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MAGMA

Zeuhl • France


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Magma biography
MAGMA is a progressive group led by drummer/composer/vocalist Christian VANDER that has been active in the 'classic period' and in the 21th century. The music of MAGMA is often categorized as 'Zeuhl' (which means 'celestical' of 'heavenly' in Kobaïan, MAGMA's own language). The band doesn't clearly fit in any other progressive subgenre, though avant-prog would qualify.

Swirling riffs in odd time signatures, theatrical choir arrangements, heavy and distorted pulsing bass guitar, bombastic and minimalistic (sometimes both at the same time), dark and brooming, adventurous and angelic, jazzy or classical, but always with the highly innovative and original drums of founder and main composer Christian VANDER. The music of MAGMA is adopted by the progressive rock movement, though even for progressive standards it is very hard to get into because of its 'other worldly sound' and its extended compositions of often more then thirty minutes. The band has had almost no connection whatsoever with other bands of the progressive genre, though in France it would prove to be a big inspiration for other Fusion and Zeuhl bands. It is often though that the modern classical music of Carl ORFF (for instance Carmina Burana) must have been a big influence to MAGMA. VANDER himself has claimed on several occasions that his main influence was the jazz saxophone player John COLTRANE, and listening to COLTRANE's version of 'My favorite things' we do find a hint to what was to become the Zeuhl genre. Legend goes that MAGMA was formed after a vision that was revealed in a dream of Christian VANDER about a spiritual and ecological future for mankind. This vision would influence the three different multi-part saga's, namely the Kobaïan saga (debut and 1001 Centigrates), the Köhntarkösz triology (Kohntarkosz Anteria or K.A., Köhntarkösz and Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré) and the Theusz Hamtaahk triology (Theusz Hamtaahk, Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh or M.D.K and Wurdah Ïtah). The third studio-album of MAGMA, M.D.K., is often seen as the genre defining Zeuhl album, whereas the first two MAGMA albums have stronger jazzrock/fusion leanings and less Orffian choir arrangements.

Being heavily disturbed by his vision, classically trained drummer and composer Christian VANDER formed the first version of MAGMA in 1969 in Paris as a means to give musical expression to his fears for humanity. With a small list of fusion and rhythm and blues musicians, among them some wind-players and one of MAGMA's mai...
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Buy MAGMA Music


Riah SahiltaahkRiah Sahiltaahk
Import
Jazz Village 2014
Audio CD$12.77
Mekanik Destruktiw KommandohMekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh
Import
Imports 2003
Audio CD$30.55
$24.43 (used)
KohntarkoszKohntarkosz
Import
Seventh Records 2013
Audio CD$36.00
$45.65 (used)
Zuhn Wol Unsai: Live 1974Zuhn Wol Unsai: Live 1974
MADE IN GERMANY MUSI 2014
Audio CD$12.79
$12.49 (used)
TrilogyTrilogy
Box set
Snapper UK 2012
Audio CD$16.19
$20.33 (used)
Felicite ThoszFelicite Thosz
Import
Seventh Records 2013
Audio CD$14.25
$12.95 (used)
Udu WuduUdu Wudu
Import
Indie Europe/Zoom 2003
Audio CD$6.44
$12.88 (used)
Les Voix-Concert 1992Les Voix-Concert 1992
Import
Imports 2004
Audio CD$19.92
KobaiaKobaia
Import
Seventh Records 2013
Audio CD$25.16
$99.98 (used)
Wurdah ItahWurdah Itah
Import
Imports 2009
Audio CD$31.17
$30.39 (used)
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Giants of the Big Band Era: Les Brown by Les Brown (CD, 1994, Magma) US $0.99 [0 bids]
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MAGMA - UDU WUDU (1989 Tomato) 1st Press Import CD FRENCH PSYCH / PROG ROCK US $17.99 Buy It Now 2 days
Symphony 4 Magma / Path & The Traces, Jarvi, Paavo, Acceptable US $2.21 Buy It Now 2 days
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PATRICIA DALLIO CHAMPS DE MARS 1993 CD Art Zoyd Magma Alain Eckert JEFF GREINKE US $7.60 [2 bids]
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PATRICIA DALLIO D'OU VIENT OOP 1995 CD Art Zoyd Magma Alain Eckert JEFF GREINKE US $8.50 [2 bids]
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DALLIO PATRICIA PROCESSION 1992 CD Art Zoyd Magma Alain Eckert JEFF GREINKE US $7.07 [0 bids]
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Giants of the Big Band: Artie Shaw by Artie Shaw (CD, 1990, Magma) US $2.00 Buy It Now 7 days
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Christian Vander - Magma - Wurdah Ïtah - Tristan & Iseult / Barclay, France LP US $26.99 Buy It Now 7 days

More places to buy MAGMA music online Buy MAGMA & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
  • AmazonMP3: Search for MAGMA DRM-Free MP3 Downloads @ AmazonMP3 (USA Only) | AmazonMP3 (UK Only)

MAGMA shows & tickets


  • Magma at Le Triton, Les Lilas on 5 Nov 2014
  • Magma at Le Triton, Les Lilas on 6 Nov 2014
  • Magma at Le Triton, Les Lilas on 7 Nov 2014
  • Magma at Le Triton, Les Lilas on 8 Nov 2014
  • Magma at Le Triton, Les Lilas on 12 Nov 2014
  • Magma at Le Triton, Les Lilas on 13 Nov 2014
  • Magma at Le Triton, Les Lilas on 14 Nov 2014
  • Magma at Le Triton, Les Lilas on 15 Nov 2014
  • Magma at Le Triton, Les Lilas on 19 Nov 2014
  • Magma at Le Triton, Les Lilas on 20 Nov 2014
  • Magma at Le Triton, Les Lilas on 21 Nov 2014
  • Magma at Le Triton, Les Lilas on 22 Nov 2014
  • Magma at Les Tanzmatten, Sélestat on 5 Dec 2014
  • Magma at Stereolux, Nantes on 29 Jan 2015
  • Magma at Le Rocher de Palmer, Cenon on 30 Jan 2015
  • Magma at LE BASCALA, Bruguières on 31 Jan 2015

MAGMA discography


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

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

4.04 | 304 ratings
Magma (Kobaïa)
1970
4.13 | 286 ratings
1001° Centigrades
1971
4.27 | 611 ratings
Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh
1973
4.09 | 326 ratings
Köhntarkösz
1974
4.19 | 224 ratings
Ẁurdah Ïtah (Christian Vander)
1974
3.73 | 276 ratings
Üdü Ẁüdü
1976
3.69 | 240 ratings
Attahk
1978
2.47 | 141 ratings
Merci
1984
3.77 | 74 ratings
Mëkanïk Kömmandöh
1989
4.28 | 442 ratings
K.A
2004
4.16 | 376 ratings
Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré
2009
4.03 | 277 ratings
Félicité Thösz
2012
3.94 | 7 ratings
Rïah Sahïltaahk
2014

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

4.44 | 168 ratings
Live/Hhaï (Köhntark)
1975
3.09 | 33 ratings
Inédits
1977
3.87 | 61 ratings
Retrospektïẁ III
1981
4.48 | 92 ratings
Retrospektïẁ I-II
1981
4.05 | 16 ratings
Concert 1992, Douarnenez:
1992
3.32 | 27 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
1995
2.64 | 14 ratings
Concert 1971, Bruxelles - Théâtre 140
1996
4.42 | 18 ratings
Concert 1975, Toulouse - Théâtre Du Taur
1996
4.03 | 40 ratings
Concert 1976, Opéra De Reims
1996
4.13 | 44 ratings
BBC 1974 - Londres
1999
4.55 | 54 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie
2001
4.09 | 21 ratings
Bourges 1979
2008
3.21 | 10 ratings
Live In Tokyo
2009
4.38 | 8 ratings
Zühn Wöhl Ünsaï - Live 1974
2014

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

4.07 | 36 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie Au Trianon
2001
4.44 | 16 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
2004
4.11 | 45 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume I
2006
4.12 | 46 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume II
2006
4.48 | 55 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume III
2007
4.45 | 48 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume IV
2008
4.73 | 11 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Epok V
2013

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

3.60 | 11 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes
1985
2.47 | 8 ratings
Kompila
1997
3.56 | 16 ratings
Simples
1998
1.86 | 12 ratings
Spiritual
2002
2.50 | 11 ratings
Über Kommandoh
2004
4.00 | 5 ratings
Archiw I & II
2008
4.67 | 51 ratings
Studio Zünd
2009
3.38 | 7 ratings
Trilogy
2012

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

4.00 | 4 ratings
Kobaia/Mûh
1970
4.00 | 4 ratings
Mekanïk Kommando / Klaus Kömbälad
1972
4.50 | 6 ratings
Mekanïk Machine/Köhntarkosz
1974
2.33 | 6 ratings
Ooh Ooh Baby / Otis
1985
3.86 | 29 ratings
Floë Ëssi / Ëktah
1998

MAGMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Rïah Sahïltaahk by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.94 | 7 ratings

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Rïah Sahïltaahk
Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars RÏAH SAHÏLTAAHK is listed by most sources as a new studio album by MAGMA but it is in fact simply a re-recording of the first track of the same name from their second album "1001 Degrees Centigrades" which came out all the way back in 1971. This album clocks in at a mere 24:24 so no matter what it "officially" is, this is a freakin' EP in my book. This is one of those projects that makes you scratch your head and wonder why such a thing was necessary. To the casual listener there seems to be few differences between the two but a more careful inspection and repeated listens does yield some substantial changes. Just check out the lineup between the 1971 version and the newest of 2014.

1971 verison

- Christian VANDER : vocals, drums, percussion - Klaus BLASQUIZ : vocals, percussion - François CAHEN : acoustic & electric pianos - Francis MOZE : bass - Teddy LASRY : clarinet, sax, flute, voice - Jeff SEFFER : sax, bass clarinet - Louis TOESCA : trumpet

2014 version

Stella VANDER : vocals Isabelle FEUILLEBOIS : vocals Hervé AKNIN : vocals Benoît ALZIARY : vibraphone James MAC GAW : guitar Jérémie TERNOY : piano Philippe BUSSONNET : bass Christian VANDER : drums, vocals, piano

On the newer version basically we get no horns, more female vocals and a vibraphone. Also the production is quite different as well. The music is one continuous track on the original but only clocks in at 21:45 so a few minutes shorter. On the newer version we we get eight separate tracks that constitute the movements. The artwork is remnant of the original album as well only instead of duct tape grey it is a glimmering silver with the MAGMA emblem wrapped around the front and back instead of boldly displayed in full on the front.

This is story on the Seventh Records website: RÏAH SAHÏLTAAHK is the name of the Kobaïan who left after all the others, despite their disapproval. He thought he was better than anyone else and he was sure he could convert Kobaïa's enemies to the Kobaïan spirit. But he failed and left alone for Kobaïa. On the symbolic stop-over planet, Malaria, he has to face the raging elements he thinks he can dominate. With his ship almost sunk, he ends up begging them - to no avail. He will disappear. Drowned, swept away by the frenzied elements. After the noise? silence. At dawn, only a finally calmed remains, enlightened by the soft beams of the sun in this new day.

Honestly, I can't say I really like one thing better than the original. The first thing you notice on the new version is that the tempo is just a bit slower and the production is amped up which seems too beefy for some reason. The original version seemed to have more spontaneity and improvisation in the zaniness department. Absent are the blood-curdling screams and high pitched freakouts during frenzied time-outs from the main scheme of things. I actually really love the horn sections of the first two MAGMA albums and find that here Vander sounds like he is trying to MDK his earlier works. This just seems unnecessary to me as a fan, but as a man Christian Vander who has obviously been pining over re-releasing this for sometime just had to bring it to fruition. Now that he has I am dumbfounded by his decision to carry through when, to me at least, the original is the superior. I categorize this as indulgently unnecessary so I cannot give this the same five star rating that I gave the "1001 Degrees Centigrades" album, however this music even if inferior to the original is still completely enchanting and simply MAGMA-nanimous so to give it less than four stars would simply be a crime against humanity. I just hope this isn't the beginning of a trend to repackage the entire back catalog when MAGMA proves time and time again that as a musical outfit it is quite capable of releasing fresh and relevant music in the 21st century.

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 Rïah Sahïltaahk by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.94 | 7 ratings

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Rïah Sahïltaahk
Magma Zeuhl

Review by jazz2896

4 stars It pains me to give this album 4 stars, in my personal opinion this would easily be a 5 star release, but my opinion is not and should not be everyone's opinion, so hear me out. I am a die hard fan of Magma, there is not a single piece of recorded material from this band that has not reached my ears, and I find it all utterly fantastic, including this amazing new release by the band. Gone is the horn section and the fretless bass, and to replace them we get some heavy fuzz bass, gloriously pristine guitar, female vocals, and vibraphone. Of course this brings a completely different sound to the band, and it makes this version of the piece sound much more planned out and mature, as opposed to the original's more quirky, wild sound. This is what makes this album very worthwhile to the Magma fan, it shows Vander's maturity as a composer. His ability to take the original piece, change very few notes, and give the piece a completely different texture and atmosphere is where the magic lies on this album. Yet this is also why I am going to give this album 4 stars, it is completely essential for the Magma fan, for it's a great way to see how Vander's composing and arranging skills have grown throughout the years and his various projects, but to the general prog fan unfamiliar with this genius's work, this may be of less interest, and the original would probably be the best bet for the Magma newcomer.

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 1001° Centigrades by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.13 | 286 ratings

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1001° Centigrades
Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The Kobaian zeuhl rhythms that came bursting forth on the debut album seem to have wrested control from the other jazz-fusion tendencies of Christian Vander and his strange new musical entity MAGMA. On their second album 1001 DEGREES CENTIGRADES, that zeuhl bursts onto the scene right away indicating that a transition was taking place from the all encompassing type of a fusion to a more focused one that was quickly establishing itself as an entirely separate subgenre within the progressive rock world. However despite the ongoing battle between the newly formed zeuhl sound and jazz, it is the jazz-fusion aspect of the music that ultimately dominates the soundscape as it still retains a horn dominated arrangement. The operatic Orff inspired female vocals haven't come to be yet and the band began the continued decline in band members due to disagreement in musical direction. On this album Claude Engel took off leaving one less guitarist two other band members left and were replaced.

I love this album a lot. It takes a lot of the zaniness of the debut but it is clearly more refined and focused. The zeuhl developments seem to add a stabilizing effect to the whole thing. The midway point between the full-on frenzy of anything goes jazz-fusion to the total loss of it is a successful formula that finds zeuhl rhythms accompanied by beautiful jazz tinged melodies that have beautiful horn passages, lovely flute and clarinet parts and of course, frantic and frenzied Kobaian language skills finding itself shouted, screeched, screamed and uttered in startling ways. This album like the debut is one of my favorite MAGMA albums and although I love their entire output it is these first two that I find the most exotic and adventurous and unpredictable. As Christian Vander kept pushing the band towards the fully fledged zeuhl that would come to be on "MDK" it caused a rift in the band and ultimately saxophonist Jeff Seffer and keyboardist Francois Cahen would leave to form Zao which would continue the musical style of the first two MAGMA releases.

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 Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie by MAGMA album cover Live, 2001
4.55 | 54 ratings

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Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie
Magma Zeuhl

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Whatever your opinion, not one can say that Magma treads a path travelled by many. In progressive rock there are many a genre and direction but, however, few bands can honestly claim to be all that unique. (By "unique" I mean a sound that is only yours and where similarities to others are in abscense.) Ideas and inspirations are traded frequently and that is good. Magma are, on the other hand, a band which (nigh on) never took the path down the more walked upon soil in the land of Prog. They have maintained their sound and identity through out the ages and continue to do so. There is really no other band like them. That can be for better or worse but at least they are intriguing and genuinely groundbreaking.

My first venture into Magma was by way of their first, the self-titled one from 1970. Now there was something of a shock. I had never really heard anything like it but I loved it nevertheless. The rest is history, really. I cannot claim to have been able to squeeze myself into all of the music in the way I have done with some other bands. To enjoy Magma you need to give it time. This is not Music for the faint hearted. The chanting and terrifying (I cannot describe it in any other fashion) musical landscape can be frightening but all the more rewarding therefore.

This box is a collection of Three suites recorded in the year of 2000, though written way back in the early 70's. The first suite, Theusz Hamtaahk, is a really stripped down performance. The bass is in the foreground, as often with Magma, along with Vander's Amazing drumming. At times one do understand the power of chanting in what we like to call "primitive" cultures, being the gateway to connecting with the gods. It is really out of this World.

The second disc is a rendition of Würdah Ïtah. Again, so well played and conducted. Just like with Theusz Hamtaahk the songs blend into one Another making it a really long piece of Music, flowing seamlessly together.

The third disc is probably Magma's most famous work: Mëkanik Dëstruktiw Kömmandöh. Again, this was recorded way back in 1973 but the live version on this box is really outstanding. I have Always loved MDK, hailing it as one of prog's greatest efforts. Though I am not normally partial to live renditions, I have to say that this is magnificent and a real treat. There are certainly othe live offerings of this suite but I think this just a tiny bit more interesting, It sounds different and why shouldn't it? Nigh on 30 years after the album was released, why wouldn't it sound slightly altered? Again, Magma is an entity of it's own and though basking in their own sun of Zeuhl they do transform within their own universe.

When all is said and done, how am I going to rate this box, then? I guess for newcomers this box could be a good place to start but I would recommend the original MDK from 1973. On the other hand this album shows off Magma's larger than life persona in the grandest of ways. I hold this box as something of a favorite in the canon of Magma and it showcases the band at it's best. (It's peak would be almost insane to write since they've almost been at the peak all through their career. I will not mention Merci in this Review, though I just did.) So, based on the sum of Everything I have to give this box four stars. It is brilliant, challenging and utterly rewarding. Great progressive music from the masters of Zeuhl.

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 K.A by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.28 | 442 ratings

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K.A
Magma Zeuhl

Review by admireArt

4 stars Not out of this earth!

Everybody kind of got the picture that there are some "prog sub-genres" which were actually fashioned to fit the "untaggable" or the "new" or the "yet to come", progressive bands. The ZEUHL's category obviously was designed for MAGMA. Kind of a privilege if you come to terms with the idea.

Music wise or composition wise, ZEUHL's rootings are Neoclassic, Romantic, , Modern and Fusion (which means modern Jazz). And I will add "Opera and Operetta" as in MAGMA's "K.A." , 2004.

The material was in large part, originally composed by drummer Christian Vander during 1973-1974. Aside from Christian Vander's made up spoken "language", K.A. is really not that extreme or obscure. Opposite to that, it is quiet friendly for anyone used to RiO or AV's plasticity in musical languages.

As far as "K.A.", which was released like 30 years later, continuing MAGMA''s undisputable legacy, the 3 musical movements or "acts" (they are not exactly songs) are composition wise "flawless" and yet stuck in time by its own date of composition and influences.

So it is not actually a 2004 MAGMA project. It sounds like an un-released 70's project, and some of its then "modern" Classical music "likings and influences", have inevitably aged, therefore some of K.A.'s musical passages do not sound that "modern" or novel, nowadays. I do prefer the newest 2012 release, in that regard, but this one is good enough to hold on to.

****4 "for any progger who appreciated the genres mentioned above" PA stars.

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 Bourges 1979 by MAGMA album cover Live, 2008
4.09 | 21 ratings

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Bourges 1979
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of love for this 1979 live release or the Bobino concert from 1981 I just recently reviewed, but as a MAGMA fan both are essential in my opinion. I do prefer this recording overall to the 1981 release but to be honest they almost seem like companions given this particular era of MAGMA which is more mainstream and at times funky when compared to their classic period. By the way this is a double album and that second disk is killer.

Disc one starts off with the short intro track "Entree En Scene" which is an audio of the crowd clapping and cheering as they anticipate MAGMA live. "Retrovision" is really the only track I struggle with as far as my enjoyment goes. The drums and bass are fantastic to start and when the Fender Rhodes comes in i'm smiling. Female vocals come in and this is where my enjoyment of the song plummets, and i'm talking about the chorus which is repeated many times. Everything else about the song is excellent especially the guitar after 7 minutes as the bass throbs. When the male vocals come in before 10 minutes it signals a change to a more intense soundscape. So good. Depite being tired of the chorus on this one there are so many impressive moments over the 16 1/2 minutes.

"The Last Seven Minutes" is an incredible track with the uptempo drumming as the bass growls and the Fender Rhodes comes and goes. Male vocals join in with female backing vocals as well. Instrumentally this one really is an outstanding listen. Check out the synths around 4 minutes in, what a display of talent right there as it goes on and on. Passionate female vocals when the synths stop around 6 minutes. Love the female backing vocals that eventually join in. The guitar becomes the focus after 8 1/2 minutes. "Urgon Gorgo" has some atmosphere to it to start before the drums and keyboards start to lead. Male vocals follow but they are brief, and man this sounds so good. It's intense late. "Korusz XXVI" is the over 21 minute closer to disc one as we get some tasty dissonant sax and drumming for several minutes before Christian offers up a prolonged drum solo including some scat singing. It actually works.

Disc two begins with a brief intro track of the crowd cheering before "Hhai" kicks in. A classic MAGMA track right here as Fender Rhodes and that familiar melody comes in with vocals in tow. This is such a transcendent song. The guitar comes in before 4 minutes and proceeds to rip it up along with the synths. Cool stuff. Love this one. "Nono" is catchy and dark as it builds. How good is this!? Man I love the sound here, in fact this is my favourite song on this recording. The intensity builds then some fairly raw sounding guitar arrives. The synths half way through impress but not as much as the various vocals do. This is like a religious experience I swear. "MDK" is up next and yes I used the short form but this epic 28 1/2 minute track ends the recording. No need(I don't think) to describe MAGMA's most well known composition i'm sure. Interesting to hear the guitar crying out early on then the bass absolutely shakes the foundations briefly. You can feel the anticipation of the audience here. It's after 2 1/2 minutes before that familiar groove kicks in and we get over 25 minutes of music left to enjoy.

Easily 4 stars and another top notch live recording from MAGMA.

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 Magma (Kobaïa) by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.04 | 304 ratings

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Magma (Kobaïa)
Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

5 stars After King Crimson opened the floodgates and allowed the big bang of progressive rock to explode its pyroclastic flows into the world it was a signal to the Kobaians that the Earth they had fled so long ago was ready to hear the strange music they had evolved on their adopted planet. This MAGMA flow was originally an eponymous release but immediately was tagged with the name of the first track which is indeed a planet out there in a galaxy far, far away. And subsequent releases have carried the title KOBAIA ever since. The year was 1970 and the world was treated a Close Encounter of the Musical Kind as the Kobaians released their strange otherworldly music to an unsuspecting human race. This debut album tells the tale of their decision to leave a world so plagued by hatred and violence and the journey involved in getting to their new chosen planet and the colonizing and evolving in a different direction. The dramatics are in the music for all lyrics are in their own invented Kobaian language.

This double album has the honor of being both accessible and truly bizarre at the same time. Using jazz-fusion as a template, MAGMA, led by the overtly ambitious drum machine Christian Vander leaves no jazz and rock stone left unturned. Whether it is a more traditional fusion typical of the late 60s that introduces the album on the first title track or a slow and pastoral type that is filled with pleasant flute melodies, one thing you can count on is the urge to morph the music into something completely unrelated in nature. For example on the title track we get pleasant jazz-fusion followed by a frenetic sax solo followed by another phrasing of jazz-fusion followed by a very strange guitar solo. The second track "Aina" starts off slow and somber but speeds up to a more brass rock type of sound followed by a flute solo which finally gets accompanied by heavy rockin' guitars. In addition we get countless other things going on like the flute giving way to a military march in "Sohia" to the piano, bass and jazzy drumming with dissonant piano and a capella Kobaian lyrics on "Sckxyss."

Although this debut album is considered to be strictly jazz-fusion in nature, the fact is that the Kobaian creation known as zeuhl actually makes its debut here as well. How very clever of them to ratchet the music up from one track to another showing us how to change familiar 60s style jazz-fusion into their trademark zeuhl laid out on a musical journey. It finds its first Earthly contact on track number six "Aurae" where the familiar by today's standard zeuhl rhythms come bubbling through in the form of the flute and drum interactions. Soon the whole band is playing in the newly born style as well. After the zeuhl rhythms have sunk in they pretty much continue on the second half of the double album finding a more frenetic pacing on "Thaud Zaia" which continues the unexpected time signatures interlaced with pleasant pastoral lulls and interesting musical developments.

As the album reaches its final destinations we are treated to the most terrifying of screams at the beginning of "Stoah" which usher in dissonant guitar chords and a zeuhl piano run. Whether it's the bluesy rock influence in the album's closer "Muh" which also ends with jingling bells and avant-garde Kobaian chanting or the Earthly ethnic influences ranging from African drumming to Gypsy swing, one thing is clear, the Kobaians have what it takes to weave their musical vision into a cohesive whole that flows effortlessly from beginning to end despite the staggering array of influences on board. The most successful of these hurdles comes in the complete fusion of the classical, jazz and rock worlds with smatterings of a gazillion other sounds making their appearances here and there. I can understand why some may regard this double album as one that is too long because there are parts that wander on for times that may be deemed a little too long but on my part I find the first two MAGMA albums to be the most exciting of the lot. All the sounds that came after make their debut here and later albums are basically stripped down approaches of the ambitiousness that is found on the very first album. This is a treasure trove of infinite musical variations all stuffed into one single release. I am extremely impressed by this musical extravaganza and find this one of my favorite ambitious musical projects ever. Can you tell I like this? A lot!

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 Attahk by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.69 | 240 ratings

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Attahk
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Despite lacking the outright intensity and fully dark alien atmospheres that made `Kohntarkosz' and `Udu Wudu' such hypnotic and unsettling Zeuhl albums, `Attahk' from 1977 is still more or less an essential part of Magma's catalogue. It's not quite as immediate as those above mentioned works, but once you get past the initial disappointment of it lacking the more sinister elements (and don't worry, they're still there in subtle ways), you start to focus on everything it does right. Dark jazz still remains, the choral and vocal elements are given even more exquisite focus, the spiritual qualities are more heightened than ever, a heavy dose of ballistic funk has been implemented, and despite being comprised of seven shorter pieces, they are all tightly composed and some even rank among the greatest pieces from the band.

Magma leader Christian Vander mentions in the CD booklet how much he wanted to push his voice with this record, to especially focus on the best performance possible, and the results paid off superbly. Taking on the full lead role, the man has never sounded so gloriously inspired, passionate or complex, and he fills the pieces with a break-neck insane experimental scat vocalising that sounds like no-one else on the planet. Although he mentions as well that the drumming was not as much of a priority at the time, you wouldn't know it by listening to the album. The opening piece alone is full of so much furious and exhausting percussion fury, but throughout the disc Vander knows when to show restraint and not dominate the overall arrangements.

`The Last Seven Minutes' is one of the most frantic compositions ever from the band, full of quick- change tempo changes, devilish unpredictable drum fills and some supremely dirty grooves, with Vander's confident voice a lusty mix of squealing, yodelling and inhuman crooning. Right from the start the piece grabs your attention and it's the perfect punchy opener. `Spiritual' could not be more appropriately named, it's one of the most glorious and uplifting gospel-inspired works from the band. Hand claps, lovely shimmering Fender Rhodes, Vander and his female choir caught up in the most rapturous joy. The melancholic interlude `Rinde' has Vander's sweetly crying falsetto spiralling around dazzling classical piano. The relentless `Lirik Necronomicus Kant' has a maddening repetitive humming vocal melody over thick murky slab-like bass puttering away in the background with a chaotic finale.

The seriously weird `Maaht' brings back some of the unnerving sci-fi tension, a deranged blast with skittering drumming, sped-up voices, belching, ranting vocals and stomping call-to-arms trumpet/trombone fanfare and bluster. `Dondai' is one of the most romantic and sumptuous pieces ever to appear on a Magma album. Wistful and deeply passionate, filled with great spirit, some lovely call-and-response chorals from Stella and her choir a real highlight. Confident piano and some bass moments that creep to the foreground briefly add just a touch of tension, with nice Chamberlin bursts adding a touch of sophistication and majesty. The album closer `Nono' comes the closest to the apocalyptic menace of the darker previous albums. A sinister and brooding chanting female choirs builds in intensity to weigh down on the listener, with growled spitting vocals that turn proudly victorious in the final minutes. Oddly, the track also has a strangely powerful and triumphant symphonic prog finale that sounds quite unlike Magma, the bouncy and grand briefly even resembling E.L.P or Genesis!

Considering the level of upheaval and uncertainty in the structure of the band at this point (some of the Magma musicians taking off to form Weidourje), it's amazing to discover that the recording sessions still resulted in a cohesive and quality album. Admittedly the loss of Jannick Top's thick and prominent bass is instantly noticeable, but Guy Delacroix is not merely some poor substitute. Sadly, Vander reveals in the lavish CD booklet that the pieces `Dondai' and `Maahnt' were both originally over 25 minutes in length, so in some ways it's disappointing to know what we missed out on here (although parts of these ended up reworked on later Magma albums). However, `Attahk' is still an example of a band refusing to repeat itself, finding new facets to their sound and offering an energetic, fascinating and rewarding work.

Four stars.

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 Concert Bobino 1981 by MAGMA album cover Live, 1995
3.32 | 27 ratings

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Concert Bobino 1981
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is one of those albums that really surprised me. I guess the fact that this concert took place in 1981 should have been a heads-up that it probably won't be your typical MAGMA recording if there is such a thing. This is more of a commercial beast although listening to some of the crazed vocals featured on here reveals that this is very far away from the mainstream. Still I was left intrigued by what I was hearing. Usually an album with the focus on the vocals doesn't do a lot for me but perhaps it's my appreciation for Vander's other project called OFFERING that prepared me for this. By the way I haven't heard the 1984 MAGMA release called "Merci" that some people reference when talking about this double live album. I should also mention that Patrick Gauthier's "Bebe Godzilla" was released the same year as this concert was played and half of the MAGMA lineup here played on it including the Guillard brothers(horns) who were also part of WEIDORJE. Just a killer lineup anyway with Chevallier offering up some ripping guitar at times and Bertam who played with ZAO and solo Jochk'o Seffer adding some prominant bass. Plus we get dual keyboards from Widemann and Khalifa.

So yes a double album which starts with "Zain" and it begins innocently enough with piano before that weird and spacey atmosphere takes over with Vander speaking at times with passion. Female words too. The music kicks in before 4 minutes sounding really good. Check out the bass after Vander says "Magma!". So much going on as the horns blast. Feel-good female vocal melodies come in around 6 minutes. "Hhai" is classic MAGMA no doubt, and the crowd certainly agrees. Christian starts to sing. I really enjoy this as female vocals help out followed by a second male vocalist. There's a real urgency to this one. It's 4 minutes in when the instrumental work of the band comes to the fore. So good. Check out the guitar and drum work here, then the bass that follows. Nice. The vocals return before 8 minutes. Just a fantastic track. "Urgon Gorgo" opens with some killer drum work as Bertram jumps in with some great sounding bass lines. The tempo picks up before 3 1/2 minutes. The focus here is certainly on the bass and drums and it's a pleasure to listen to. "Retrovision" ends disc one and it's almost 20 minutes in length. The female vocals early on surprised me as she sings in a theatrical manner as we hear some intricate and complex instrumental work helping out. It all settles in around 3 minutes. Male vocals lead before 5 1/2 minutes but the female vocals do continue. A calm 2 minutes later then it builds before kicking back in. An instrumental section takes over before 9 minutes that is quite impressive. Vocals are back to the fore 12 1/2 minutes in. Intensity follows. The male and female vocals seem to compete with one another 18 minutes in.

Disc two begins with "Who's My Love" and as Phil mentions in his review this second disc really reveals the direction the band was heading and that direction would be summed up with the studio album "Merci" a few years from this concert. This is a commercial sounding tune, quite catchy although I love the intensity late to end it. And what's with the English vocals?! "Otis" takes a couple of minutes to get going after many spoken words. This is a song about Otis Redding and it's laid back for the most part. This is good. "Zess" is the over 30 minute epic and without question one of the highlights of this live recording. It's fairly dark and atmospheric to start then vocal melodies join in. The drums kick in just before 5 minutes as the tempo picks up and the vocal melodies stop. Vander comes in speaking words as the drums continue. The same melody continues and then Christian starts to sing the words, eventually getting very dramatic with his vocal style. Crazy but so good. I really like how repetitive this is. Check out the ripping guitar solo after 17 minutes. Man that rhythm section is so intense and urgent sounding. Horns continue to come and go then another fiery guitar solo sets the soundscape ablaze as he lets it rip for a very long period. Vocals kick back in including female vocal melodies. Just an amazing track that makes this worth the price of admission alone. "You" is the ten minute closer. Back to the more commercial sounds with this one. I like the vocal melodies from Christian early on. Catchy and passionate stuff. Everyone seems to be having a great time anyway. It picks up before 2 1/2 minutes.

This reminds me of when I first started doing reviews on here, I used to often struggle with my rating. Well, in my world this is a low 4 star album. The appeal is hearing MAGMA sounding different than the past but at the same time they combine the old and the new. This is a less serious MAGMA at this point but it's still the same band and i'm really glad I own this. By the way the DVD version of this is rated very high.

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 Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.27 | 611 ratings

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Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh
Magma Zeuhl

Review by ebil0505

5 stars Delivering a genre of music completely unfamiliar to me, I was fascinated by the prowess of M.D.K. and the musical talent therein. A sinister record with equally fierce vocals, this album is a dark journey through transcendence and dissonance itself. Each instrument harmoniously working together are at the same time alone in their melodic voices. The vocals range from chants to choir soundscapes and deliver something of an insanity to the music. The piano serves to prove that this insanity has a purpose and should not be disregarded or frowned upon, but cherished as the other instruments. There are memorable themes side-by-side with challenging passages that, in the end, seem to work out together in a grand masterpiece of progressive music. For anyone keen on expanding their range of musical tastes or curious to see how far some prog musicians can go with their creative impulses, this album is a must.

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