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EXMAGMA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Germany


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Exmagma biography
The EXMAGMA LPs usually get filed under Krautrock, but there's nothing typically German in the way they develop their freeform experiments, that turn out to be well structured on the third hearing. No AMON DÜÜL freakouts, no metric rhythms à la CAN, and two albums that - though mostly instrumental - sound totally different. They've been often described as Jazz Rock, Fusion, or even Electronic Avant-Garde, but none of these pigeonholes could ever do them justice. Bored with YES, GENESIS, SUPERTRAMP and all the crap they nowadays try to sell you under "Symphonic-Prog", they dropped some acid and set sail for new shores, weaponed only with sticks, strings and keys.

The two German members of the group were Thomas BALLUFF from MULI & THE MISFITS (a '60s Mod-Soul band that depended on his Hammond B-3 grooves rather than on brass) and guitar and bass player Andy GOLDNER, who came from FIVE FOLD SHADE, Stuttgart's premier R&B band in the PRETTY THINGS / YARDBIRDS category. Fred BRACEFUL, the late drummer, was born in Detroit and came to Germany with the US Army in the late '50s. He was a well-paid free-lancer in the early '60s, but never quite your standard jazz drummer who'd be content to build the backbone of a rhythm section. With like-minded keyboarder Wolgang DAUNER, he formed ET CETERA in 1970, a group that released one of the few real necessary and satisfying albums of a genre that we now know as Krautrock. (Back then we didn't call it Kraut, and Rock without Roll is a four letter word anyway.) When DAUNER started flirting with the eight letter word (jazzrock, dummy!), BRACEFUL joined MAGMA, the band that changed to EXMAGMA after finding out about the French outfit of the same name. (The fact that EXMAGMA's second LP was only released in France caused a lot of "who's who" guessing among collectors, especially as the French MAGMA sound a lot more Teutonic than EXMAGMA.)

Right on, what about the music? The eponymous first LP, recorded in 72, reminds me a lot of the late '60s SOFT MACHINE, taking a direction that probably wouldn't have caused Robert WYATT to quit. There's no sign of bombastic or pathetic ingredients, which makes comparisons with PINK FLOYD misleading (unless you saw them after "Ummagumma" but before "Atom Heart Mother"). One side live, one side studio, EXMAGMA are pouring it all out and leave it up to you. Recommended to open minded explorers or acid eaters. Budweisers won't do the trick.
In early '73 EXMAGMA toured France, wh...
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EXMAGMA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

EXMAGMA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.89 | 14 ratings
Exmagma
1973
3.86 | 20 ratings
Goldball
1974
3.40 | 5 ratings
Exmagma 3
2006

EXMAGMA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

EXMAGMA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

EXMAGMA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 3 ratings
Exmagma & Goldball
2003

EXMAGMA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

EXMAGMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Goldball by EXMAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.86 | 20 ratings

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Goldball
Exmagma Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Suedevanshoe

4 stars This lemon sounds more like rehearsal noodling to me. 6 years and dozens of tries have soured the milk, not sweetened it. Anything Conny Plank touched in the 70's turned to gold in my eyes, just like Bruce Dickinson. He's allowed one stinker, for me it's Goldball by fusion/experimental German trio Exmagma.

The only song that sports any substance is Habits. It still floats along, but there's structure and fury. Then comes the delightful Dance of the Crabs, all of 53 seconds.

I'd much rather spin Thirsty Moon's Blitz. At least the experiments there are interesting. A star and half rounded up to two on my scale. Poor sound and a silly cover round out this overrated pile.

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 Exmagma by EXMAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.89 | 14 ratings

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Exmagma
Exmagma Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

4 stars Music you put on when you´re climbing trees

I think the story goes a bit like this: The band was initially named Magma, and upon finding out about Vander and his fellow Kobaians - they changed it to Exmagma. Says quite a bit about the mentality of this highly eclectic group...

This is Dadaism a la Frank Zappa, that just dabbles in muddy Krautrock waters. The music is all about having fun whilst reaching the boundaries of the musical universe, which is why this band - in my collection is filed under Kraut. There´s a Kosmische vibe going on here, it ´s just infused by the spirit of mad jazzy beats and saxophone tirades, that occasionally makes me think of those crazy Canterbury bands. One of my favorite things on this record is the drumming. Fred Braceful is actually an American that sort of seeped into the German scene, but you could easily be fooled though, because he swings with these guys like you wouldn´t believe - even when the music gets cacophonous and avant garde, which also happens quite frequently - he´s there battling it out with his German accomplices.

I talk a lot about drummers, who are able to keep things tight and rumbling yet still retaining that sloppy all over the place feel - and Fred is just my kind of guy. I´ve said it before and I´ll say it again: He can play with such a loose and effortless feel, that every now and again you wonder how on earth the guy manages to stay in an upright position and why in the blue hell he doesn´t fall off his chair. Then again he also sounds like a ton of wood dropped into a bathtub...

One of the most characteristic aspects of this debut is the organs, and if you´ve heard the new Norwegian fusion act Elephant9 and the way they wield the organs - then you´re not entirely off. Aggressive, snarling, heavy, psychedelic and distorted organs that most of the time sound like they are blasting through those old school speakers, where the artists had fiddled with the screws - or punched holes in the woofer to get that wild, blurry and messy sound.

Like I said, this is perfect for climbing trees, and if you ever come across those silly birds, that chirp like: Piuw Piuuuuuw pow PI Pow - then you might be on to the very essence of these guys - their inspiration so to speak. Like jazzy bebop - inter webbing different tonalities and rhythmic explosions - Exmagma utilizes the instrumentation similarly, but in a psychedelic and slightly more adventurous way( I still hear birds in that organ though).

If you are curious about the world of Kosmische Musik, but feel more at home in the jazzier realms of experimental music, then I wholeheartedly recommend this album and this band. You just need 2 things now: One of Exmagma´s albums and a fully grown oak tree.

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 Goldball by EXMAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.86 | 20 ratings

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Goldball
Exmagma Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Goldball at first sounds like a typical fusion album, perhaps with a bit of a funk influence, but soon enough it transforms into something a bit more interesting, with the sort of experimental, avant-garde features more associated with fellow German group Faust beginning to creep in. The overall impression is not a million miles away from the work being done by Henry Cow at around the same time, though with a bit more of an influence from American fusion bands as opposed to Canterbury jazz-psychedelia. This unique approach makes the album stand out from the fusion crowd - a trait vital when dealing with the explosion of fusion bands in the mid-1970s - but at the same time not all the experiments quite work to the same extent and it isn't the most consistent of albums.

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 Goldball by EXMAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.86 | 20 ratings

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Goldball
Exmagma Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars This album has it's strong characteristic atmosphere of early 70-s: compositions there are almost all endless psychedelic jams, but differently from usual German krautrock, one of influential sources there is funk-jazz.

First album's part is mostly all funky groovy instrumentals, melting strong funk rhythm with keyboards based spacey/psych jazz rock. Second half is different and when less funky includes much more free jazz elements. In both cases, "rock" component is quite energetic and heavy sharp jazz-rock.

I have a mixed feeling to this album - from one hand I really like that funky groove in their psychedelic jamming, but from the other compositions all are raw and bulky, in fact - just jamming on the edge of noodles. Nice music for fans of such specific genre, but for me it's often sounds too raw, structureless and sometimes just openly kind of psychedelic rehearsals session.

Interesting album but far not for every taste.My rating is 3+.

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 Goldball by EXMAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.86 | 20 ratings

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Goldball
Exmagma Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by mr.superdigital

5 stars Forget the 70's date, this is jazzrock/prog at its best. Well recorded and inventive playing. It's Krautrock but progressive & sounds like late Soft Machine, Mahavishnu, Jan Hammer, Passport, Guru Guru, some early Return to Forever, etc. But an emphasis on the rock elements. Great grooves and superior playing ability by the musicians. EXmagma is completely listenable in 2010 as anything current. This is the style of jazz rock that is still what everybody thinks is cool today for the genre. Odd time signatures. Inventive guitar playing, & classic keyboards like Rhodes lend a jazz feel at times. Really tasteful drumming too. A bit of Sax and some Mothers of Invention style musical moments. A bit experimental at times, but always with a groove. They were ahead of their time (and I just discovered them this year after 40 years of collecting good prog music.) The inventive song arrangements and construction leave you wondering where its going ...but it always goes there with a groove. Sometimes along the lines of Porcupine Tree's groove.

I as many others immediately assumed this was some sort of offshoot of Christian Vander's Magma, but this is completely different style of jazz rock. And no operatic singers with weird lyrics. Magma was French and this is German. But this a better album than some of Magma Lps. (altho there are some fierce grooves between drummer Vander & bassist Jannick Top on live recordings.) Why this band is called EXMAGMA is merely a fluke. Hard to find but definitely worth having as an essential in your prog rock collection. If you like the jazzier stuff Guru Guru did, this is right up your alley. Surprisingly good and modern sounding.

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 Goldball by EXMAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.86 | 20 ratings

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Goldball
Exmagma Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Most fans prefer this sophomore release to their debut. The songs are more structured here with less experimental and avant moments (they still have those moments though). For me it really is a toss-up between the two. I like the ideas of the debut and how raw and crazy it is, but this one sounds better and is more melodic. Gotta love the album cover though (haha).

"Marilyn F. Kennedy" is led by bass and drums then the organ comes in ripping it up. "Dada" is more laid back with keys, drums and guitar. I like this. The tempo picks up before 2 minutes followed by a haunting calm. It picks up again with some fuzz this time. "Adventures With Long S. Tea" is a little heavier as drums pound in random patterns and organ and bass provide the base. Fuzz after 2 minutes to the end. "25 Two Seconds Before Sunrise" opens with sounds that build. I like the background organ. Psychedelic sounding guitar plays over top. Nice. Love the groove here. Speaking of groove "Groove Tango Wolperaiso" is up next and it opens with guitar as spacey sounds follow. Experimental sounds come in and are contrasted with the guitar. Sax late.

"Jam Factory For People Insane" actually has some vocals on it ! They're spoken at first then he sings as the sound gets fuller. Intricate drum work follows as the vocals stop. Some crazy vocals after 3 1/2 minutes. Cool song. "Habits" opens with laid back guitar and keys. Light drums join in. It builds. Settles before 2 minutes. The electric piano before 3 minutes is a nice touch. I really like the second half of this tune,it makes me think of Miles. "Dance Of The Crabs" is a short Jazzy tune. "Greetings To The Moroccan Farmers" has some samples and piano before a minute. Flute before 3 minutes and percussion. It sounds like a sheep after 3 1/2 minutes (haha). Piano is back. Not really any melody here just sounds and samples. Sax 6 minutes in. "Last But One Train To Amsterdam" is only a minute long but it's a good uptempo track.

A talented trio that more peole need to check out.

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 Exmagma by EXMAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.89 | 14 ratings

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Exmagma
Exmagma Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars EXMAGMA were a trio out of Germany who played a brand of avant and experimental Jazz / Psychedelia. Someone described their music as sounding like EMBRYO playing XHOL CARAVAN songs.This is raw, trippy and would have fit in better if this was 1969 instead of 1973. The band was made up of two Germans and an American drummer who is incredible (they all are). Fred Braceful the drummer had been playing with the band ET CETERA but bolted when they started playing more Jazz flavoured music. SOFT MACHINE ("Third") is no doubt an influence as well with the distorted and Jazz flavoured tunes.

"The First Tune" is my favourite. Guitar and drums sounds to opens as the keyboards join in. Great sound here. A change 3 minutes in as we get keyboards, drums and fuzzed out bass. Organ then leads the way with more distortion. "Tonjes Dream Interuption" opens with bass and drums as the keyboards come in making some noise. A calm after 2 minutes with lots of atmosphere. "Interessante Ole" opens with organ as bass and light drums join in. The organ and bass really begin to dominate.

"Two Times" has some great fuzz 1 1/2 minutes in. "Trippin With Birds / Kudu / Horny" is the second side of the original LP and unlike the first this is live. It opens with the sound of lots of birds over this bubbling bed of sounds. Dissonant sax comes and goes. Other strange sounds come and go as well. Insanity. It settles 8 1/2 minutes in as drums crash away with organ.The tempo picks up 11 minutes in as we get a rhythm.The organ is going wild.The rhythm stops before 17 minutes as we get some guitar to end it.

I'm really impressed with the way these guys play, also the spirit of Krautrock is alive and well on this recording. I can't see too many people getting into this but those who like experimental Jazz should check this out.

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 Goldball by EXMAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.86 | 20 ratings

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Goldball
Exmagma Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars In their sophomore release, the Exmagma guys tend to slow down their penchant for fiery experimental jazz-rock as exposed on their debut album and move to a somewhat different strategy focused on varying demonstrations of energy ? this is "Goldball" in a nutshell. All in all, the creativity and dynamics remain unchanged, since Exmagma remains a solid ensemble where each piece of sound finds its proper place in an overall scheme. Sometimes I find myself regretting that the musical ideas don't get enough room for wider expansion, especially when enjoying the power delivered on tracks 2 and 3: I find myself wishing that the promising climaxes would eventually lead to frantic explosions of sound a- la Dzyan or Agitation Free... but well, what you hear is what you get and Exmagma is a band that on should not have anything to complain about. Additionally, band members have said in interviews that they were not too keen on showing off too much, so I guess that the time constrictions posed on this album's repertoire make sense. So, now let's take a look to the repertoire itself. The half-funky jam that makes up the basis for 'Marilyn F. Kennedy' starts the album on a joyful mood before the progressive element gets augmented by the controlled mood shifts and polyrhythms delivered on the next two tracks, 'Da Da' and 'Adventures with Long S. Tea 25 Two Seconds Before Sunrise', in this way exploring the band's ability to provide density and sonic defiance. If the opener showed the band leaning toward the Canterbury factor, the other two numbers state a closeness to the avant- garde jazz ventures of Weather Report and Return to Forever, naturally ornamented with free-form sounds that were not rare in the overall krautrock scene. Oh, by the way, Long S. Tea 25 was a nickname for good old LSD. 'Groove', while bearing a simpler framework, continues to retain the dense climate of the previous track, this time on a semi-slow soul tempo. 'Tango Wolperaiso' is a curious piece: all three musicians alternate their inputs through any turns, gradually making them fuller, in a sequence wrapped up by a funny chorale. 'Jam Factory (For People Insane)' returns to the complexity of tracks 2-3, only this time with a heavy emphasis on the psychedelic tradition (somewhere between early PF and early Gong), in this way becoming genuinely intense despite its not too frantic pace ? anyway, the percussive input is amazing. 'Habits' rounds like a mixture of "Yeti"/ "Tanz der Lemminge"-era Amon Düül II and Agitation Free, while 'Dance of the Crabs' brings a brief exercise on exciting jazz-rock. 'Greetings to the Maroccan Farmers' picks up the pieces of pure krautrock that 'Habits' had left scattered on the floor, glues them back in a clever utilization of improvised chaos, which clearly states a reference to the wildest side of experimental prog: Balluff's finesse on piano is outstanding, and so is Braceful's endeavor of tribal and cosmic cadences on his drum kit and other percussive resources. 'Last but One Train to Amsterdam' is another little jazzy piece that closes down the album on a Canterbury-friendly note: it wouldn't have felt out of place in a Hatfield or Caravan album, but in this case, it is an entertaining closure for yet another great Exmagma album. So, here we have "Goldball", a lovely example of the best legacy of jazz-oriented krautrock from the 70s.

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 Exmagma by EXMAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.89 | 14 ratings

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Exmagma
Exmagma Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars With two young veterans from Germany's R'n'B scene who happened to be talented musicians and an extraordinary African American drummer who seemed to have the swing right there under his skins and all over his muscles and bones, it is no wonder that Exmagma came to be one of the greatest acts in the jazzy trend of krautrock. All it needed was a proper cohesion that could bring together Braceful's infinite dynamics, Balluff's avant-garde sensible creativity and Goldner's vigor and refinement for Exmagma to fulfill its inherent promise. and boy, did they achieve it dearly!! The 1973 eponymous debut album is an outstanding example of experimental jazz-rock with a high degree of psychedelic heat and a lucid progressive-oriented awareness. Funny how the band's name makes a straight allusion to the trio's resignation of its original name - this sort of humor that is evident in the album covers is also present in the music itself, among the obvious cleverness provided on the articulated jams, improvisational moves and strategic variations. 'The First Tune' is the first tune in the album, although more exactly it is a conglomerated series of various tunes. With a basis of organ, bass and drum kit, the band first indulges on a slow-tempo 3 minute jam full of psychedelic vibe; the second section is a brief interlude that states a denser aura, featuring distorted clavinet and a more distorted bass guitar (pretty much like Soft Machine at its noisiest), while the drummer brings complex adornments to his steady funky rhythm pace; the third and last section turns down the density a bit while retaining the power and the funk-oriented foundation. 'Tönjés Dream Interruption' further enhances the SM connection ("Third" and "Fourh" eras) in a very robust fashion, while 'Interessante Olé' travels to the North American territory of free jazz, featuring sustained flows on organ and bass conveniently supported by Braceful's precise swing and soaring rolls. Too bad that the fade-out arrives so soon!... Anyway, 'Two Times' follows with its 2-part sequence: the first one is very soul-oriented, led by the bass guitar's pounding line, while the second one shifts to an extroverted jazz-rock climax. Again, the "too early fade-out" syndrome settles in to destroy the hope of an expanded jam of epic proportions, but well, that's OK I guess. The album's second half is occupied by the gigantic piece 'Trippin With Birds / Kudu / Horny', a convincing manifesto of Exmagma's pretentious of explosive experimental jazz-rock. The artistic goal encompassed in this 19- minute musical journey is so challenging that it really has to be a crowning moment in the history of krautrock, rivalling with the quintaessential weirdness of Faust, the exquisite dynamics of Agitation Free or the Dadaist spirit of Amon Düül II. Rivalling with the commonly acknowledged greatest, I mean. The 'Trippin' with Birds'section is a deconstructive full of electrifying tension and surreal landscapes that include ultra- spacey organ effects, tortured sax improvisations and calibrated dramatic percussive interventions. The 'Kudu' section enters a gradual transition to a jazz-rock jam partially structured under a "free form" guise, plus some extra Hendrixian ingredients (on organ, not guitar). In moments like this I can feel a close relatedness between Exmagma and other jazz-krautrock heroes such as Embryo and Dzyan. Finally, the 'Horny' section finds Goldner switching to guitar, somehow emulating Guru Guru while the whole ensemble aims at a moment of solid dispersion. Well, then the fade-out arrives too soon to let us enjoy a prolonged elaboration of this motif, but by now the attentive listener is convinced that this monster track is the perfect closure for this spectacularly abrasive gem of krautrock.

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 Goldball by EXMAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.86 | 20 ratings

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Goldball
Exmagma Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by philippe
Special Collaborator Content Development & Krautrock Team

5 stars If you love krautrock dementia and jazz rock fusion eccentries this album is for you. Exmagma is a captivating german rock collective that published only two albums in their entire career but believe me all their compositions are highly inspired, catchy, playful and cearly accomplished in term of technical skills. This second album is as brilliant as their first, delivering an impressive free form jazzy rock with lot of energy and an immense feeling for improvisation. Marylin f Kennedy starts with a trippy, stoned jazz rockin' epic ballad. An atmospheric acid piece that combines a perfectly achieved sense of improvisation with a solid rhythmical background. Adventures With Long S.tea & 25 Two Seconds Before Sunrise are moving jazzy rockin' improvisation plenty of Hammond organs, moving hallucinatory harmonies and efficient rythms. Some tracks as Groove Tango Wolperaiso and Greetings To The Maroccan Farmers feature rock in opposition sense of derision and a particular taste for avant garde. Compositions as Jam Factory For People Insane or Last But One Train To Amsterdam represent the band at their most progressive moments, with incredibly technical improvisations and constant changing moods. This band almost beat Embryo, Kraan and others kraut-jazz fusion at their own game. Supreme stuff! My favourite kraut-jazz-psych band with Xhol and Annexus Quam.

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