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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


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)

4.03 | 487 ratings
Magma [Aka: Kobaïa]
1970
4.12 | 444 ratings
1001° Centigrades [Aka: 2]
1971
4.27 | 1049 ratings
Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
1973
4.17 | 341 ratings
Christian Vander: Tristan et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah Ïtah] (OST)
1974
4.14 | 501 ratings
Köhntarkösz
1974
3.77 | 421 ratings
Üdü Ẁüdü
1976
3.72 | 370 ratings
Attahk
1978
2.73 | 227 ratings
Merci
1984
3.65 | 130 ratings
Mekanïk Kommandöh
1989
4.24 | 710 ratings
K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria)
2004
4.21 | 531 ratings
Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré
2009
4.09 | 397 ratings
Félicité Thösz
2012
3.81 | 134 ratings
Zëss - Le Jour Du Néant
2019

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

4.44 | 247 ratings
Live/Hhaï (Köhntark)
1975
3.13 | 57 ratings
Inédits
1977
4.00 | 88 ratings
Retrospektïẁ III
1981
4.54 | 128 ratings
Retrospektïẁ I-II
1981
3.96 | 32 ratings
Concert 1992, Douarnenez:
1992
3.42 | 45 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
1995
2.75 | 29 ratings
Concert 1971, Bruxelles - Théâtre 140
1996
4.44 | 35 ratings
Concert 1975, Toulouse - Théâtre Du Taur
1996
4.15 | 49 ratings
Concert 1976, Opéra De Reims
1996
4.28 | 59 ratings
BBC 1974 - Londres
1999
4.58 | 99 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie
2001
4.01 | 38 ratings
Bourges 1979
2008
3.34 | 25 ratings
Live In Tokyo
2009
3.76 | 37 ratings
Zühn Wöhl Ünsaï - Live 1974
2014
4.00 | 1 ratings
Marquee Londres 17 Mars 1974
2018

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

4.20 | 30 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
1995
4.31 | 52 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie Au Trianon
2001
4.46 | 66 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume I
2006
4.45 | 66 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume II
2006
4.82 | 79 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume III
2007
4.80 | 70 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume IV
2008
4.57 | 40 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Epok V
2013
4.83 | 6 ratings
Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré Trilogie
2017

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

3.81 | 22 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes
1985
2.73 | 17 ratings
Kompila
1997
3.52 | 24 ratings
Simples
1998
1.89 | 18 ratings
Spiritual
2002
2.44 | 18 ratings
Über Kommandoh
2004
4.45 | 20 ratings
Archiw I & II
2008
4.80 | 5 ratings
Mythes Et Legendes (Box Set)
2008
4.90 | 68 ratings
Studio Zünd
2009
2.60 | 15 ratings
Trilogy
2012
4.60 | 5 ratings
45 Ans De Creation Hors des Sentiers Battus
2014
4.78 | 27 ratings
Köhnzert Zünd
2015

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

4.43 | 7 ratings
Kobaia/Mûh
1970
4.63 | 8 ratings
Hamtaak / Tendeï Kobah
1971
4.62 | 13 ratings
Mekanïk Kommando / Klaus Kömbälad
1972
4.73 | 11 ratings
Mekanïk Machine/Köhntarkosz
1974
4.00 | 3 ratings
Lïhns / Hhaï
1975
3.50 | 4 ratings
Spiritual
1978
3.40 | 5 ratings
Retrovision
1981
3.00 | 11 ratings
Ooh Ooh Baby / Otis
1985
3.89 | 48 ratings
Floë Ëssi / Ëktah
1998
2.33 | 3 ratings
K.A - Extraits - Edition Radio
2004
3.75 | 50 ratings
Rïah Sahïltaahk
2014
4.27 | 76 ratings
Slaǧ Tanƶ
2015
5.00 | 3 ratings
Retrospektiw
2017

MAGMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Concert 1992, Douarnenez:  by MAGMA album cover Live, 1992
3.96 | 32 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 | 421 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 | 421 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 | 487 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
4.27 | 1049 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.
 Studio Zünd by MAGMA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2009
4.90 | 68 ratings

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Studio Zünd
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Isaac Peretz

5 stars An amazing collection of Magma's studio albums from debut to K.A, along with an extra CD of unused music from previous years. First of all, Magma is an acquired-taste band. Not all Prog-Heads love their music, and that's ok. We all got different tastes. Now, if you actually like Magma then you really need to have this. It's dozens of high-quality prog music (Except Merci) from the creators of Zeuhl. An absolute must for any Magma fan. I won't talk about the albums since that would make this review 100.000 words big, but I can assure you that almost everything in that box set is worth it. That's basically it, there really isn't much more to say.

I'm giving it five stars because it is literally essential for any Magma fan (Or anyone who wants to get into them).

 K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria) by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.24 | 710 ratings

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K.A (Köhntarkösz Anteria)
Magma Zeuhl

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars I ignored Magma and Zeuhl in general for a couple of years due to the relative inaccessibility of their music and not always favourable description of the music genre.

This changed recently also thanks to a live concert at Night of the Prog 2013 that brought them closer into my attention and I realized that these lads have create quite some gems that sound like nothing else ever done before.

On this release, the first major one since the 70's, the band blew dust of their unreleased archives, added precise detailed sonic scenery with incredible vocal complexity, flavour of jazz and Canterbury, crisp sound and of course, their language that sounds soft and formidable. Jazz-fusion touches are delicate but this time, without brass instruments and keyboards take quite an instrumental role. The second track has a really complex but rewarding motive - verse and chorus. The instrumental section is quite accessible in the early 70's fusion and guitar takes the lead. Later on, you can hear classical music intermezzo on piano and with female vocal. The third track has a delicate synth/electric piano intro with Vander on drums providing Soft-Machine like busy drumming that matches the soloing synth well. It's not until the 9th minutes that vocals take a more prominent role. There is also a grooving somewhat dramatic dissonant experimental motive, really great exploration of increasing tones.

This is a strong release and certainly one of the best releases of 2004 on progarchives.

 1001° Centigrades [Aka: 2] by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.12 | 444 ratings

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1001° Centigrades [Aka: 2]
Magma Zeuhl

Review by bartymj

4 stars At the end of Magma's first album, a group of Kobaians agree to travel to Earth to pass on their wisdom and help save the planet. The plot states that the party arrive on Earth, receive a friendly welcome, and tell various stories of the growth of civilisation on Kobaia, and their philosophy on purification and spiritual enlightenment. This is likely the plot of the first half of the 21 minute opening track which is relatively upbeat and curious in parts. However, after telling the story, the Kobaian ship is impounded and the party imprisoned, as the title track takes a more ominous sounding tone, but they are able to communicate with their home planet and a message for rescue is sent, signified by the appearance of the shrieking vocals that ended the previous album as the travellers left Kobaia.

A rescue party is scrambled and travels to Earth. They offer an ultimatum to Earth, release the imprisoned Kobaians or face destruction at the hands of Kobaia and the ultimate weapon. This track is obviously a lot darker, with some quite minimalist sections as the tension builds. The second track ends in suspense with a ticking clock, signalling this dark ultimatum.

The release happens, and the angered Kobaians vow never to return in the opening to the final track. However those on Earth that they came in contact with and were not responsible for their imprisonment, are inspired by their visit, living by Kobaian ideology and preserving it for future generations.

Compared to the debut album, Magma's follow up sounds a fair bit more Zeuhl-y, although in upbeat sections still very much a Coltrane tribute. There are some elements of the authoritarian marching rhythm and repeating chanting vocals, but still without the operatic female vocals of Mrs Vander. This is one of my favourite Magma albums, particularly for its position as the transitional album from their mostly pure jazz debut, and the major leap into Zeuhl style in the next album MDK.

 Christian Vander: Tristan et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah Ïtah] (OST) by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.17 | 341 ratings

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Christian Vander: Tristan et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah Ïtah] (OST)
Magma Zeuhl

Review by bartymj

4 stars Originally Christian Vander's soundtrack to a little known film Tristan Et Iseult, Ẁurdah Ïtah is remastered and rereleased as part of the Magma canon these days - as a result of it being the key quartet of Christian and Stella Vander, Klaus Blasquiz and Jannick Top. As a result of the stripped back quartet, there is no guitar, brass or choir, but they still manage to generate the signature totalitarian melancholy marching feel of MDK, albeit a little softer without the guitar and brass sections.

Ẁurdah Ïtah is the second part of the Theusz Hamtaahk (Time of Hatred) trilogy, released after MDK, the third movement. Set before MDK, where Nebehr Gudahtt provided the enlightenment that the Kobaians offered on their visit many years ago, Ẁurdah Ïtah in Kobaian apparently means 'Dead Earth'. As with everything Magma, the plot should be open to interpretation. I personally see it as the Kobaians lookin on from afar at what we humans are doing to the planet Earth and expressing their displeasure but also slight empathy. But there are a thousand other ways to interpret of course!

It's less repetitive than MDK in terms of its rhythms and chanting, and is probably the best example of Magma's more melodic lyrical style, and I would place it slightly ahead of MDK in my personal tastes, and definitely as another entry point for Zeuhl style.

 Trilogy by MAGMA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2012
2.60 | 15 ratings

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Trilogy
Magma Zeuhl

Review by cmaluend

1 stars Magma trilogy is a bootleg. Charly records acquired "some" right of Magma Live, Attahk, and Udu Vudu, but they haven't paid any royalty to the band. They have edited those three albumens many times changing covers. Besides that, the album Magma Live is not complete. It misses two songs: "EMEHNTEHTT-RE" and "DA ZEUHL WORTZ MEKANIK".

About the art, I haven't seen this version in person, but for me, it is a crime to change the Attahk cover. There isn't any replacement for the art design by H.R. Giger.

Summary, this version does not support the band, it has an incomplete version of Magma Live, and it does not give a [&*!#] of the great art of H.R. Giger.

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

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