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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.

⭐ Collaborators Top Prog Album of 2009 ⭐

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Buy MAGMA Music

Music on Vinyl 2019
Zess -Digi-Zess -Digi-
Seventh Records 2019
$26.64 (used)
Udu WuduUdu Wudu
$29.18 (used)
Seventh Records 2008
$29.24 (used)
Zëss (Le Jour Du Néant) (Deluxe Digibook Edition)Zëss (Le Jour Du Néant) (Deluxe Digibook Edition)
Seventh Records
$99.63 (used)
Edge J26181 2011
$34.82 (used)
Mekanik Destruktiw KommandohMekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh
Seventh Records 2003
$34.99 (used)
Mythes Et Legend Epok VMythes Et Legend Epok V
Multiple Formats
Conveyor/Mig 2015
$23.17 (used)
Riah SahiltaahkRiah Sahiltaahk
$9.99 (used)
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MAGMA discography

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

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

4.04 | 446 ratings
Magma [Aka: Kobaïa]
4.12 | 409 ratings
1001° Centigrades [Aka: 2]
4.29 | 959 ratings
Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
4.15 | 463 ratings
3.76 | 393 ratings
Üdü Ẁüdü
3.70 | 345 ratings
2.62 | 205 ratings
3.67 | 116 ratings
Mekanïk Kommandöh
4.27 | 662 ratings
4.21 | 494 ratings
4.13 | 374 ratings
Félicité Thösz
3.89 | 46 ratings
Zëss - Le Jour Du Néant

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

4.44 | 235 ratings
Live/Hhaï (Köhntark)
3.14 | 52 ratings
4.01 | 83 ratings
Retrospektïẁ III
4.53 | 122 ratings
Retrospektïẁ I-II
4.02 | 30 ratings
Concert 1992, Douarnenez:
3.42 | 42 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
2.83 | 29 ratings
Concert 1971, Bruxelles - Théâtre 140
4.30 | 34 ratings
Concert 1975, Toulouse - Théâtre Du Taur
4.16 | 50 ratings
Concert 1976, Opéra De Reims
4.28 | 56 ratings
BBC 1974 - Londres
4.59 | 94 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie
4.04 | 38 ratings
Bourges 1979
3.40 | 24 ratings
Live In Tokyo
3.76 | 34 ratings
Zühn Wöhl Ünsaï - Live 1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
Marquee Londres 17 Mars 1974

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

4.17 | 29 ratings
Concert Bobino 1981
4.30 | 50 ratings
Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie Au Trianon
4.44 | 62 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume I
4.44 | 62 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume II
4.82 | 74 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume III
4.82 | 64 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Volume IV
4.58 | 36 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes, Epok V
5.00 | 3 ratings
Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré Trilogie

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

3.82 | 19 ratings
Mythes Et Légendes
2.80 | 16 ratings
3.56 | 24 ratings
2.07 | 18 ratings
2.56 | 16 ratings
Über Kommandoh
4.61 | 18 ratings
Archiw I & II
5.00 | 4 ratings
Mythes Et Legendes (Box Set)
4.90 | 63 ratings
Studio Zünd
3.13 | 13 ratings
4.50 | 4 ratings
45 Ans De Creation Hors des Sentiers Battus
4.76 | 24 ratings
Köhnzert Zünd

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

4.43 | 7 ratings
4.57 | 7 ratings
Hamtaak / Tendeï Kobah
4.58 | 12 ratings
Mekanïk Kommando / Klaus Kömbälad
4.70 | 10 ratings
Mekanïk Machine/Köhntarkosz
4.00 | 3 ratings
Lïhns / Hhaï
3.50 | 4 ratings
3.50 | 4 ratings
2.80 | 10 ratings
Ooh Ooh Baby / Otis
3.92 | 46 ratings
Floë Ëssi / Ëktah
2.33 | 3 ratings
K.A - Extraits - Edition Radio
3.78 | 49 ratings
Rïah Sahïltaahk
4.40 | 67 ratings
Slaǧ Tanƶ
5.00 | 2 ratings

MAGMA Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Zëss - Le Jour Du Néant by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.89 | 46 ratings

Zëss - Le Jour Du Néant
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 (Kobaïan 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 Kobaïan 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 'Köhntarkösz 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 ''Ëmëhntëhtt-Rë' and then at long last released some totally fresh new material on 2012's 'Félicité Thösz.' 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 ZËSS. LE JOUR DU NÉANT.

ZËSS 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 NÉANT 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 ZËSS 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 ZËSS 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 ZËSS 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 ZËSS 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, Hervé 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. ZËSS 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, 'Ẁöhm Dëhm 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 'Dï Ẁööhr 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 'Zëss Mahntëhr Kantöhm' 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 ZËSS 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 ZËSS successfully follows the logical flow of the band's past trajectory. Upon conclusion, i doubt ZËSS 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, ZËSS will not disappoint one little bit.

 Merci by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.62 | 205 ratings

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.

 Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.29 | 959 ratings

Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
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
2.62 | 205 ratings

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.

 Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.29 | 959 ratings

Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
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.

 Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.21 | 494 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

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

5 stars Christian Vander revived his MAGMA project at the turn of the millennium and tested the waters to see if his classic prog rock visions were still viable in the brave new world so he resurrected the never-ending tale of his Kobaian mythology and set out to complete the tales that were initiated so long ago. After the well received comeback album 'K.A.' which made a huge splash in prog circles with some even declaring the album the very best of the entire MAGMA canon, Vander took that as a green light to at long last finish up the third chapter of the Köhntarösz trilogy which began all the way back in 1974 with the 'Köhntarösz' album and revived thirty years later in 2004 with 'K.A.' This was obviously a major convoluted work of Shakespearean proportions and as nebulous as a library written in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs but Vander's vision was clear and the ability to record in the modern world had finally allowed the opportunity to bring the opus magnum to completion.

Drummer / composer / Kobaian-in-chief Christian Vander and his diva wife Stella are the only original MAGMA members to return from the distant past to bring new light to this epic cosmic soap opera but with the assistance of a new generation of outstandingly brilliant musicians, MAGMA conjures up one of the strongest albums of the band's near half century of existence. While the musical works only found completion with the release of 2009's tenth studio album ËMËHNTËHTT-RÉ, the extraterrestrial fairy tale had found its own mythological conclusion as far back as 1975 when all the characters and plot had been crafted and the initial stages of this album were in the works but put on the shelf due to the sudden shift of the musical world and the financial pressures of 70s album production. The origins of ËMËHNTËHTT-RÉ were actually present on the 1975 'Live / Hha' where the initial "'Ëmëhntëht-Ré (Announcement)' is combined here with "Rindë (Eastern Song)" from the 1978 album 'Attahk.'

For those who follow the mythology in a geeky Star Trek convention demeanor will already know that this saga of cosmic folklore narrates an ancient Egyptian pharaoh encountered by a modern day explorer seeking eternal spiritual enlightenment and the secrets of the entire universe unlocked or something of the sort and since the lyrics are all in the invented Kobaian language, you'll just have to take my word for it! For the rest of us who just enjoy the nonsensical liturgy presented in a never ending variation of Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana' laced with an incomparable mix of jazz-fusion, progressive rock and the hypnotic trance inducing build up of minimalism, we are presented with one of Kobaia's greatest gifts to the musical realms of our humble planet and for that i'm eternally grateful :) While carved up into six tracks for the sake of labeling, ËMËHNTËHTT-RÉ is for all intents and purposes is designed to be experienced in its entirety from the first thundering percussive drive to the final spaced out ending 'S'h' as each track seamlessly connects to the next.

But it's in between where all the good stuff occurs. ËMËHNTËHTT-RÉ much like 'K.A.' which preceded it, is a bizarre amalgamation of spaced out choral sections engaging in the endless acrobatics of scaling to musical heights, reaching climaxes and then settling down to build up to the next. Add to that the virtuosic bass abuse that reaches unfathomable heights as it zigzags around like a free radical on steroids backed up by Vander's jazz-rock drumming prowess that enervates the listener just considering how this man's physical stamina has survived the punishing drive for all these decades. The music exhibits the classic MAGMA-esque ratcheting up effect with every cadence and crescendo milked to its maximum usage with the usual vocal trade offs that exist somewhere between an exotic space opera and the seedy jazz flavored speakeasies located in some back alley. Simple melodic runs get twisted and contorted in progressive time signatures run amok and the musicians hover in and out of sync creating a roller coaster ride experience that is unmatched in all of music history.

ËMËHNTËHTT-RÉ ultimately comes off as a classic performed by seasoned masters of their trade with not even a single flaw that hinders the impeccable progression across the classically infused score. Somehow every tiny detail is crafted with the utmost minutia fussed over to bring utter perfection to the mix. This album was released with an accompanying DVD called 'Phases' which shows the madman perfectionist Christian Vander scrutinizing every agonizing detail and cracking the whip to make every nanosecond of playing time implement the desired results. The video is designed to give a glimpse into the maddening conditions of an incessant studio session where a tiny thirty second segment can take hours to hammer into perfection. This is perhaps the most sinister sounding MAGMA release as if some Goth band decided to go classical but ended up with a jazz-fusion band trying to pull it off and in the end created the creepiest cosmic soundtrack the universe has to offer. This one was a slow burner for me but after a gazillion plays, it has revealed a never-ending display of musical diversity and virtuosity that presents one of the most ambitious space rock operas ever to be recorded. Another perfectly crafted album by MAGMA.

 Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.29 | 959 ratings

Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Wicket
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Listening to prog nonstop can be a bit of a chore sometimes.

The complexity of the music, the length, the sometimes unnatural, inaccessible and improbable changes in time signature, key signature and lyrical expression can tire out one's brain after a while. It took a bit of mindless music to wash it all away, lost of electronic music and, yes, even rap. But everyone needs a change of pace periodically throughout their life, and since life is always a full circle, it was inevitable I'd come back to prog.

I just didn't think it would be to this album.

Granted, anyone who's a fan of Magma knows the story, the brainchild of Christian Vander and his made-up language that looks and sounds like French and German had a baby. But even though this isn't the first in his storytelling project, it is widely considered to be THE album that personifies this genre called "zeuhl" that the band pioneered. What the genre is isn't necessarily written in stone, but from the first nine minutes of the album it's quite clear that at is roots, it is a fusion of rock and jazz, with sporadic elements taken from the world of contemporary classical music, as well as opera (LOTS of opera, in fact all of the singing is very operatic and melodramatic in fashion).

Now I was a percussionist in William Paterson University, which has a New Music program, a program which plays music from composers such as Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Iannis Xenakis, amongst many others, so this kind of music isn't too jarring, as I'm sure it is to many others. This is a kind of music that's best witnessed as a performance art rather than bumping in your car stereo. But the classical elements break up what would otherwise be just a typical fusion band. "Hortz" trugs along for roughly 5 minutes in rhythmic fashion before abrupt and jarring shouts and screams couple with some atonal jabs and stabs from the ensemble. It finishes rather chaotically before "Ima Suri Dondai" bounces jovially, almost dance like, across a quick 7/8 syncopated beat. In popular music terms, this is probably the catchiest track of the lot, if you can even use that terminology.

After 15 minutes, though, it starts to set in a very rhythmic, almost minimalistic pace. The main key signature never changes, save for maybe a few atonal breaks, shouts and freakouts interspersed, but otherwise, it's one long song from start to finish that doesn't really have any true breaks or interludes, save for a brief piano break in the beginning of "Nebehr Gudahtt". The piece only truly changes at the final three minutes, where it all but degenerates in a slow, tribal march-like tempo, fit with loud drums, screeching horns, feedback and lots of screaming.

Now I'm not sure the first live performance of this album had the some kind of riotous impact as, say, "The Rite Of Spring", but I'm damn sure it got a close enough. Even in a made up language that you can't understand, it's quite obvious an impactful story is being told here, and not exactly a very peaceful one (This ain't a peaceful LSD acid trip on a classic Gong album here). There is emotion and hatred being in expressed in the kind of manner that is shunned in the music world. It's the kind of album that would be made by a jazz-rock fusionist if Terry Riley and Anton Webern had a bastard stepchild.

Magma's first album "Kobaia" is actually a tad more accessible, because each track is isolated, and feels more like a classic rock band exploring the outer limits of music trajectories, whereas "MDK" is the result of such transformation. It's not perfect (once you get past the 12 minute or so mark, it gets rather repetitive), but it's easily a landmark album for laying down the roots of this underground genre of progressive music.

I only wonder if they gave out translation sheets at concerts so audience members could try and sing along...

 Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.21 | 494 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Magma occupies a space in the spheres of music that is totally unique. No other band sounds like them and the genre they created, zeuhl, is not for everyone. I am not saying that to scare people off but it is true. As in most cases regarding the more extreme sounds in music there is a somewhat limited fan base, as opposed to more easily digested ones. Having said that I would also like to state that Magma has so much to offer to those who dare venture into and explore this dark and foreboding landscape.

Ëmëhntëhtt-Rë is an album released by this longlived band 39 years after their debut. There are many examples of bands that over such a long period of time (in this case also a disbandenment/hiatus) fail to reproduce the splendour and majesty of past glory but Magma does the opposite. Alot is very much the same as it has always been. The chanting is there, the vocals sung in Kobaïan, the heavy distorted bass, Vanders exquisite drumming and so forth. All that is pretty much identical to the classic stuff but the material is just as brilliant as ever, something one might have expected to be otherwise. Ëmëhntëhtt-Rë is a very intense album. Now, that's not a shocking statement when speaking of Magma, I know. But it is. Intense, powerful, dark and overwhelming. The four piece suite that occupies most of the album is a stunning piece(s) of music. It attacks you and sucks you in like a monstrous vampire and stuck inside the belly of the beast you stand in awe and amazement. It is, to put it mildly, a stunning experience.

There is no point in dissecting the pieces on this album. Just listen to it and you'll be alright. However, I must emphasize that "Ëmëhntëhtt-Rë II" and "Ëmëhntëhtt-Rë III" are my favorites on the album. The 2nd piece is the longest, 22 minutes in length, and offers a great variety. It is also my absolute favorite on the album. The 3rd piece with its 13 minutes the most hard rocking and intense of the pieces. It reminds me alot of the song "Mekanik kommandöh"from MDK in regards to intensity and power. It's like the band is barely able to contain the massive amount of energy produced. I get the feeling that they are about to explode. What is there to say? Brilliant? Well, yes.

The material on the album was not entirely new back in 2009. It is made up of bits and pieces played live over the years but it has never, as far as I understand, been recorded in the studio, at least not in this grand and fullfilled way. I think this is just as good as anything the band ever made. MDK may be the absolute pinnacle but this is not far off. It fills me with such emotion, joy and exuberation that I am about to shoot off into space, never to return. Fueled by the energy from the album I could sail off to the farthest corner of the universe and still have it in me to go back to Earth. It's that good.

Is Ëmëhntëhtt-Rë a good place to start if one is new to Magma? Yes, I suppose so but there are other albums just as apt to begin with. I do think however that you can't go wrong with this one. The power and the glory is all there. Go for it, why don't you?

 Köhntarkösz by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.15 | 463 ratings

Magma Zeuhl

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Finally got a copy of this LP, a used copy, so the review is going to be the old vinyl version. Kohntarkosz is the followup to the masterpiece that is Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh. Here Christian Vander is joined with Stella Vander, Jannick Top, and Klaus Blazquiz from the previous lineup, and they brought in Welsh guitarist Brian Godding from Blossom Toes, as well as others. The album starts off with the first part of the title track, and you know right away it's not going to be in your face as its predecessor. It tends to go on the slow, dirge, plodding pace, but the vocals are easier to take in. It's a more minimalist piece to say the least. Had I made this my first Magma purchase years ago I would have likely sworn them off. Things really pick up with "Ork Alarm". A truly ominous piece with Jannick Top using cello. Part two of the title track picks up more, with a more fusion feel to it, dominated by electric piano. In fact this points more towards the fusion-oriented direction of their 1975 live album (which includes a live rendition of Kohntarkosz, both parts). The piece really picks up steam towards the end. Then there's the brief John Coltrane tribute, "Coltrane Sundia", which is rather calm and relaxed.

To me, it's doesn't quite hold up to the greatness of MDK, because it lacks the intensity of that album, but I still find it enjoyable despite the flaws.

 Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie by MAGMA album cover Live, 2001
4.59 | 94 ratings

Theusz Hamtaahk - Trilogie
Magma Zeuhl

Review by Kaelka

5 stars This superb album recorded live in Paris in 2000 states a fact that French followers of Vander's band have known for a long time : Despite the complexity of the music (and especially the vocal harmonies), Magma has always been at their very best when performing on stage. The studio albums, although ranging from the very good to the excellent, never display fully the sheer energy or the amazing grandeur the band shows when playing live. Whether you see them in a big theatre (like the Trianon where this recording was made) or in the smaller (or sometimes very small) venues they tend to stick to nowadays (for lack of a large enough following probably), it's always a daunting experience and an immense pleasure.

Here of course the Zeuhl Wortz is at its best, Bussonet on bass and Paganotti (yes, he's the son of the 70s' Magma bassist) on the piano, a great brass section, Mac Gaw on guitar. Stella and Isabelle (with the addition of Julie, Christian and Stella's daughter) are fantastic as usual, and Klaus is the king. Christian Vander is, in every possible meaning of the word, behind all of it, like a mad conductor who would lead the orchestra with drumsticks instead of baton. Needless to say, his performance on drums is beyond words.

The music is quintessential Magma, one of the mightiest pieces written by Vander in the 70s and never before played and recorded as a whole three-part suite (over two hours of music, longer than a classical symphony). Yet it is accessible to all ears, at least to all ears curious enough, and a rather good entry point into Zeuhl and Magma's universe.

And for those who are interested (and for die-hard fans), a booklet is included with the complete lyrics in Kobaïan !

5 well-deserved stars for this masterpiece.

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

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