Friday, April 3, 2015

Offering - 1998 - Paris Théâtre Dézajet 1987

Paris Théâtre Dézajet 1987

01. Lohengrin: Prélude (8:25)
02. Olé (5:30)
03. Cosmos (2:15)
04. Afïïèh (8:40)
05. Les Anges (11:30)
06. Les Cygnes (5:17)
07. Solitude (4:05)
08. La Nuit Du Chasseur (1:46)
09. Les Vagues (2:17)
10. Lush Life (5:01)
11. Joïa (22:21)
12. Another Day (22:21)
13. Anta (7:43)
14. Chorus de Batterie Introduction À You've Got To Have Freedom (14:26)
15. You've Got To Have Freedom (5:56)

- Emmanuel Borghi / percussion, piano
- Simon Goubert / keyboards, electric piano, background vocals
- Jean-Marc Jafet / percussion, (electric) bass
- Guy Khalifa / flute, vocals, background vocals
- Pierre Marcault / percussion
- Christian Vander / piano, drums, tambourine, vocals, flute (wood)
- Stella Vander / percussion, keyboards, vocals, background vocals

I noticed as I was about to review this live double album from OFFERING that they have just released a new live album from a 2013 performance. It's probably about time really as this live album i'm reviewing was recorded way back in 1987 and at that point they had only released one studio album. Two studio albums would follow and in my opinion they got better as they went. If you don't know, OFFERING is a Christian Vander side project that is dedicated to his hero John Coltrane. The music is jazzy and led by piano and vocals for the most part, but this music is also fairly experimental at times so it's difficult to say that OFFERING is a more commercial sounding MAGMA in my opinion.

Because this is a live recording the music does seem more experimental than the studio albums with plenty of improvization. So for my tastes it's a little inconsistant with some passages over-staying their welcome. A few of these tracks would end up on the next two studio albums. Like many double albums I could edit this one down to one disc and be very impressed. Disc one starts off with "Lohengrin:Prelude" which is a disappointing start in my opinion with the classical sounding instrumental music going on for about 8 1/2 minutes, just not a fan. "Ole" sounds really good early on with some flute playing over top. Stella comes in and eventually her vocals will be the focus. There's a nice piano interlude. Good song. "Cosmos" is a short piece led by piano and female vocals. It's okay but I do tire of the vocals. "Afiieh" is much better and the audience seems to agree with their response when this one starts. Christian is outstanding on vocals here. It seems like everything is being held back and restrained throughout. I like it!

"Les Anges" is piano with Christian on vocals to start. Some female vocals are added later. Again like the previous tune this one is restrained although Stella breaks free of that late. "Les Cygnes" is one where Stella's vocals get a little theatrical at times. The song is okay but i'm not a big fan of it. "Solitude" as the title suggests is laid back early on until the vocals break out. Contrasts continue. An average track really. "La Nuit Du Chasseur" is less than 2 minutes of Stella on vocals with orchestral background sounds. It blends into another short song called "Les Vagues" where it continues in the same style but without vocals. "Lush Life" is one I just don't like with Guy on vocals with piano helping out. "Joia" certainly makes up for the last song as Christian simply kills with his vocals on this over 22 minute journey. Well done!

Disc two begins with the over 47 minute "Another Day" which is such a journey with the vocals and catchy sound dominating. "Anta" is filled with intricate sounds, especially percussion. "Chorus De Batterie Introduction A "You've Got To Have Freedom"" is a 14 1/2 minute drum solo basically as an intro to the next song "You've Got To Have Freedom" which clocks in at around 6 minutes. Not a fan of the drum solo for the most part but the following song is really good with the vocals and drumming standing out.

Offering - 1993 - A Fïïeh

A Fïïeh

01. Hymne Kobaïen (4:30)
02. Cosmos (5:20)
03. A Fïïèh (10:26)
04. La Marche Céleste (5:30)
05. Magnifi (3:43)
06. Purificatem (Accord Des Instruments) (4:17)
07. Purificatem (26:22)

- Christian Vander / keyboards, piano, glockenspiel, vocals, percussion
- Stella Vander / vocals
- Isabelle Feullebois / vocals
- Emmanuel Borghi / piano (2,3)
- Pierre Michel Sivadier / keyboards
- Pierre Marcault / percussion (2,3)
- Marc Delouya / percussion (2,3), drums (6,7)
- Jean-Claude Buire / percussion (2,3)
- Julie Vander / vocals (4)
- Benedicte Ragu / vocals (4)
- Addie Deat / vocals (4)
- Jean Christophe Gamet / vocals (4)
- Philippe Dardelle / contrabass (4,6,7)
- Ogun / percussion (6,7)

This is the third and final OFFERING album. It's quite different from the first two, and it's the only one not dedicated to John Coltrane. And that might be the key because the first two records are so full of joy, it's like they are celebrating John Coltrane for all the great music he has created that has so inspired Christian Vander. Both are like offerings to Christian's musical hero. This one is darker and more serious. A much larger band participates as well with more vocalists and percussionists etc.

"Hymne Kobaien" is basically Christian playing an orchestral-like keyboard solo. Not a big fan of this one. "Cosmos" is a different story though. It opens with a dark atmosphere before piano takes over playing slowly. Soft vocal melodies join in. It builds as cymbals clash. Cool song. "A Fiieh" opens with piano as cymbals and vocal melodies join in. Dual female vocals here. Christian comes in vocally before a minute. Great sound here. Strong vocals before 4 1/2 minutes. Intense. It settles back like earlier but with male and female vocals as piano and cymbals continue. Great track. "La March Celeste" features these deep male vocals with piano. Female vocals join in and the vocals get more passionate. It settles after 4 minutes.

"Magnifi" is a minimilistic track with spoken words and piano. "Purificatem (Accord Des Instruments)" is a jazzy tune with lazy sax melodies as piano and synths join in. Drums after 2 minutes as the sax gets more passionate. "Purificatem" is the 26 1/2 minute closer. This is the most difficult track to digest at times. A lot of dissonance and crazy vocals too. It seems to meander a lot. It opens with piano as drums join in then sax. Christian arrives vocally before a minute. Check out Christian after 4 1/2 minutes with his odd vocal expressions. More of this with tambourine after 10 minutes. The sax then becomes prominant when the vocals stop. Piano joins in. Dissonant 13 minutes in. Vocals join the chaos. Christian is screaming 16 minutes in. It calms down 17 1/2 minutes in but the dissonace returns as these are contrasted the rest of the way. What a song !

Offering - 1990 - III - IV


101. Another Day

201. Out Of This World
202. Offering (Part 2)
203. Ehn Deiss

- Christian Vander / vocals, drums, percussion, piano, flutes
- Stella Vander / vocals, percussion
- Guy Khalifa / vocals, flute
- Isabelle Feuillebois / vocals
- Emmanuel Borghi / piano on (1)
- Phillipe Dardelle / contra-bass on (1)
- Jean Claude Buire / drums on (1)
- Pierre Michel Sivadier / keyboards on (1)
- Alex Ferrand / vocals on (2)
- Simon Goubert / vocals, electric piano on (2)
- Pierre Marcault / percussion on (2)
- Frederic Briet / contra-bass on (2)

 OFFERING are back 4 years later with their second release and not much has changed. I think I like this a little more than the first one but once again it's the piano and vocals that steal the spotlight. This time we have Emmanual Borghi (MAGMA, ONE SHOT) on piano for the over 44 minute opening track and he doesn't disappoint. I have to say though that the vocals of Christian and Stella Vander are really what makes this recording so special. Once again it's dedicated to Christian's hero John Coltrane, and Vander gives him his all here.

"Another Day" is the over 44 minute highlight reel. Would love to see this performed live in it's entirety. It opens with piano melodies before female (Stella) vocals arrive around a minute. It kicks in with drums before 1 1/2 minutes. Christian comes in vocally a minute later as it settles some. Contrasts will continue. Stella is back trading vocals with Christian. So much passion in their vocals. This is so much fun. It starts to calm down around 13 minutes. Christian offers up some vocal melodies after 14 minutes for about 5 minutes as the piano and drums continue in an almost dissonant manner. The piano stops after 21 minutes but drums continue. The earlier melody is back and so is Christian 23 minutes in. Nice bass here. It settles back and we get some percussion. Piano before 26 minutes then the tempo picks up. Vocals stop as dissonant piano takes over. A dead calm 29 minutes in then it starts to rebuild. Flute before 31 1/2 minutes as piano then vocals come to the fore. Stella's back too, as well as the drums. Stella and Christian battle again vocally. Great sound 37 1/2 minutes in as we get that full sound. Christian keeps shouting "Good God y'all" (haha). Too much fun ! It settles around 41 minutes with Stella's vocal melodies, piano and drums. Wow!

"Ehn Deiss" opens with piano as Christian comes in vocally. Stella after 2 1/2 minutes takes over. Flute before 4 minutes then dual vocals end it. A mellow track. "Offering (2)" is led by drums and piano as Stella comes in, and she does get threatrical.

I mentioned how pleasantly surprised I was with their debut on that review, well this might even be better. Highly recommended to MAGMA fans out there.

Offering - 1986 - I - II

I - II

01. Offering (Part One) (7:57)
02. Earth (10:29)
03. Joia (18:00)
04. C'est Pour Nous (8:05)
05. Love In The Darkness (10:39)
06. Tilim M'Dohm (2:34)
07. Mazur Kujiawiaki Oberek (4:56)
08. Solitude (4:07)
09. Uguma Ma Melimeh Gingeh (3:44)

- Christian Vander / lead vocals, piano, Rhodes, drums, bells
- Stella Vander / lead vocals, maracas & bells
- Guy Khalifa / vocals, flute, Rhodes, piano
- Simon Goubert / Rhodes & piano
- Pierre Marcault / percussion
- J.Marc Jafet / bass (2)
- Marc Delouya / drums (2)
- C.Martinez / trumpet
- J.Bolognesi / trombone

Offering came to the world as one of Christian Vander's post Magma projects, functioning throughout the later half of the 80s up till the early 90s Offering ventures into territory where only Magma's 'Merci' dared the tread. While the 70s Magma revolved around a more classical interpretation, Offering shows Vander's fascination with Coltrane's acoustic inspired Jazz blossom into full realization. Offering is sited by many as Christian Vander's most praised post-Magma project.
Offering takes a step aside from Magma's tight formulas, introducing compositions of a much looser, improvisational design. Vander's drumming expertises sadly take to the bench, while focusing more specifically on vocal experimentations alongside his wife Stella. We hear an evolution of the soul-scat vocals utilized throughout Magma's 1984 album 'Merci'. Offering went on to record 3 albums, which hold many draw backs for most listeners. Much of the time the musical insights become quite unfocused and produces a patchy final product
Their latest recording 'A Fiieh' is their most concise document; bring in a full line-up including the likes of Isabelle Feullebois, Philippe Dardelle and Emmanuel Borghi. The usually suspect are augmented by four other percussionist, four vocalist and one Keyboardist. The style becomes dark, minimalist and even a little more symphonic. While the epic 'Purificatem' reverts back into the familiar vibe of the two prior albums.
Boasting as one of Vander's most accomplished post-Magma projects, this will appease Christian Vander fans, but could still facilitate your average listener's enjoyment.

A tremendous double album from Magma legend Christian Vander where zeuhl mixes with jazz with a splattering of madness added to the mix.

The opening track is out there in the dark walking the fine line between the demented wailings of the asylum inmates and raging winds. Not for the faint-hearted. But before we run away screaming Stella Vander's vocal relaxes into a more smooth gentle and playful jazzy tone. The Lovecraft nightmare vista melts away to be replaced by a smokey relaxed basement bar filled with afficionades (not my cup of tea but there's no pleasing everyone)... then a real Magma zeuhl feel takes over. Christian Vander brings us Earth. This is what I was hoping for. Delight for Zeuhl fans. The intensity and passion is striking. Always the pulsing bass riff and precussion keep order. the vocal becomes more aggressive at one point joining the pulstaing rhythms with several of those deep funky choral soul brother Huhs that proliferated in the late 70s.

The second side is dedicated to one track: Joia. it opens with Incredible vocals: zeuhl to the fore once more. the minor(?) chords on the piano beat out time. Christian breaks into a couple of ines of English : i Give my Love to God. The beat picks up, subtly. Tremendous rhythm, restrained and toe tappingly catchy, but over it we have the shackled madness and bridled passion of zeuhl. There's more of an exotic overtone here perhaps. Love it. Guy Khalifa lets rip with the flute. Still the chords on the piano keeps the heartbeat steady. I am not sure what th term is but Vander wavers his voice at times a bit like Feargal Sharkey (only better, sorry Feargal). The piano breaks stride and provides the lead into side 3.

C'est per nous: trumpets fill in like the brass section in Kid Creole. it's more upbeat. well happy. christian and stella sing together. it's a melodic machine gun performance from CV. i give my love, i give my soul. great stuff but find yourselves a room! This is a happy and fun as Steve Wilson and PT is miserable. I cant's help listen to this track without imaginging a cartoon where there are hifis in a room Steve Wilson is whining about how miserable he is and how his last girlfrined wasnt' nice through one (as the room at that end turns grey), while Christian and Stella sing out sheer bliss from the other (sgt pepper like flowers and rainbows springing from the hifi at that end).

Anyway, enough of my delusions. ... Nah. Just as the grey wave of despondency seems to be winning, Oh Oh Baby comes on. A Tsunami of feelgood love-in sweeps the nasty grey gremlins away. hey, vander almost sounds like an early robert plant at some points: make that misty mountain hop. Tilim M'Dohm is a short track showing off the precise vocals of Stella.

Mazur Kujiawiaki Oberek shows off an interesting meter and phrasing. I reckon the name of the song gives a bit of the game away: we get three different polish (?) folk themes. Different.

Solitude swings us back deeply into jazz-zeuhl territory. It is somewhat disconcerting being able to listen to and understand english lyrics. it takes away form the experience for me, but musn't grumble: Oh Coltrane I can wait for you night and day

Uguma Ma Melimeh Gingeh is just a laid back chill out to end the journey.

Christian Vander - 2002 - Les Cygnes Et Les Corbeaux

Christian Vander
Les Cygnes Et Les Corbeaux

01. Des Profondeurs (1:31)
02. Sahïss Siïaaht (5:01)
03. La Vent (2:28)
04. En Avancant Vers le Vent (1:02)
05. La Semeur Vers le Nord (0:59)
06. La Semeur Vers l'Ouest (1:49)
07. Le Semeur Vers le Sud (2:09)
08. Le Ciel de l'Océan (2:17)
09. Les Cygnes et Les Corbeaux Sont Venus (2:09)
10. Vent et Nuees d'Oiseaux (0:38)
11. La Semeur Vers l'Est (3:00)
12. Le Vent Disparait (1:05)
13. Les Oiseaux Bruns (4:00)
14. Les Oiseaux en Colère I (2:13)
15. Les Oiseaux en Colère II (3:49)
16. Les Oiseaux en Colère III (6:35)
17. Les Oiseaux en Colère IV (6:37)
18. Les Oiseaux en Colère V (4:34)
19. Mon Oiseau Est Parti Pour un Dernier Voyage (1:06)
20. Les Oiseaux Blancs et l'Oiseau (1:06)
21. Vers l'Ineluctable (1:19)
22. Chant Unique Pour Appeler l'Oiseau I (1:44)
23. Chant de La Fatalite (2:32)
24. Chant Unique Pour Appeler l'Oiseau II (1:44)
25. Repos (1:29)
26. Chant Posthume (1:41)
27. Des Profondeurs (0:47)

- Christian Vander / Lead vocal, acoustic piano, Fender piano, orchestra keyboards, tambourine, mixing
- Stella Vander / Lead vocal, background vocals, orchestra keyboard programming, mixing

+ Isabelle Feuillebois / Lead vocal, background vocals
+ Julie Vander / Lead vocal, background vocals
+Bénédicte Ragu / Lead vocal, background vocals in L'appel
+ Virginie Coutin / background vocals in L'appel
+ Bertrand Cardiet / Lead vocal in Le ciel de l'océan
+ Alex Ferrand / background vocals in Les oiseaux en colère III & IV
+ Pierre-Michel Sivadier / Keyboard in Prologue

First of all, there is no mistaking that this is a Christian Vander composition. While the familiar overdriven bass, jazzy percussion and trademark imaginary language we have become accustomed to with Zeuhl are not there, Vander's dark brooding vocal arrangements and celestial motif is well intact. Broad operatic choral passages paint a very full and majestic landscape true to form for Christian and his wife Stella. While no specific piece is a direct Magma arrangement, the textures are eerily familiar; and I use the word "eerily" in the broadest and most literal sense. Les Cygnes Et Les Corbeaux is broken up into 27 mostly sub 3 minute movements which flow together seamlessly. At times Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire comes to mind, but the music is more accessible; just plain dark rather than obliquely dissonant.
 I could actually see this piece being appreciated by some listeners, particularly classical listeners, who did not otherwise like Magma or Zeuhl in general. This is a very fine work that should be explored.

Christian Vander - 2000 - Korusz

Christian Vander 

101. Korusz 1
102. Korusz 2
103. Korusz 3

201. Korusz 4
202. Korusz 5
203. Korusz 6
204. Korusz 7
205. Versets Nocturnes

The rock drum solo has it detractors.. Those who see it as an exercise in vanity. On the other hand, jazz drummers solo often, and are praised. Christian Vander, the leader of France's famed pro-rock outfit Magma has been straddling the lines between rock, jazz, and contemporary classical music since the late 60's. This two-disc set are live drum solos performed during Magma concerts between 1974-75, and a piano/voice piece studio recording from 2000. Rather than showcases from Vander's technique, and an excuse to extend a tune, these are exorcisims to attain spiritual/musical purity. Along with the solos, and the booklet of musings and philosophies of Vander, one can see that these solos are attempts at enlightenment (Hence, the subtitle- The Search For The Supreme Korusz) So much that these are "exorcisims" that through a few solos, Vander starts yelling and speaking in tounges during the climaxes.. As a person who has seen Vander live, I can attest to his spiritual connection to music. Never have I seen a drummer move around the set so effortessly, and with a look of such bliss. And, I have never seen anyone flail around on a set, yet not miss a beat. The only reason why I have given this three, not more stars, is that drum solos are not for everyone.. And, this disc will have limited appeal for those who are Magma completists or lovers of Vander's drumming. But, I recommend this to anyone who apprieciates something that is more than just "playing".. more like.. "living through playing".

Christian Vander Quartet - 1999 - Au Sunset

Christian Vander Quartet 
Au Sunset

01. Brazilia 13:48
02. Transition 14:27
03. Impressions 18:53
04. Naïma 16:14
05. 65 ! 7:39

Yannick RIEU: saxophone
Emmanuel BORGHI: piano
Emmanuel GRIMONPREZ: bass
Christian VANDER: drums

Since 1987 the Trio - today comprised of Emmanuel Borghi, Emmanuel Grimonprez and Christian Vander - has been so tight that it seems as if the three men play with a single breath. However, the addition of saxophonist Yannick Rieu to the group will undoubtedly create a new and different Alchemy.

Breaking new ground, and exploring new aspects of the spirit of John Coltrane's music, this quartet continues its never-ending quest down the boundless pathways first set out by the great saxophonist. As day follows night so this music captures essential meaning through the unselfconscious serendipity of improvisation...

Without premeditation.

Christian Vander - 1995 - Baba Yaga La Sorcière

Christian Vander 
Baba Yaga La Sorcière

01. Baba Yaga La Sorcière

Mathilde AKIMENKO, Caroline AUBERT, Maud AVIT, Gaëlle AYOUL, Claire-Sophie BERNET, Marion BERNON, Céline BIRAL, Salomé BLECHMANS, Emeline BOUGEAULT, Christelle BOURDAIS, Nelly CHAILLE, Adèle CHALDOREILLE, Marie CHARMION, Pierre CHARMION, Caroline et Virginie CHATAGNER, Benjamin CHENEIWEISS, Aurélie CHOUET, Fabio CHRISTINY, Mickaël CHRISTINY, Frédéric DE PORTZAMPARC, Marie DESCAT, Céline DIARRA, Carine DOURLENT, Alice DUMONTIER, Pierre DUMONTIER, Mona ELKASI, Marie FIERS, Nadia HOUSSAYE, Claudie JOUSSE, Ingrid JOUVIN, Margot KENIGSBERG, Clémentine LAMBERT, Anastasia LEVY, Marcus LINON, Igor LYON-CAEN, Alice MATHIEZ, Chloé MATHIEZ, Grégoire MATHIEZ, Laurianne MINJOLLET, Sarah MOREAU, Flore PERIGOIS, Florine RIERA, Perrine ROSENBERGER, Julia SCHERER, Thomas SEBAN, Deniz SIMSEKEL, Jeanne SIVIEUDE, Alexandre SOKOLOWSKI, Kevin SOLOWSKI, Sonia TAILLEUR, Lucas VALERO, Pablo VALERO, Perrine WACHOWSKI, Daniel WALD, Ronan BEDENNE, Naïma BICEP, Jérôme FAUREL, Emmanuel PAIN, Aude QUILICI, Romain ROCHER, Christine BELLEC, Christine BERTHON, Céline FABRE, Barbara FABRETTI, Ingrid LEROY, Sandrine ROBERT, Céline ROUVEYROL, Cécile DIEBOLD, David BAGURA, Nelly BERNARD, Nicolas BOUVIER, Marie-Béatrice D'ANNA, Laure DEBROISSIA, Frédéric DELACOUR, Martin DUMONT, Hélène FOISSART, Teijad MAZEL, Séverine PANNETIER, Anne-Claire PICARD, Karim STRAHM, Jean-Mathieu WEINMANN. Xavier BUSSY, Philippe BUSSONNET, Vincent DUPUY, Patrice MAZIERES, Dominique NANNINCK.


Recorded on October, 15th, 1995 at the Espace Lumi²re in Epinay-sur-Seine, during the second concert celebrating Magma's 25th birthday, BABA YAGA LA SORCIŽRE is a surprising adaptation of the mythical MEKANIK DESTRUKTIW KOMMANDOH, sung by an impressive choir of young children and played by an instrument ensemble of teenagers, helped for the occasion by five confirmed musicians. After going over the surprising aspect of the whole thing, it must be admitted, though the kobaian incantations have been erased to let children's voices be heard, that the work of Christian Vander has managed to keep all of its power and magic. This also happened thanks to Gaston Tavel, manager of the project and director of the association VACANCES MUSICALES SANS FRONTIŽRES, which proves alongside that it is possible, contrary to what is usually shown by the surrounding culture for children, to realise shows with children, which have a truly creative quality.

 First point is that this is really an EP and not a proper album, as it's cut down considerably (no thundering bass solos here, folks- sorry).  Second point is that while it's cute, "cute" and "Magma" really don't go together well, and while for us English-speakers it's a fascinating document of the cultural position Vander occupies within France it's hardly the Langley Schools Music Project, and if you come in expecting that you're going to be disappointed.  Third point is that it's really not Magma either and ought to be credited to just plain Vander.

Christian Vander - 1994 - A Tous Les Enfants

Christian Vander
A Tous Les Enfants

01. Coucou! 0:04
02. Au premier coup entendez-vous! 0:15
03. Hymne aux enfants 4:52
04. Au deuxième coup apprêtez-vous! 0:17
05. Regarde... 0:31
06. J'ai du bon tabac 2:40
07. Les oies sauvages 2:11
08. Mr Vent 3:37
09. Au troisième coup amenez-vous! 1:02
10. Le ballet des sorcières 4:10
11. Il est sept heures réveillez-vous! 0:11
12. Ronde de nuit 8:22
13. Aujourd'hui c'est fête 1:36
14. Il est Noël 4:59
15. Chanson pour Pâques 0:56
16. Chanson des oeufs 3:15
17. La mémoire de l'eau 2:15
18. A la claire fontaine 2:49
19. Le marchand de sable 1:36
20. Dodo l'enfant do 8:34

Christian Vander: piano, keyboards, vocals, vocals parlée
Stella Vander: vocals, keyboards, keyboards programming, vocals parlée
Isabelle Feuillebois: vocals
Julie Vander: vocals
Et les enfants:
  Elodie et Fleur GEORGELIN, Maud SACQUET, Fabio CHRISTINY, Gary et Kevin DUMONT,

"Dodo l'enfant do"
Pierre-Michel Sivadier: keyboards
Lydia Domancich: keyboards
Philippe Dardelle: bass

This record is the essence of beauty. Only extremes of anger and torrents of fury could erase Christian VANDER's underlying look of childish innocence and prevent him from offering, without defences, that which always shines in the heart of his music: honesty. In the open space between TO LOVE and Stella VANDER's album D'EPREUVES D'AMOUR, A TOUS LES ENFANTS unfolds like a book of images, full of stars, through which birds fly, farandoles turn, rattles chatter and sorcerers dance. Nursery rhymes, musical mysteries, songs full of fervour and keyboards which chime like bells are found here. The tales of Noel de Kobaia are revealed to the Earth. These crystalline and limpid melodies have ineffable charm, sounding as much as anything like the music boxes that one opens and then closes for fear that their treasures will escape.

Christian Vander Trio - 1993 - 65!

Christian Vander Trio

01. 65! (le 11 juin 1993) 6:18
02. Brazilia 10:36
03. The Coaster 5:55
04. Giant Steps 2:49
05. Lonnie's Lament 15:50
06. Tensions 8:00
07. Skunckadelic's 8:59
08. Doktor Pitt 5:18
09. 65! (le 15 juin 1993) 8:19

Christian Vander: drums
Philippe Dardele: bass
Emmanuel Borghi: piano

In 1989, leading the same Trio, Christian VANDER delighted us with a first opus, the inspirational JOUR APRES JOUR. With 65! he created the same type of luminous, inspirational atmosphere which surrounded the work of Coltrane at his zenith. Compact and dense yet at the same time considered and serene, this powerful collection of nine pieces is not only a masterpiece but also a compelling insight in the development of VANDER's mastery of his art.

Christian Vander - 1992 - Les Voyages De Cristophe Colomb

Christian Vander 
Les Voyages De Cristophe Colomb

01. La ville de Palos 11:37
02. Voyagesen la mer océane 15:29
03. L'utopie 10:20
04. L'orage mystique 4:15

Recording of a the soundtrack of a light show about Christopher Columbus. Christian Vander narrates over a keyboards/synths background. Do not expect too much from it, it sounds as any similar light show comment. For completists only.

Christian Vander Trio - 1990 - Jour Après Jour

Christian Vander Trio
Jour Après Jour

01. Day After Day 7:33
02. Dear Mac 27:09
03. Chim Chim Cheree 5:18
04. Like Sonny 6:47

Christian Vander: drums
Philippe Dardelle: double bass
Emmanuel Borghi: piano

Loyalty to truth and sincerity demand that this trio refuses all ready-made musical formulas. Tension, release, the music breathes, throws itself into emotional storms, relents into tranquillity. Body and soul this music is a song offered by three artists, without contrivances, a song without words for a love story.

Christian Vander - 1988 - To Love

Christian Vander 
To Love

01. Salut
02. Love Is
03. Sands
04. To Love
05. River
06. You Glory the One
07. XMC

- Christian Vander / piano, vocals, drums
- Stella Vander / vocals, chorus

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.

Solo album by the founder/leader of Magma, with some vocals by Stella Vander. He mostly plays modal piano and sings in, mmm, "English" (with some kobaïan words ;-) ). It sounds as some McCoy Tyner albums, and the vocals are the not far from what you hear in Leon Thomas or Pharoah Sanders albums. As a multiple genius, Christian Vander is as good as a singer and piano player as he is a band leader, drummer, mythology inventor and musical genre creator.

Khan Jamal - 1974 - Give The Vibes Some

Khan Jamal 
Give The Vibes Some

01. Pure Energy
02. Clint
03. 35.007 Feet Up
04. Give The Vibes Some

Hassan Rashid (Christian Vander), drums
Khan Jamal, vibraphone, marimba
Clint Jackson III, trumpet

Recorded on March 28, 1974 at Studio Palm, Paris.

Splendid last release of Jef Gilson on his own mythic label, Palm. US vibraphone genius Khan Jamal gives the evidence of his talent, with four long tracks full of spirituality.
Vibraphonist Khan Jamal solo (B2) and in duets with Hassan Rashid (pseudonym of Christian Vander) on drums (A1 + B1) and Clint Jackson III on trumpet (A2) with some tendencies in free jazz or experimental regions. The pieces with "Hassan Rashid" are on a more powerful level and the drumming is in a similar style than parts of his solos in the same year with "Magma". Khan Jamal's duet with Clint Jackson III and his solo performance on marimba has a more intimate character.
Khan Jamal is one of the unsung heroes of the vibraphone, developing his own unique personality on the instrument apart from the blues drenched soul of Milt Jackson and the hard-bop pyrotechnics of Bubby Hutcherson. This obscure album was released on the French Palm label, and feature Jamal in some really interesting duet and solo settings. Starting off with “Pure Energy" with track lives up to its name as Jamal and drummer Hassan Rashid build a rippling and rolling improvisation that develops into a very exciting dialogue. Ringing vibes and rolling drums develop an unstoppable momentum, and the percussion duet is fascinating to hear. “Clint" swaps things up as Jamal switches to marimba and Clint Jackson III sits in on trumpet. The music that produce is very free and open, probing the minimalist setting in a quiet fashion. “35,007 Feet Up" is the centerpiece of the LP and just an awesome performance with Jamal back on vibes and Rashied returning to the drum seat. After vibes open with an Asian sounding motif, shimmering vibes and then strong supple drumming move together for a collaborative free improvisation. The music is exciting and courageous, fast and strong and loaded with nimble and dexterous playing. Spinning out into an awesome epic, the music is hypnotic and memorable. “Give The Vibes Some" ends the album with a very impressive solo vibraphone recital. Opening with a shimmering metallic feel evoking sunrise Jamal develops an optimistic and very pleasing sound. It is the sound of crystalline haunting beauty and mystery and is the perfect summation for this excellent album that deserves much wider recognition.

Christian Vander & Frank Raholison - 1973 - Fiesta In Drums

Christian Vander & Frank Raholison
Fiesta In Drums

01. Fiesta in Drums 10:56
02. Suite exotique en 4 parties 7:45
03. Suite malgache 19:35

Christian Vander (drums)
Frank Raholison (drums)

Drums Galore!
Rare drummers meeting album by french legendary musician Christian Vander, and jazz drummer from Madagascar Frank Raholison. Released on Palm (Jef Gilson label). Many heavy breaks to catch if you are still i to sampling ! A free jazz record with pounding hip-hop drums !

Christian Vander, Jeff Saeffer, Jef Catoire & Jef Gilson - 1973 - Christian Vander et Les Trois Jefs

Christian Vander, Jeff Saeffer, Jef Catoire & Jef Gilson 
Christian Vander et Les Trois Jefs

01. Colchique dans les prés 6:40
02. Joie 7:50
03. Trômba 1ère partie 7:40
04. Trômba 2ème partie 20:00

Christian Vander (drums)
Yochk'o Seffer (tenor saxophone)
Jef Catoire (bass)
Jef Gilson (piano)

The first two tracks are the oldest recordings with Christian Vander on lp from a mid 1969 concert of the Jef Gilson Quartet in Paris. Those post bop tingued pieces surely are no must listen but show his jazz drumming competence and feeling in a good way, including his often claimed Elvin Jones influence. In my view also interesting is the soulful playing of Jeff Seffer on sax that predates his later involvement in Magma.

Vander wasn't amused when Jif Gilson published that pieces together with a session later on his Palm label without his permission. As one result of his veto you can see the red stripe on the cover that hides Vander's face. Also with the other two Palm label records with Vander he had problems. On the one with the Jef Gilson / Malagasy drummer Raholison that is devided in left and right channel, he wasn't aware that his playing will be distributed and on "Give the Vibes some" he is listed under a pseudonym.

Utopic Sporadic Orchestra - 2001 - Nancy 75

Utopic Sporadic Orchestra 
Nancy 75

01. De Futura (Rehearsal - 16 Oct 75 Nancy) (23:40)
02. De Futura (Live - 17 Oct 75 Nancy) (25:12)

Bonus Tracks
03. KMX E XII Opus 3 (6 Feb 74 Bremen) (6:33)
04. La Musique Des Sphères / Part 2 (31 Oct 76 Paris) (10:00)
05. KMX E XII Opus 3 (Holland 74) (8:00)

- Jannick Top / bass
- Christian Vander / drums
- Jean Schultheis / drums
- Chris Stassinopoulos / percussion
- Jean-Pierre Sabartet / piano
- Gérard Bikialo / keyboards
- Philippe Briche / keyboards
- Sauveur Mallia / cello bass
- Denis Lable / guitar
- Josselin Piccende / guitar
- Georges Gasky / synthesizer
- Didier Lockwood / violin
- Michel Ripoche / violin
- Mohamed Larbi Ouchni / Tunisian violin
- Frédérique Gegenbach / voices
- Stella Vander / voices
- Martine Toureil / voices
- Hervé Derien / cello

UTOPIC SPORADIC ORCHESTRA was really a one-off project led by MAGMA bassist Jannick Top. He invited many guests to play with him in this popular 3 day festival in France at "Nancy Jazz Pulsations" in 1975. This actual album consists of the song "De Futura" done twice. The first version was an over 23 1/2 minute rehearsal done the day before with the full 18 member lineup, while the second over 26 minute version was done the next day in front of thousands of people with that same 18 member lineup. This has been called "Big Band" Zeuhl in some quarters because of the sheer size of this band. Included are Christian and Stella Vander along with Didier Lockwood and many more. Two drummers, a percussionist, three keyboardisits, three violinists, two guitarists, a synth player, two bass players, three vocalists and cello. I wish the liner notes were in English but they're not so I did some searching for info about this concert and it was difficult to find much. Fortunately I found a review from this reviewer from Melody Maker who is English and who reviewed the whole festival. He had a French guide with him who told him UTOPIC SPORADIC ORCHESTRA were Free Jazz Rock but he disagreed as he notes "It wasn't, in fact, because most of the music of UTOPIC SPORADIC seemed to me to be highly organised, especially the second piece, whose flaws were dramatically highlighted by a re-run staged for the benefit of the excitable lads from FRENCH TV who seemed to swarm all over the damned place.This led the crowd going bananas and a THIRD replay. The music was identical each time-lots of synth howl and phase- shifting effects, very clever use of just three violins, cello and voices, and a bass guitarist, ex- MAGMA man Jannick Top, who was very raunchy. His partner, percussionist Christian Vander, was also outstanding...".

Included on this album are three bonus tracks but two are also the same song but done at two different venues the same year in 1974 and with a much more scaled down lineup of Top, C.Vander, Bikialo (keys) and Almos (guitar). The song is called "KMX E XII Opus 3" and it's fantasic ! Love the electric piano, drumming and growly bass.The guitar is excellent too as Olmos who played in MAGMA for a while impresses. Actually Bikialo and Olmos played with MAGMA on that live BBC 1974 release with Top and Vander. The other bonus track is called "La Musique Des Spheres / Part 2" performed in Paris in 1976.This is a trio of Top,Vander and Grailler (keys). Again Grailler was also part of that BBC 1974 live record. Another killer tune and one that is featured on Top's solo album "Soleil D'Ork".

I love this stuff and it's certainly not for the faint of heart as it can get so intense and abrasive. The Melody Maker guy noted that the crowd was stomping and cheering for the heavily amplified UTOPIC SPORADIC something he wasn't accustomed to hearing back then when going to British concerts. I love it ! A must for MAGMA fans if only because of it's historical merit, but I say because of the music. Crank it up !

Vandertop - 2002 - Best On Tour 76

Best On Tour 76

01. Mëkanïk Zaïn 4:32
02. De Futura 24:16
03. Troller Tanz 4:20
04. La musique des sphères 21:37

Jannick Top: bass
Christian Vander: drums, vocals
Klaus Blasquiz: vocals
Didier Lockwood: violin
Gabriel Federow: guitar
Michel Graillier: keyboards

I hate compilation live albums.  Why do I hate compilation live albums?  Because then people with tapes of the full gigs have to chop the tapes to bits before posting them to Dime.  It's an irrational bias on my part, I know, but I am now old enough that I can be totally irrational when I like, at least when it comes to music.  Anyway highlights: Everything but Troller Tanz, but particularly "La Musique Des Spheres" and "Mekanik Zain", which despite the title has nothing to do whatsoever with the Live/Hhai excerpt of MDK but instead is a souffle of "Theusz Hamtaahk", which despite my fanaticism about Magma bootlegs I had never heard before this (it does appear on a couple other boots from this tour I've since snagged).

Vandertop - 2001 - Paris 76

Paris 76

01 Hhaï 8:56
02 La musique des sphères 21:57
03 De Futura 25:38
04 Troller Tanz 4:19

Jannick Top: bass
Christian Vander: drums, vocals
Klaus Blasquiz: vocals
Didier Lockwood: violin
Gabriel Federow: guitar
Michel Graillier: keyboards

Vandertop is the name Magma took in 1976, when Jannick Top reintegrated the group he left in 1974, because of "spiritual" differences. He left again after two months, but kept in touch and toured with Magma again many times.
So this is basically a Magma live recording, with Top's bass and Vander's drums featured prominently.

Not a complete gig, but for God's sake I think we've heard enough live versions of "Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh" (the missing song) by now anyway.  There's also a lot of overlap, songlist-wise, with "Best Of Tour 76", so unless you're a fanatic you probably won't want both, and in fact if you're not a fanatic you should probably get the other one.  But I think, if you like Magma at all, that you should own at least one of these relatively obscure records- despite the name "Vandertop" given to this band, it's Magma, and it's a wonderful and dynamic live performance from one of the more underrated periods of their history, which is to say it fucking kills.

Nemo - 1974 - Doin' Nuthin'

Doin' Nuthin'

01. Black Art (2:50)
02. Doin' Nuthin' (3:04)
03. Manutension (6:28)
04. Bouleau Bleu (3:35)
05. Suzy Chong Song (3:04)
06. Baron Samedi (5:08)
07. Try And Be Yourself (5:09)
08. The Waving Theme (2:40)

- Marc Perru / guitars, drums, vibraphone, percussion, vocals
- François Bréant / keyboards, organ, vocals, artwork
- Emmanuel Lacordaire / guitars, percussion
- Pascal Arroyo / bass, piano, organ, vocals
- Albert Marcoeur / alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
- Clement Bailly - drums, cabasa
- José Bartel / vocals, gong, producing
- Arthur Young / trumpet
- Ronnie James / trumpet

Nemo - 1973 - Nemo


01. Kick a Tin Can (3:18)
02. Obra del Arroyo (4:10)
03. Nemo, Jungle Jim (7:30)
04. Call Me Friend of Brain (4:15)
05. Straight Man (3:32)
06. With Duane Again (4:15)
07. Attilah (2:07)
08. Grandeur et misère du Pérou (7:45)

François Bréant / keyboards, vocal
Marc Perru / guitar, vocal
Pascal Arroyo / bass, piano
Clement Bailly / drums
Emmanuel Lacordaire / percussion, guitar
Ronnie James / trumpet
Albert Marcour / alto saxophone, clarinets, bass clarinet
Claude Samard / dobro
Arthur Young / trumpet
José Bartel / tumbas, gong

NEMO was a French collective formed in 1972. Their line-up included François Bréant, the keyboardist and lead vocalist, already acclaimed musician on French prog scene (often collaborating with various members of MAGMA); Marc Perru on guitars and vocal duties, Pascal Arroyo on bass and piano, Clement Bailly on drums, Emmanuel Lacordaire on percussion and guitar, Ronnie James on trumpet, Albert Marcoeur on saxophones and clarinets (another unique avant artist), Claude Samard on dobro, Arthur Young on trumpet and José Bartel on tumbas and gongs.

The band released two albums, ''Nemo'' and ''Doin' Nuthin''' in '73 and '74 respectively. Their music will be appealing to one who like 70's funk and jazz rock, but with edgy experimentation meandering from avant overtones to classical harmonies. They disbanded in 1975.

A charming but totally forgotten little album, the self-titled debut LP by 70's French band Nemo is a pleasing mix of prog, funk, rock and jazz fusion. Founded by Francois Breant and ex-members of Ergo Sum and Cruciferous, the music is a little disjointed due to covering a wide range of styles, and although vocals are featured throughout, the album has several instrumentals and longer stretches where the individual band members get to really show their talent. Brief moments remind a little of Santana, while the upfront bass playing has an impressive Zeuhl-like tone.

Side A's album opener `Kick A Tin Can' is a perky and funky pop rocker with snappy playing and an upbeat but strong vocal. Great chorus, and the somewhat bent guitar work throughout gives it a slightly twisted sound. It's the least demanding piece on the album, but damned if it isn't immensely catchy, and you try not to smile at the infectious `Woo!' vocals in the finale! First instrumental `Obra Del Arroyo' has some wonderful grumbling Zeuhl-like bass in parts, commanding drumming and ragged fuzz-organ solos. The two part `Little Nemo/Jungle Jim' is one of the album highlights. Initially a drifting, dreamy and floating slow-tempo evocative piece with warm vocals and restrained percussion, it flows into a more forceful groove with glistening electric piano and tense guitar solos. There's some slightly cheesy lyrics in the second half, but not enough to let the track down. Tense instrumental `Call Me Friend Of Brian' has a typical heavy Santana guitar/percussion fusion sound, some more driving Zeuhl bass and aggressive dirty Hammond organ attacks.

Side B's `Straight Man' is a sleazy stomping funk popper with catchy melodies, effective group vocals and fat upfront bass. Sadly the album kind of bottoms out here for a while. The stop/start arrangement of near-comical `With Duane Again' has dreadful `super villain' lame vocals and is musically plodding and repetitive. The two minute `Attilah' is not much better, an attempt at a more humorous Santana styled poppy piece. Both of these tracks have organ/electric piano player Francois Breant on lead vocals, and he has an awful Randy Newman-like nasal quality. At least on this album he's a far better musician than a singer. The album is redeemed by 7 minute instrumental `Grandeur...', a showcase for the talent of the whole band, with each member getting standout moments. Mysterious keyboards in the ambient intro, then heavy builds with electric piano and driving percussion, forceful bass and distorted hazy organ, attacking drumming and wailing guitar solos finish the album in a hugely dramatic manner, just a shame about the abrupt fade- out.

`Nemo' is currently not available on CD, so perhaps listen to some online samples to see if you want to commence on a search for a vinyl copy! It's not an album I would go out of my way to purposefully track down, but if you happen to come across it at a decent price, by all means snap it up and enjoy it. I'm sure many prog/funk fans will find it a rewarding and worthy addition to their progressive music collection. Apparently the follow up album `Doin' Nuthin'' has an even bigger focus on instrumental pieces, so I'm on the lookout for that one myself.

Cruciferius! - 1970 - A Nice Way Of Life

A Nice Way Of Life

01. Big bird (7:14)
02. What did you do? (5:14)
03. Let's try (3:29)
04. A nice way of life (2:35)
05. Gimme some lovin' (3:27)
06. It's got to be a rule (4:15)
07. Jungle child (4:42)
08. Annabel Lee (5:27)

Marc Perru: Guitar, Vocals
Bernard Paganotti: Bass, Vocals
François Bréant: Keyboards, Vocals
Patrick Jean: Drums

It is claimed that this band was Christian Vander's (Magma) first ever band and album. That may be true.

The drumming on this album is excellent though and has the hallmarks of Christian Vander. The music is much more rock'n'roll and space rock than we are used to from Christian Vander. I guess this is not an album he is too proud of. Well, he should be.

The music is blues rock'n'roll space rock. It has this very typical 1970's sound and music. Both hard rocking and some spacy. It though has some very strange rhythm, melody and vocal patterns. This "strange" thing is pretty easy to detect as zeuhl. Is this the first ever zeuhl album ?  Some blogs does rate this as a zeuhl album, but I disagree. Yes, there are some zeuhl here, but not enough to label this album as zeuhl.

The quality of the music is very good throughout. It has some good melodies and musicianship. It also has a lot of great details to keep the listener interested. And it is an album fans of Christian Vander should purchase. This album is indeed one of the hidden gems in the scene and it deserve a lot more attention.

Uniweria Zekt - 1971 - The Unnamables

Uniweria Zekt
The Unnamables

01. You speak and speak and colegram
02. Altcheringa
03. Clementine
04. Something’s cast a spell
05. Ourania
06. Africa anteria
07. Undia

- Christian Vander / drums, percussion, voice (6)
- Klaus Blasquiz / vocals (4 & 7), percussion
- Francois Cahen / pianos
- Francis Moze / bass, organ
- Teddy Lasry / saxes, flute, organ
- Jeff Seffer / saxes
- Tito Puentes / trumpet
- Claude Engel / electric & acoustic guitar
- Zabu / vocals (2)
- Lionel Ledissez / vocals (4)

This is a hidden MAGMA record under a different name. This is MAGMA with a guest vocalist and a guest trumpet player. It was Laurent Thibault's idea to do this, he produced MAGMA's debut record and now had his own record label called "Theieme". He reasoned with both Vander and MAGMA's record label "Philips" that if the band did a record of easier to get into material on the first side of the album, and then did their Zeuhl on the other side of the album it would attract new fans and make them better known. Besides Thibault really wanted MAGMA on his label, and in this way he had a piece of them, sort of. The first band Thibault signed to his new label was ERGO SUM who is on our site here. Thibault actually enlisted the vocalist from that band to sing one of the songs on this album.

The first side of the album consisted of five songs that combined both the Jazz and Rock styles similar to BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS and CHICAGO. Lots of horns and very accessible. "You Speak And Speak Colegram" is a Lasry tune that is uptempo with plenty of free sax lines and guitar solos. The drums are of course prominant and the organ chips in as well. "Altcheringa" is a Cahen tune that did bring BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS to mind mainly because of the David Clayton Thomas-like vocals from Zabu. This is a very catchy song. Nice guitar solo before 2 minutes as the bass throbs. "Clementine" is a Lasry composition. It consists of only acoustic guitar and flute throughout. This is such a beautiful song, a piece of heaven really. I can't believe this is MAGMA but it is.

"Something's Cast a Spell " is another Lasry tune although the lyrics were taken from an ERGO SUM song from their debut album. The lead singer from that band sings on this one as well. Sax really dominates although we get a great guitar solo from Engel after a pastoral section. "Ourania" is a Vander tune and the last song on side one. Flute and guitar start us off before some crazy sax and discordant guitar follow. I like the drum patterns from Vander on this one.

Side two is Zeuhl and both songs were composed by Vander. "Africa Anteria" features some good bass and the sax and piano form a great team. The sax gets a little dissonant and the bass is relentless as they seem to jam for about 5 minutes. We get those bizarre shouts from Vander and before that a drum solo that is apparently (according to the liner notes) the only recorded drum solo that VANDER did. "Undia" features Blasquiz singing in Kobaian. The song starts off quietly and builds to a full sound. Great drumming on this one and this pattern of starting softly and building in sound happens a second time.

Magma - 2015 - Šlaǧ Tanz

Šlaǧ Tanz

01. Imëhntösz - Alerte! (2:19)
02. Slag (3:03)
03. Dümb (2:57)
04. Vers la nuit (3:30)
05. Dümblaë - Le silence des mondes (2:58)
06. Zü Zaïn! (2:16)
07. Slag Tanz (2:29)
08. Wohldünt (1:23)

- Stella Vander / Vocals
- Isabelle Feuillebois / Vocals
- Hervé Aknin / Vocals
- Benoit Alziary / Vibraphone
- James Mac Gaw / Guitar
- Jérémie Ternoy / Piano, Fender Rhodes
- Philippe Bussonnet / Bass Guitar
- Christian Vander / Drums, Piano, Vocals on "Wohldünt"

Jazz Village's exciting new Magma series primarily focuses on classic recordings, reissued in celebration of the band's 45th anniversary. However, Slag Tanz — a masterpiece of symphonic metal — has previously only been heard in live performance. Not surprisingly, the album radiates with all of Magma's singular intensity. Powerful, hypnotic and unclassifiable, there has been absolutely nothing to compare to them in the last fifty years.

I thought after KA, they made their point and should rest. At least they'd go out with a bang, their best album since the 70s and since their masterpiece, MDK (Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh). I was wrong. I also need to go back and get Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré, which I had somehow skipped.

So basically, we're in 2015 and this is a new 20-minute opus from Magma titled Šlaǧ Tanz (pronounced Schlag Tanz, btw). It turns out, they're still as exotic and alien sounding, with odd time signatures, a very Carl Orff-ish vocal approach and most of the lyrics in Kobaïan, of course.

This is very good, honestly. It's definitely Magma and they still don't show any sign of getting boring or any less strange, haha. Everything works very well here, be it the intense "Dümb" and what I would call the main attraction here, "Dümblaë - Le Silence des Mondes". You even have a nicely ominous and creepy outro to round it up.

In all seriousness , Magma fans will be very happy and the only possible negative point to me is the shortness of this little album, at only just under 21 minutes. Still, there's a repeat button for that!

Magma - 2014 - Rïah Sahïltaahk

Rïah Sahïltaahk

01. Watsei kobaia (4:40)
02. Di mahnter sahiltaahk (3:00)
03. Suri si toido (3:31)
04. Un zoin glao (3:10)
05. Iss walomehn dom (2:25)
06. Bradia etnah (2:24)
07. Mom loile (3:45)
08. Wolei (1:29)

Stella Vander: vocals
Isabelle Feuillebois: vocals
Hervé Aknin: vocals
Benoît Alziary: vibraphone
James Mac Gawguitar
Jérémie Ternoy: piano
Philippe Bussonnet: bass
Christian Vander: drums, vocals, piano, composer, lyricist

Magma is no stranger to the phenomenon of older bands doing re-recordings of their earlier work. Whether it is an attempt to better the older versions, or an attempt to regain copyright over works that were signed away to some record label or another, Magma is there alongside Tangerine Dream, Banco, PFM, Camel and a host of others in the release of such recordings.

"Rïah Sahïltaahk" was originally released in 1971 as side one of 1001° Centigrades. Besides the obligatory CD release, the new version was released in 2014 by Harmonia Mundi as a beautiful 180 gram vinyl pressing, complete with Kobaïan lyric sheet and download card which entitles the buyer to a lossless file of this largely overlooked piece of Magma's rather unorthodox repertoire.

Like many other re-recordings of this ilk, "Rïah Sahïltaahk" initially seems to lack the urgency and energy of the original, but the new version does have its charms. In 1971 Magma employed a small but extremely potent brass section; that is missing on the 2014 version, which instead contains a more fully-implemented chorus featuring Stella Vander and Isabelle Feuillebois.

Of course, Christian Vander's drumming and overall vision still drive Magma, all these years later. Even if the mad passion of youth is gone from the old man, the fire of artistry is still apparently burning brightly. This version of "Rïah Sahïltaahk" is but a reminder of how special Magma is, and how lucky the band's fans have been to have them around for almost half a century.

Magma - 2014 - Zühn Wöhl Ünsaï

Zühn Wöhl Ünsaï - Live 1974

101. Sowiloï (soï soï) (12:24)
    Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh (35:12)
102. I. Hortz Fur Dëhn Stëckëhn West (8:46)
103. II. Ïmah Sürï Dondaï (4:42)
104. III. Kobaïa Iss Deh Hündïn (2:23)
105. IV. Da Zeuhl Wortz Mëkanïik (7:41)
106. V. Nëbëhr Gudahtt (7:40)
107. VI. Mëkanïk Kömmandöh (4:01)

201. Korusz II (20:09)
202. Theusz Hamtaahk (25:49)

- Christian Vander / drums, vocals
- Jannick Top / bass
- Michel Graillier / keyboards
- Gérard Bikialo / keyboards
- Claude Olmos / guitars
- Klaus Blasquiz / vocals, percussions

Releases information
Recorded at Radio Bremen Sendesaal on February 6th, 1974

Wherever they perform - whether at the legendary Burg Herzberg Festival or at the Leverkusener Jazztage in Germany at the end of the 90s, the Nancy Jazz Pulsations Festival in ’76 or the renowned Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival in New York - French cult ensemble MAGMA has always left their fans as well as the curious "uninitiated" stunned and in awe. Led by their drummer and “master of ceremonies” CHRISTIAN VANDER, the band has consistently poured their tonal magic potion, a substance brewed from 20th century classical music (Stravinsky, Orff, Bartok) and radical tendencies in 60s and 70s jazz and rock, over a spellbound audience for over 45 years.

Despite their more jazzy leanings, MAGMA has always been able to attract a more rock-oriented, young audience from the very beginning. This was due to VANDER’S fascination by the cathartic nature of rock music's optimistic spirit in the late 60s, similar to many of his famous jazz contemporaries including JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CHICK COREA, and MILES DAVIS. As a result, he decided to orchestrate his up-to-one-hour-long suites with all the ingredients electric rock music had developed by the turn of the century.

The music itself with its slowly building tensions and its crescendos leading to sudden outbursts of majestic grandeur, was as unique as unique could get. In spite of their various line-up changes, MAGMA has always presented itself as a homogenous entity, their most remarkable feature being the exceptional use of the human voice.

To accompany them on their tour-de-force through a classical-jazzy-rocky wonderland from 1977 onwards, the band continuously added the services of a three-to-four-part choir to the line-up- a choir lying somewhere between a gospel group and the SWINGLE SINGERS. With their jaw-dropping staccato sung in an artificial language founded by VANDER himself, the choir propelled the musicians ahead, particularly during his compositions and the saga about the imaginary planet KOBAIA.

During the first years of their existence it was only VANDER and the former blues singer KLAUS BLASQUIZ (plus the occasional aid from RENE GARBER) who were responsible for that almost ritual, doomy and menacing chanting, whispering and shouting, which indeed seemed to come from another planet, not easily fitting into the rock music scene dominated by Anglo-American artists at that time.

After the release of their debut album ,,KOBAIA“, which was only released in France, Spain, Germany and Canada, their record label Philips decided to half-heartedly approach the Anglophone record market with their second album. This time „1001 CEN-TIGRADES” was only made available in France and Germany, using new cover artwork and a new title (originally “2”) without the band’s approval.

In 1972 MAGMA signed a two-album deal with the American label A&M, serving as a stepping stone into the Anglo-American record market. Important for conquering this market was the local release of their records in the respective countries. But the only way in which sales could be pushed was through live performances, such as the one in the summer of 1973 at the Newport Festival in New York as well as legendary Reading Festival in the UK.

But there was more to come....

In December 1973 the line-up shown on the cover played just a few single concerts on the British Isle in preparation for a longer tour in January 1974. Due to a large-scale strike however, the tour was unfortunately cancelled.

In February 1974 after having performed a few concerts in their native country without RENE “STUNDEHR” GARBER, who had temporarily left on short notice, MAGMA went on the road for two weeks through Belgium. Supporting Belgian label mates ESPERANTO, the band then set off on a big tour through England. However, the kick-off to this tour led them for a start to Bremen, where they played their first show in Germany on February 6,1974 upon RADIO BREMEN’S invitation. This free concert was recorded and aired a few days later.

Together with the LONDON BBC SESSIONS, recorded a little over a month later, this professionally recorded performance is the only official sonic document available from this period‘s line-up, which had been established just one year before. After several personal changes during their early years, moving the band notably further away from their jazz roots into a more rocky terrain, two new piano players (GERARD BIKIALO and MICHEL GRAILLIER) entered the stage in January 1973.

After a long period without a guitar player, MARC FOSSET was engaged on the six strings but after a short stint was replaced by CLAUDE OLMOS. Staying for more than a year, OLMOS took part in the studio recording of VANDER’S Magnum Opus “МЁКАМК DЁSTRUKT^W KOMMANDOH”, the London BBC Sessions in Spring 1973, and the Radio Bremen session in 1974, before being replaced by British jazzrock veteran BRIAN GODDING for the recording of ,,KOHNTARKOSZ“ in April ’74.

But the most important new entry in January 1973, which turned out to become essential for the further musical development of the band, was that of bass player JAN-NICK TOP. He proved to be of vital importance for the realization and the recording of “МЁКАМК ОЁЗТВиКТМ/ KOMMANDOH.” He was the only one to share compositional duties with VANDER during the years that followed.

This official, professional and sonically improved Radio Bremen recording by this rather short-lived line-up contains a slightly shorter than usual version of МЁКАМК ОЁЗТВиКТЙЛ/ KOMMANDOH, and with the remaining tracks SOWILOI, Korusz II and THEUSZ HAMTAAHK represents an indispensable supplement to MAGMA's other live albums released on their own label, SEVENTH RECORDS.

Magma - 2013 - Mythes Et Legendes Epok V

Mythes Et Legendes Epok V

01. Attahk (Rétrovision) (20:27)
02. Rïah Sahïltaahk (23:19)
03. Dondaï (9:08)
04. Félicité Thösz (30:52)
05. Slag Tanz (17:15)
06. Maahnt (8:44)

- Stella Vander / vocals, percussions
- Isabelle Feuillebois / vocals, percussions
- Hervé Aknin / vocals, percussions
- Benoit Alziary / vibraphone
- Bruno Ruder / piano, Fender Rhodes
- James Mac Gaw / guitar
- Philippe Bussonnet / bass
- Christian Vander / drums, vocals

Recorded in 2005 at the Triton in Paris.

Magma - 2012 - Félicité Thösz

Félicité Thösz

01. Félicité Thösz — Ëkmah
02. Félicité Thösz — Ëlss
03. Félicité Thösz — Dzoï
04. Félicité Thösz — Nüms
05. Félicité Thösz — Tëha
06. Félicité Thösz — Waahrz
07. Félicité Thösz — Dühl
08. Félicité Thösz — Tsaï!
09. Félicité Thösz — Öhst
10. Félicité Thösz — Zahrr
11. Les Hommes Sont Venus

Christian Vander — drums, vocals, piano, keyboards; glockenspiel (2)
Stella Vander — vocals, tambourine
Isabelle Feuillebois — vocals, bells
Hervé Aknin — vocals
James Mac Gaw — guitar
Philippe Bussonnet — bass
Bruno Ruder — piano
Benoît Alziary — vibraphone
Sandrine Destefanis, Sylvie Fisichella, Marcus Linon — vocals (2)

New Magma! That is irresistible. Not since that other previous album beginning and ending in E have we been blessed with the madcap genius of Christian Vander and his merry band of Kobaian misfits. As all Magmanites who approach this album, I guess we would all be expecting more delirious insanity in the form of Ancient alien monk chants, high pitched screeches, operatic choral vocals, majestic cinematic musicianship, and non-sensical alien Kobaian languages. If that is what you are expecting, then you might assume this album would be enveloped with the same sound that Magma have generated since their debut and the infamous MDK, that has developed an elite cult following for decades. However 'Felicite Thosz' does have variations that may or may not appeal. Firstly, it is a very short album clocking only 32:24, but that is no problem as far as I am concerned as it is easy to take Magma in small bursts, in order to retain their power and not overstay their welcome. Still, it would have been nice to have some more Magma even if they were live or bonus tracks, to give more bang for the buck.

I guess it is unfriendly music at times so not something to revel in for hours, unless you are addicted to Zeuhl. This is a prog genre that is best served chilled on a plate after listening to normal music. Only by being familiar with the normal can we be entranced by the sub-normal. Nothing shocks when one is desensitised, and it is easy to become desensitised to the macabre or hyper strange. This music is on the fringe certainly, though I don't believe it is taken to the Nth degree, as it is framed in a specific style that never diverts from the genre it is cocooned within. There is something rather comforting in the fact that the music is housed within its own conventions, thus the power in the music is retained. Had the band moved into a mainstream style, with normal song structures, English lyrics, or even more conventional vocal performances, this in itself would be the most shocking diversion of all. It would alienate listeners and create its own form of chaos. The main drawcard to Magma is to spend some precious moments captured under their spell. It can be a dark journey, and indeed has been over the years, but on this latest album Magma opt to return to some of their more angelic compositions, albeit the atmosphere is still oppressive in places but overall there is an uplifting air of optimism in the atmosphere. Again, this may or may not appeal to Magma addicts. Only in a few places do they return to those darkened wails and sporadic musical shapes creating a powerful wall of sound.

I would suggest that Magma are a musical art form rather than a band. Not all modern art appeals to everyone, in fact it confronts and repels at times, and that stops it from becoming dull, causing us to question its existence. Likewise, if Magma appealed to everyone it would be boring. It is the fact that the music causes us to question and fascinates that it becomes so captivating. For it to be Magma, the constants must always be there, but there are nice variations to look forward to. For example, every album features different artists and there are always choirs, a plethora of musicians and singers that vary from album to album. The one constant is the frenetic drumming and cringe-worthy intonations of Christian Vander, also on keyboards. His wife, Stella, is a constant presence too, who smacks the casing off a tambourine, and it is always a treat to hear her high pitched warblings. The rest of the crew consist of Isabelle Feuillebois who dongs bells, Beno't Alziary, chiming on the vibraphone, James Mac gaw twanging guitar, Bruno Ruder plinking the piano, Philippe Bussonnet slapping the bass, and the other Kobaian vocals are courteousy of Isabelle, Herve, Sandrine, Sylvie, and Marcus. Most of these artists appeared on 2009's ''Emmehntehtt-Re', though again not all. The Magma logo is the final constant that must be there and it is pleasing to see that iconic broken claw like moniker glaring at us on the darkened cover, that boasts the Kobaian title in white hot lettering. The logo is a warning that this album is not designed for the normal music listener. All listeners of top 40 commercial radio hit singles may do well to steer clear, for Magma is an off- ramp detour from the mainstream highway.

The album opens with that captivating sound that immediately transfixes. The epic choirs chant in the estranged language, and the symphonic textures flood over the listener. The voices will jolt listeners out of their comfort zone unless they have heard Magma before. My first reaction to hearing my first Magma album, "Live", is what the heck am I listening to? Then it dawned on me that it was challenging me and it would take many more excursions into Magma before I was even close to appreciating it. Now it simply feels like returning to an old friend. Vander's drumming is off the scale and the choirs are as enchanting as always.

As the album progresses, each track segues into the next and it is difficult to make out where each ends and begins. The music on ''Ekmah' instantly manages somehow to seize the conscious with an arrogant air of glory. The emotional resonance of Stella's beautiful operatics are heard like angels descending on 'Teha'. Then a gorgeous piano dominates 'Waahrz', and it almost feels improvisational but there is a haunting beauty as the ivories are caressed. This is Magma at it's most stripped back and subdued, like a calm before the storm. The piano still manages to threaten a foreboding downpour, but retains trickles of tranquility.

'Tsai!' is classic Magma with raucous choirs chanting and odd angular rhythms on keys and drums. The way the male sections are echoed by female opera is the convention utilised on all Magma albums at some point, and this is what I came here for. Eventually the heaviness breaks to a solo section, Stella and Isabelle trade off and are answered by a deep male voice. The dialogue is a necessary component as we hear the aliens take on the spoils of war.

The war is fought and then won in ''Ohst', driven by Christian Vander's manic vocals. The way he moves from deep resonances to the high pitched falsetto is always impressive. The lyrics sound somewhat like English in places that at times lends a humorous quality to the soundscape; at one point it sounds like "Say song song song now listen now now now do a good deal, it's our deal". The jaunty piano motif is frenetic and builds to a full on choir section. This song takes a long time to leave the conscious; at least the melody jams into the brain, and now it feels like the old Magma sound.

It segues into 'Zahrr', a 49 second conclusion to the mammoth epic. Then the second track ends the album, 'Les hommes sont venus', which only runs to 4:18, and then it is over. Stella leads as Isabelle, Herve, Sandrine, Sylvie and Marcus chant a hypnotic rhythm. The music is left up to Christian who indulges in relentless tinkling glockenspiel, and some keyboards. This is a very odd song for Magma, minimalist without guitar or drums, but it feels as alienating and compelling as the other tracks. The lyrics are basically 'Tu Zahrr Zahrr, Tu Zahrr Zahrr, Tu Zahrr Zahrr.' The flute keys are haunting and it really shows the diversity of the band in terms of the sounds they can generate.

The sudden cut off of the sound is quite unnerving, as it all seemed to fly by so quickly. The positive side of this is that it is easy to sit down and take it all in on one sitting. The negative side is that it feels like only half an album, as though there was supposed to be more. It is nowhere as dark as previous Magma and this is perhaps a delightful surprise as it is a different side to Magma, capturing more beauty than usual. Although I don't think that the album loses any of its power, it still did not have the soundscape that is cognizant of previous explorations. In place of an experimental approach the band seem focussed on stirring the emotions to feel empathy or security in some form of musical comfort.

Familiarity can breed contempt, but I was hoping for the familiar darkened interstellar intense experience of "Emehntehtt Re", "Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh", "1001 Centigrades" or "KA". At times "Felicite Thosz" measures up to the hyper music on those albums but it is not consistent in its execution. It feels safer without manic screeching and really off kilter rhythms and structures that tantalise and jar the senses. As "Kohntarkosz" begins now, it feels like a new beast rampaging through the speakers. In contrast, the music on this newer album is rather relaxing, mesmirisingly dreamy, and very rarely launches into shockwaves of irregularity. It is a new approach but now my ears have to be readjusted if Magma are going to take this tact in their music. This proves you cannot put Magma in a box (unless you count that incredible box set "Studio Zund") but it is still wondrous music

Magma - 2009 - Live In Tokyo

Live In Tokyo

Magma - Tokyo 2005 Live at O-East

101. Applause Debut (0:37)
102. K.A. I (10:38)
103. K.A. II (15:27)
104. K.A. III (22:38)
105. Applause Fin (1:37)

Les Voix de Magma - Tokyo 2005 Live at Club Quattro

201. Applause Debut (0:55)
202. Theusz Hamtaahk (13:40)
203. ?urdah Ïtah (16:53)
204. Mëkanïk Dëstruktï? Kömmandöh (19:44)
205. Applause Fin (2:19)

- Christian Vander / drums, vocals, percussion
- Stella Vander / vocals, percussion
- James Mac Gaw / guitar
- Emmanuel Borghi / piano, Fender Rhodes
- Frédéric d'Oelsnitz / Fender Rhodes
- Philippe Bussonnet / bass
- Isabelle Feuillebois / vocals
- Himiko Paganotti / vocals
- Antoine Paganotti / vocals

This 2 CD set is from performances done by Magma in Japan in 2005. The first disc is a very good performance of K.a. - it is fairly true to the original recording, but as is usually the case with Magma there is a high energy level and the band's performance is tight, technically proficient, and spirited. In particular, the keyboard work of Borghi on the third movement brought a new appreciation for that track such that I may prefer this live performance of it over that of the studio version. Bussonnet, MacGaw, and obviously Vander himself also deliver outstanding performances.

The second disc is certainly a bit of a curiosity. Entitled "Les Voix de Magma" (The Voices of Magma), it is a highly "stripped" version of the Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogie, performed only with vocals, piano, and tambourine. As shown in the track listing above, these performances are of compressed versions of each of the three movements, mostly out of necessity of omitting long instrumental sections, but sometimes not: unfortunately, a good deal of the beginning of Mekanik (including Ima Sura Dondai) is not performed. The result is mixed - it's something that captures the spirit of Magma, the passion of this Kobaian epic, but things that are essential to Magma are absent: Vander's relentless, forward driving drums; the characteristic zeuhl fuzz bass, and the keyboards that so often bring a majestic, triumphant atmosphere to the pieces. There are very wonderful moments to be found on this disc, but by the time you have come to Mekanik it does start to feel a bit monotonous, due to the sort of one-dimensional sonic nature such as stripped-down approach brings.

For many people this album will be an import, with a correspondingly high price tag. Therefore, I can recommend this only to those who are entrenched fans of this band and/or completionists. Certainly I would absolutely advise against this being any sort of introduction to the Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogie; instead seek out the incomparable Retrospektiw I-II or the Trianon shows to get the full effect of these masterworks. For those that do obtain this and are serious fans of the band, I believe it won't disappoint despite its flaws; and if you think highly of K.a. you will without doubt enjoy the band's performance of it.