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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 Kobaan, 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 Kobaan saga (debut and 1001 Centigrates), the Khntarksz triology (Kohntarkosz Anteria or K.A., Khntarksz and mhnthtt-R) and the Theusz Hamtaahk triology (Theusz Hamtaahk, Mekank Destruktw Kommandh or M.D.K and Wurdah tah). 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.

⭐ Collaborators Top Prog Album of 2009 ⭐

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MAGMA Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy MAGMA Music


KohntarkoszKohntarkosz
Seventh Records 2013
$18.57
$21.68 (used)
Hhai LiveHhai Live
Seventh Records 2013
$27.78
$28.92 (used)
Live by Magma (2001-02-26)Live by Magma (2001-02-26)
Charly
$9.95
$25.00 (used)
M.D.K. (New Edition)M.D.K. (New Edition)
Seventh Records 2018
$38.77
ZessZess
Seventh Records 2019
$28.79
$22.95 (used)
Udu WuduUdu Wudu
SEVENTH RECORDS 2013
$21.87
$23.67 (used)
Zss (Le Jour Du Nant) (Deluxe Digibook Edition)Zss (Le Jour Du Nant) (Deluxe Digibook Edition)
Seventh Records
$31.99
Emhnthtt-R TrilogieEmhnthtt-R Trilogie
Seventh Records 2017
$30.44
$36.09 (used)
Studio ZndStudio Znd
2008
$643.65 (used)
Bobino 1981Bobino 1981
Seventh Records 2017
$36.60
$34.80 (used)

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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)

4.04 | 451 ratings
Magma [Aka: Kobaa]
1970
4.12 | 414 ratings
1001 Centigrades [Aka: 2]
1971
4.28 | 975 ratings
Mekank Destruktw Kommandh
1973
4.15 | 468 ratings
Khntarksz
1974
3.76 | 396 ratings
d Ẁd
1976
3.72 | 349 ratings
Attahk
1978
2.63 | 210 ratings
Merci
1984
3.69 | 121 ratings
Mekank Kommandh
1989
4.27 | 668 ratings
K.A
2004
4.20 | 499 ratings
mhnthtt-R
2009
4.13 | 380 ratings
Flicit Thsz
2012
3.81 | 101 ratings
Zss - Le Jour Du Nant
2019

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

4.44 | 236 ratings
Live/Hha (Khntark)
1975
3.16 | 54 ratings
Indits
1977
4.02 | 86 ratings
Retrospektẁ III
1981
4.54 | 123 ratings
Retrospektẁ I-II
1981
4.03 | 31 ratings
Concert 1992, Douarnenez:
1992
3.44 | 44 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
1995
2.88 | 30 ratings
Concert 1971, Bruxelles - Thtre 140
1996
4.46 | 36 ratings
Concert 1975, Toulouse - Thtre Du Taur
1996
4.17 | 51 ratings
Concert 1976, Opra De Reims
1996
4.28 | 57 ratings
BBC 1974 - Londres
1999
4.59 | 97 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie
2001
4.05 | 39 ratings
Bourges 1979
2008
3.43 | 25 ratings
Live In Tokyo
2009
3.80 | 37 ratings
Zhn Whl nsa - Live 1974
2014
0.00 | 0 ratings
Marquee Londres 17 Mars 1974
2018

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

4.20 | 30 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
1995
4.31 | 51 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie Au Trianon
2001
4.45 | 64 ratings
Mythes Et Lgendes, Volume I
2006
4.44 | 64 ratings
Mythes Et Lgendes, Volume II
2006
4.83 | 76 ratings
Mythes Et Lgendes, Volume III
2007
4.82 | 66 ratings
Mythes Et Lgendes, Volume IV
2008
4.55 | 38 ratings
Mythes Et Lgendes, Epok V
2013
5.00 | 3 ratings
mhnthtt-R Trilogie
2017

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

3.90 | 21 ratings
Mythes Et Lgendes
1985
2.88 | 17 ratings
Kompila
1997
3.58 | 25 ratings
Simples
1998
2.18 | 19 ratings
Spiritual
2002
2.56 | 16 ratings
ber Kommandoh
2004
4.65 | 20 ratings
Archiw I & II
2008
5.00 | 4 ratings
Mythes Et Legendes (Box Set)
2008
4.90 | 64 ratings
Studio Znd
2009
3.09 | 13 ratings
Trilogy
2012
4.60 | 5 ratings
45 Ans De Creation Hors des Sentiers Battus
2014
4.76 | 25 ratings
Khnzert Znd
2015

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

4.43 | 7 ratings
Kobaia/Mh
1970
4.63 | 8 ratings
Hamtaak / Tende Kobah
1971
4.62 | 13 ratings
Mekank Kommando / Klaus Kmblad
1972
4.73 | 11 ratings
Mekank Machine/Khntarkosz
1974
4.00 | 3 ratings
Lhns / Hha
1975
3.50 | 4 ratings
Spiritual
1978
3.40 | 5 ratings
Retrovision
1981
3.00 | 11 ratings
Ooh Ooh Baby / Otis
1985
3.92 | 47 ratings
Flo ssi / ktah
1998
2.33 | 3 ratings
K.A - Extraits - Edition Radio
2004
3.79 | 51 ratings
Rah Sahltaahk
2014
4.41 | 72 ratings
Slaǧ Tanƶ
2015
5.00 | 3 ratings
Retrospektiw
2017

MAGMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Concert 1975, Toulouse - Thtre Du Taur by MAGMA album cover Live, 1996
4.46 | 36 ratings

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Concert 1975, Toulouse - Thtre Du Taur
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Recorded a few months after the material captured on Live/Hhai, Theatre du Taur is, like that album, a double disc release offering a deep dive into the live world of Magma during the height of their powers. The first disc covers material much the same as that on the first disc or so of Live/Hhai, though it's interestingly different in some respects thanks in part to some improvisations differing, in part due to the lineup here being different (with Patrick Gauthier offering a somewhat different keyboard approach).

The second disc is an exciting live runthrough of Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh. Yes, if you get into Magma live albums you'll probably end up with multiple live performances of their masterwork - but this is a pretty good one. I'd actually say the sound quality here has a slight edge on the somewhat murky sound of Live/Hhai, so if you like that one, you'll probably love this, if you haven't delved into live Magma before this is as good a starting point as any.

 Zss - Le Jour Du Nant by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.81 | 101 ratings

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Zss - Le Jour Du Nant
Magma Zeuhl

Review by thebig_E

4 stars This album was quite the stylistic detour for Magma. On many Magma albums, such as K.A, Christian Vander's voice is used sparingly. His voice appears a few times, but he is mostly the drummer. On Zss (Le Jour Du Nant), he is the lead singer and doesn't play drums. Instead, a Swedish drummer named Morgen gren, provides the percussion. I don't know much about him or his band, but I've read that he's a very technical drummer. Unfortunately, Zss doesn't require him to be much more than a metronome.

Zss is another composition that has existed in the Magma catalog for decades before this studio recording. While this may not be the definitive version, it is good to contrast with other live performances of this song. The addition of an orchestra (provided by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra) is a good touch that separates this album from others in their discography. This, along with the fact that the album flows like one 38 minute song, makes it sound much more like a symphony. This is a very minimal and streamlined album, and it rewards patience. For that reason, I couldn't throw it on anytime and always be enjoying it like other albums they have produced.

The album starts with an ominous string and vocal arrangement. This section is the opening fanfare, and lasts for 5 minutes. From there, we go into a minimal 2 chord piano and percussion theme. Christian narrates in French over the music. This does not change for 6 minutes, and this is kind of where the album loses me a bit. It's the least musically interesting part of the record. Thankfully, a switch to the Kobaan language brings the string section back, and we get the first instance of a motif that will exist throughout the rest of the album.

The language seemingly changes from Kobaan to something that is unrecognizable. The main takeaway from the vocals is the repeated "hmhmh nhmhsn". This culminates in a final 15 minutes of chaos, beauty, and resolution. The segment at the end, titled "Dmghl Bla (Glas ultime), is a different ending that is unique to this version of Zss. A quiet piano leads into call and response vocals between Christian and the rest of the singers. The word "om" brings the album to a close, suggesting that there is peace after everything that has come before.

In the Kobaan lore, Zss represents the end of the universe and everything that has ever existed. This makes the album seem like a final farewell. If this is the last Magma album, I wouldn't mind. They have had an excellent run, lasting for 50 years. Zss was never going to be my favourite Magma song or album, but I'm glad this exists.

 mhnthtt-R by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.20 | 499 ratings

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mhnthtt-R
Magma Zeuhl

Review by thebig_E

4 stars 4.5 stars. mhnthtt-R, the third part of the Kohntarkosz trilogy, was released in 2009. This completed a series that was started in the mid 1970's and didn't see completion until decades later. This album features songs that appeared on d Wd, Attahk, and Live/Hhai. I don't have a problem with this. If an artist thinks they can improve an old song with new recording technology, they are free to do as they please. It helps that the songs that were recycled are good.

Track 1 is mhnthtt-R I. This, along with the next 3 songs, make up the bulk of the album. Christian gives narration in a vaguely Egyptian sounding language, then the vocal choir sings an ominous melody. Voices are panned left, right, and centre, while drums and piano make the instrumental. Stella gives an emotional solo, and this leads into "Rinde" from Attahk.

Part II starts with Christian singing, and this is where the album picks up the pace. A bonus track from d Wd is reused, and a great vocal harmony brings us to the next song. "Hhai" was always a live staple since it was first used in 1975. Over time, it has grown to be one of Magma's best songs. This studio version is a worthy addition to the song's legacy. Christian's voice is as good as ever. An impactful ending segues into "Zombies", a track from d Wd. This time, the song is much faster and more intense.

Part III has a dramatic intro and falls into a more reserved instrumental. Stella and Herv Aknin sing a duet, with other vocalists fading in and out of the mix. This song keeps building until it is very dense with vocals and instruments. It keeps ramping up intensity, and a well deserved crescendo is reached.

Part IV is a more calm and jazzy piece. Stella sings alone once again. This allows the listener to relax and reflect on the trip this album has taken them on. That is, until a moody ending suddenly happens.

Parts I to IV of the mhnthtt-R suite are the main portion of the album. I can't say what comes after is essential though. "Funhrarum Kanht" sounds more like vocal practice for the band, than a real song. This drones on for 4 minutes with sustained voices and repetitive percussion. Not bad, but not great. "Sh" is not much to write about. It's just 30 seconds worth of ambience with Christian repeating the opening narration.

Despite an underwhelming ending, this record is still fantastic. As a whole, mhnthtt-R is a more dark and brooding album than K.A. Sometimes, I love this album as much as K.A. You can't go wrong with either one. If you like progressive music, I encourage you to listen to mhnthtt-R.

 K.A by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.27 | 668 ratings

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K.A
Magma Zeuhl

Review by thebig_E

5 stars When you think of comeback albums, you generally think of bad ones. A band is not as good as they used to be, when they return after a 10 year or longer absence. There are a few comeback albums that are excellent. Those are less common, but they exist. K.A (Kohntarkosz Anteria), is one of those albums. Released in 2004 after a 20 year long hiatus, K.A ranks as one of Magma's very best records.

This album had it's musical concepts created as early as the mid 1970's. It is also the first album Magma released in the 21st century. As a result, it has the benefit of being "classic" era Magma, but it sounds more modern. The first track wastes no time by going right into a chorus. The vocals are a big part of this record, and a big part of the Magma sound. The lyrics are in Kobaan, as are the majority of Magma albums. Kobaan is the constructed language made by Christian Vander, extracted from Germanic and Slavic languages. The words however, are inconsequential, because they have no meaning. What matters are the complex vocal arrangements, and how they are layered.

K.A has only three tracks, but there are plenty of musical ideas in each one. K.A 1 has the lyrics "ts Khntarksz", which hints at the album's placement in the Kohntarkosz trilogy. This is introduced 5 minutes into the song, and is repeated again with more intensity towards the song's end. We have a climax at 7 minutes with someone rolling their tongue, followed by loud hissing. This part is certainly a weird moment, but it fits the eccentric music. K.A 2 starts with tambourine and vocals. This is one of the few parts on the album that includes Christian's vocals. He is mostly assigned to the drum kit here. This track features a main theme with the lyrics "Ww wowo Shnd", which is continually sung throughout the song. This gives way to a guitar solo by James Mac Gaw, and new verses. Suddenly, it goes back to the main theme until the 8:45 minute mark. At this point, "Les musiciens du bord du monde" is introduced. The melody here can be traced back to 1974's Wurdah tah, and its last track "Da Zeuhl Undazir". In my opinion, this is the first callback to one of their older compositions. A softer section is introduced before the song ends quite dramatically. The background singers are doing their own thing, while Antoine Paganotti can be heard singing "Allhlia". There will be more of that later.

K.A 3 starts with a cymbal crash and a slow build. What follows is a long instrumental jam. This is dominated by drums, keyboards, and voices floating in and out. This may go on for too long, but most of the time I find it entrancing. The earliest appearance of this piece is in the Indits live album as "Om Zanka". After 9 minutes, the segment abruptly ends. A new song is introduced. This was originally called "Gamma Anteria" on the aforementioned live album. Antoine takes the lead vocal here. There are at least two separate verses going on at the same time. You don't truly realize the complexity of the vocal arrangements until you have looked up the lyrics, and played the song while reading them. The "Allhlia" part returns and is stronger than ever, with all vocalists participating. It's at this point that the music becomes a religious experience. Maybe it is here to remind us that Kobaa is indeed a planet inhabited by humans. They brought their religion with them. This is repeated many times, then the tempo slows down for the final celebratory "Allhlia". K.A closes with some words from their debut album. "Ho Hamta Sm rm Hamta" is spoken, and it ends the record in a quiet way.

Throughout its 49 minutes, K.A is always intriguing and never boring. The music has many parts that sound like a rock opera, with an emphasis on the opera. It's a beautiful and enigmatic journey of an album. All the good things that have been said about this album are true. It really is up there with M.D.K as one of Magma's greatest albums. However, just like M.D.K, don't expect easy listening. This will most likely take time to grow in your mind, if you are willing to let it. This is mandatory listening for a Progressive Rock fan in my opinion.

 Attahk by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.72 | 349 ratings

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Attahk
Magma Zeuhl

Review by handwrist

5 stars Attahk is a very special album. It is the perfect bridge between all eras of Magma, both past and future.

Despite its abrasive cover, which still looks weird despite being now familiar, this album is very chill, intricate in its beauty but subtle.

'The Last Seven Minutes' start with throbbing jazz fusion, but quickly evolves into yoddling gospel by Vander and co, transforming the inhospitable of Kobaia into the welcoming sounds of a celestial landscape.

Then 'Spiritual' embraces this gospel and does it unapologetically. The song is not particularly difficult or challenging. But it is transcendental, transporting the listener along. Unlike most iconic prog acts, Magma is not necessarily about complexity, but about transcendence and, to the dismay of most fans but not me, they would embrace this ethereal and spiritual aspect more and more - with Merci, then Offering and then the XXI century iterations.

But it all started with this album, which, after the black American influenced 'Spiritual' gospel goes straight into eastern territory - according to them. To me, it sounds perfectly in line with both medieval and romantic/modern French classical tradition - from Machaut to Saint-Saens, to Debussy to Messiaen in 'Rinde' - a no drum track in which Vander simply sings in his improvised language. And it's absolutely hauntingly beautiful.

Again, Magma realizes to perfection what I most like about the prog world - it tries to find the sweet spot between rock, jazz and classical music. Rinde quickly proceeds to a throbbing bass build-up melody, which has you at the edge of your seat, repeating itself in a cycle - with a strange voice singing the main melody, like a folkflore song from an ancient tribe in Persia. Then it evolves, almost undetected, into a climax of heavenly praise.

Let's stop here a bit to discuss how incredible Guy Delacroix's bass is here. Everyone talks about Jannick Top's bass playing (which is exquisite) and his contribution (even though I am not particularly fond of his compositions, and in fact would rather Vander would have composed more instead).

The next song is also carried by the amazingly in the pocket bass lines. What an incredible funk fusion track. Miles would be proud I think. Vander's singing/speech performance here is one of his best. Whatever he is saying, it really captures what the song needs. The bass and fast drumming lead you through an incredible journey of vertigo, announcing a reckoning of the musical story. It then explodes in climactic disssonant disco, very reminiscent of what would come later in Merci. Beautiful. Dissonant disco funk is always a treat. And Vander does it best. The track ends with virtuoso druming and weird mechanical sounds.

It then transitions into another 'spiritual', less rhytmic track, Dondai, which is another gospel hymn. Just like in Merci, in which the disco funk goes into a flute and voice led, almost raga. The major led chords, accompanied by slow repetition and jam type bass, the choir and Vander interplaying beautifully tell me we're reaching a destination in the album. This could almost be called 'world music' as it sounds 'ethnic' - the whole album does - but it actually is 'out of this world music', in many different interpretations of this term.

The last track is a fast paced starter, with dramatic chord progression, that then goes into a funky groove with mysterious and emotionally charged melodies, almost reminding one of Styx or alternatively of George Duke or Minnie Riperton. Vander sings in an almost operatic way, at times reminding of MDK - a nice reminiscence. This track is a perfect closer to a perfect album.

Despite its strange, nasty cover, the music here is very beautiful in a delicate sort of way and like the best Magma albums, you always feel like you're moving, going somewhere, and in the end you truly arrive - MDK is like that, Merci is like that, and Attahk is also.

A masterpiece.

 Zss - Le Jour Du Nant by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.81 | 101 ratings

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Zss - Le Jour Du Nant
Magma Zeuhl

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

4 stars It's been exactly 50 years, yes that's right, a whopping half of a century since the classically trained Christian Vander founded MAGMA which signified a vision of humanity's spiritual and ecological future. The project that catapulted France headfirst into the progressive rock scene of the late 60s has become one of the most ambitious and enduring musical outfits in the entire world of progressive rock after having exposed an unsuspecting world to a completely new form of jazz-rock with classical underpinnings that narrates the tale of humans fleeing the dying Earth and relocating on a planet called Koba'a. With a self-constructed language and an entirely new musical paradigm tagged as zeuhl (Kobaan for 'celestial'), Vander and an ever rotating cast of top dog musicians have left a legacy of excellent recordings that have only gained steam throughout the ensuing decades and left an indelible impression on the prog world. Here we are in 2019 and the Kobaan Scene is still spreading its celestial joy.

While MAGMA's heyday may have been in the 70s, it's almost unbelievable how much new material is still trickling into the modern era that never found a proper recording during the time it was composed. This trend began all the way back in 2004 when archival material for 'K.A.' (abbreviation for 'Khntarksz Anteria') was finally completed to great critical acclaim and a de facto declaration of a triumphant return into the world of progressive rock as its popularity was finding a resurgence in the era of the internet savvy 21st century. While not as prolific as in the old days, MAGMA returned with more archival material on 2009's ''mhnthtt-R' and then at long last released some totally fresh new material on 2012's 'Flicit Thsz.' While the ensuing years have found some interesting archival tidbits, both studio and live finding new life, a proper new album has been eagerly anticipated but all that waiting has finally come to an end. Lo and behold in the year 2019, MAGMA has finally released yet another slab of archival material that hadn't found its own closure in the form of ZSS. LE JOUR DU NANT.

ZSS translates to 'Master' in the fictitious Koba'an tongue and for the first time Vander utilizes his mother tongue French not only in the titular adornments but also in the poetic prose displayed throughout various segments of the album itself. LE JOUR DE NANT translates as 'The Day Of Nothing' which basically says that you are in for another nebulous and mysterious journey into the musical mind of one of prog's masters and that all you know for sure is that it will implement stentorian vocal choirs, magnanimous jazz-rock bombast and hypnotic bass fueled rhythms that ratchet up to climactic explosive rocket blasts of energy and then change around a few keys and scales and start the process over. While ZSS does not disappoint in all these predictable expectations, this album is the most distinguished album in the band's entire canon, well at least since the funk fueled attempt at going mainstream on 1984's 'Merci.' MAGMA is back only this time not alone.

While ZSS may be reaching back to the past to tie up loose ends, it clearly looks to the future and along for the ride comes the accompaniment of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, which allows ZSS to stand out as the band's most orchestral and symphonic as it tackles the usual jazz-rock zeuhl only transmogrified into a modern form of third stream jazz. Z'SS not only sounds timeless but literally is so. While composed in the 70s it was never quite finished but debuted as part of a live set in Bourges in 1979. It has also appeared on live recordings such as the archival sounds heard on 'Bobino 1981' and 'Les Voix Concert 1992 Douarnenez' as well as having been performed live during the 1980s with Vander's side project Offering but these performances only found extracts but at long last ZSS has found resolution and stands on its own two feet and finds MAGMA revealing new aspects of itself and finding the much deserved resolution for decades of uncertainty.

In addition to the orchestral parts which give MAGMA a completely new stylistic makeover, another unexpected development was the fact that Christian Vander took the spotlight as the lead vocalist for most of the album but also in the process passed the baton of percussionist to Swedish drummer Morgan 'gren of Kaipa and Karmakanic. Of all the previous incarnations of the greater MAGMA family, only Vander, singers Stella Vander, Isabelle Feuillebois, Herv Aknin and bassist Philippe Bussonnet make an appearance and while the classical orchestral parts are ramped up, the jazz aspects have been practically annihilated without completely surrendering to the newcomer's somewhat restrained presence. ZSS delivers the usual MAGMA goods of connecting several tracks together with a thread of musical continuity with each one generating distinct variations from the others. Sounding much like any old MAGMA album of yore, 'Ẁhm Dhm Zeuhl Stadium' delivers the familiar vocal performances that slowly summon the Koba'an spirit guides to lead the listener to the promised musical lands.

Continuing past the introductions of the familiar, the new MAGMA takes a left field turn into an unexpected lengthy journey into the slow but steady tension inducing cyclical loops of a staccato piano delivering a gentle yet firm tinkling while Vander tells a story in French and works his way up to nonsensical scatting of some sort. This is the first album that implements both French and Koba'an into the mix along with the nonsensical wordless utterances. While the orchestral elements announce their presence early on, they merely punctuate the down times between beats and the like and don't really take off until the thunderous climactic outbursts on the third track 'D Ẁhr Spra?er' where they seem to gain an equal foothold and then finally usurp the rhythmic drive with intense melodic counterpoints that engage in progressive rock time signature gymnastics despite exhibiting the timbres of a classical symphony. After a great deal of symphonic wankery, the opening vocalists return with 'Zss Mahnthr Kanthm' and the by now established rhythm flow and almost post-rock melodic repetition only highly adrenalized finds new variations to express the dynamics and melodic possibilities.

The album continues with an infinite variety of vocals, orchestral punctuations and ever changing time signatures however in the end ZSS is really one very long track that only occasional deviates from the basic rhythmic groove that sustains itself for lengthy runs and when all is said and done, it sounds like that the excerpts of the original workings were merely padded out with a variety of tricks and trinkets without adding any substantial changes to the underpinnings of the composition, however MAGMA has always been about lengthy roundabout ways of milking rhythmic drives and letting the melodic melodramas spiral into uncharted territories and in that department ZSS successfully follows the logical flow of the band's past trajectory. Upon conclusion, i doubt ZSS will go down as MAGMA's crowning achievement but it is in no danger of tarnishing this mighty band's long lasting legacy either even if by chance this happens to be the end of the long and winding road for a 70 year old Christian Vander who may or may not have other life endeavors to tend to before his final exit to the great Koba'an Scene in the sky. While all that futuristic talk is uncertain, one that that is clear is that MAGMA have delivered yet another stellar slice of musical mojo into their fields of fecundity and for any of the true fans already indoctrinated into the fan club, ZSS will not disappoint one little bit.

 Merci by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.63 | 210 ratings

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Merci
Magma Zeuhl

Review by handwrist

5 stars Having listened this album about 20 times in the last 72 hours and reading the majority of the reviews here, I can safely say this is the most underrated album in the history of underrated albums.

In some respects, it is understandable: Mr. Vander does not play drums in this LP, the first track has an unexpected drum machine replacing him, and even on other tracks, clear disco beats are not unusual. And yet, the dismissal from fans seems equally as puzzling: when you remove the preconceptions about what a Magma album should sound like, something Mr. Vander always tried to defy and one of the reasons why he is so rightly revered, the first track is a bombastic starter for the album. Miss Vander rips it as a disco/soul singer, giving any American diva a run for their money - just killing it.

Then comes Otis, a fantastic, soothing and spiritual track, with Mr. Vander singing beautifully - a track deserving of inclusion in a best of compilation of any respectability, despite being sang in french.

Then comes Do the Music, a funky fusion track where the band just nails it - the drums especially, almost making you forget the drummer isn't Mr. Vander.

I Must Return starts cute, but builds into a more spiritual, engaging and impactful tune with gospel overtones.

Lastly, Elephas Levi and The Night We Died end the album in a moody gospel, again another couple of tracks that should figure in a best of. The album ends and all you want is for it to begin again. And so it did in my record player - over and over. The echoes of this music, simple yet powerful, are still going in my brain as I write these words - the album is calling me back again. It's just that good.

The oddness and out-thereness of Magma is still here in spades, but here Mr. Vander reveals clearly and obviously the Soul influences that were hidden here and there in his previous work, and makes a stunning, personal, emotional and truly amazing album. Without a doubt, and regardless of fans' prejudice, this is one of their best.

 Mekank Destruktw Kommandh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.28 | 975 ratings

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Mekank Destruktw Kommandh
Magma Zeuhl

Review by handwrist

5 stars The first time I heard of Magma was 5 years ago through a co-worker at my new job, who was a prog afficcionado. He recomended MDK as a start, and I obliged. At the time, and despite finding it interesting, it didn't really click. 'Too weird' I thought and left it at that.

Fast forward to the present moment, and a few dozen listens of this album, and I can say it is indeed the masterpiece that it is thought to be by some. Certainly not for everybody, Magma's style, which is an all- encompassing sci-fi/quasi-religious concept that incorporates its own made up language, is its own thing demanding deeper study - taken on its own, the music is very interesting, exciting; eery, yet seductive.

The album kicks off in amazing fashion, with Hortz Fur Dehn Stekehn West, with a strong, singular beat, developing a somewhat somber theme. All the music is developed around this basic theme, with some small intersections adding color here and there - with repeating patterns of strange vocal utterings. A weird voice proclaiming something celestial, that is after all the epitpeth given to their genre of music, derived from Kobaian, the made-up language. The keys and drums lead the march, then the horns come blazing through announcing grandiose, yet tragic spectacule, building up to a climax of epic porportions, then taking a darker tone before returning to the starting place.

We continue in beautiful fashion to Ima suri Dondai, more calm and subdued at first. The melodies are beautiful, subtly crafted, and the repetition is never too strange. The sounds are hopeful and inspiring, with loud choruses proclaiming glory. The language Kobaian is supposed to be made up of germanic and slavic sounds, and yet in this track to me it evokes more italian/latin sounding music and themes. A build up starts to bubble with the whole ensemble participating, containing some of the most memorable musical phrases in this album - which contains many of those.

The next track, Kobaia is de Hundin, jumps right into another build up, with many promises of jams, that end up sadly cut short, and the promise never gets fulfilled. The next track, Da Zeuhl Wart Mekanik, ends up suffering from this. Coming right after the short fade out on the promising jam that never delivers, it seems like a slight variation on previous themes. It would have been preferable to just go all out into full improvisation for a few minutes. One can only imagine what the likes of Frank Zappa or Jerry Garcia would do with such an opportunity. This editing choice alone prevents me from giving a perfect score to this album, but it was still a tough choice, given its briliance.

After this relative slump, the album picks up again even stronger with Nebher Gudahtt, with another beautiful backing track for the chilling falsetto of the mastermind behind Magma, Christian Vander, wailing imcomprehensible but beautifully inspired. Again, this type of musical exploration is not for everybody, but to me the word celestial comes once again to mind listening to the interplay of the band, with no instrument ever overshadowing the rest, a great lesson in cohesion and respect, as well as the cathartic screams of Vander.

Mekanik Kommandoh, coming right after without missing a beat, jumps into another crescendo, offering the culmination of the melodies from previous tracks, clearly anouncing the grand finale, one that finally delivers on a jam. Very subdued and gentle, the bouncing melodies and rythms of the whole band, carrying the listener in a trance of weird, beautiful music.

The last track delivers the epilogue, slower, more epic and soulful, almost reminding one of something like 'A Love Supreme' by John Coltrane, whereas the vocals evoke something like Zappa's 200 Motels (not the first instance in the album either), but it ends in a darker note, harkening back to the harsher, more inospitable places where the album started.

Unique, daring, sincere and beautiful - this album has everything a prog lover will value in a truly rewarding listening experience - its classic status is well deserved.

Four and a half stars.

 Merci by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.63 | 210 ratings

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Merci
Magma Zeuhl

Review by animal_laminate_2

4 stars This album has a terrible reputation, reflected in its average rating, and the complaint that it takes Magma in a wholly terrible, Linn-drum-dominated disco direction (!).

Well, it's true that it does do 80s disco. But like others, I like those tracks. And what Vander is doing here is something that becomes increasingly obvious as the album plays out, especially on 'Otis' and its last two tracks, 'Eliphas Levi' and 'The Night We Died'. This is to fully embrace and express the soul influence that was always present in Magma. While Merci is arguably 'straighter' than much Magma, it is no less esoteric, and in some ways it is perhaps the most intense. longing and lonely of all Vander's records, absolutely saturated with what Herzog calls 'ecstatic truth'. Like Herzog's movies, this record has a dark, isolated weirdness to it - which is also frequently comical.

It's a heavy listen and as it plays out Vander seems almost unable to vocalise what he's after, and it can be painful to listen to his strangled, inward singing on 'Otis', as naked, vulnerable and straining after an unfettered joy as it is. The disco tracks are like no disco ever heard, and I am sure Vander tried to do something like Miles here in rejecting his own tradition, and going for something totally unobvious, in a search of a new-minted, spiritual soul.

Make no mistake, this is a strange record. It even feels emotionally damaged. But its last 15 minutes achieve a drifting, radiant bliss. Beneath this is not Chic - but darkness. Merci has its own brilliance and visionary commitment and it's high time people - many of whom would call themselves Magma fans - saw beyond their horror upon hearing the opening track (which is way better than most think anyway, quickly moving beyond the 80s tropes into a complex choral suite).

It's one of my most-played Magmas. I love weirdness and I also love honesty and those are both here in spades. It's not a masterpiece, but it certainly has the ambition and the originality that any masterpiece needs. 4.5 stars.

 Mekank Destruktw Kommandh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.28 | 975 ratings

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Mekank Destruktw Kommandh
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

5 stars So, this is what Zeuhl is, well, at the very least, I can say that it's incredibly unique and interesting, and if the rest of Zeuhl has a similar sort of sound to this album, then I definitely have extremely high hopes for the genre, as this album is absolutely amazing. It's an odd mix between teutonic chanting, tribal beats, jazz, large amounts of opera, classical and sci fi, making something that feels one of a kind. The sheer bombast and energy present here is simply astounding, with even the quieter parts simply feeling like it's building up to something more extravagant. There's of course the fact that this album is in the Kobaian language, but that's not really anything for or against the album in my opinion, and just feels like a neat additional touch.

Despite the album having multiple songs, each is part of the one bug stretch of music that spans throughout it all, with a constant ebb and flow, always building to something bigger until it's more or less a constant explosion. In this way, MDK loosely reminds me of Ravel's Bolero, as despite this definitely having points in which it dies down, there's still a clear trajectory with more elements and more intensity added. Immediately, the album, sounds strange, yet intriguing as the first song kicks in with a slow, plodding beat with vocals akin to chanting, before occasionally jumping multiple octaves. As it continues, horns are introduced and what sounds like a backing choir is introduced, which is definitely commonplace on this album. I really love the slow chanting with little more than a single bass chord that appears throughout the album as well, always indicating a dramatic buildup to one of the many climaxes the albums possesses, in this case, a massive tempo change and an increase in intensity, showcasing Christian Vander's highly unique vocal abilities. Ima Suri Dondai is definitely a much more accessible piece compared to the last, having more lighthearted, fun melody , being the only song on the album I can really consider catchy at all, despite teh fact that it's still incredibly bombastic and loud, but with more elements of female vocals and flutes, both of which while being strange sounding in this context, definitely have a lighter touch to them. The bass becomes slightly groovier in the following song, but still sounds quite similar to Ima Suri Dondai in certain respects, but slightly faster and with a really cool section with a blaring horn in the background, sounding like a call to arms as an army prepares for a war, further accentuated by the multitude of vocal harmonies causing everything to sound gargantuan in scale.

The transition between Kobaia is de Hundin and Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanik is quite cool, as it fades out seemingly building up, before then fading back in on the following track. The use of the falsetto at this point becomes extremely common, every track containing multitudes of it, definitely being an element of the rising intensity and power of the album as it goes on. This song also has more prominence of the guitar, which has unnatural, almost angular sounding solos played on it, as one would expect to some extent. The next song begins with an isolated piano still playing the main melodic motif on the album, as other instruments are introduced. Despite being much quieter for the first few minutes of this piece, this is definitely one of the best moments of the album, as there is a clear latent energy it encapsulates that is slowly released throughout, getting increasingly louder as Vander rambles in a way similar to Amon Duul II, erratically jumping between notes, screaming, having no sense of sanity. As the song approaches its final minute, all that can be heard is a wall of sound almost solely comprised of screams with the constant underlying melody providing a sense of coherence in the chaotic mess that's unfolding. After a few calmer moments of the next track, the album approaches its final explosion, in which all the elements throuhgout culminate in utter cacophony and chaos, the tempo constantly increasing all before truimphantly ending and seguing into the final track, which is much calmer and more melodic, ending the album with a single high frequency note that lodges itself in your head, closing perfectly.

I genuinely think that this could fall within my top 10 albums of all time, I've been constantly having the powerful urge to give this a listen over the past month, and it still has not lost any of the impact that my first few listens had. The sheer intensity and buildup of it is nothing short of incredible, and the blending of genres and styles sounds excellent. I truly recommend that you listen to this album if you want something truly unique, strange, and especially intense, as I think that at the very least, you'll find this album very interesting.

Besst songs: all of them

Weakest songs: none of them

Verdict: The energy this album has is almost completely unmatched from what I've heard up to this point, and it's overall nothing short of breathtaking in the incredible power it contains. A must listen for those who want intense, strange music.

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

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