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MAGMA

Zeuhl • France


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

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.

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MAGMA discography


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

4.03 | 500 ratings
Magma [Aka: Kobaïa]
1970
4.12 | 455 ratings
1001° Centigrades [Aka: 2]
1971
4.28 | 1072 ratings
Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
1973
4.17 | 352 ratings
Christian Vander: Tristan et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah Ïtah] (OST)
1974
4.15 | 512 ratings
Köhntarkösz
1974
3.77 | 432 ratings
Üdü Ẁüdü
1976
3.72 | 381 ratings
Attahk
1978
2.74 | 235 ratings
Merci
1984
3.67 | 135 ratings
Mekanïk Kommandöh
1989
4.25 | 725 ratings
K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria)
2004
4.21 | 536 ratings
Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré
2009
4.08 | 403 ratings
Félicité Thösz
2012
3.77 | 145 ratings
Zëss - Le Jour Du Néant
2019

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

4.44 | 253 ratings
Live/Hhaï (Köhntark)
1975
3.16 | 61 ratings
Inédits
1977
4.01 | 93 ratings
Retrospektïẁ III
1981
4.54 | 131 ratings
Retrospektïẁ I-II
1981
3.98 | 33 ratings
Concert 1992, Douarnenez:
1992
3.42 | 46 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
1995
2.80 | 30 ratings
Concert 1971, Bruxelles - Théâtre 140
1996
4.43 | 36 ratings
Concert 1975, Toulouse - Théâtre Du Taur
1996
4.14 | 51 ratings
Concert 1976, Opéra De Reims
1996
4.28 | 61 ratings
BBC 1974 - Londres
1999
4.59 | 103 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie
2001
4.00 | 40 ratings
Bourges 1979
2008
3.40 | 26 ratings
Live In Tokyo
2009
3.78 | 39 ratings
Zühn Wöhl Ünsaï - Live 1974
2014
3.00 | 2 ratings
Marquee Londres 17 Mars 1974
2018
0.00 | 0 ratings
Eskähl 2020 (Bordeaux-Toulouse-Perpignan)
2021

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

4.13 | 31 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
1995
4.32 | 54 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie au Trianon
2001
4.46 | 69 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume I
2006
4.46 | 69 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume II
2006
4.83 | 82 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume III
2007
4.81 | 74 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume IV
2008
4.59 | 45 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Epok V
2013
4.86 | 7 ratings
Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré Trilogie
2017

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

3.72 | 23 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes
1985
2.67 | 18 ratings
Kompila
1997
3.55 | 25 ratings
Simples
1998
1.89 | 19 ratings
Spiritual
2002
2.39 | 19 ratings
Über Kommandoh
2004
4.48 | 21 ratings
Archiw I & II
2008
4.83 | 6 ratings
Mythes Et Legendes (Box Set)
2008
4.90 | 69 ratings
Studio Zünd
2009
2.57 | 16 ratings
Trilogy
2012
4.50 | 4 ratings
45 Ans De Creation Hors des Sentiers Battus
2014
4.79 | 29 ratings
Köhnzert Zünd
2015

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

4.50 | 8 ratings
Kobaia/Mûh
1970
4.57 | 7 ratings
Hamtaak / Tendeï Kobah
1971
4.58 | 12 ratings
Mekanïk Kommando / Klaus Kömbälad
1972
4.75 | 12 ratings
Mekanïk Machine/Köhntarkosz
1974
4.25 | 4 ratings
Lïhns / Hhaï
1975
3.50 | 4 ratings
Spiritual
1978
3.40 | 5 ratings
Retrovision
1981
2.80 | 10 ratings
Ooh Ooh Baby / Otis
1985
3.84 | 50 ratings
Floë Ëssi / Ëktah
1998
3.00 | 4 ratings
K.A - Extraits - Edition Radio
2004
3.76 | 52 ratings
Rïah Sahïltaahk
2014
4.27 | 78 ratings
Slaǧ Tanƶ
2015
4.50 | 2 ratings
Retrospektiw
2017

MAGMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Floë Ëssi / Ëktah by MAGMA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1998
3.84 | 50 ratings

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Floë Ëssi / Ëktah
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

3 stars I have always had huge respects for Magma as a band. They do their own sound of weirdness and basically invented a whole new genre. They were clearly at their prime in the 70s with albums like MDK and Wurdah Itah, however the 80s caused them to go to a more commercial route which didn't treat them nicely in my opinion. However they came back strong in the 2000s but it seems like this EP shows that they came back also pretty strong earlier in the late 90s.

The first song Flöë Ëssi shows them going for a bit back with a more jazz influenced sound from their early days with Kobaia and 1001 degrees. It has some good bass lines and the vocals are just as good as they were in the 70s. Really nice song. The next song is Ëktah. This is the biggest staple on the EP, showcasing a pretty evolving song with the music getting more louder and beautiful the more the minutes go by, until it mellows out towards the end. It's a very pretty song in how it works. However my issue with this EP lies in the more commercial like sound. It seems like the band is recovering from their 80s days clearly, but they still retain that aspects about them, which kinda makes this EP a bit lower in my rating.

So yeah. Not the longest EP or even the longest review I have done. It's a good ep, but not the best, but I was satisfied after listening to it, really.

 Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.28 | 1072 ratings

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Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Argentinfonico

5 stars How marvellous!

I'm quite impressed with this album. I always stayed away from Zeuhl for reasons that even I don't know. Maybe it was simply the distance between me and this music, and nobody introduced me to this sector either. Well, it was time to start, and as I like to do it myself, I have decided to embark on this constructive journey starting from his most emblematic work. I believe that the only contribution I can make as a Zeuhl beginner is precisely from a renewed overview.

MEKANÏK DESTRUKTÏW KOMMANDÖH is one of those neat, classic and revolutionary albums that some people call "pretentious works". I totally disagree with this. Such works are rarely seen in music and definitely have nothing to do with Magma's work. Not named in general music, this band can be seen right off the bat as one of the most influential in experimental music after 1975. It really fascinates and pleases me that Christian Vander has invented a language for the fictional history of their 10 concept albums. The elevation this album provides is very unusual, and I can now see how much it has influenced many bands I have listened to. At times you feel cramped from so much heavy music with no breaks or moments of relaxation. You can feel that enclosure while being caressed sinisterly by the wind instruments and perceive the look of enjoyment from the female vocals!

It would be disrespectful to give an opinion from a critical and spatially argumentative point of view, so for now I'll just say that it's a great album and that I really enjoyed the experience, with lots of innovations, lots of drama and instrumental growths that will make you smile with admiration (or the other option is that you won't want to listen to it again, because it's such a passionate album that it completely polarises the experiences of its listeners).

 Retrospektïẁ III by MAGMA album cover Live, 1981
4.01 | 93 ratings

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Retrospektïẁ III
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I do refer "Retrospektiw I-II" to this one even if they were both taken from the same series of reunion concerts they did in June of 1980. They did three nights in Paris at L'Olympia. It's that opener that I have some minor issues with but overall I can't not give this 4 stars, just a really enjoyable recording. And it's funny I'm at work this past week and a few times I had "Hhai" stuck in my head which I thought was humerous. I mean who gets a MAGMA track spinning over and over in their mind. At least that main melody. I really like that "Hhai" version especially when Lockwood trades off with his violin with the keyboardist. Not sure if that's clavinet or synths but it's a cool section starting after 4 minutes. Love the female and male vocals here too. Christian is featured as the male singer while on the other two tracks it's Guy Khalifa. Stella is here with Liza and Maria as far as female vocals go.

What I do like about the opener "Retrovision" is the guitar that arrives around 8 1/2 minutes replacing the female vocals. And how about when that sound turns heavier and more determined before 11 1/2 minutes then the female vocals return. More of that determined sound after 14 minutes and check out that bass 16 minutes in. That would be Mr. Bertram. Paganotti does the bass on the other two tracks. The closer is short at around 4 minutes but a nice edition as we get mostly piano and vocals and it does get intense.

So yeah another MAGMA release that I seem to need to keep around.

 K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria) by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.25 | 725 ratings

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K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria)
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Ian McGregor

5 stars A majestic return to form from a legendary 70s band! K.A. finds Magma at its prime once again with its complex time signatures and impressive vocal work. The unexplicable lyrics only add up to the mysterious aura that this band has always posessed, and the tracks of colossal proportions only add upp to the technicality and experimentation the band is capable of.

K.A. I is my favorite from the album and also the least experimental. It sets up the recurring themes of the album in an overture-way, and features the most impressive vocal work from the album. K.A. II is in the middle point between solid or technical (K.A. I) and experimental (K.A. III). It is my least favorite track from the album but I must say it's still one of the best songs of Magma. It reprises previous themes and brings up new ones. K.A. III is the most experimental one, it features an amazing keyboard solo accompanied with some truly incredible drums. This instrumental section lasts pretty long and during the beginning of the song. After it, the song continues playing the recurring themes from previous songs while also bringing a proper ending to the album.

One of their best records for sure! Very few 70s prog rock bands have been capable of making a comeback as good as Magma's K.A. It's five stars for me!

 Attahk by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.72 | 381 ratings

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Attahk
Magma Zeuhl

Review by bartymj

4 stars After the disjointed Udu Wudu album and departure of Jannick Top, Christian Vander took Magma in a slightly different direction, building on the funkier feel to try and get more commercial success, with some R&B styles thrown in.

This is signified by the aptly titled "The Last Seven Minutes" opening track, which holds all the hallmarks of Zeuhl style in a frantic, fast paced opener which is almost an overture of the entirety of Magma Zeuhl to date. I quite like this track.

'Spiritual', also aptly named, is pretty much a Zeuhl Gospel choir. The female vocalists may even be singing 'Happy Day'. Its very very far removed from Mekanik Destruktiv Kommandoh! Probably the first ever Zeuhl track you could get up and dance to. On that basis, wont' be for everyone, but perhaps a guilty pleasure for many.

Rind-e is one of a few tracks dotted around the Magma repertoire that would later be wrapped up into the Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré saga. Although still beautiful in its own way with some lovely piano work its a sudden departure from the previous track.

In Liriïk Necronomicus Kahnt we're back to funk, with vocals sounding like they're being mumbled through a kazoo over disco-like drumming and bass. Not a fan of this one.

Maahnt brings back in the fast paced drumming and bass riffing similar to the opening track, but coupled up with a range of bizarre noises, shrieks, belches plus some brass. Another I struggle with.

Piano-based beauty returns in Dondai, a much calmer track than the last couple, and with a Stella Vander-led choir. The track is made even better by a slow build into more dramatic vocals and fuzzy bass in the second half. Probably the best track on the album for me.

Nono - the track of the hi-hat. A strangely suspense building closing number.

All in all, better than Udu Wudu, but not at the heights of "proper" Zeuhl. Worth repeat listens though. 3.5 stars

 Concert 1992, Douarnenez:  by MAGMA album cover Live, 1992
3.98 | 33 ratings

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Concert 1992, Douarnenez:
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This to me is an interesting live MAGMA album because it's so focussed on the vocals. I mean we get 8 singers, well nine counting Christian Vander who is prominent at times vocally and so impressive doing it. How can some guys get so much talent as this man is recognized as a World class drummer, and while he does drum some here(very little) he is mostly singing or playing the piano. There is a definite connection between this lineup and the OFFERING project that was going on at this time as they share all the singers plus one of the keyboardists and the Vanders of course Stella and Christian.

This live event happened back in 1992 while the OFFERING band put out it's last studio album in 1993. So we basically get a keyboard, bass and vocal setup here. Two keyboardists, well three counting Christian. Right from the first spin this felt like home if you know what I mean. I'm not usually big on vocal dominant albums but I can't tell you how talented this bunch is and I am a pretty big fan of OFFERING because of that. Oh and one of the keyboardists is Simon Goubert a German musician who shared equal billing on the album cover of that lone WELCOME album. And he drums along with Christian Vander on there! Check out the tracks here as we get "Emehnteht-Re" a short under 4 minute piece of piano, atmosphere and incredible vocals. We get almost the same sound with "Zess(Extrait)" although this is over 17 minutes. Check out Christian's vocal display from after 8 minutes to well after 10 minutes. The closer is "Wurdah Itah" at almost 16 minutes. Again vocals and piano lead the way and this sounds really good 6 minutes in.

So a live MAGMA album that almost seems like an OFFERING release in many ways. I can't go lower than 4 stars with this one, pretty impressive and surprisingly uniform and samey for a live release.

 Üdü Ẁüdü by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.77 | 432 ratings

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Üdü Ẁüdü
Magma Zeuhl

Review by bartymj

3 stars After Kohntarkosz, things get a little disjointed for Magma. The main trio of Vander, Blasquiz and Top are still here (although Vander and Top were by this point not very fond of each other and Top would leave after this album), as is the occasional appearance from Mrs Vander. Elsewhere we have some guest musicians on the first two tracks, notably Gauthier and Paganotti who played a major part in the second track Weidorje, and would subsequently release their own LP under the same name the next year.

It's a very different style to preceeding Magma albums. The title track is a call and response with several guest female vocalists. Its build around an incredibly repetitive piano riff and has almost a latin funk feel to it with the brass accompaniment. It's catchy but very far removed from their output up to now.

Weidorje is where Paganotti is given the chance to trial his Zeuhl songwriting. It's a bit weak if I'm honest, but is more reminiscent of earlier Magma style.

When you get to Troller Tanz, you realise the funkier groove is here to stay. Here synths are far more important than they've ever been, and are used to pretty good effect.

Soleil d'Ork is a Jannick Top track that he would also re-use in his solo work. Again, with very funk bass grooves, and the percussion gives it a Middle Eastern/Indian feel.

Zombies, for me, is the best track on the album, probably because it is the most reminiscent of Magma's first couple of albums rather than the "new" funk style.

Now to the big track. Written by Jannick Top, De Futura is full of strong bass, ghostly high pitched synths, and unusually basic drumming, and is where Magma seem to disappear into the world of lengthy psychedelic space jams. Thing is, it gets a bit boring. Pretty boring actually. There's no need for 17 minutes of it.

All in all, for me its Magma's weakest album since the beginning, and is perhaps a little disjointed given Christian Vander hands over a lot of the song writing to the rest of the band. But it is important in the development of 'later' Magma, and the solo careers of the personnel involved.

 Üdü Ẁüdü by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.77 | 432 ratings

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Üdü Ẁüdü
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Artik

5 stars Magma with synths and funky rhythms? Hell yeah!! They have released a couple albums I like even more than this one, but so what, it's still five star masterpiece. The uniqueness of the style (jazz-funk-zeuhl), the fearless imagination, the complexity of time signatures and perfect execution of quirky instrumental parts (rhythm section!) with amazing vocal arrangements (plenty of them) on top deserve no less. The band like no other delivered again. It's progressive as it gets but not in usual sense of the word. The music is dark, haunting, sometimes even manic (De Futura), so beware - no nice melodies to hum while shaving, unless you're in a mood for a nice bloodbath.
 Magma [Aka: Kobaïa] by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.03 | 500 ratings

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Magma [Aka: Kobaïa]
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Cboi Sandlin

3 stars Okay, I'm moving on to Magma's self titled debut album (also known as Kobia). This album is the start of a string of concept albums conceptualized by drummer and band leader Christian Vander. The storyline of these albums is about people who flee from the planet earth to a planet called Kobia, and the conflict arises between them and the inhabitants of the planet Kobia. That is what the story is supposed to be, but, at least in this album, i find it hard to follow the story because all of the vocals with the exception of the first song are done in Kobian, a language that Vander made up. So the storyline is really more or less left to the listeners imagination rather than explained in the lyrics of the songs. I am pretty sure that is how it is done in Magma's other albums, but i dont know for sure as this is the only Magma album I have listened to in full.

Now, as for the music, i would say that it is somewhat good. Vanders drumming is spot on, he was able to easily play aloung with the complex jazzy rhythms of the songs. The vocals are incredibly hard to understand, even when they are sung in English.There were also several places in the album in which all music stopped and all that was played was screaming and incoherant babbling which i assume is Kobian. I did like the choir arrangements though, i found those quite nice. The guitars were pretty cool, as some pretty rocking guitar riffs were played in several different places in the album. I found that the whole sound of the album had a very nice jazz fusion feel, which was very nice.

In conclusion, i would recommend recommend this album to anyone who is into jazz rock and complex prog rock, but if you're just getting into prog, this is definently not for you.

 Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.28 | 1072 ratings

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Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Lieutenant_Lan

3 stars Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh (MDK), which released in December of 1973, is the third studio album by French band Magma. This album has very dramatic opera vocals, interesting percussion, and jazz and folk elements. Its very creative and interesting. The production is okay, and musicianship is good, but some of the tones feel off. The album is fine, and I like it to an extent, but I do not think its a masterpiece. I will rate it a 3/5. If you like weird stuff I recommend it, but I do not think its an essential prog album, as with everything else in this sub-genre.
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