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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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Mekanik Destruktiw KommandohMekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh
Import
Imports 2012
Audio CD$16.56
$20.12 (used)
Kohnzert ZundKohnzert Zund
Box set · Import
JAZZ VILLAGE 2015
Audio CD$68.94
$90.70 (used)
Trilogy ( 3 CD Set )Trilogy ( 3 CD Set )
Box set · Import
SNAPPER MUSIC LTD. 2017
Audio CD$7.18
$7.17 (used)
Udu WuduUdu Wudu
Import
JAZZ VILLAGE 2015
Vinyl$15.80
$23.35 (used)
kobaiakobaia
Import
Import [Generic] 1999
Audio CD$76.64 (used)
Emehntehtt-ReEmehntehtt-Re
JAZZ VILLAGE 2014
Vinyl$21.98
$38.49 (used)
AttahkAttahk
Import
JAZZ VILLAGE 2015
Vinyl$14.50
$19.76 (used)
Wurdah ItahWurdah Itah
Import
Imports 2012
Audio CD$16.51
$20.52 (used)
Floe Essi; EktahFloe Essi; Ektah
Import
JAZZ VILLAGE 2015
Vinyl$10.97
$79.00 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
MAGMA-WURDAH ITAH (REMASTER)-IMPORT DIGIPAK CD WITH JAPAN OBI F83 USD $25.99 Buy It Now
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GOJIRA MAGMA CD NEW SEALED 2016 METAL FREE UK POST USD $8.65 Buy It Now
SHYLOCK Ile De Fievre original 1975 French prog lp CBS Magma Zeuhl Artcane Zao USD $32.99 [0 bids]
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MAGMA - EMEHNTEHTT-Re AMAZIN FRENCH ZEUHL PROG CD & DVD! USD $8.00 [0 bids]
1h 58m
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Christian Vander:Les Cygnes France Mini-LP CD Seventh A XXXIII SJCD-1033(magma Q USD $52.50 Buy It Now 2h 56m
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Magma - Wurdah Itah [New Vinyl] 180 Gram, Digital Download USD $24.82 Buy It Now 3h 31m
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MAGMA: Inedits LP (France, sm toc, 2" bottom seam split) Rock & Pop USD $20.00 Buy It Now 8h 9m
MAGMA M.D.K SJMD-7 CD JAPAN 2009 USD $87.49 Buy It Now 9h 25m
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MAGMA Retrospective 1 & 2 SJMD-16/17 CD JAPAN 2009 OBI USD $293.17 Buy It Now 10h 34m
MAGMA (DANCE) Relax-In 12" VINYL Belgian Wonka 1994 3 Track Relax-In USD $5.34 Buy It Now 11h 25m
MAGMA Kobaia Mini LP SHM CD JAPAN 2CD SJMD-4/5 / Christian Vander USD $19.99 [1 bids]
13h 26m
MAGMA K.A. (Kohntarkosz Anteria) Mini LP SHM CD JAPAN SJMD-34 / Christian Vander USD $19.99 [0 bids]
13h 33m
Floe Essi Ektah - Magma LP USD $13.27 Buy It Now 13h 34m
1973 ~ Promo ~ Magma ~ Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh ~ LP ~ Orig ~ Prog ~ Clean USD $14.38 [8 bids]
13h 37m
MAGMA Udu Wudu Mini LP CD JAPAN VICP-63570 NEW / Christian Vander USD $19.99 [0 bids]
13h 41m
Magma 1001 Centigrades 180g vinyl LP w/download NEW sealed USD $36.33 Buy It Now 14h 8m
GOJIRA - Magma - LP (Roadrunner 2016) USD $24.29 Buy It Now 14h 24m
ATOLL Tertio Mini LP CD JAPAN ARC-7009 / Stella Vander Magma USD $9.99 [0 bids]
14h 38m
URBAN SAX Same original 1977 French prog lp Ash Ra cosmic Zeuhl Magma Heldon USD $32.99 [0 bids]
14h 59m
MAGMA Inedits LTM lp USD $34.99 Buy It Now 15h 8m
Elull Noomi - Uleella CD 2007 Avantgarde, Magma, Herve Aknin USD $12.99 Buy It Now 18h 32m
Magma 2001 - Bum Bum Baby - Radiant - 2000 #269699 USD $3.81 Buy It Now 21h
Kohntarkosz Magma vinyl LP NEW sealed USD $34.82 Buy It Now 21h 14m
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MAGMA - Love Life - Vinyl (7") USD $14.64 Buy It Now 1 day
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Magma - Slag Tanz [New CD] USD $11.43 Buy It Now 1 day
Magma Merci 180g vinyl LP NEW sealed USD $36.33 Buy It Now 1 day
Magma Felicite Thosz 180g w/download vinyl LP NEW sealed USD $36.33 Buy It Now 1 day
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MAGMA DBL. 1ST LP- ORIGINAL FRENCH-PHILIPS-SEALED!!! ULTIMATE PROG! USD $350.00 Buy It Now 1 day
MAGMA Attahk NEW SEALED Vinyl LP Jazz Village bent corner Christian Vander 2015 USD $14.99 Buy It Now 1 day
GOJIRA - MAGMA NEW CD USD $18.16 Buy It Now 1 day
Magma Attahk 180g w/download vinyl LP NEW sealed USD $36.33 Buy It Now 1 day
Magma-Riah Sahiltaahk CD NEW USD $14.25 Buy It Now 1 day
Magma Udu Wudu vinyl LP album record USA TOM-6001 TOMATO 1976 USD $49.61 Buy It Now 1 day
MAGMA - CHRISTIAN VANDER Merci SJMD-3 CD JAPAN 2009 USD $122.03 Buy It Now 1 day
Magma vinyl LP album record Inedits French TP10001 TAPIOCA 1977 USD $68.72 Buy It Now 2 days
ROSEBUD Discoballs Tribute to Pink FLoyd 1977 FRENCH LP Jannick Top Magma USD $14.99 [0 bids]
2 days
Magma: Mythes et Legendes Epok V DVD France All Region NTSC (christian vander Q USD $40.00 Buy It Now 2 days
TIM BLAKE-Crystal Machine JAPAN 1st.Press w/OBI Gong Hawkwind Magma Vnagelis USD $49.99 Buy It Now 2 days
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TAI PHONG-same Japan 1st.Press w/OBI Atoll Ange Genesis Gong Magma Pink Floyd USD $49.99 Buy It Now 2 days
PULSAR-Halloween FRENCH 1st.Press CBS82477 Museo Rosenbach Ange Magma Genesis USD $49.99 Buy It Now 2 days
PULSAR-Halloween JAPAN 1st.Press w/OBI PFM Museo Rosenbach Ange Magma Genesis USD $39.99 Buy It Now 2 days
HELDON-Stand By JAPAN 1st.Press w/OBI Richard Pinhas Magma King Crimson USD $59.99 Buy It Now 2 days
RICHARD PINHAS-East West JAPAN 1st.Press w/OBI PROMO WHITE LABEL Heldon Magma USD $59.99 Buy It Now 2 days
ANGE-Au Dela Du Delire JAPAN 1st.Press w/OBI Atoll Pulsar Magma Gong PFM Banco USD $49.99 Buy It Now 2 days
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MAGMA-Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh JAPAN 1st.Press King Crimson Gong USD $149.99 Buy It Now 2 days
BAKMAK-Out Of The Blue JAPAN 1st.Press w/OBI Nucleus Colosseum Area Magma USD $49.99 Buy It Now 2 days
MAGMA MAGMA SEALED CD NEW USD $3.18 Buy It Now 2 days
Trilogy [Digipak] by Magma (France) (CD, Aug-2012, 3 Discs, Charly UK) USD $7.10 Buy It Now 2 days
Trilogy - Magma (CD Used Very Good) USD $8.07 Buy It Now 2 days
Magma: 45 Years of Creation Promo CD Booklet Christian Vander Limited Edition USD $14.99 Buy It Now 2 days
MAGMA (FRANCE) - TRILOGY [DIGIPAK] USED - VERY GOOD CD USD $11.68 Buy It Now 2 days
MAGMA Retrospective Vol. 3 SJMD-15 CD JAPAN 2009 USD $124.99 Buy It Now 2 days
Magma (Kohntarkosz) SP 3650 Promo USD $24.99 Buy It Now 2 days
UNIVERIA ZEKT The Unnamables FRENCH Prog Zeuhl LP Magma USD $28.39 Buy It Now 2 days
Plasmoon And Friends - Sorella Luna CD 2009 Italy Psy-Trance Magma Records USD $13.59 Buy It Now 2 days
Magma - Kobaia - CD X 2 (2009) 1970 Prog Rock USD $20.37 Buy It Now 2 days
Magma: Kobaia France Mini-LP CD REX IV/V (christian vander univeria zekt atoll Q USD $45.50 Buy It Now 2 days
MAGMA -ZUHN WOSAI LIVE1974-JAPAN 2 MINI LP CD Ii19 USD $47.69 Buy It Now 2 days
Magma: Kohntarosz France Mini-LP CD REX VIII (christian vander univeria zekt Q USD $38.50 Buy It Now 2 days
Magma: Udu Wudu France Mini-LP CD REX XII (christian vander univeria zekt Q USD $35.00 Buy It Now 2 days
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Magma USD $10.64 Buy It Now 3 days
Magma-K+hnzert Z?nd - Magma CD NEW USD $97.08 Buy It Now 3 days
Kohnzert Zund - Magma Compact Disc USD $91.07 Buy It Now 3 days
NEW Sealed Jazz Vinyl LP Magma Wurdah Itah Jazz Village USD $22.29 Buy It Now 3 days
NEW Jazz Magma Wurdah Itah Jazz Village Vinyl LP Sealed but slight damaged Cover USD $21.65 Buy It Now 3 days
Magma Live/Hhaï 2-CD Seventh Records 1997 Prog Zeuhl USD $29.99 Buy It Now 3 days
Magma Riah Sahiltaahk Jazz Village NEW Jazz Vinyl LP Creased corner USD $19.09 Buy It Now 3 days
NEW SEALED Jazz Vinyl LP Magma Kohntarkosz Jazz Village USD $22.29 Buy It Now 3 days
Magma II 1001 Centrigrades Itah Jazz Village NEW Sealed Vinyl LP damage sleeve USD $22.67 Buy It Now 3 days
Magma Udu Wudu Jazz Village NEW SEALED Jazz Vinyl LP slight damage to cover USD $22.29 Buy It Now 3 days
EX-/EX- !! Christian Vander/To Love/1988 LP/French Issue/Magma USD $28.02 Buy It Now 3 days
Udu Wudu by Magma (Cassette, 1989) SEALED USD $19.99 Buy It Now 3 days
Udu Wudu by Magma (Cassette, 1989) USD $9.99 Buy It Now 3 days
Gojira SEALED Magma CD BRAND NEW MINT metal Roadrunner US release USD $8.99 Buy It Now 3 days
MAGMA 1001° CENTIGRADES LP Philips 6397 031 N MINT VINYL 1971 USD $199.99 Buy It Now 3 days
MAGMA Kohntarkosz LP/1974 France/Progressive Rock/2014 Jazz Village w/Download USD $36.98 Buy It Now 3 days
2015-Sealed-Magma Live-180 Gram 2 LP's USD $27.00 Buy It Now 3 days
Magma Riah Sahiltaahk Jazz Village NEW Jazz Vinyl LP Creased corner USD $30.69 Buy It Now 3 days
NEW Jazz Magma Wurdah Itah Jazz Village Vinyl LP Sealed but slight damaged Cover USD $33.28 Buy It Now 3 days
NEW Sealed Jazz Vinyl LP Magma Wurdah Itah Jazz Village USD $33.92 Buy It Now 3 days
NEW SEALED Jazz Vinyl LP Magma Kohntarkosz Jazz Village USD $33.92 Buy It Now 3 days

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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)

4.05 | 388 ratings
Magma [Aka: Kobaïa]
1970
4.13 | 356 ratings
1001° Centigrades [Aka: 2]
1971
4.31 | 833 ratings
Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
1973
4.10 | 402 ratings
Köhntarkösz
1974
4.19 | 290 ratings
Christian Vander: Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah Ïtah]
1974
3.74 | 349 ratings
Üdü Ẁüdü
1976
3.69 | 307 ratings
Attahk
1978
2.52 | 174 ratings
Merci
1984
3.78 | 96 ratings
Mekanïk Kommandöh
1989
4.27 | 581 ratings
K.A
2004
4.19 | 445 ratings
Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré
2009
4.14 | 325 ratings
Félicité Thösz
2012

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

4.44 | 207 ratings
Live/Hhaï (Köhntark)
1975
3.07 | 45 ratings
Inédits
1977
3.97 | 71 ratings
Retrospektïẁ III
1981
4.55 | 101 ratings
Retrospektïẁ I-II
1981
3.98 | 23 ratings
Concert 1992, Douarnenez:
1992
3.33 | 33 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
1995
2.58 | 21 ratings
Concert 1971, Bruxelles - Théâtre 140
1996
4.32 | 23 ratings
Concert 1975, Toulouse - Théâtre Du Taur
1996
4.15 | 41 ratings
Concert 1976, Opéra De Reims
1996
4.28 | 48 ratings
BBC 1974 - Londres
1999
4.57 | 76 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie
2001
4.05 | 28 ratings
Bourges 1979
2008
3.21 | 15 ratings
Live In Tokyo
2009
4.00 | 24 ratings
Zühn Wöhl Ünsaï - Live 1974
2014

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

4.25 | 24 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
1995
4.30 | 43 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie Au Trianon
2001
4.41 | 53 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume I
2006
4.41 | 53 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume II
2006
4.83 | 63 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume III
2007
4.82 | 55 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume IV
2008
4.54 | 26 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Epok V
2013

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

3.74 | 14 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes
1985
2.58 | 10 ratings
Kompila
1997
3.55 | 18 ratings
Simples
1998
2.04 | 15 ratings
Spiritual
2002
2.57 | 12 ratings
Über Kommandoh
2004
4.36 | 11 ratings
Archiw I & II
2008
5.00 | 1 ratings
Mythes Et Legendes (Box Set)
2008
4.90 | 55 ratings
Studio Zünd
2009
3.21 | 10 ratings
Trilogy
2012
3.00 | 1 ratings
45 Ans De Creation Hors des Sentiers Battus
2014
4.84 | 10 ratings
Köhnzert Zünd
2015

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

4.20 | 5 ratings
Kobaia/Mûh
1970
3.50 | 2 ratings
Hamtaak / Tendeï Kobah
1971
4.29 | 7 ratings
Mekanïk Kommando / Klaus Kömbälad
1972
4.63 | 8 ratings
Mekanïk Machine/Köhntarkosz
1974
2.00 | 1 ratings
Lïhns / Hhaï
1975
2.00 | 1 ratings
Spiritual
1978
2.00 | 1 ratings
Retrovision
1981
2.29 | 7 ratings
Ooh Ooh Baby / Otis
1985
3.89 | 37 ratings
Floë Ëssi / Ëktah
1998
3.00 | 2 ratings
K.A - Extraits - Edition Radio
2004
3.74 | 35 ratings
Rïah Sahïltaahk
2014
4.40 | 49 ratings
Slaǧ Tanƶ
2015

MAGMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Mythes Et Légendes, Volume III by MAGMA album cover DVD/Video, 2007
4.83 | 63 ratings

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Mythes Et Légendes, Volume III
Magma Zeuhl

Review by UselessPassion

5 stars If I were to recommend one of the Epok series to a Magma newcomer, it would definitely be this one.

This setlist showcases Magma's range quite well, from the dark, oppressive atmosphere of Kohntarkosz to the uplifting neo-gospel stylings of Linhs and 'm'hnt'ht-R', as well as the more accessible jazz fusion stylings of Nono and The Last Seven Minutes. This setlist feels rich and fulfilling and hits all of the major emotional beats one expects from this incredible group of musicians, from the crushing weight of hell, to moments of poignant reflection and finally to the heights of ecstasy.

This particular DVD, Epok III, sees a considerable step up in sound quality compared to the last two releases. Christian Vander's drums are more appropriately mixed, still full of nuance and texture but not as overbearing and overtly harsh as they were at times on Epok I and II.

While Magma are excellent on album, they're truly a world apart when performing live and thanks to these DVDs, we finally have a small fraction of this integral part of their legacy available on relatively high quality video and audio. The performances here are precise and charged, and although the sound and video quality still isn't quite as fantastic as it could be, it captures far more than any other live Magma offering to date has managed.

If you're new to the group or already a fan of the studio albums (but have never heard Magma live and in high quality,) this DVD and the next in the series, Epok IV, constitutes the holy grail of zeuhl. The apocalypse of humanity has never sounded quite so beautiful.

 Floë Ëssi / Ëktah by MAGMA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1998
3.89 | 37 ratings

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Floë Ëssi / Ëktah
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Tapfret
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars Never have I been much of a collector of singles, but this "single/b-side" CD has a very special place in my collection. Their is a fairly long-winded story that goes along with my affinity for the disc that is likely not particularly review appropriate. The short version is hearing this on the radio (yes, the radio) accidentally one early 1999 night before bed while setting the clockradio alarm. The unmistakable vibrato of Chistian Vander with the familiar muffled ring of slightly overdriven Rhodes whiffled through the tinny little clockradio speaker. "That sounds like Magma!!! ON THE RADIO!" It was, as it turns out, Ëktah being played during a promotional interview for the 1999 International Progressive Music Festival in San Francisco. What better than to hear Magma on the radio? How about finding out I was about to see them live?!? Something most of us thought would not happen in the US at that time.

The song itself, as previously stated, was undeniably Magma textured. Obviously not the epic composition we have come to expect, but very intricate and tightly mixed music. Vocally the verses not only carry the operatic tonality we come to expect from Magma, but Christian's syllabic rhythms on Ëktah are unique even for him.

The "A side", Floë Ëssi, is the jazzier of the tunes. My only live experience with Magma has featured Phillipe Bussonnet on bass and he never disappoints. Here, he blasts into the song with his driving, growling sound in he songs jazzy intro, then softens in the middle; complimenting the soft ethereal harmonies of Stella and Isabelle. The song rounds out in less then 3 minutes, but does not feel short or in any way incomplete.

Overall, this is an extremely enjoyable listen, albeit short. It is highly recommended for fans and actually makes a very accessible intro to Magma's sound for the unfamiliar; a feature that actually convinced me this was worthy of tipping to the 4 star side. The catch is availability. To my knowledge, at the time of this review, neither of these songs is featured on any of the many Magma compilations or live publications.

4 Stars

 Simples by MAGMA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
3.55 | 18 ratings

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Simples
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Tapfret
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars Rather than have an accidental "quick rating" deleted, I decided to give this collection of singles a listen, then another, and another. Moments that I totally expected, but obviously I found enough enjoyable aspects to these 5 songs to warrant several listens and a review.

Familiarity arrived in the form of Mekanik Kommandoh, which as is it implies, is the 6th movement of MDK; and Tendei Kobah, which is recognizable as the intro to 1001 Centigrades opener Riah Sahiltaahk. The latter would be identified in the 2014 re-recording of Riah Sahiltaahk as Watseï kobaïa. The recordings sound comparatively primitive to later renditions, but take nothing away from their enjoyability in that regard. Whether hearing these pieces outside of the context of their parent compositions is left for the subjectivity individual listener.

The highlight of the album for me was Mekanik Machine, which I will be presume to label "proto-funk-metal". By most Magma standards it appears quite simple. But it is a raw and heavy tidbit that most Magma listeners should find joy in.

The low point would be Klaus kombalad, which I would not be able to pick out of a lineup of late 60's psychedelia as an actual Magma tune.

Overall, Simples exists in the early horn-heavy phase of Magma. I would say it is not likely a good starting point for Magma noobs, but an enjoyable enough listen that it should be included in any Magma collection. Unless you have all these singles individually. In which case, forget it.

 Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.31 | 833 ratings

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Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
Magma Zeuhl

Review by marcobrusa

3 stars Polyrythm works along big instrumentation. The overall effect is impressive, but i do not listen to this unless i want to hear a march. Zeuhl is a hell of a sub-genre. In this case, the inventor is not the most likeable character for me. I get the trance every now and then but the music is too marching. The man's falsetto is a little annoying, the rest of the instruments are ok. Drummer and leader is a genius because he created something different. The music is very difficult to appreciate. I can listen to a couple songs but then i get bored. The changes are not different enough maybe... so 3 stars. It's a good album but not for any prog collection.
 Magma [Aka: Kobaïa] by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.05 | 388 ratings

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Magma [Aka: Kobaïa]
Magma Zeuhl

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "I've had dreams. Dreams about John Coltrane. In them I'm trying to get somewhere, but it's far, far away. I'm searching. I keep trying to get to the concert, the Coltrane Concert. But by the time I arrive, it's over." -Christian Vander, describing his recurring dreams about John Coltrane, 2015 [The Wire Issue 381]

Christian Vander was born in 1948 near Paris. From a very early age, he knew he was different from his peers. As he confesses in one of the interviews, he never wore stylish clothes, nor listened to popular music in his teenage years. His bohemian mother introduced him to classical music and jazz. Young Vander even had the privilege of meeting Chet Baker and future Coltrane drummer Elvin Jones. However, no other musician had a bigger impact on him than Coltrane. With his obsession growing, the young man started regarding the musician almost as a god, a prophet or his father, more so, because Vander never met his biological parent. When the jazzman passed away in 1967, out of depression, Vander went on tour to Italy. "I arrived in Milan and I did everything I could to destroy myself. Took stuff, drank... And I was like that for nearly two years. But one morning in Turin I woke up and saw the town completely illuminated, like I'd never seen before. And I said to myself: John Coltrane didn't allow himself to die like this." He left, returned to Paris, and became more involved with musical groups, playing around local casinos. Together with Laurent Thibault, the future Magma producer, they invented the whole mythology of Kobaïa and composed the opening track of Magma's first, eponymous (however, also often called Kobaïa), double-LP album, which was released under the Phillips label 1970.

Magma tells a story of the Earth's enlightened, intellectual elite deciding to escape their planet in search of a new world to create a better civilization, far from their home, destroyed by wars and politics. They finally settle on the planet Kobaïa.

The album opens with a Cuban-esque groove accompanied by throbbing bass, tight rhythm guitar, passionate drumming, and a jazzy horn section. When Klaus Basquiz's vocals take the lead, presenting a story in an unidentified, Gothic-sounding language, some listeners might picture a more elaborate version of Blood, Sweat and Tears or Chicago. However, at one point, after a short, baffling interlude, owing a great deal to European classical music traditions as well as spiritual, almost voodoo culture-like choir singing, the track drops into a rapid, heavy free-jazz section recalling musicians such as Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, and even Peter Brötzmann. Then comes a contrasted, quieter, piano part, leading into a jazzy climax of this extremely powerful and effective opener - "Kobaïa.""Aïna" follows with a pleasant, laidback avant-jazz theme, including a double saxophone duel. The vocals posses a similar spiritual quality, rooted in New Orleans' soul music traditions, whose origins can be traced back to Africa. Suddenly, the track changes its path, expediting its pace and becoming far more sophisticated. "Malaria" continues the overall atmosphere with a somewhat unsettling intro, which dissolves into a more, catchy, Latin avant-rock motif, utilizing a dry overdriven guitar and, more prominently, a flute. Side two of the first LP is opened with a mysterious melody on interplaying flutes. The same melody is picked up by Claude Engel's guitar together with drums, piano, and a horn section accompanying. After numerous harmonic and dynamic variations on the theme, comes a quiet, Kind Of Blue-like cool-jazz part, hesitantly leading to the reprise of the introduction with a marching rhythm applied. This suddenly resolves into "Sckxyss", which takes no time to warm-up. The magic fusion of sexy jazz rhythms, Stravinsky-like neo-classical music, rocky guitar, and Magma's own avant-garde elements is a truly intoxicating one! "Auraë" follows a pattern similar to the previous tracks, stating a very different statement using a similar vocabulary. Here, Francois Cahen's flawless piano work in conjunction with one of the flutes plays a crucial role in the dark, ominous feel. The atmosphere, still unsettled, grows in power with other instruments starting to creep in. The tension is dissolved on a rather cheerful line, similar to Easter European music in its broken, uneven rhythms. Then, the song moves into jazzier scenery, without losing its quirky integrity. Once again, following the footsteps and describing the nature of each passage of this piece would create a biblical-length epic. The piece is closed in an aggressive, yet controlled manner.

Disc two starts as if presenting a new volume of the story, with a solo flute melody, picturing a lonely shepherd in the mountains sitting on a rock and entertaining himself with the instrument. Taking Magma's dynamic, expressive style into consideration, the calm atmosphere continues for a surprisingly long time, even when other instruments and vocals join in. "Thaud Zaïa" finally becomes very Magma-like with a slow, disciplined marching rhythm, which after many repetitions, and a few beat variations, leads to the lone flute passage. "Naü Ektila" opens with something very untypical of Magma - a folk acoustic guitar passage accompanied by a clarinet. The addition of vocals and bass don't make things more punchy, rather the opposite. Another acoustic, feminine part comes in. The remaining composition is built from there, featuring a great, dry rock guitar riff, powering the Santana-like Latin jazz-rock machine. The appearance of a percussion solo leads to loud free-form mayhem. As if from the ashes, comes a very Coltrane-like part with François Cahen's amazing piano solo. With reappearances of the acoustic motif, the piece ends in a very classy, stylish way. "Stöah" starts with a high-pitched, screaming monolog in Kobaïan. The repetitive piano sequence, bringing a neo-classical chamber style of Hindemith and Stravinsky to mind, is presented with Klaus Basquiz's vocals. Later on in the piece, we get a bit of a teaser of the style Magma would employ on Mekanïk Destruktïẁ Kommandöh - jazzy piano passages with choir work very much reminiscent of Carl Orff. "Mûh" opens with a dreamy, celestial piano passage and for the first few minutes follows a similar aura, until the very cheerful Cuban jazz-like melody comes in, broken by a short neo-classical interlude and a lengthy, varied instrumental workout. As I've said a few times already, describing the exact direction of the music on some of the tracks would create a pointlessly long and boring review. The whole album closes with an odd recital in Kobaïan.

Magma's debut is characterized, above all, by incredible eclecticism, variation, and diversity, sophisticated compositions, magnificent musicianship, and capability of making all the influences, ranging from Stravinsky's dark, neo-classical works to free-jazz a la Sun Ra to Easter European folk to New Orleans soul music, work together and create a unique, one of a kind fruit. Furthermore, Magma or Kobaïa gave birth to a whole new sub-genre of progressive music known as "zeuhl." Atmospheric, vigorous, creative, unorthodox, innovative - these are just a few of many adjectives perfectly describing this music. Essential listening!

 Üdü Ẁüdü by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.74 | 349 ratings

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Üdü Ẁüdü
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Welcome to a strange, grotesque, and musical alien world. It's a place where bouncing melodies, fat bass fuzz, and weird keyboard textures interplay to create songs that will make you smirk, tap your foot, and scratch your head all at once. Welcome to Üdü Ẁüdü.

This is my first Magma record; in fact, it's my first listen to the "zeuhl" genre here on Prog Archives, and it was an entertaining experience. Üdü Ẁüdü is weird while retaining melody, and moves at a fine pace through mostly upbeat songs that are packed with music and musical sounds. You'll boomerang from dancing rhythms to open-ended a breezy passages that feel improvised. The sound, instrumentation, and vibe fits right in with the '70's prog scene, though Magma's voice is literally a unique one, because all of the lyrics are nonsense words created by the band's founder. They're quirky, but they work, and really do make it feel like you're walking among aliens listening to their off- kilter pop music.

From a song writing perspective there's not much here to grab you, in part because of the overall feeling of mystery or ooky spooky vibes the band creates. This is accomplished by the instrumental work, which is great. There's moments of Zappa-like orchestration and flippancy, but for the most part this Magma album is all about keys, drums, and bass... bass especially, with a near-constant stream of off-kilter lines and experimentation to enjoy. For me, this album isn't about the songs, it's the effect. A lot sounds ad-libbed, giving Üdü Ẁüdü a jam session-like quality. The downside of this is that there isn't much variety, as the equal parts prog/jazz/funk/Tralfamadorian folk sort of blend together throughout the experience.

Creative and entertaining, Üdü Ẁüdü outdoes a handful of shortcomings to become a lot of fun. Recommended for those seeking a good dose of weirdness in their classic prog collection, especially bass lovers like me.

Songwriting: 2 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

 Merci by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.52 | 174 ratings

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Merci
Magma Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

2 stars Wow! Is this MAGMA or Earth, Wind & Fire? Christian Vander, are you there somewhere?!! Did the Kobaians beam you all back up to your planet? Or did they implant those dreaded disco soul chips in you again. What can we think of the most hated album in the MAGMA discography. After the excellent run of originality and channeling of otherworldly forces that lasted from their debut in 1970 to "Üdü Wüdü' in 1976, it seems even advanced technology could not help the Kobaians hold back the backlash that dethroned progressive leaning music of the early 70s. While some bands like King Crimson were wise enough to call it a day before the great shift, others who stuck around found themselves watering down their output album by album, whittling away their loyal fan bases and becoming shallow caricatures of their innovative glory years.

Even the Kobains succumbed to these pressures as heard on the watered down "Attahk" in 1978, add to that the financial pressures of operating such a huge number of musicians on board with an ever chaining cast of members and it's really not hard to imagine the temptation to dummy down the innovations and go for the gold in the highly profitable pop music world of the 80s. Perhaps a good idea at the time but considering this is a whole different band of musicians on board (at least 25!), Vander could have had the decency to at least release this under a different moniker that wouldn't tarnish the image of one of the 70s' most unique forces in the prog world. After six years of inactivity the album was a hodgepodge of tracks recorded throughout the early 80s and at this point Vander was bored with the whole MAGMA thing anyway and after the release of MERCI would suspend activities with the band and focus on his jazz-fusion oriented Offering albums.

"Call From The Dark" begins the album and after a few tinkles of some strings and immediately begins what sounds like something you would hear on a disco soul album around 1979 leaving a first time listener accustomed to all the zeuhlisciousness of previous MAGMA offerings totally bewildered and just a few notes away from pumping out "Boogie Wonderland." While the music itself is perfectly decent for that type of sound, complete with beautiful vocals, a horn section to die for and a nice booty shakin' rhythmic section, it's like whoa!!! Is this MAGMA? WTF?

The second track "Otis" is less danceable and at least has a faint trace of the vocal trade offs of Vander and female vocalists from the past, but this song is particularly weak although perhaps acceptable for aging Kobaians in nursing homes or doctor's offices. Vander's screams in the middle sound like a mating cat and totally out of step with this mellow repetitive soul music. "Do The Music" is a rather strange little track as it sounds like zeuhl is battling it out with disco leaving the listener with no clear winner but admittedly a unique experiment that does make me think of going to the disco on Kobaia! I mean, they need to get a little light now and again too! "Otis (ending)" is a gospel sounding organ track with Vander screeching. Hmmm. No comment.

The one long track on here "Eliphas Levi" is the anomaly. It actually feels more like the zeuhl music we were expecting albeit more serene, pacified and stripped down in both instrumentation and feel. It does however have those ratcheting vocal deliveries that build in repetition accompanied by piano and percussion. This one is actually pretty enjoyable although very much on simmer as opposed to the full intense pyroclastic flow MAGMA usually delivers as the track drags on for over eleven minutes and feels like it never gets up to expected speed. The vocals are quite pleasant though and this is probably the best track on board and has a pleasant complex interchange at the end.

The album ends with the appropriately titled "The Night We Died" suggesting a now neutered MAGMA calling it a day and throwing in the towel. This is basically a sombre piano ballad with the Kobain females singing in unison. Overall i end with the same impression as i began. WTF? This would be perfectly good music for the most part for a Motown act trying to revive their career although a little unfocused but this MAGMA! Those who are held to a higher standard of complexity and innovative incremental progression as well as a higher energy level. This album is too mellow for its own good with the most energetic track sounding like a Michael Jackson B-side with Earth, Wind & Fire backing it up. Nothing on here is bad per se but for a band that carved its own niche in music and continued to ratchet it up album by album, this is surely a let down. After hearing this, it's very hard to believe they would come back stronger than ever 20 years down the road. 2.5 rounded down

 Köhnzert Zünd by MAGMA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
4.84 | 10 ratings

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Köhnzert Zünd
Magma Zeuhl

Review by jazz2896

5 stars This is sheer Kobaian perfection. If you're a fan of Magma, of course you'll need to hear this in some form or another, it takes all the proper live releases from the band and adds extra punch and clarity to the proceedings, so new details will be heard even to those who have memorized the included disks. Not to mention there are two disks of glorious new material. For those who aren't die hard fans, it might be a slightly expensive gateway, but if you're willing to drop for it and throw yourself into the deep end, it's an excellent way to get into Magma, for live Magma is certainly best Magma. Heavily recommended to all fans of the darker, more transcendental side of the progressive spectrum.
 1001° Centigrades [Aka: 2] by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.13 | 356 ratings

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1001° Centigrades [Aka: 2]
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The second chapter in the Gospel according to Christian Vander expands the mythology of planet Kobaïa even farther into the uncharted musical cosmos of Vander's imagination. The interplanetary narrative remains totally inscrutable, sung in an alien language to equally obscure (but exhilarating) music, more refined and sophisticated in the band's second outing but no less outrageous in its pinpoint, polyrhythmic weirdness.

The immediate surprise in this Magma album is how upbeat the music is, more so than anything else in their still expanding catalogue. Despite a few suitably bizarre digressions (look no deeper than the guttural Munchkin voices interrupting "Iss Lanseï Doïa"), this could almost be Zeuhl party music: a far cry from the hypnotic, sepulchral mantras of "M.D.K." or "Köhntarkösz".

Ditching their electric guitarist after the debut album only emphasized the jazzy horn work. But it still wasn't Jazz Rock, no matter what anyone might still be saying. The sequel stressed the more operatic elements in the music, strained as always through a unique sieve of jazz-like spontaneity and precise mathematic notation, all performed with eldritch Avant-Rock intensity.

The album's three long tracks might be too fractured at times, each one organized in an episodic medley of seemingly unrelated fragments and repetitive phrases (when it was revisited in 2014, the 22-minute "Rïah Sahïltaahk" was indexed into eight separate tracks). And the whole thing ends on a surprisingly anti-climactic note, with an unresolved fade-out in the middle of another groovy Zeuhl jam, this one shouldering the unwieldy title "Ki Ïahl Ö Lïahk"...grammatically normal in the universe of Magma, but still a tongue-twister worthy of Mr. Fox (in Socks, of Dr. Seuss fame, of course).

The element of surprise is missing too, after the outer-limit innovations of the first Magma LP. But the second album is illuminated by its own mysterious light, strong enough in retrospect to withstand the long shadow cast two years later by the band's magnum opus, "Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh".

 Magma [Aka: Kobaïa] by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.05 | 388 ratings

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Magma [Aka: Kobaïa]
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I'm not entirely sure why Magma's debut LP is sometimes called a Jazz Rock album. It's true the horn section gives the music a looser, jazzier vibe, but make no mistake: this is unadulterated Zeuhl from the first note to the final coda...repetitive, structured, and totally unnerving.

The music lacks the macabre Teutonic intensity of later Magma classics. But even with the outspoken Coltrane influence it's a poor fit in the Fusion cubbyhole, and weird enough to need an imaginary word in a fabricated language to describe it. The album might pass for traditional Jazz on planet Kobaïa, but here on Earth this is alien stuff, even more so when suddenly grounded by pastoral flutes and the unexpected acoustic guitar at the top of Disc Two.

Never mind the tongued-tied, extraterrestrial song titles (and how are we supposed to pronounce a word like "Sckxyss", anyway?). What's actually being fused here is an operatic blend of classical references, jazzy accents, and an Avant-Rock eccentricity any fan of early Zappa or The residents should immediately recognize.

Pick a track at random, and prepare to be (happily) confounded. The neo-classical beauty of "Naü Ektila", interrupted at intervals along its 13-minute length by thrilling passages of syncopated piano-and-sax mayhem. The shrieking introduction to "Stöah', sung (not the right word) like an inmate in Bedlam shredding his fingernails on the infirmary chalkboard. And after 82-uneasy minutes the album ends (in "Mûh", a song title sounding like a heavy object hitting the back of your head) with cliff-hanger abruptness, chanted as always in that coarse but compelling and otherworldly tongue.

In a single word: bizarre...and promising further madness to come. This was an album not only ahead of its time in1970, but totally outside of it.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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