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MAGMA

Zeuhl • France


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Magma picture
Magma biography
Founded in Paris, France in 1969 - Disbanded in 1983 - Reformed in 1996

⭐ Collaborators Top Prog Album of 2009 ⭐

MAGMA is a progressive group led by drummer/composer/vocalist Christian VANDER that has been active in the 'classic period' and in the 21st century. The music of MAGMA is often categorized as 'Zeuhl' (which means 'celestial' or 'heavenly' in Kobaïan, MAGMA's own language). The band doesn't clearly fit in any other progressive subgenre, although avant-prog would qualify, and it has a significant vein of jazz-rock fusion running through the discography. Additionally, Magma has played the RIO (Rock in Opposition) fests which gives it certain RIO credentials.

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 brooding, adventurous and angelic, jazzy or classical, but always with the highly innovative and original drums of founder and main composer Christian VANDER, those are just some of the ways to describe the music of Magma. While the music of MAGMA is adopted by the progressive rock movement, even for progressive standards it can be very hard to get into because of its 'other worldly sound' and its extended compositions of often more then thirty minutes. Reputedly the band had had almost no connection whatsoever with other bands of the Prog genre, although in France it would prove to be a big inspiration for other Fusion and Zeuhl bands. It is often thought that the modern classical music of Carl ORFF (for instance Carmina Burana) must have been a big influence on 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 finds of what was to become the Zeuhl genre. Legend goes that MAGMA was formed after Christian VANDER experienced a dream involving the vision of 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 Wurd...
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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)

4.01 | 545 ratings
Magma [Aka: Kobaïa]
1970
4.10 | 496 ratings
1001° Centigrades [Aka: 2]
1971
4.29 | 1157 ratings
Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
1973
4.17 | 383 ratings
Christian Vander: Tristan et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah Ïtah] (OST)
1974
4.14 | 554 ratings
Köhntarkösz
1974
3.79 | 470 ratings
Üdü Ẁüdü
1976
3.72 | 419 ratings
Attahk
1978
2.76 | 256 ratings
Merci
1984
3.68 | 155 ratings
Mekanïk Kommandöh
1989
4.24 | 761 ratings
K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria)
2004
4.24 | 564 ratings
Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré
2009
4.07 | 427 ratings
Félicité Thösz
2012
3.75 | 59 ratings
Rïah Sahïltaahk
2014
4.25 | 85 ratings
Slaǧ Tanƶ
2015
3.70 | 174 ratings
Zëss - Le Jour du Néant
2019
3.56 | 51 ratings
Kãrtëhl
2022

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

4.44 | 268 ratings
Live/Hhaï (Köhntark)
1975
3.16 | 64 ratings
Inédits
1977
4.02 | 102 ratings
Retrospektïẁ III
1981
4.53 | 140 ratings
Retrospektïẁ I-II
1981
3.99 | 35 ratings
Concert 1992, Douarnenez:
1992
3.45 | 54 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
1995
2.77 | 34 ratings
Concert 1971, Bruxelles - Théâtre 140
1996
4.38 | 38 ratings
Concert 1975, Toulouse - Théâtre Du Taur
1996
4.10 | 56 ratings
Concert 1976, Opéra De Reims
1996
4.26 | 69 ratings
BBC 1974 - Londres
1999
4.58 | 106 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie
2001
4.01 | 45 ratings
Bourges 1979
2008
3.40 | 31 ratings
Live In Tokyo
2009
3.76 | 47 ratings
Zühn Wöhl Ünsaï - Live 1974
2014
0.00 | 0 ratings
Retrospektïẁ I
2015
0.00 | 0 ratings
Retrospektïẁ II
2015
3.56 | 9 ratings
Marquee Londres 17 Mars 1974
2018
3.80 | 13 ratings
Eskähl 2020 (Bordeaux-Toulouse-Perpignan)
2021

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

4.15 | 33 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
1995
4.33 | 59 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie au Trianon
2001
4.47 | 72 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume I
2006
4.46 | 71 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume II
2006
4.81 | 86 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume III
2007
4.73 | 78 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume IV
2008
4.44 | 50 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Epok V
2013
4.89 | 9 ratings
Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré Trilogie
2017

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

3.82 | 25 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes
1985
2.63 | 18 ratings
Kompila
1997
3.53 | 27 ratings
Simples
1998
1.86 | 20 ratings
Spiritual
2002
2.39 | 19 ratings
Über Kommandoh
2004
3.29 | 23 ratings
Archiw I & II
2008
4.83 | 6 ratings
Mythes Et Legendes (Box Set)
2008
4.90 | 71 ratings
Studio Zünd
2009
2.57 | 16 ratings
Trilogy
2012
4.00 | 4 ratings
45 Ans De Creation Hors des Sentiers Battus
2014
4.79 | 30 ratings
Köhnzert Zünd
2015

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

4.44 | 9 ratings
Kobaia / Mûh
1970
4.44 | 9 ratings
Hamtaak / Tendeï Kobah
1971
4.43 | 14 ratings
Mekanïk Kommando / Klaus Kömbälad
1972
4.71 | 14 ratings
Mekanïk Machine/Köhntarkosz
1974
4.25 | 4 ratings
Lïhns / Hhaï
1975
3.50 | 4 ratings
Spiritual
1978
3.40 | 5 ratings
Retrovision
1981
2.82 | 11 ratings
Ooh Ooh Baby / Otis
1985
3.79 | 55 ratings
Floë Ëssi / Ëktah
1998
3.00 | 4 ratings
K.A - Extraits - Edition Radio
2004
4.57 | 7 ratings
Retrospektiw
2017

MAGMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria) by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.24 | 761 ratings

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K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria)
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Prog Network

4 stars Magma's album "K.A" defied my expectations, showcasing a surprising level of quality years after their acclaimed 70s releases. The band seamlessly blends decades-old compositions while adding various new parts, resulting in an outstanding sonic journey that transcends conventional boundaries. Demonstrating their musical prowess and pushing the limits of creativity, Magma weaves together intricate instrumentation, ethereal vocals, and innovative compositions. The album stands as a testament to the band's visionary approach, exploring unconventional structures and otherworldly soundscapes. "K.A" is not only a nod to Magma's past but also a testament to their enduring quality and relevance in the music landscape. A must-listen for enthusiasts of Magma and fans of progressive rock.
 Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.29 | 1157 ratings

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Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Boi_da_boi_124

5 stars Review #161!

Magma had already introduced their wild genius to the world with Kobaia, and even further cemented it with 1001 Centigrades. But their freak flags were still not entirely unraveled. The wind had not yet reached the flag, leaving it still. But this album was a tempest for Magma's creativity. The flag shook every which way and it produced this eclectic masterpiece. With hints of jazz, prog, straight rock, blues, opera, gospel, and folk, this record offers a blend of genres from all sides of the musicsphere. A masterpiece of prog, zeuhl, technical song structures, and music as a whole. Prog on.

 Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.29 | 1157 ratings

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Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Prog Dog

5 stars Hang on tight. Magma is supernatural. Magma plays by its own rules. It is an unusual, rocking and intensely powerful music.

Is it everyone's cup of tea? No, but that didn't stop Rolling Stone from pronouncing it #24 in a Top 50 list of the greatest progressive rock albums of all time.

M.D.K. features a large swath of instrumentation and is quite orchestral. It features plenty of soft and gentle moments but more vigour and loudness. Most unique is a very sizeable group of female and male 'lead singers'- vocalists who collectively head the songs instead of a traditional single lead singer. The drum kit is played by the founder and beating heart of the band- Christian Zander. He figuratively and literally drives the music forward with great force.

There is an electric bass, capably and creatively played- at times as complex as any Chris Squire Yes parts- and speaking of Yes, there are hints of Topographic Oceans 'weirdness' on this album- including brief moments of destructive bass-chords. There is an acoustic piano- a key element to the sound, at time playing catchy parts in odd time-signatured 'loops' that remind me of composer Philip Glass. There is rock organ. There is a powerful horn section. There are strings...I think. That's a plus about Magma's music on this album- it's quite varied and changes up from section to section. I hear marimbas and other tingly tinker instruments- like xylophones maybe. I hear electric guitars- Santana-esque at times, at others clean and melodic. I hear woodwinds- and some Celtic lilts at times too. Then there's those strong but subtle undercurrents of jazz occasionally spilling to the surface. In fact at around the 11 minute mark on side 1 it sounds like Pat Metheny Group would sound at least a decade into the future.

The lead vocal- usually sung collectively- do give the music a rock opera vibe but without any hint of vaudeville schmaltz, or hokey Jesus Christ Superstar-ness. It remind me of Zappa sometimes (though I'm no Zappa expert yet). And the singers are singing in the invented Kobaïn language that Magma is apparently known for. At the start of the record it sounded kind of German. There's something about singing in a made up language that frees the singers from all convention- and they do let it rip, sometimes to near ecstatic and passionate heights.

The album feels like one long song though it is technically seven tracks. It has tension; it has funk; it has groove; it has madness; it has ecstasy; it has moments of sheer joyfulness. All of these quantities and qualities flow around each other like so many white capped waves on a single ocean...Refreshing? Yes! but be warned: at times you will feel you're clinging onto a raft in a raging storm.

 Kãrtëhl by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.56 | 51 ratings

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Kãrtëhl
Magma Zeuhl

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars Magma returns with a new studio album and a frustrating set of diacritics that make writing about this album in Google Docs a hassle. K​ã​rt​ë​hl follows 2019's Zëss, the conclusion of the Kobaïa mythos, so I have no idea where (or if) this fits into the story of the Kobaïans. (For more on that, check out my Magma Deep Dive!)

Where Zëss ended things on a bit of a somber note, K​ã​rt​ë​hl has a noticeably sunnier disposition. It's distinct from Félicité Thösz, but it shares that same general uplifting hopefulness. Magma has always been good at conveying emotion, whether it be the doom-and-gloom of "De Futura" or the celebratory warmth of "Öhst".

Upbeat, jazzy piano, bass, and vocals open up "Hakëhn Deïs", and this is evocative of the mellower moments of Attahk. There are some little moments where guitar gets some time in the foreground, and that bit of crunchiness is much appreciated. One of my biggest gripes about Zëss was that it was texturally soupy. The songwriting on this track is strong, overall. It's rather fun, bouncy, and does a good job of engaging the listener. 

Philippe Boussonnet, Magma's bassist for nearly 20 years, is no longer with the band. However, his replacement is Jimmy Top, son of on-and-off Magma bassist Jannick Top. The younger Top does a great job here. He's flashy and skillful without being distracting, and he fits right into the legacy of Magma being one of the most bass-forward rock bands this side of Primus.

"Do Rïn Ïlï Üss" opens a bit more slowly, with chimes and enveloping vocal arrangements. As the song picks up momentum, the backbone remains strongly rooted in jazz. The rhythm and melody jump all over the place, but Vander's masterful drumming keeps everything in line. This song has a bit of a darker edge to it than the opener, but it's still pretty light by Magma standards.

The opening of "Irena Balladina" is the mellowest moment yet. The preceding cuts may have been relatively warm and hopeful, but this cut has a more relaxed air to it. This song also feels a bit aimless, though. A lot of it comes off as just vague jazz noodling.

The mood is a bit more ominous on "Walömëhnd Ëm Warreï", which has eerie, ascending vocals over clattering drums. The choir has a haunting effect at the start of the verse. The vocals are doom-laden and oppressive. Top and guitarist Rudy Blas weave together an anxious, jumpy backing for Stella Vander and her other vocalists. This song has a weighty atmosphere without being overwhelming.

Odd, squealing, gibbering vocals kick off "Wiï Mëlëhn Tü", along with heavy piano chords and wiry, buzzing guitar notes. The melody is unusual, and Magma channels their often-ritualistic tendencies here. It's spooky and very interesting. As the song nears its end, the mood converges with K​ã​rt​ë​hl's earlier sunniness for a satisfying climax.

K​ã​rt​ë​hl closes on "Dëhndë". This is another song with strong echoes of Attahk, while also being among the most positive-sounding cuts on the album. It's a shockingly accessible song from this band; if it weren't for the Kobaïan lyrics, this would probably appeal to a lot of mainstream rock fans. It goes on for maybe a minute longer than it needs to, but it's still a fun cut on the whole.

Magma's latest release is a respectable addition to their discography. It's actually slightly better than what I was expecting, based on the reviews I had read. It's one of the band's lighter, happier pieces, and it shares a lot of DNA with their late 1970s output. If you're a Magma fan, you will likely enjoy this album.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2022/12/05/album-review-magma-kartehl/

 Slaǧ Tanƶ by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.25 | 85 ratings

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Slaǧ Tanƶ
Magma Zeuhl

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars Coming a year later was the band's next new release: the 21-minute ?laǧ Tanƶ. Written sometime around 2009, this epic track is Magma's heaviest release to date. Physical copies bear a sticker describing it as "jazz metal." (I've run across it in record stores, but I just can't mentally justify $30 for a 21-minute song.) Like Félicité Thösz, the placement of this song within the band's broader mythology is not clear.

Starting with an off-kilter guitar riff, the song does not hesitate before getting to the aggression. The passage "?laǧ" is a pummeling piece of music. For the first time since their self-titled album, guitar is given the lead, and paired with Hervé Aknin's dramatic vocals, this choice results in a sound which suits Magma fantastically. "Dümb" maintains continuity with the preceding passage, but it veers more explicitly into jazz territory with its bass noodling.

"Vers La Nuit" feels like a guitar-led passage off Félicité Thösz, and "Dümblaê (Le Silence Des Mondes)" is an effective bit of build-up. "Zü Zaïn !" revisits themes from earlier in the song and builds a sense of foreboding doom.

"?laǧ Tanƶ" sees piano, bass, and vocals vie for dominance as the song reaches its climax. Christian Vander, who had mostly yielded the spotlight prior to this point, finally starts showing off. The closing movement, "Wohldünt", is somber and feels somewhat out-of-place with the preceding 19 minutes of fury.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2022/04/18/deep-dive-magma/

 Félicité Thösz by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.07 | 427 ratings

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Félicité Thösz
Magma Zeuhl

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars Magma's next release was 2012's Félicité Thösz ("In Praise of Thösz"). Félicité Thösz featured the first new material written after Magma's reunion, which Christian Vander wrote primarily in  2001 and 2002. Its placement in the Kobaïa mythos is not entirely clear, either.

This record is best thought of as the massive, 28-minute title track, plus the brief "Les Hommes Sont Venus". The tone of this album is markedly different from most of Magma's discography. Much of their output has been dark, militaristic, and imposing. Félicité Thösz is light, joyful, and hopeful; and its minimal instrumentation harkens back to Ẁurdah Ïtah. However, without the financial limitations of that album, Félicité Thösz is able to sound richer than Ẁurdah Ïtah.

"Ëkmah", the opening movement, is one of the album's darker passages. It's a fittingly dramatic introduction, though even by the standards of this release, it's a simple, spare piece of music. This somber tone stands in contrast to the hopeful warmth of "Ëlss", where piano and guitar provide a reassuring backing to luxurious vocal arrangements.

"Dzoï" features some tense guitar passages, and the slinking quality of the music is superb. The five-minute "Tëha" is the longest subsection of this album. It's uplifting and optimistic and full of multi-layered choral arrangements. Following this track is "Ẁaahrz", a gorgeous, four-minute piano solo.

"Dühl" starts to build the tension back up, and "Tsaï !" is the darkest bit of music on the album. This passage would have fit in seamlessly on Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré with its driving rhythm and out-of-this-world bass work.

Opening with otherworldly chants, "Öhst" is the clear climax of the album. Christian Vander takes lead vocals on this track over a simple piano ostinato backing. As the song progresses, bass and simple percussion gradually build. Vander's vocal style is distinctive, and it suits this musical passage perfectly. The percussion gradually becomes more complex, as do the backing vocals. The final 90 seconds is engrossing. For all the comparisons I've made to various religious rites, this bit feels the most like a genuine ritualistic celebration.

Félicité Thösz ends with "Les Hommes Sont Venus", a hypnotic piece of vocals and chimes that was first performed in the early 1990s.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2022/04/18/deep-dive-magma/

 Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.24 | 564 ratings

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Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré
Magma Zeuhl

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

5 stars Magma's next album, 2009's Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré, consists of more music originally composed in the 1970s but never recorded in the studio. This is also the third installment of the Köhntarkösz trilogy, taking place after Köhntarkösz opened the tomb of Ëmëhntëhtt-Rê at the end of the 1974 album. (I know that "Rê" and "Ré" have different diacritics depending on whether it's the album title or the character, but that's just how it is. I wanted to clarify that this wasn't an error on my part.)

Though Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré is the third part of the Köhntarkösz trilogy, it is mostly a flashback. This album tells the story of the pharaoh Ëmëhntëhtt-Rê, who had a vision for saving the world, but who was murdered before he could complete it. After Köhntarkösz opens the tomb, the pharaoh takes over his body and uses this new vessel to fulfill his prophetic vision.

The bulk of the album is four tracks titled "Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré I-IV". Part I opens with ominous chanting and rumbling piano and drums. The music swirls and swells for a while, remaining impressionistic.

Part I flows smoothly into Part II with warm bass and piano lifting the music upward. Soul influences are evident in the first minute before plunging into a speedy, peppy section. Vibraphone adds a lightness to the astral prog-jazz. Part II incorporates elements of the song "Hhaï", previously only heard in live settings. The vocal performance is especially impassioned. As this segment of Part II reaches its climax, James Mac Gaw's guitar flourishes add wonderful flavor and depth to the experience.

With about eight minutes left, this movement enters a stretch of tension, with a high-strung bassline and nervous piano leading the way. The song becomes weird and dark, with sharp, distorted guitar lines harmonizing with piercing vocals.

Part III kicks off on a haunting choral arrangement, and those first ten seconds are some of the most striking music in Magma's history. Past this impactful opening, Part III plays with subtlety. This movement is quiet for its first several minutes, and a sense of impending doom is effectively cultivated. Part IV, in contrast, is a softer, gentler experience.

"Funëhrarïum Kanht" is super creepy, and if you're looking for music for your next haunted house, give this a go! Finally, "Sêhë" is a weird bit of breathy, dissonant keys and spoken Kobaïan.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2022/04/18/deep-dive-magma/

 K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria) by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.24 | 761 ratings

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K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria)
Magma Zeuhl

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

5 stars In 2004, Magma released their first album in two decades, Köhntarkösz Anteria, more commonly referred to as KA. The material on KA was mostly written around 1973-74, and pieces can be heard on the live album Inédits.

KA also sees a return to the Kobaïa mythos. This album acts as a prequel to 1974's Köhntarkösz and is the first chronological entry in the Kobaïa storyline. The album covers Köhntarkösz's youth, before he was awoken into his role as a prophet, and ends where Köhntarkösz begins: at the entrance of the tomb of Ëmëhntëhtt-Rê.

KA features three long songs, titled "K.A I-III". Part I is an immediate return to form for Magma. Dense layers of vocals, unusual rhythms, and impactful bass and drums propel this piece along. It doesn't take long for this composition to plunge headlong into Magma's repetitive, ritualistic mood. In instrumental passages, the bass is the star of the show. Philippe Bussonnet would remain with Magma for over a decade, and his playing is one of the things which has made their post-reunion work so strong.

Part II continues in this general mold. The vocal arrangements are strongly reminiscent of church choirs with their uplifting tones, and the fluctuation between irregular, bouncing beats and smoother passages works wonderfully. Guitarist James Mac Gaw's work is understated but integral to this new version of Magma. He adds to the richness of the sound without stealing the show.

In the song's second half, Magma enters a gentler, quieter movement. The piece floats along in a relaxed state, and the minimalist arrangement lets the various elements stand on their own. The eventual return to more powerful passages is that much more impactful when contrasted against this lull.

"K.A III" is the best individual song Magma has ever recorded, and it is one of the crown jewels of progressive rock. It's a combination of two older pieces, "Om Zanka" and "Gamma Anteria", both of which appear on live recordings.

The "Om Zanka" portion of Part III opens with an emphatic chord, followed by a tense, palm-muted guitar line. A warm, serpentine synth line quietly wriggles into place, supported by electric piano and light percussion. There's a rolling, meditative quality to this passage, including distant, moaned vocals. Once the vocals give way, an extended synth solo takes the lead. Vander's percussion keeps building in intensity under the other band members' relatively mellow parts. As the solo progresses, the vocals re-enter, more intense and frenzied than before.

The shift to the "Gamma Anteria" section is sudden but not jarring. Chanting vocals are again the focus over the tight, complex rhythms and riffs laid down by the instruments. Vander's drumming pushes the band harder and harder throughout this massive track's runtime; the steady pace and duration of the acceleration is impressive.

As the song enters its final five minutes, the song reaches new heights. Vander's powerful drumming, the sublime vocal arrangements, and tight interplay between bass, guitar, and piano accelerate this song into ecstatic realms. The repeated chants of "Allëhlüïa!" emphasize the ritualistic, esoteric nature of the music. Bussonnet practically shreds his bass as the vocalists reach new heights of frenzy.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2022/04/18/deep-dive-magma/

 Merci by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.76 | 256 ratings

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Merci
Magma Zeuhl

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

2 stars Magma's next studio album would be 1984's Merci. Merci is the one Magma album which does not touch on the Kobaïa mythos. All the songs are sung in French or English, and the band went in more of a jazz-funk direction.

Merci opens on "Call from the Dark (Ooh Ooh Baby)", and it is so disorienting to hear Stella Vander use words I can actually understand. There's a smooth, laid-back funkiness to this synth-fueled song, and the brass arrangement is genuinely pleasant. The English vocals are so different from what I expect of Magma though that it is distracting. The music itself is fine, if a bit undistinguished and long-winded.

Up next is the only song off this album which would remain in their live repertoire, "Otis". It's a relaxed piece, and I find the French lyrics less distracting. Some of the piano and vocal arrangements are evocative of past Magma songs, such as "Dondaï". Near the song's end, it picks up energy and has a fun synth solo. "Otis" isn't a great song, but it's enjoyable enough.

Next comes "Do the Music", which is the most Magma-y song yet on the record. It features staccato brass and unorthodox vocal arrangements, and Christian Vander's drumming is sharp. This song sounds like an outtake from Attahk and is the best cut so far. This piece is  high-energy with a dose of Magma's signature weirdness. After this track comes a brief epilog/reprise of "Otis".

The opening brass arrangement of "I Must Run" sounds like a theme song from a 1980s sitcom, and the piano led-verses don't do much to dispel that perception. This one isn't very good.

The longest song on the album is "Eliphas Levi". Distant, lilting flutes and light hand-drums open this track up on a gentle, jazzy note. It meanders for its 11-minute runtime without much development or evolution, unfortunately. It acts as pleasant-enough background music, but there is nothing here to hold one's attention.

Merci ends on "The Night We Died", an apt name for the last song on what the band thought would be its last album. Piano and vocals lead this song, and I am pretty confident that the vocals are in Kobaïan, though divorced from the mythology and structured more like scat-singing.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2022/04/18/deep-dive-magma/

 Attahk by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.72 | 419 ratings

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Attahk
Magma Zeuhl

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars After Üdü Ẁüdü, Jannick Top would leave Magma to form the electronic band Space. Magma, in turn, would continue to tweak their sound. 1978's Attahk, saw the band integrate more funk, soul, R&B, and gospel elements into their music. The album cover was designed by H.R. Giger, and some fans have speculated that the strange figures on it, Ürgon and Ğorğo, are from Ork.

"The Last Seven Minutes (1970-1971, Phase II)" is an energetic opener, featuring charging bass, keys, and drums. Around two minutes in, we get our first glimpse of Magma's new, funkier sound in a section that could almost be described as proto-hip-hop. Funk elements are evident throughout the song's core, though only Magma could have made a record that sounds quite like this one, while the closing section sounds like something off MDK.

What follows is "Spiritual (Negro Song)", and the soul and gospel elements are unmistakable. (This song has been retitled to "Spiritual (Gospel)" on the most recent CD reissue.) Magma's music always had a certain hymnal quality to it, and adding in the warm, uplifting tones of gospel music seems natural and intuitive. "Rindë (Eastern Song)" is another short song, though rather less jubilant than "Spiritual". This piano-and-vocals piece sounds like a throwback to Ẁurdah Ïtah and is one of the weaker tracks on Attahk.

Side one ends with "Liriïk Necronomicus Kahnt (in which our heroes Ürgon & Ğorğo Meet)", and some similarities with "The Last Seven Minutes" are immediately evident. It also kicks off with an energetic, bouncing instrumental passage featuring some lightly-distorted scat singing. Jumpy, fuzzy bass provides the primary backing for the vocals and retains significant momentum.

Sequenced synthesizers, brass, and crashing drums open up side two on "Maahnt (The Wizard's Fight Versus the Devil)". The verses are reminiscent of Üdü Ẁüdü with their minimal, bass-forward instrumentation. Distorted vocals and spooky synths effectively convey the feeling of battling the devil. Brass returns in the song's second half as it builds toward a climactic synth solo.

After such a grandiose track, "Dondaï (To an Eternal Love)" effectively cools things off. It's in the same vein as "Spiritual": a mellow, warm, piano-based piece with a soulful backbone. Crunchy bass enters in the second half of the song, adding to its intensity.

Attahk ends on "Nono (1978, Phase II)". "Nono" is a tense song. The opening bassline is inviting, but electric piano, skittering high-hats, and intense vocals propel it anxiously forward. The backing choir, though, eventually gives the song a hopeful, uplifting tone, perhaps signaling a sort of rebirth following the war with Ork.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2022/04/18/deep-dive-magma/

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