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CHRISTIAN VANDER

Zeuhl • France


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Christian Vander picture
Christian Vander biography
Born February 21, 1948 (Nogent-sur-Marne, France)

Known equally well for his virtuoso drumming, his compositional skills, and his creation of the Kobaian mythology and language, Christian Vander has achieved truly legendary status in the field of progressive rock. As a boy, he listened to and studied jazz, and through 1969 performed in jazz bands. However, in 1969 he was struck by a deeply moving spiritual vision and formed MAGMA as an outlet for his visions. For a few years, Magma performed rather straightforward jazz-rock without any member of the band being a clear leader. However, in 1973, Vander stepped up as leader and unleashed the force known as Zeuhl on the world with Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh, written entirely by Vander. From then on, he was to be the only constant member of the band in a dizzying whirlwind of lineup changes as over 100 musicians passed through Magma. Counting MDK, a total of five Zeuhl albums and one "sell-out" pop album would comprise Magma's canon before the band broke up in 1985.

Following the breakup of Magma, Vander pursued several projects in the late 1980's and early 1990's. He formed a Zeuhl-soul hybrid band called Offering, which unfortunately saw Vander put away the drumsticks and focus on the vocals. He formed a self-titled jazz trio, and two fusion bands, Fusion and Alien, which both featured Magma alumni. In addition, he worked in time to release a few solo albums.

In the mid-late '90's, Vander reformed Magma with a new lineup, which has remained remarkably steady over the last several years. The band continues to tour, and has recorded two albums after this reformation, K.A. and Emehnteht-Re. Both of these compositions were pieces Vander had started in the 1970's but never felt they were complete enough to record until now.

Bio by rileydog22 (Jake)

Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com : Christian Vander are essentially the brain behind the Zeuhl genre, therefore a obvious and important addition the the site. Approved by the ZART.

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Emehntehtt-Re (New Edition)Emehntehtt-Re (New Edition)
Seventh Records 2014
$18.00
Offering Parts 3-4 by Christian VanderOffering Parts 3-4 by Christian Vander
Harmonia Mundi
$39.80 (used)
Wurdah Itah by Christian VanderWurdah Itah by Christian Vander
Akt Records
$49.44
$53.58 (used)
John Coltrane: L'homme SupremeJohn Coltrane: L'homme Supreme
Seventh Records 2013
$12.10
$20.43 (used)

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CHRISTIAN VANDER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

4.00 | 2 ratings
Christian Vander & Frank Raholison: Fiesta In Drums
1973
4.18 | 326 ratings
Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST)
1974
4.00 | 12 ratings
To Love
1988
2.67 | 3 ratings
Les Voyages De Christophe Colomb
1992
3.33 | 6 ratings
Document 1973 - Le Manor
1993
3.67 | 6 ratings
A Tous Les Enfants
1994
4.09 | 14 ratings
Les Cygnes Et Les Corbeaux
2002
3.50 | 4 ratings
John Coltrane L'Homme Suprŕme
2011

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

3.67 | 3 ratings
Christian Vander Et Les 3 Jef
1973
4.00 | 2 ratings
Korusz
2000

CHRISTIAN VANDER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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CHRISTIAN VANDER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Document 1973 - Le Manor by VANDER, CHRISTIAN album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.33 | 6 ratings

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Document 1973 - Le Manor
Christian Vander Zeuhl

Review by CrimsonComus

3 stars Improvisation, percussion, all covered by a Magma-esque feel. It is not essential. But I wouldn't deem it for collectors only, since it is something so different and outstanding in its own sense. I'll proceed to make my argument. Also, first review for me here. I've been a constant visitor of Progarchives for the past 7 years or so. But never found something where I considered my first review to be of importance. Hence this rare album being the subject of it.

This extended improvisation is something that not everyone is going to appreciate. It's is Magma's most raw and violent display of expression, with no clear line defined musically, neither melodically nor rhythmically. But I find it interesting and appealing, if you are particularly fond of improvisational jazz. Especially one where screams, B horror movies' howling and lots of percussive jamming are most prominent; then you'll really like this. It is a very experimental piece. The bass clarinet, which I thought was a sax at first, also contributes towards the cacophonous and quasi atonally dissonant atmosphere that this 70 minute percussive madness has to offer. Towards the last half hour, the organ starts to play a larger role in the background thread of music, that helps keep together the concatenation of drums and percussion, along with the howls, hollers and bellows that appear every now and then. The ending section is an interesting (or curious) repetitive, mantra-like sounds and rhythms that ends on a rhythmic drummed crescendo that fades out really quickly.

It is a wonderful piece, in its crazy improvisational anything-goes sense. It is different and daring. A challenge to listen to, and not one that may give out its rewards the moment you finish it. it is quite a journey, and I like imagining Christian Vader and Co. as they were performing the jam. How fun it must have been to do this kind of thing, and have people listen to you.

In conclusion, this is definitely not the place to start listening to Magma or any of the artists related to this. It is something different. And should be listened as that. Good, but non-essential seems appropriate, since it is a unique piece of musical history, but it isn't "prog" in the idealized sense that this site promotes. As with anything though, musical taste and open mindedness will determine everything. Enjoy the ride. I know I did.

Se recomienda escucharlo mientras se toma mate. (Drinking a good mate while listening to it, helps).

 Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST) by VANDER, CHRISTIAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.18 | 326 ratings

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Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST)
Christian Vander Zeuhl

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

5 stars ẀURDAH ¤TAH is a strange little album in the MAGMA discography. It was originally released as a Christian Vander solo album as the soundtrack for Yvan Lagrange's avant-garde take on "Tristan et Iseult." The album has always been considered a MAGMA album by fans and is now released only as ẀURDAH ¤TAH (Kobaian for "dead Earth"). It's also strange (as are most MAGMA albums) in that despite being released in 1974 after "MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h (MDK)" it is the second movement in the Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogy, while MDK is the third and final one. The first is "Theusz Hamtaahk" itself which was only released live (now on Retrospektiw Parts I & II) but you know what? This is just the technical sorting out after the fact as far as i'm concerned. Listening to and enjoying any MAGMA album is not dependent on listening to another, in any particular sequence or otherwise.

This brilliant little beast as well as the following "K÷hntark÷sz" are important in the MAGMA world because they prove without a doubt that it doesn't take thirteen performers and an army of producers to create a MAGMA-nificent MAGMA-sterpiece. This album was reduced to a mere quartet (Stella Vander / vocals, Klaus Blasquiz / vocals, percussion, Jannick Top / bass, Christian Vander / drums, piano, Fender Rhodes, vocals) but delivers an epic and beautiful total reinvention of the mesmerizing zeuhl fully developed on MDK. While the basic idea is the same of repetitive zeuhl rhythms, everything else is tweaked and contorted to become a totally new species of this fledgling subgenre of progressive music. The operatic vocal styles incorporate myriad creative forms as do the instrumental parts. While MDK has a huge epic style, ẀURDAH ¤TAH has more of an intimate feel to it like you could go to some coffee house and hear this. I'm totally curious as to what kind of film the version of "Tristan et Iseult" is because it's hard to believe that any film could incorporate music this quirky and bizarre into it's story line!

 Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST) by VANDER, CHRISTIAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.18 | 326 ratings

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Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST)
Christian Vander Zeuhl

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars As many reviewers have stated before me, this is, for all intents and purposes, a MAGMA album, not really a Crhistian Vander solo album. But then, aren't all MAGMA albums Christian VANDER albums? Released after the ominous, deliberately-paced, more spacious K÷hntark÷sz and just one year after the ground-breaking, band-, and sub genre-defining MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´w K÷mmand÷h, Wurdah ¤tah is a powerful, more fast-paced submission into the saga of the relationship between planets Earth and Kobaia. What makes Wurdah ¤tah such a great album is the wonderful clarity and definition each voice and instrument receives in the recording and engineering. The voices and every piece of percussion are so clean and clear and distinctive. And yet the mix transposes the music masterfully into one well-woven web of power and effect. I love this! What sets this piece apart from the 'big' and 'bombastic' feel and effect of MDK-like Magma albums is that there is less ecstatic frenzy, more control and respect or even reverence in the feel of the music, as well as the feel of a much smaller, more intimate ensemble. MDK feels like it's being performed in a large cathedral (as if it needs to have that kind of space) while Wurdah ¤tah feels like it's in a small studio. For some reason I like this. (Not that I like it 'better' but rather, I like its difference.) Wurdah ¤tah is much more piano-based than other Magma recordings I've heard. Like the scaled-down accompaniment one might find during a rehearsal for a Broadway musical. This undoubtedly has a great deal to do with why I find the performances of the vocalists, bass and drummer to be so much more vibrant and in-your-face. It is a nice effect--different from so many other Magma recordings. I have lots of favorite little moments, but the one that stands above all others is the opening to the final song, "De Zeuhl ▄daz´r" (3:41) (10/10) in which Vander transports the listener back to MDK and in which every instrument, every sound is augmented and defined to be sure to register this fact deep within the subconscious. I also love the numerous excesses, embellishments and flourishes contributed by the vocalists throughout. They always seem so random, spontaneous, and expressive. Wonderful! To my ear and heart, this is yet another amazingly masterful contribution to the lexicon of progressive rock music. I feel no hesitation in dishing out another five star rating for yet another Magma recording. They're worth it!
 Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST) by VANDER, CHRISTIAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.18 | 326 ratings

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Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST)
Christian Vander Zeuhl

Review by mau

4 stars The second movement of the Theusz Hamtaahk trilogy (being MDK the last part, but released before this one). It sound similar to MDK, but it's more focused on jazz than classical.

The first track is a very strange song: MalawŰlŰkaahm. It's like a horde of vikings and prehistoric men want to destroy something. But all the song changes, mixing the gentleness of the piano and this massive "attahk". At the end of the song there's a strange sound, it's similar to a soundscape. This thing makes the album more dark and heavy.

The difference between this record and the others is that there's so much protagonism in the piano than the other instruments, that's what makes it less aggressive than MDK. There's another thing to something to mention: at the time, Magma was a quartet: Vander, Stella, Klaus Bazquiz and Jannick Top, and it seems as there was 15 people more!

How can they do a 36 minutes-piece without commeting mistakes? if somebody is able to answer me, i will be there to hear him!

One thing more: if you want to get Magma, this is not a good point to start. This album is very experimental and "boring", if it's the first time you hear it. So, listen to Kobaia and keep on progressing Magma's discography to understand this music. One time you open your soul to it, you won't let it!

9/10

 Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST) by VANDER, CHRISTIAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.18 | 326 ratings

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Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST)
Christian Vander Zeuhl

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars More Magma means more Innovation, diversity, originality, intensity, dynamic hyper-music, Kobaian language... This is Magma! No actually it is Christian Vander's solo album?

So I avoided this thinking it was just going to be a diversion from the awesome magma sound of the 70s, namely masterpiece MDK. However, this follow up is unbelievably similar and really sounds like Magma, delightfully not like a solo album. Bombastic rhythms, Kobaian, female vocals, Janick Top's bass, Stella Vander's shrieks and sopranoisms, Klaus Blasquiz's vocal intonations, and wild percussion, and of course Vander's manic screams and low groans and Gregorian chants pervade the sound, along with his sporadic drumming and crashing piano, and Fender Rhodes instrumentation.

From end to end the album squelches out the chunk and funk sounds of Magma, the recipe consisting of a concoction of moderate jazz, rinsed liberally in tribal chants and drained with opera chants. The Teutonic alien language based on some alien civilisation is as bizarre as anything on other Magma albums. There are flavours of RIO and Krautrock, with generous slices of avant garde and dollops of Wagnerian Opera. It is impossible to single out the tracks as they kind of run together mixed in a blender, but it really takes off on 'ẀohldŘnt M/Űm DŰẁŰlŰss' that sounds so much like the material on MDK, that I thought I had put the wrong album on. The formula is so right for magma, and they occasionally plagiarise themselves without complaints from me. The signature sound is powerful and haunting and it seeps into your system after a while causing an addiction to their uncanny and creepy meanderings. At times one may pick up words but it is only an illusion as nothing is intelligible.

Side 2 is a real ear opener with bizarre screechings to begin and then the violins slice out a rather disconcerting signature. The chants begin and follow the violin slices with admirable precision. One must take an excursion into the murky Zeuhl territory and at least hear the MDK Magmasterpiece, though admittedly it is definitely not for the faint hearted. Depending on your mood at the time may depend on your overall impression, but you can let the music take you into which ever direction it decides as personal interpretation is essential in the Magmaverse. The vocals are an absolute delight and you will hear Gregorian chanting, choral yelling, high octave shrills and deep resonances. As usual vocalists Stella Vander and her estranged husband are the centrifugal force of this album. The intensity of polyrhythmic time signatures are intense, and at times the music takes surprising detours, such as 'SŰhnntŰht Dros Ẁurdah SŘms' with all that fast paced rhythmic jangling and tweaking.

The sound is stripped down on the album though without massive choirs, big brass sounds and multiple instrumentation, but it exudes a charm of its own as a result. There are sustained atonal chord progressions and tribal drumming metrical patterns throughout and an everpresent piano played like nothing I have ever heard since MDK. The repetition is entrancing, with all the staccato stabs that darken the sound and these are contrasted by very light passages of minimalist strings and serene choral vocals. There is a real tension and release, like gravity forced up and down along the soundwaves. Repetitious mantras are a key feature of the Magma sound, primitive tribalisations and Vander himself are a centrifugal force of the Magmaverse, but it is so well executed on this sparser lineup, that it is quite a stunning achievement. It is anti-music atonal jazz certainly, but Magma stand alone and proud as their own entity, and Vander has created a solo album of hypnotic and compelling soul stirring constituent Zeuhl.

 Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST) by VANDER, CHRISTIAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.18 | 326 ratings

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Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST)
Christian Vander Zeuhl

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars A hardcore zeuhl album.

For those who wonders what zeuhl is all about, this album is the answer. This is an album full of hypnotic, repetetive marching band rhythms driven by piano taken out into symphonic prog and jazz land. The vocals are male, twisted mental asylum male vocals and operatic female vocals. This music has much more in common with a German opera (for example Faust) than rock music. This is not rock music at all. It also has a lot in common with jazz, one of the foundations of zeuhl. The music is full of small intricate details and grandious melodies. This music is well over the top in the same vein as ELP's best music is well over the top.

I am really enjoying this album and it is a great album in my view. There is a drive and a majestic feeling in this music that spurs me on to listen more and more to this album and Magma's music in general. There is no excellent music on this album, but it is still a great album.

4 stars

 Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST) by VANDER, CHRISTIAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.18 | 326 ratings

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Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST)
Christian Vander Zeuhl

Review by obiter
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Zeuhl is marmite. You either get it (suspend the disbelief) or you don't. It's hard to describe this without relying on MDK. Well I'll try ... I keep thinking I've been transported to a 1930s Nazi rally on a bizarre acid trip where they are trying to record the soundtrack to Conan the Barbarian. However, being neither a time-travelling Nazi nor ever having taken acid this is a bit of a stretch but if you listen you will understand what I'm trying to convey: especially about the Conan bit. Stirring and moving in a Carmina Burana way. It's great, but a voice in the back of your mind suggests that there is something deeply disturbing under the surface: why do I keep thinking of the human soup on Thulsa Doom's lair ... "Now they will know why they are afraid of the dark... etc " Well it would be a better analogy for teh music if the lethargic slaves jumped into a Pan's People routine (showing my age: no time travelling required). Do you need this, maybe not. Do you need Zeuhl abso ...f...lutely Zeuhl is essential to any prog collection. For me Live at the Taverne De L'Olympia is the keeper: this is merely added pleasure (in a marmite way). You have been warned.
 Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST) by VANDER, CHRISTIAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.18 | 326 ratings

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Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST)
Christian Vander Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars In theory a Christian Vander solo project to provide a soundtrack for an Arthurian-themed art movie, Wurdah Itah was in fact the second part of the Theusz Hamtaahk trilogy that also includes Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh. Because of the limitations of the budget provided to record the soundtrack, the album was recorded with a stripped-down Magma lineup - Vander on drums and piano, Jannick Top on bass and Klaus Blasquiz on percussion. Most importantly, though, is that three of the four performers contribute to the vocals, and against the scaled-back instrumental backdrop Wurdah Itah does a wonderful job of demonstrating the power of the human voice as an instrument and its importance to Magma's music. The advantage of singing all the songs on Kobaian, after all, is that this frees the listener from trying to listen to the words - because they won't understand them - and lets them just sit back and appreciate the sound created by them. A wonderful, delicate counterpoint to the apocalyptic fury of MDK, Wurdah Itah is yet another Magma achievement, made all the better by the unusual approach taken with the instrumentation on this album.
 Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST) by VANDER, CHRISTIAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.18 | 326 ratings

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Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST)
Christian Vander Zeuhl

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars I'm thinking of an Off-Broadway musical rock opera performed by escaped patients from a sanitarium who are convinced that they are among an elite class of citizens from an undiscovered country between Germany and Denmark. They also forgot to bring a guitar for their opening night performance, so the piano has to make up for the missing instrument by being perpetually busy while the bass is given some extra volume as further compensation. And the drums, those rhythmic patterns that make a 4/4 beat sound downright vital and visionary at times, like jazz musicians forced at gunpoint into a marching band.

The vocals are the key as to whether this album clicks or not. Admittedly, the first time I listened to this opus there were times in which I almost had to laugh. Not being invested enough in this particular piece of art, it was difficult accepting the fact that these guys & gal were belting out complete gibberish with conviction, heart and a ton of vibrato without finding the whole concept a bit goofy. Certainly during the second track or the hilarious Ẁa´nsaht!!!, the vocals emote in an operatic fashion quite clearly over the somewhat sparse number of instruments, like a smorgasbord of Teutonic blathering that only those in the land of Magma can comprehend. And yet I suppose it's not mere blathering since it is an actual created language and not just pointless syllable spouting.

The fact that this monstrous piece was also a soundtrack to an art film about two ill-fated lovers makes Wurdah Itah an even more enigmatic creation. The music is often as sweeping and romantic as two helicopters colliding, but I haven't seen the film, so I can't say whether the soundtrack gives the film a reason for viewing, although I've never heard "Tristan and Isolde" ever mentioned alongside heralded French films of the early 70s.

It's jazzy with a driving beat. It's a bit wacky and wild with the choirs and vocals, but strip away the language barrier and the voices themselves are quite skillful. Speaking of skillful, Vander does not mess around on drums & piano. The album flows by pretty fast as these short tracks blend into each other. It took a few listens, but I eventually got it, and I'm looking forward to checking out some more Magma material in the future.

 Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST) by VANDER, CHRISTIAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.18 | 326 ratings

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Tristan Et Iseult [Aka: Ẁurdah ¤tah] (OST)
Christian Vander Zeuhl

Review by Alitare

4 stars Wurdah Itah ? 1974 (4/5) 12 ? Best Song: No point in wondering Now this is more like it, you pretentious freaks! Wurdah Itah takes the soft, stripped down throb of, er, that one I reviewed last time and combines it with the staunch howling angel-hell of the choirs and opera singers. This, to me at least, adds the full attack of Magma excitement into the maelstrom of mind-screw and offers us one of the band's absolute best. Another fine addition to the persona of the album is the stumbling aura of paranoid schizophrenia and mental disorder. The first handful of songs drop in and out rampantly and unexpectedly, giving the record that interconnected, smoothed and gapless rock-symphony feeling. It sways and shoots in and out between shuffling piano marches and raging hectic climaxes, like the best Magma to sample and taste.

I can also see the group slowly evolving and taking elements of popular music into their paradigm. Couldn't you imagine 'Fur Di Hel Kobaia' on the billboard charts right up there? I sure can, but I also took a few hits of acid this morning and can't exactly trust my judgments in these situations. You'll notice the stripped-down nature of the record in that it isn't anything more than piano, martial chanting, simplistic, but, omnidimensional percussion, and bass guitars. 'Wainsaht!!!' is a series of short, sharp, brainwashing shocks that are punctuated by a robotic-alien-encoded vocal spewing what I can only imagine is anti-earthling hate-speech to his various cohorts who congregate together in a structured dance of awkward harmonizing.

Even if the songs are separated every few minutes, you'd be best off taking it as one full experience. There aren't any real highlights or low points for me. It's all consistently entertaining and energetic, but it's also desperately uninventive for the band's standards, and the songs tend to blend together, lacking singular identities, but as I always felt, the best Magma is an experience more than an actual album of songs.

Thanks to Bj-1 for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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