Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A New Series - How Did You Discover Magma?

Usually after I return to the United States after seeing Magma somewhere in France, people ask me "How did you ever hear about Magma?" I have been asked this question so many times that I decided to write up my own experience and put it on this blog. I would like to expand this, and publish a series on how all of you discovered Magma and came to love Zeuhl Music. You can send me your experiences in English or in French (I will try to translate into English). There are so many passionate Magma fans all over the world .... I think that we all would love to know how other people came to discover the beauty of Zeuhl music. So, please send your experiences to me by email at "magmasystems at gmail dot com".

This is how I, Marc Adler from New York/New Jersey, discovered Magma.....

When I was an early teenager, I absolutely loved professional wrestling. I loved the old WWWF and NWA, I traded wrestling magazines and newsletters with people all over the world, and I went to wrestling shows all over New York. I also liked progressive music a little bit ... I loved Thick as a Brick, and I had albums by Yes and King Crimson.

One day, my friend William and I rode our bicycles about 20 miles to the town of Plainview, Long Island, where I met another wrestling fan, another teenager named Stuart Saks. Stuart's father was an executive with Atlantic Records. So, when I visited Stuart, he played me the Close To The Edge album by Yes, and appropriately, I freaked out about this album. (By the way, as an adult, Stuart went on to be the publisher of several wrestling and boxing magazines.)

A few months later, in February of 1974, my mother called my high school (I was 15 years old) one afternoon and told a teacher to find me and tell me to call home. It seems that Stuart had an extra ticket to a Yes concert at Madison Square Garden, and wanted to know if I would go with him. Of course I said "Yes? Yes!". This was the first night of a multi-night concert at MSG where they were going to debut Tales from Topographic Oceans to the New York audiences.

Since Stuart's dad worked for Atlantic Records, we had great seats. They were about the fifth row, dead center to the stage. On every seat, there was a promotional copy of the British music magazine, Melody Maker. We arrived about a half hour before the concert, so after smoking a great joint, a began to scan through Melody Maker. It was then that I saw the famous review by Steve Lake of Magma's gig at the Marquee in London in December 1973. This review has been reprinted many times, and you can find it here on this blog. By the time that I finished reading the review, I knew that I had to find a copy of a Magma album.

A few weeks later, I was helping my uncle by working at his "T-shirt booth" in the gigantic flea market in Englishtown, New Jersey. The flea market had a great used record booth. During my lunch break, I went over to the used record stand and I found a copy of Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh.

During the car ride home, my hands were trembling while I held a copy of this precious album. This album contained a sheet of the lyrics to MDK, written in that strange Kobaian script. I knew that, when I got home and played the album, it was not going to be an ordinary experience.

As predicted, when I played the album, I was absolutely blown away. It was not fair to unleash the power of this album on a 15 year old boy. I was converted! I enlisted in the army of Kreuhn Köhrmahn, where I still happily serve.

1 comment:

  1. An another French man, with a very bad english.... so sorry !

    I started listening "serious music" at 14 yo, with Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Allan Holdsworth, Mahavishnu orchestra, U.K....
    and became an huge fan of Frank Zappa the year after.

    At 17, it was in may 1989, i was invited to a party with people older than me.
    Everybody was sitting in the living room, listening mosly progressive music, drinking wine, discussing about music... we were about 20.

    Suddendly, i heard something i never heard before. It was Magma, playing M.D.K (album version). Burps, "what is it" i said, "it looks like cheap carmina burana mixed with some kind of stravinsky".
    I tried to stay concentrated about the music, but i failed. No complex rhythms, no virtuoso electric guitar, no percussion... and the piece was so long.... more than 40 minutes !

    I said, "whaouh, it's original, but it's not for me. Too much lyrism. I need 11/8 bars, short pieces, modal tones, polyrhythmics measures".

    At 19, i friend of mine came at home and gave me some Cds which were mainly progressive music. And there was two magma Cds: Attahk and retrospectiw 1-2.

    I started to listen carefully and it was the revelation !

    In two months, i bought all the Magma Cd's, and finally spent some time to listen Kohntarkosz , MDK, Wurdah itah... which seems to be not easy-listening music for a first step in the kobaian universe.

    We were in 1990 and magma wasn't touring in these days (i didn't even know offering).

    So i hoped one day Magma would play live again, but when and where ? ... I had to see Magma Live !

    The 15th of june 1991, Christian Vander came to play in Marseille with the trio. I went to the concert, but i was disapointed, it was "Jazz". Fortunately, Christian did a wonderful 40 minutes drums solo. I talk a bit to Chritian after the concert and asked "Magma will play live again soon" ?
    "Magma is not dead" he said to me.

    In february 1992, Christian Vander came again with the trio, and i could spent an hour with him after the gig, drinking beers and speaking drums technique in a jazz club in Aix en provence. "Magma is not dead" he said again.
    He came to play in the same place in march 1994.

    But i still wanted to see Magma live and couldn't wait for it !

    Then a friend called me in june 1998 to inform that Magma play a short concert in a festival in Carmaux (5 hours driving from Marseille).
    The 25th july 1998, i attended to my very firt show of MAGMA !

    Since, i've seen Magma about 20 times, mostly in Paris and south Of France. I'm still a big fan of Frank Zappa, RIO and progressive music, but i know that magma gives me emotions i don't find with the other bands i use to listen.

    In every concert, it's a wonderful trip, with strong feelings.
    Now, i say to myself that we have to experience Magma Live every time when possible, because Christian will not be able to play drums until 90 years old. So CARPE DIEM !

    Congratulations for your blog !