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JANNICK TOP

Zeuhl • France


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Jannick Top biography
Jannick Top (aka Jannik, Janik, etc.) was born in Marseille, but moved to Paris after a classical Russian education in piano, cello and the more theoretical side of music, becoming acquainted with many jazz-oriented musicians and recording an album with Troc before joining Magma in 1973. As the Wahrgenuhr, he helped solidify the zeuhl sound both by contributing his unique bass techniques - the trademark heavy distortion, played on a bass guitar tuned as you would a cello - and through compositions of his own, including the cult song "De Futura". Although his tenure with Magma was relatively brief (staying from May '73 until Oct '74, and then returning to record and embark on one last tour) his legacy is stamped all over Zeuhl and continues to influence bands from around the world.

Following his departure, Jannick recorded an album with the band Speed Limit, a band made up mostly of Magma alumni and in a similar jazz-rock style. When that project didn't last, he became a sessionist, working his way up the ladder of recognition and eventually recording for various well-known names. Although his musical concerns have taken a turn towards the commercial, Jannick Top has recently guested with Magma, as recorded on Mythes Et Légendes, Volume II.

The compilation album, "Soleil d'Ork" is a collection of his solo work recorded between 1974 and '80, some tracks being in collaboration with fellow Magma musicians and other important members of the Paris scene such as Richard Pinhas. The whole album retains a very Kobaian flavour and would be of interest to fans of the Zeuhl movement.

Jannick Top owns and runs Utopic Records and maintains an archive of Magma bootlegs.

Biography by Laplace.




Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Jannick Top is one of the most important musicians in the Zeuhl genre.



Discography:
Album 1, studio album (1979)
Album 2, live (1981)
...

Jannick Top official website

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JANNICK TOP Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy JANNICK TOP Music


Infernal MachinaInfernal Machina
Import
2009
Audio CD$37.29
$35.00 (used)
SOLEIL DORK(IMPORT)SOLEIL DORK(IMPORT)
DIW Records (JAPAN)
Audio CD$22.96
$31.53 (used)
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JANNICK TOP discography


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

3.68 | 17 ratings
Soleil d'Ork
2001
4.29 | 94 ratings
Infernal Machina
2008

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

JANNICK TOP Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Utopia Viva/Epithecanthropus Erectus II
1975

JANNICK TOP Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Infernal Machina by TOP, JANNICK album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.29 | 94 ratings

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Infernal Machina
Jannick Top Zeuhl

Review by MyDarling95

5 stars We all have to agree in one thing: Magma started Zeuhl without a doubt. But we also have to agree that there are a lot of bands and artists that have taken Zeuhl to a higher level than Magma did (or should I say does?) and Jannick Top is a great example, who additionaly was part of Magma and contributed in a lot of songs. Jannick Top by himself is synonim of great Zeuhl, and this album is not the exception. Every element that makes Zeuhl great is present: female vocals, dark music, shiftings and jumps and great bass BTW. I really consider this album a masterpiece, it is a suite that represents the glory of Zeuhl but taken to 2008, something really hard IMO, but still I enjoy a lot modern Zeuhl, like Magma's K.A. or Shub Niggurath's Introduction. An absolute gem, a treasure, prehaps the greatest Zeuhl work to date (really!) and my third favorite Zeuhl album, a little short of Eskaton's 4 Visions and Corima's Quetzalcóatl. A must.

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 Infernal Machina by TOP, JANNICK album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.29 | 94 ratings

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Infernal Machina
Jannick Top Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy

5 stars This album starts out sounding nothing like zeuhl. I was left wondering has this album been miscategorized? It begins as a spacey piano and cello piece that is dripping with melancholy probably an influence from Jannick's electronic band Space maybe? The album continues with the sounds of traditional Slavic folk divas like those heard in Les Mystere Des Voixes aka The Bulgarian Women's Choir with their unique and eccentric yet traditional style of a capella Slavic folk. In fact it doesn't really start sounding anything like zeuhl until track 4, when that unmistakable sound of the Mekanik Destruktiw period of MAGMA begins. With several members from that group on board here it is surprising that this sounds as unique and un-MAGMA-like as it does for most of the album.

I have to admit that upon first listen I fell in love with this, not only because it is a MAGMA-related curiosity but because it simply flows like a smooth babbling brook meandering from its source to the end point. The biggest surprise is that all of these rhythms, harmonies and the musical construction are actually based on a concept. The whole idea of INFERNAL MACHINA is recounted in the liner notes. Jannick is going for the deeply philosophical when asking if there are vibrating energy forms that are higher entities than we humans and how we relate to them. As stated by Jannick himself, "Infernal Machina thrives on the roots and energy of rock music reaching out to the contemplative lithurgic sounds from the Slavic east." He also states that he borrows symbolic elements from Pythagoreas, alchemy icons from the Middle Ages, from Bach and so on. Whoah! This is some deep stuff here.

With the proper rationing of sounds that lend to the perfect amount of time for each track and the crystal clear production I end up feeling totally satisfied after it ends. You know you have a masterpiece on your hands when you hear so many influences sewn together in an album that is basically an hour long continuous track that leaves you thoroughly entertained and mesmerized and looking forward to hearing it again. A very worthy addition to your collection from the extended MAGMA family.

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 Infernal Machina by TOP, JANNICK album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.29 | 94 ratings

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Infernal Machina
Jannick Top Zeuhl

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Jannick Top - Infernal Machina (2008)

French ex-Magma bass-player Jannick Top is often credited for being one of the main founders of the illustrious 'Zeuhl' genre. His heavy distorted and alternative grooving bass style has become a recognizable feature of most Zeuhl releases since then, including Magma albums after the Vander-Top period.

On this album Top borrows heavily from the Magma legacy, mainly re-using the minimalistic parts of the style and by re-using harmonic findings and chord progressions from the Konterkosz period. We can also find some bass rhythms from the Udu Wudu album. The album is dark and brooming and develops very slowly towards its heavy finale, with heavy drums of Christian Vander himself (and shine he does!). Top introduces a new female vocal style that reminds me a bit of the soundtrack of the 'Ghost in the Shell' movies, it has an Japanese feel to it.

Some highlights are the acoustic bass parts on the opening section, the brilliant free-jazz guitar solo near the ending, the brilliant drums of Vander on the latter parts of the album and the overall dark atmosphere. I'm less enthusiastic about the length of the pieces (for me the album could have had a running time of 40 min. instead of 55 min.), the muddy recording sound and the finale with the piano-melody that gets pretty irritating after a while.

Conclusion. Though I would qualify 'Infernal Machina' as a fine album of the genre, it surely lacks the innovative qualities and composition values that we've seen on the recent Magma albums. I always felt the appraisal for Top's role in the Magma story was a bit overdone, but this album really proved for me that it is Vander who is the sole mind behind the Zeuhl genre. Even on this album he saves the show with his amazing drums that cut through the otherwise way too lifeless sections near the ending. Still fans of the genre find themselves with another fine album that is worth investing some time in. Three and a halve stars, and by the way; a great leap forward from his Soleil d'Ork album.

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 Infernal Machina by TOP, JANNICK album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.29 | 94 ratings

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Infernal Machina
Jannick Top Zeuhl

Review by groon

5 stars An outstanding release from the former member of MAGMA. Very elegant, very zheulic and truly fantastic. What is it - a soundtrack for a pagan party? Or riding down the Styx river? Or just go shopping to your local record store? Starting slowly, calm and dark on first two tracks, it turns to more aggressive style reaching a culmination on Part 6 and sometimes approaching the heavy metal vein. Then JT returns to more traditional zeuhl sound we all heard on MAGMA's K.A. The closing tracks are pretty weird again, feels like climbing up the top of the mountain and then falling down and drowning in the Sea of Oblivion. Perfect performance of all participants, in particular, the rhythm section that is really virtuosic. Highly recommended!

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 Infernal Machina by TOP, JANNICK album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.29 | 94 ratings

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Infernal Machina
Jannick Top Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Jannick Top's Infernal Machina is a masterful attempt to create a modern Zeuhl masterpiece without compromising the elements which made the genre so fascinating in the 1970s. An album-length piece along the lines of Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh and other Magma classics, the composition incorporates all the pulsing rhythms and choral vocals you expect of vintage Zeuhl but also adds some more modern elements - there's electronic samples and interventions here and there, and in the final track Resolutio there's a brash and dirty guitar solo which wouldn't be too out of place on a Nine Inch Nails album. Overall, it's a dark and fascinating album which is a real grower; it might not sound too special at first, but the adept way in which it builds to the climax of the piece makes it addictive stuff.

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 Infernal Machina by TOP, JANNICK album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.29 | 94 ratings

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Infernal Machina
Jannick Top Zeuhl

Review by BrufordFreak

5 stars Consistently one heck of a powerful journey. IMHO, MDK is the only Zeuhl album to do it better.

Part I (10/10) is majestic, mysterious, melodic, beautiful. Cave raindrops! Bowed bass!

Part II (8/10) introduces the vocal which reminds me of the diotonic stylings of the female folk singers of Les Voix Mystères de Bulgarie

Part III (10/10) starts with distorted electric guitar rhythm chords, bowed bass, and intense 'Bulgarian' chanting (and screaming?is that you, Stella?). Shifts at 2:20 to deep metal-like electric power chords from the rhythm section accompanied by female voices. A brief but oh-so effective pause at the 3:00 minute mark opens the door for the full-band unified pulse of ecstatic marching. Amazing!

Part IV (7/10) introduces (with an electronic crash) a slower, more methodic, plodding pace with a now-male chorus (among whom is the unmistakable voice of MAGMA's KLAUS BLASQUIS)

Part V (10/10) is amazing for its pulsing bass, slow and steady drums, and electric guitar chords. The low male breath-chants, a few 'Bulgarian' voice chants, and a Math Rock section of guitar chords usher in a change in tempo?and with it a real sense of immediacy, even urgency. Like, "Oh my God! It's happening!"

Part VI (10/10) sees an insidious increase in tempo?and urgency?as Persian horns carry a religious melody into the sacred ritual. WOW!! This is AMAZING! 2:50: Piano. 3:20 searing guitar solo with amazing bass & rhythm chord progression in background. Cycling back to 'Persian' horns, male breath chants, female 'Bulgarian' chant, all weaving together with frenetic drumming and electric guitar soloing like Sir ROBERT of FRIPP at his stool-offing best.

Part VII (8/10) is like a cooling waterfall flowing down over the hot coals?piano and cymbol play doing most of the cleansing. 1:45 shift in rhythm section to syncopated pulses of bass and low male voice grunts. The piano and cymbols continue their flood of erosive notes. 3:20 and 3:50 see first true nods to CHRISTIAN VANDER/MAGMA sound & style.

PART VIII (9/10) returns to the very same piano single note pounding of Part VII with the now VANDER-crazed drumming going crazy behind and some MAGMA-like choral work dispersed here and there. This is really the drummer's song. Awesome ascent of scale by TOP's bass chords.

Part IX (7/10) sees an inversion and minoring of the musical/piano chords while the same frenzy of drums and other rhythms go on all around it and the repetition of a monotonic pattern of staccato choral notes.

Part X (8/10) continues the frenzy party of Part IX with little or no difference (more cymbol crashes, increased vocal volume, variation in vowel sound used for staccato vocal notes, guitar chords become patternized, circular).

Part XI (8/10) sees a transition to rhythm guitar rock chords, deep throbbing bass line, more 'controlled' drumming, a return and interweaving of previous vocal lines, along with the introduction and intertwining of a new vocal line?which ascends to take us to the culmination point.

Resolution (8/10) seems to be a kind of driving disco-version of Part VI and VII with the Persian horns and male vocal grunt pattern. At 1:50 the electric rhythm guitar chords and female 'Bulgarian' voices take a turn before giving way to the 'Persian' horns and male grunt section for fifteen seconds. Back and forth the female and male chanting trade again and again into the final minute of the song when we are reunited with the 'cave raindrop' music of the opening song to close.

This is definitely a masterpiece of amazing music?Zeuhl or not. Definitely one of the two or three best albums from 2008.

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 Soleil d'Ork by TOP, JANNICK album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.68 | 17 ratings

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Soleil d'Ork
Jannick Top Zeuhl

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

2 stars I hate to be the dissonant voice here but I really can't hear the merit of this Zeuhl album. As much as I adore Jannick Top's bass guitar, he doesn't convince me at all here.

The album consists of Jannick Top recordings from the second half of the 70's and mainly features alternate versions of songs he wrote for Magma's Üdü Wüdü, even though some come with an alternate title. None of these versions adds anything to the known Magma takes. Quite the contrary, despite the involvement of Blasquitz, they sound lifeless and muffled. It's like Magma with all sparkle and creative vigour sucked out of it. Da Futura suffers most of all, without Vander's drums it remains a monotonous and lifeless affair.

Only half of the album consists of original material, but also that remains rather demo-ish and ultimately unfulfilling, the funky Utopia Via and Mekanik Machine have potential but the demo quality makes them a difficult listen. An exception comes with La Musique Des Sphères, a very dark and atmospheric instrumental with a haunting synth and eerie tribal percussion. It evokes a cosmic ambience not unlike Magma's Ork Alarm, another Jannick Top composition. Glass is the 4th and last bit of original material and would make good film music.

Even considering myself quite a fanboy, I fail to see how this collection of alternate takes and demos would interest anyone but the really dedicated fans. Apart from La Musique Des Sphères, there's nothing with much appeal.

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 Infernal Machina by TOP, JANNICK album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.29 | 94 ratings

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Infernal Machina
Jannick Top Zeuhl

Review by Triceratopsoil

5 stars Jannick Top's second album, Infernal Machina far outshines his previous effort, Soleil D'Ork (although the latter was also quite good). While Soleil D'ork mostly consisted of reworkings of previous songs Top had been involved with, Infernal Machina is all new material, in the form of a single epic Zeuhl piece.

Infernal Machina features an extensive lineup, including many members of Magma. Christian Vander's drum playing doesn't stand out or shine as much as in some of his best works, but its simplicity fits the music very well. Top's bass playing is magnificent, very intense and featuring a lot of very low notes. This, combined with the relatively quiet but very distorted guitars, lends a much heavier feel than, really, any of Magma's work. This is somewhat counteracted by beautiful layered female vocals.

Infernal Machina exemplifies extraordinarily well the musical concepts of theme and variation; many times throughout the piece we hear variances on earlier parts, which helps to contribute a strong feel of unity to the entire album. Still, the parts which Jannick Top has split his creation into are each distinctly different from each other; this does not prevent them from being fully connected.

This album builds as it goes, up to a few climaxes (the highest being the guitar solo from Part VI) and then releases tension, only to build up again. Because of this, Infernal Machina has the feel of a complete work; surely Top's masterpiece.

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 Soleil d'Ork by TOP, JANNICK album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.68 | 17 ratings

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Soleil d'Ork
Jannick Top Zeuhl

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Jannick Top was a Magma bassist for years. This album is his debut (but in fact it is a collection of his solo pieces, recorded during some years). Some Magma musicians participated on this recording, so it is not strange that music there is zeuhl.

I am not a Magma maniac, even if I can find many their moments quite interesting. So, speaking non-Kobaian language, what the listener can find there?

Very characteristic bass from Jannick for sure. Then, tribal drumming, strongly Carl Orff influenced neo-classical chorals. Dark industrial atmosphere. Some funky groove. Hypnotic pulsation. In whole - strange parallel world. Can't imagine someone can love this music, but for sure it is not your regular sleepy neo-symphonic clone. Music for adults with interest on other side of life.

Are these compositions interesting? Yes, for sure. Is this music pleasant? No way!

Possibly I am not enough deep in Kobaian world, but if early Magma's albums sounded as picture of outer world (space?) for me, with all that meKaniK dark industrial totalitarian sound, this Jannick album, strongly Magma-influenced, sounds as soundtrack for excursion to cold-war time Soviet bunker (we have such kind of entertainment for tourists there, and it is an expensive one).

Great thing with this music is - it works. Bad thing - how much I am interested to accept this soul-destruction meKanism flying around of my rebel's soul. Anyway, this music is not soundtrack for escalators.

Possibly valuable release for Magma fans. For all others - just think twice before you will push "Play" button.

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 Infernal Machina by TOP, JANNICK album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.29 | 94 ratings

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Infernal Machina
Jannick Top Zeuhl

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars If there is one bassman that needs little introduction or any additional effusive praise in the wonderful world of prog, it must be France's Jannick Top. His legend is firmly anchored within the community, mainly for having taken the glorious instrument into deeper and unchartered realms, a unique style that serves not only the groove but the overlying sonic insanity that Magma have the recipe down pat. Heavy, lumbering, fanatical and devastating are words that describe well the feel and mood his bass spews with controlled abandon. Esteemed colleague sinkadotentree has been largely responsible for introducing me to this suspenseful marvel, another Carmina Burana dive into the abyss of tectonic torture and a foretaste of the upcoming Magma masterpiece. As a massive suite with blending parts, this is really nothing more than one colossal slab of molten, phosphorescent and distressing prog of the zeuhl variety, slowly evolving from early sizzles into a firestorm of unprecedented proportions , marshaled by Top's Rottweiler bass, a growling menace that snarls, barks and ultimately bites hard and bloody. In many ways, I consider this heavier than certain extreme forms of metal, as the concept is way more mechanically destructive, as presented on the fifth section (Part 5), a delirious barrage of insolent vehemence that shatters any pre-conceived predictability (pop music this ain't, bubba!), schizoid guitar ramblings welding within the frenetic pounding of the drums and a relentless semi- Arabic tinge as if the desert opened into a subterranean chasm. Needless to say (and as to be expected), a heavy use of volcanic piano is entrusted in the role of hypnotizing the theme in a style that can be hard to explain in words. Part 7 reverts to some semblance of melody, with a delicate piano pressing the crashing cymbals along, displaying their cooler jazz tendencies clearly "sans equivoque", crawling back into the insistence that is their unique claim to fame, repetitive lines hammered into the psyche with no pity, imagine a hard- assed Soft Machine (I have always felt the existence of certain parallels between these two classic bands). By Part 10, things get into the whirlwind mode, swirling like fluttering ash expulsions, the voice effects and the nuclear piano bashing away like some narcotic. The infernal electric guitars begin their trash attack, shuffling, scratching and clawing assiduously. Sounds like a soundtrack for a new 'The Omen" sequel. Part 12 gets really experimental (or as I like to say, "just plain mental"), a modern binary beat pulverized into a delirious pulp that inspires lunacy. What a finale! Surely a candidate for the bizarre album of the new millennium (well never so odd for the Kobaïans!).

I am not necessarily a zeuhl fanatic (more of an admirer) but I can understand the shock that this will cause when eared by the believers. I just follow the bass patterns and go to heaven (a darker version though). 4.5 seismic quakes

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