goubert a German musician who shared equal billing on the album cover of that lone WELCOME album. And he drums along with Christian Vander on there! Check out the tracks here as we get "Emehnteht-Re" a short under 4 minute piece of piano, atmosphere and incredible vocals. We get almost the same sound with "Zess(Extrait)" although this is over 17 minutes. Check out Christian's vocal display from after 8 minutes to well after 10 minutes. The closer is "Wurdah Itah" at almost 16 minutes. Again vocals and piano lead the way and this sounds really good 6 minutes in.

So a live MAGMA album that almost seems like an OFFERING release in many ways. I can't go lower than 4 stars with this one, pretty impressive and surprisingly uniform and samey for a live release.

Report this review (#2568987)
Posted Saturday, June 5, 2021 | Review Permalink

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