Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Presents from Memo

Memo has promised us some amazing rarities on his new blog.... including one thing that will knock our collective socks off.

The night of December 24th should be a good one for all of us. Satan ... oops .... Santa will deliver some goodies to those of us who have been good boys and girls.

Merci d'advance to St. Memo of Nantes.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Magma in The New Yorker

The New Yorker is the very last place that I would expect to find a mention of Magma and Vander (being the polar opposite of a magazine like R&A), but nevertheless, here it is!

Quijada’s entry into artificial languages was inspired by the utopian politics of Esperanto as well as by the import bin at his local record store, where as a teen-ager, in the nineteen-seventies, he discovered a concept album by the French prog-rock band Magma. All the songs were sung in Kobaïan, a melodic alien language made up by the group’s eccentric lead singer, Christian Vander.

Read more:

(Thanks to our friend Kevin for the link)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Look at what Gerard H Found

See what you can find when you look in your shoeboxes!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lasry and Klaus and Tarzoon

Thanks to Denis for this link. I never heard this before. It's a track from a French movie called Tarzoon - Shame of the Jungle.

Teddy Lasry composed the song, and Klaus does the singing in a Kobaian-ish language. Which Magma track does this song remind you of?!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Cover Version of Mekanik Machine

Thanks to Wurd and Memo for this link of the band Middle Access doing a cover version of Mekanik Machine. You don't find too many cover versions of this tune around.

(A small hint to Magma for your upcoming Le Triton gigs ... people want to hear this song again!)

Friday, November 2, 2012

God Speaks and Blesses Us

We have worshiped at the altar of Pere Jannick, and he has blessed us with these words.


Photos of the Metalik Orkestra Koncerht

Some nice photos of the recent concert by Magma and the Metalik Orkestra from Tourcoing. (Thanks to Wurd for the link)

We are still hoping for a recording to show up on DIME one day.

Magma @ Théâtre Raymond Devos, Tourcoing | 24.10.12 | Flickr : partage de photos !

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wish Me Luck !

Thanks to Denis for this graphic.

The Kohntarkosz Blog is right in the path of the Frankenstorm.

We need Kreuhn Kohrmahn to keep us safe.  Maybe I can catch the next rocket ship to Kobaia before the storm gets here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What a Concert - May 30, 1975

Our good friend, Andy Bole, contributed this photo of a ticket to a concert from May 30, 1975.

Magma, Gong, Hawkwind and Henry Cow on the same bill !!! Incredible.

This concert is not listed in the Ork Alarm tour guide. Does anyone have more information about this? Memo?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Photos from the Rehearsals of Metalik Orkestra

Some nice photos from the rehearsals leading up to the concert of Magma and the Metalik Orkestra in

More info about the concert here:

The TOURQUENNOISE CULTURAL ASSOCIATION (2-136937) presents: this concert. MAGMA invites the Jazz Department of the Conservatory of Tourcoing Municipal Theatre Raymond Devos at Tourcoing legendary group founded in 1969 and still led by drummer / composer / singer Christian Vander, Magma will a concert in collaboration with the jazz department of the Conservatoire de Tourcoing.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Memo has a Blog !

The Memorizator, Mr. JC Alluin, has tossed his hat into the ring, and now has a blog on Zeuhlish music.

Good luck, Memo. I want to see you dig up some new information on the classic Magma period (1972-74). Maybe you will share some PDFs of Klaus's diary ? :-)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Jannick Top and The Peppers

Below is a note that I received this morning from a reader of this blog. The transition that Jannick made from Magma in 1974 to The Peppers in 1975 is mind-numbing.

Hello Marc,

I love your Magma blog.  It's a great resource for someone like me who loves Magma and Zeuhl but isn't totally plugged into the prog rock scene.

Anyway, I'm friends with a producer named Neil Kernon (who won some Grammys in the 80s, and worked as maybe a second engineer on some Magma stuff in the 70s, but nowadays mostly produces death metal) and he passed this video on to me:

With the note:

"Here's an old track that I mixed in the mid '70s. It was actually quite a big hit in Europe but I haven't been able to find it until now. I also mixed their previous single.

By far the best part about this one was the bass playing. I told the producer that I thought the bass player was awesome and that he sounded just like Jannick Top, and he freaked out and told me that it WAS Jannick playing on it. :-)"

It's definitely not Zeuhl, but as a historical curiosity it's fun to know about. I thought you might appreciate it.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Chad

Chad has the best girlfriend in the world. Look what Liz baked him for his birthday (the top of the cake is topped with a candy called Nerds).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Students Playing MDK (Dijon, May 2008)

Thanks to Robert Issehn (and, indirectly, thanks to Philippe Gonin as well) for this video of a student orchestra and chorus playing MDK. It's from Dijon in May 2008, and this performance was done by the students of Gonin. (If you recall, Gonin is the author of a somewhat controversial book on Magma.)

Despite all of the interesting comments about this performance on various Facebook groups, you have to admire these young students for putting in their best efforts to play a Magma classic. They have the Zeuhl spirit and the talent, and they put on a very enjoyable performance.

Watch it and let us know what you think. As always, comments in French and English are welcome. And remember to play nice in my sandbox.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

CV - May 1996

Thanks to Mr. Akoustikus for the photo. This shot was taken by Swiss photographer Dany Guignoux, and published in Vibrations, issue 12, May 1996

The top photo is for the Magma fans. The bottom one is for the drummer.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I just received the new CD, Quetzalcoatl, from the Los Angeles-based band, Corima, and I spent an hour listening to it. Very enjoyable. Recommended for fans of  Koenji Hyakkei and other Yoshida-based projects. Very fast, complicated and aggressive music in the Zeuhl spirit.

The CD is released by the Soleil Zeuhl label. Alain Lebon is becoming to Zeuhl Music what Colonel Sander was to Fried Chicken. Assisted most of the time by Udi Koomran on the sound.

Udi has a few Corima samples up on his Soundcloud page, so go there any enjoy some good music.

Setna Facebook Group

Nicolas Cande (the drummer for Setna) and I are creating a Facebook group for Setna. Right now, the group is at the infant stages, as I wait for Nicolas to deliver some content. But, you are welcome to join the group, if you would like.

The group is a closed group right now, meaning that I need to click the little checkbox that approves your membership.

If you have any Setna archives, photos, memorabilia, bobbleheads, etc, please feel free to share them with the group.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Neom - Boul'Rock Festival, Wimereux - Sept 7, 2012

Thanks to our friend, Nicolas Cande, the drummer for Setna, we have some great photos of the concert that Neom played in Wimereux last Friday night.

In other news, Setna has a new lead singer .... Yannick from Neom !!! Setna is currently working on a new album that will released on Soleil Zeuhl early next year. Sound by Udi, of course.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Another photo from the 1976 Gibus Jam Session

Thanks to Mr. Akoustikus, here is another photo from that jam session at The Gibus club in Paris in 1976. According to Akoustikus, the participants are:

Petit Pois, Vivi (from french metal band Trust), Christian Vander and (the back of) Thierry Van Holland

An Interview with Frank Fromy

Frank, who most of you know from the band Shub Niggurath, is with a new band called Unit Wail. An upcoming album is going to be released on Soleil Zeuhl Records soon. Here is an interview, conducted by Seiichi Miyasaka, with Frank from Euro Rock Press No. 54, translated into English. (Thanks to Udi Koomran for providing the information)

1. Your name seems to be both French and English. Please briefly introduce yourself. When did you start to play instruments, especially guitar? Who were your early influences ? Did you have any formal musical education ?

As a child, I lived a few years in London, but I am simply French and I lived in Paris most of the time. I had my first guitar (acoustic) at 15 years old and I played with my fellows the music of that time; the WHO, the DOORS, LED ZEPPLIN, etc.... I have no formal music studies. I am totally self-taught.

2. Was SHUB NIGGURATH your first professional band ? Please explain your musical career before it.

SHUB-NIGGURATH was not my first band. There was "Ellipse" with a drummer, a bass, a female singer, keyboards and a guitar with compositions influenced by "GENTLE GIANT " " YES" and "GENESIS". There was then, "APSARA" with a drummer, two basses, two feminine singers and a guitar, there the influences were clearly "MAGMA" and "KING CRIMSON".

3. Please briefly explain how SHUB NIGGURATH was formed. The formation was very unique at that time, featuring a female singer and the trombone. Was it a natural progress in the process of forming the band? Or did you intend to make something unique from the start ?

Then came the idea of SHUB, with the meeting of the band " GORGONUS ", held by Jean-Luc Hervé. The partial fusion with "GORGONUS" and "APSARA" made SHUB-NIGGURATH. Ann and I joined Jean-Luc, Véronique and Alain. A drummer was missing. But for the first time, I found finally a band with serious ambitions. SHUB wanted to be a dramatico-romantic progressive rock band. From there everything went without saying, Véronique who before played the soprano sax changed for bass trombone, Jean-Luc added the organ and the harmonium to his piano, Alain used some effects (one of which is Fuzz) on his new bass, Ann took lessons of opera singing and had to sing in Greek or in Latin for SHUB.

4. SHUB NIGGURATH as well as Yog-Sothoth are from the Chthluhu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. Whose idea was it ? Do you think the sound of SHUB-NIGGURATH reflects the Mythos well ?

We did not want to make musical illustration. The myth of CHTHULHU of H-P LOVECRAFT was only a part of our inspirations. But the name of SHUB-NIGGURATH kept us in the right way. Do not betray The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young !

5. How did you develop the unique sound of SHUB-NIGGURATH ? The "Introduction" album reveals your starting points. Who were the major influences? Were you aware of Zeuhl (Magma) sound back then?

I think that it is the orchestral or / and symphonic aspect of our compositions and the choice of our instruments that made the sound of SHUB. From the beginning the purpose was to release us from our musical influences. Our inspiration came from movies and books with mythological, fantastic, dramatic, romantic character; even philosophic and surrealist. With the coming of Frank and his drum kit, we joined the Music Zeuhl and we were completely aware of it having gone to the great majority of the concerts of MAGMA.

6.How did you get the deal from Musea ? Did you send the demo ? Or did they find you?

Eager for works proposed by MUSEA, we quite naturally sent them our demos. These active and passionate members stuck at once, and from there began a long collaboration, close to the friendship, thanks to them.

7.. Please tell us about "Les Morts Vont Vite." I personally believe it was one of the greatest chamber rock album in the '80's and have listened to it more than 100 times. How did you write music for the album? How was the recording session ? Did it take long ? One of the attractiveness of the band is Ann Stewart's voice. Is she English? How did she join? How did you work with the other key member Jean-Luc Hervé ?

I am today still rather proud of the album, which remains a good realization... All the notes have been taken into account in the composition of the music, even for some solos. The work was made before the recording, repetitions after repetitions. The same rigor was brought to every song, composed by Jean-Luc or by me. We recorded in a magnificent studio in Paris region "Milk Shake Records". The recording set three days (on one 16 tracks). We played there live several times in a row the same composition and kept the best for the album. Ann is French with Scottish origin, she always sang with my guitar or in the 3 bands, until my departure of SHUB. Jean-Luc is an inspired and rigorous composer, in other words it was easy and difficult to work together. We made the effort of a real sharing, congrats to him.

8.After releasing "Les Morts Vont Vite" that was successful, you left the band. Why ? After that you released your first solo album, Quatre Axes Mutants. Please explain about this album. Is there any plan to re-release the album in the CD format ?

I left Ann, who was for 12 years my partner and the mother of my first son. The drama settled within the group… I preferred to leave... In the opera, there are practically all the musical expressions which are dear to me; even the blues. And as I did not have a band anymore, I wrote everything on partition and I went looking for an interpreter. Occasionally, I thank them all from the bottom of the heart for having rehearsed and played voluntarily for me; big respect... So that the album is republished in CD, I have to work on it a little, I will hold you informed.

9. In '00, you teamed up with ex-SHUB-NIGGURATH drummer, Ed Perraud and electronics player, Vincent Sicot-Vantalon, and released "Crypto Sensus" as TRIPLE ZERO. What kind of activities were you engaged in during between these two albums The musical approach was quite different with TRIPLE ZERO. What was the target of the album? What kind of musical activities did you do after the release and before UNIT WAIL ?

With the experience of SHUB I wanted to propose ideas which would facilitate the live sound recordings to free the performer of certain technical problems. I thus created a range of microphones and sensors systems specially studied for every instrument, under the brand " FWF systems " and since then, it is my job. With Vincent we crossed France and a part of Europe to make them known. A lot of music on the road... And on the way back we rehearse 6 months with Edouard P, one or 2 times a week. Then we recorded a first session in a squat (arranged in studio); and the second session in a very strange uninhabited house, with what is at hand. Later I left a little the guitar for the camera. We laid a movie (L'ombre du réel / The shadow of reality) with Manu, Vincent and a whole troop, but it remained very confidential. You will doubtless see some extracts in a video of Unit Wail soon.

10. Now you're back with UNIT WAIL. Please explain the history of the band. When did you form the group? Please introduce other members to us. All the music was actually written by Vincent. Does it mean this unit is to express his music ? Is the band permanent or rather like a project?

It is especially Vincent who insisted so that I take back the guitar. Due to speaking about it we have eventually establishes the concept of the album (it was in 2010). It became very fast stimulant and we recorded some models with Adrian Luna on bass guitar, Emmanuel Pothier on synth and Sebastian Arce as drummer, but this one had to leave to Chile. This is when Philippe Haxaire (drum) arrived, and the hard core of the group was stood out by himself. The rhythmic of Unit Wail is solid, Adrian and Philippe are the youngest but their studies in the C.I.M. and now in the C.R.R. make of them hardened musicians. Manu and Vincent are independent composers; I crossed their road approximately 20 years ago, we are on the same wavelength and the ideas multiply when we are together.

11. Please explain the process of writing / recording. Was it like Vincent brought in an idea and other members developed it together? Or Vincent prepared a complete arrangement and you played it? How about other members contribution to arrangements.

A rhythmic and harmonic skeleton is proposed by Vincent, but we are free to interpret our part as we like. Things are done simply, the compositions come to life, the overall vision of the compositions is in Vincent's hands and we count on it.

12. How long did it take to record the album? There are one guest bassist and one guest drummer. Why did you use them?

We really took our time, around two years and a half passed between Magnétostriction (our first recording) and Home of nowhere (the last one). Udi Koomran (who kept an eye on our work) recommended us James Hugget (from "Combat astronomy") for is very dark sound for Ombos, we made a very concluding essay with him and we all agreed on the fact that inviting some guests to emphasize a style or a mood was a real bonus. Also, we will continue on that direction.

13. What does the album title mean? Artwork seems to be inspired by Lovecraft or some other horror writers. Or is it just a coincidence?

Basically the concept is more Science Fiction. It's the story of a new super-continent and of its citizens ; After of millions of years of evolution, the megalopolis / continent is transformed into a massive spaceship, it explodes of madness and goes to ... Kobaia? Martin evoked the moment very well and knew how to do this by adding his personal touch. The inside meanwhile illustrates a sort of compacted madness (myths, findings, beliefs ...) of that civilization.

14. Please tell us about your schedule such as follow-up tour for the new album, festivals, sessions, etc. as a band and as individuals.

We would like to finish a second album (it should be done faster than Pangaea Proxima) and if everything goes well, we expect to be doing some concerts on 2013.

15. Last but not the least, please give your devoted fans in Japan a message.

I am very honored by your interest and reassured by your presence.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Magma is playing at Jazz a la Villette, Aug 30, 2012

For more information, go here:

As always, we welcome any photos and reviews of the concert here.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Magma - Salle Poirel, Nancy - 1971

Thanks to our good friend, Francis Grosse, we have some photos of a Magma gig from 1971 in Nancy. The photos were originally taken by his brother, Michel. While the photos are not great quality, the historical significance is. 

The Ork Alarm website does not have a listing for any concert in 1971 at Salle Poirel. But there is a concert listed at that location on February 10, 1972. 

Help, Memo ???

Friday, August 17, 2012

I'll Have a Kobayaki Roll, Please

Our friend Kaiser stumbled upon this Japanese restaurant in the 9th Arr in Paris. I love the wallpaper!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jam Session at the Gibus, 1976

This photo is being passed around the various Magma-related groups on Facebook. Does anyone have more information about the participants?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Late Breaking News - Live Zappanale Stream Tonight

Breaking news from our European man-on-the-ground, Uncle Meat

There is a live webcast of Zappanale, where Magma is playing tonight (Aug 3rd, 23h CET, which is 5:00 PM EDT)

More information can be found here:
Hope someone can record the stream, in case Magma is part of that broadcast.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Complete R&A Interview is on the Blog

Thanks very much to Corentin for the complete translation.

At first glance, there are some very surprising opinions by CV in this interview, opinions which are new to me. I will read it over a few more times, and perhaps I will give some of my own opinions on this blog.

One thing that has NOT surprised me is the amount of viciousness I have received from the ardent supporters of Magma and Christian Vander. Nevertheless, this blog shall continue. It is the only blog that is left that covers Magma and related music. If there is interesting news about Magma, it will appear here. I am thankful to the French fans who sent me the notice about the interview in R&A. Without them, the interview might have remained virtually unknown. Not even Stella Vander knew about this.

I am grateful for the people who contributed thoughtful and considered opinion in reaction to this interview, both supporting and opposing the interview and some of its content. As several people have pointed out, it's not so much what Vander said ... it's where he said it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

English Translation of Vander Interview in Reflechir & Agir

Thanks to a talented bassist, whose playing we have featured here before, we have the translation of the Christian Vander interview that was done in Reflechir & Agir No. 41.

Christian Vander

A Journey into Zheul

Magma’s shaman sorcerer Christian Vander welcomed R&A [name of the magazine] inside his home in Haut Marnes [somewhere in france] . Time to have a look back on a career like no other and on an authentic European and euro-pagan music.

Caption : “When I was a kid, I was an Indian, dancing and swinging my tomahawk while listening to Bach !”

Q : Did you hesitate answering such a controversial magazine as ours ?

A : Not a second, because you actually make the effort of interesting yourselves in Magma’s music, and you have a genuine curiosity which a lot of media lost. I think that’s a very good thing.

Q : How did you get started into music ?

A : I’ve been bathed in jazz by my mother Irene, who was a music lover as well as a accomplished be-bop dancer. You should know that at the time, people still danced on jazz. I owe my stepfather as well (famous piano player Maurice Vander, who played with Claude Nougaro). At a very young age, I was 3 or 4 y.o. I went to clubs and saw the greatest drummers : Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Kelly Clarke.

We also listened to a lot of classical music at home. I discovered the “concertos brandebourgeois” when I was 4. I used to dance along and call it “savage music” (laughs). When I was a kid, I was an Indian, dancing and swinging my tomahawk while listening to Bach ! I knew from a very young age I wanted to be a musician, I felt it. Then I was lucky enough to meet John Coltrane’s future drummer Elvin Jones thanks to my mum’s best friend, Belgian sax and flute player Bobby Gaspard, who told us “one day this guy is going to be famous” . Elvin’s style was widely disliked and underrated. Then six months later he joined John Coltrane’s quartet. He’s one of the greatest drummers ever. Elvin always asked for news of me. They are very loyal and beautiful people. Coltrane was lucky enough to meet three “geniuses” . Although I don’t really like the word, let’s say these people were more than gifted, they were magical : Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrisson, McCoy Tyner, these guys revolutionized jazz. Each could free themselves thanks to John and vice-versa.
(page 2)
Q : How did Magma begin ?

A : So as I said I had the chance to meet such talented people, that when I started Magma I had a conception of rhythm which “rock” drummers had not, I was ahead of most musicians, and not only the French ones. When Magma came about in 1969 it was completely modern, hard to compare with anything at the time. Magma was a shock. People were shocked. I remember our first concert in England, at the Marquee’s in 1973 with Jannick. People hated us because we were French and as it was often the case we were mistaken (and rightly so as French bands were stammering) for plagiarists. We got a stream of abuse up until we got on stage, “frogs” etc, and we began playing with Klaus shouting “Hamataï !” … Köhntarkösz… and from the beginning to the end there was silence. The attitude changed and they liked it immediately. We got them with fear. Just like in Cocteau’s L’Eternel Retour : “they came to fear the Morholt.” (laughs) . People came to see us afterwards, they said “you guys are demons !” They were terrorized and they loved it. That was exactly our idea.

Caption : “If Coltrane’s music was just music, I would have stopped listening to it a long time ago.”

Q : What happened after the culminating worldwide fame around 1976 ? What about all these changes in the line up ?

A : I had been on the road since 1969, it had been 7 years, we were exhausted, playing 25 concerts per month, for free or 30 francs [That would be what, 5 bucks ?] (our beloved producer, Giorgio Golmesky had been accused a fraud and fired by the Stones) , travelling –why not - from Nice to Calais in an uncomfortable puny truck, and considering there were no highways at the time… you get the idea.

And then in 1976 we had a huge european tour all planned out, three big trucks, the entire Europe, Germany, Scandinavia… I was just skin and bones. And most of all I was disillusioned, all I saw before us was ghosts. I believed… I loved a music, and that to me was something definitive… Faithfulness… The response was dull, empty, the applause was flawed. What’s more the band was falling down, and the lower it fell the more success we met, each and every time, as if it was a certainty, as if Magma on stage was a fully established thing. I couldn’t stand the fact that people didn’t realize… Patrick Gauthier joined the band to play keyboards and he wasn’t ready, it was a little unbalanced, something unusual for Magma. I tried compensating by intensifying the energy and the tempi, faster and faster so as to avoid accepting things that were too tense and too slow, and get the thing to move on. It was thunder, but thunder that time… It seems the gods weren’t on our side… and so I ditched the tour. It was going to be our reckoning day. Everybody was crying, “you can’t do that.” Nobody understood obviously. And we had to pay the price, for a very very long time. I needed to recharge.

Photo caption : Magma on stage in the 70s .
(page 3)
Caption : “In fact, we trained a lot of artists who now serve the music we hate !”

Q : Tell us about Kobaïan…

A : It’s not (dis-)Esperanto. Kobaïan wasn’t created in an intellectual process, it is a language which imposed itself naturally onto the music and sounds. The music makes the demands. Sometimes the piano dictated series of vocal movements that I would not have found otherwise. You have to gather all ideas at the same time and speak them.

Q : Were you often bothered with rumors of Magma being a nazi band ?

A: Wow, very quickly actually. Many rumors… There are a lot of festivals in which we never play. We’ve been banned from Strasbourg for 10 years… I remember a concert in Bordeaux, before 7000 people. That asshole Jérome Savary had come with a whole protesting crowd shouting “Fascists !” and… giving us the finger [I think that’s what he means, not 100% sure though] ! They were throwing bottles of wine on the stage. I didn’t move and continued playing thinking that wouldn’t reach me. Our roadie Loulou threw away people that were trying to get on stage. There were dudes flying over my drumset ! (laughs) It was very violent. What was funny though was that inbetween two songs, I went to speak with a guy holding his arm up before me on the front row. And I said “What’s up with you, what do you want ?” and the guy answered “No, nothing, I’m on your side !” (laughs)

Q : Where does the aesthetic aspect of the group come from ?

A : I’ve always liked black, even as a child. It teaches silence and concentration.

Q : How do you record your discs ?

A : We almost always recorded in live conditions, as much as we could, all together in one take.

Q : How do you compose ?

A : I wanted something else, I composed what I missed, all musics were there we might say, and what I didn’t hear, I tried to compose. I don’t compose music for the people, I compose for myself before all. I don’t cheat with that. If I don’t want to hear it, then who will ? … That is also why I accept criticism. That is my way of proposing things, without making concessions. There are no concessions in this music and never have I been imposed anything. Music arrives when it is due to arrive, I don’t actually seek the music, I’m more of a receiver.

Q : What do you think of today’s music ?

A : What surprises me, or actually what in the end surprises me not, is hearing many repetitions of things that have already be done, and done greatly. I never get surprised listening to these music. That is never a good sign. I’m just like anybody else, I wouldn’t listen to Magma exclusively, however aside from things I’ve listened to a long time ago and to which I still listen, because they’re the ones I get the most out of, I discover nothing new. The rhythms are as poor as ever, no risks taken… I can’t get surprised and that’s what I’m looking for, I want to be drowned in an ocean of notes, discover new things, learn things…

Q : Jannick Top, genius ?

A : Consider Bernard Paganotti, he had a gift and lost everything ! He came back in Magma when Jannick Top left, Top being more than gifted since he indeed comes close to a genius. I had to teach Bernard again how to rearticulate things, because he wasn’t involved anymore, he played in balls with variety singers such as Cheval Cabrel [I don’t know if that’s an actual singer or if it’s a sort of insult to Francis Cabrel] … This is a serious problem… We actually trained a lot of artists who now serve the music we hate ! Even Jannick ! Everytime he tells me he’s going to quit and come back. I have been waiting for 20 years now, he’s welcome whenever he wants to, but I’m not waiting for him anymore because we’re wasting time… Plus he relies too much on the “clic” (headphone metronome) which restrains freedom. When you rely too much on clicks and accessories [“clics et cliques”, the pun there is kinda hard to translate], if you have to play something that moves a little – for music is something alive, it has to be moving, shifting, and I play around that a lot - , well he gets lost, I make him uncomfortable, and so in order to avoid the difficulty : clic clic in the headset… That is really too bad, Jannick has such powerful and deep music… Music that remains unknown…

Caption : “ I want to be surprised, to be drowned in an ocean of notes, discover new things. But that doesn’t happen.”

Q : Do you plan on recording a studio version of Zëss ?

... A : I regularly get that question, however Zëss is a song that is outside of Time... It tells the Day of Nothingness. Should I record it, then it’s all over, there is nothing afterwards... It is the day Eternity lost its name.

Q : Three beautiful live versions have already been released...

A : Yes, but that is not the full song, that is nothing, the whole thing should be 5 hours long. My few minutes of speech on stage should have lasted 30 minutes... Madness... All was said ! One person spoke in a nonsensical Kobaïan while another one did the translation in French simultaneously, the transe builds up to the point of obsession, and after a while... No more translation, it is impossible and probably better that way... And then the brass section starts to build up...

Q : In 1983 you recorded “Merci” , is that more of a “soul” album ?

A : I had to say thanks to some people at that time [actually, “remercier” in french can mean “say thanks” as well as “say goodbye” like an employer would someone he doesn’t deem useful anymore. Hard to translate but I think Christian fully plays on the double meaning there]... When I started doing music, I played in rhythm and blues bands with Bernard Paganotti. I learned a lot from that, about holding a rhythm. There are codes and a certain spirit to it. Same thing with the Tamla Motown. It taught me discipline, regularity, at a time when I was still a young savage. Then when I reached that point, I could go the other direction and try to distend the rhythm, almost even bend it.

Q : What did you think of “Zheul” bands (movement inspired by Magma, although Vander refuses the term as for him Zheul music has yet to be proposed) , such as Univers Zero, Art Zoid, Présent ?

A : It is Zheul sub-music. That being said I hold nothing against these people, they are trying to do something. However they have drawn too much inspiration from Magma, and actually from our clothes. They played dressed in black, in a martial, yet too stiff, way. This is not what we are, we can exchange smiles in the euphoria of music, wearing a certain type of clothes, but never in a robotic way. They only understood one aspect of things. Same thing for their music, they want to do strange, mysterious music. That is very simple, you just have to play notes that are outside the chord... That isn’t melody to me. I’m a melody lover. You have to create some harmonic atmosphere out of which the melody comes, not torture something useless. Sadly that has always been done, and especially here.

Q : What about the first Pink Floyd albums, what do you think of them ?

A : Well, at the time some used to work with 2-3 chords and add reverberation [you know, that guitar effect which produces a sort of “echo”] … I can understand that when you know nothing else, it can have an impact, and create good memories, however I was never moved by this. At that time I listened such lively, fast and expressive music… When you think of John Coltrane, you can say each bar is a small symphony in itself, it was excessively fast, strong and mad… And what happened on that level since he left in 1967 ? … So all these bands we could almost all quote, they all seemed kind of slow in their expression, kind of poor. I have nothing to do with these bands, I always thought they lacked something. That’s why I made Magma. Not only as a reaction, but also simply in order to say a lot of things quickly. That is why from the start of Magma you get a profusion of melodies, each of which you could develop for a long time. However that corresponded my desire not to linger on a dream… All these people used to get high a lot, their minds was filled with smoke. I remember our concerts in Holland in the early 70s, people literally slept in front of the stage. They were completely stoned.

Q : Is it true that Mike Oldfield stole Tubular Bells from you ? (famous song which became the theme of The Exorcist)

A : Yes. And as he stole that, he stole Magma’s spirit. That song, “La” Dawotsin, is typically Magma’s music at the time. Oldfield was in the English studio where we were recording that theme for Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh. He stole a few bars and it became worldwide famous. I was at the premiere of The Exorcist and I thought “Hey, that music is great, and that’s funny, it reminds me of something…” (laughs) And indeed, something very close, it was a composition to my grand-father… And so I didn’t record the song, I waited for years because I thought as it became so famous, people were going to say I stole it… The irony ! In Oldfield music, there is nothing announcing Tubular Bells, it’s quite common until that thing comes out of nowhere, and then afterwards there is nothing reminding it. He lacks the starting point. It’s not his and it shows… And then hundreds of horror films drew inspiration from that theme.

Q : What do you think of identitary rock ? [again, a difficult notion to translate, that would be rock bands defending local, possibly nationalistic values, or re-asserting a culture…]

A : They lack an European music.

Q : Could Magma get the job done ?

A : There is a problem in musical culture. Even when they cover European chants or marches, very often they don’t have what it takes. Unfortunately that is a people and a country which has been hurt in a way, not very gifted with rhythms, and which hasn’t sung for a while. You hear that especially tune-wise.

Photo caption : The Deer Hunter, by Michel Cimino.

Q : Céline said that music is above everything else. That in the beginning was emotion, not words…
A : Yes, as Stefan George said, in the beginning was action. In France, music is considered a lesser art. Literature and painting are put forward. In Germany, music comes first. In England, you have to wait until the mid-20th century to find Britten. Then compare that to the amount of German composers in the last 300 years…

Q : By the way, what’s your opinion on rap ?
A : If that was really a dangerous music, it wouldn’t air on radio. It’s a music that wouldn’t scare a fly. Magma must be dangerous since it doesn’t air on radio.

Q : Have you read Philippe Gonin’s book on Magma ?
A : Well, what a pile of mud. A complete and utter lie. We were willing to intervene, correct some things, give a helping hand, and he didn’t even want to meet us. A guy noticed at least 50 mistakes in there, not to mention his personal opinions. He’s a crook. Better forget him.

Q : Have you been influenced by Druillet ?
A : Quite the opposite actually, Druillet drew inspiration from Magma. He was a fan, not the other way around. There was also Hubert Reeves who followed us a lot, that’s better isn’t it ? As for BD [ = Bandes Dessinées, that would be our “comic books” ] , I’m more a fan of the clear line, especially Edgar P. Jacobs. That’s expressive, it says everything, there is text in there, it’s a blast. And then of course Hergé.

Q : What about literature, what left a mark on you ?
A : I like Andersen very much. Grimm too, but you might say Andersen is closest to situations I experienced during my childhood. I recognized myself in all these things… Ib and Christine, Sous le saule [titles from Andersen]. I was living so much of that… Andersen, that’s dry and tough.
Q : And in cinema ?
A : The Deer Hunter. If that was only cinema, I’d have forgotten it a long time ago… Also a few others such as l’Eternel Retour (1942), that is pure magic.

Photo caption : Christian Vander wears a solar symbol which serves as a symbol for Magma.

[The rest of the text in the frame is entitled “discover Magma”, and sums up Vander’s career in Magma as well as in Offering, which I don’t think is useful to translate since if you’re reading this either on the FB page or on Marc’s blog, I would guess you already know all this. ]

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Here is the Vander Interview in R&A

Thanks to a very kind Magma fan, here are images of the interview in Reflechir & Agir No. 41.

Since these a images, I cannot put this into Google Translator. Perhaps some kind fan can translate this interview into English.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

New Vander Interview - Can Anyone Repost It Here?

A Magma fan wrote to me to tell me that there is a new interview with Vander in a magazine called Reflechir & Agir. The interview is in Issue 41, and a link to the contents is here.

I don't think that this is a magazine related to music, so it may be interesting to see what Vander has to say in a non-musical context.

If anyone can tell us what was in this interview (preferably in English!), it would be appreciated. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

God Gives a Masterclass

Thanks to Wurd for the link to this. 

Top gave a masterclass with some students on May 13, 2012 in Magny-le-Hongre, France, playing one of the tunes from the Top-LeLann songbook.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Facebook Groups

I just want to remind everyone of two groups that I set up on Facebook for Zeuhl-related activities.

The Neom (Zeuhl) group

The Jannick Top (Magma) group

Please be aware that both pages are "fan" pages, and are not sponsored by Jannick nor Neom. It's nice that people post personal message to Jannick on the page, but I highly doubt that Jannick ever gets to see them.

Carole and Will from Neom both monitor the Neom group, so if you want to send them love-notes, I am sure they would be appreciative.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Neom - A Sneak Peak of the New Album

Exciting news from the Neom folks. They went into the studio last month to record a new album.

They put a new video on YouTube that contains an unreleased version of the 2nd part Arkana Temporis. Thanks to Carole Sauvage, the keyboard player from the band, for the pointer to this video.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rene Bosc - Zeuhl-Inspired Arrangement of Bartok

Rene Bosc is a composer and a conductor who happens to be a huge fan of Magma and Zeuhl Music. He has taken a piano piece by Bela Bartok and re-arranged it for 2 pianos and percussion. When I listen to this arrangement, I can help but think of Wurdah Itah. Definitely worth a listen.

When you listen to this piece, you will definitely see the inspiration that Vander drew from Bartok.

And, here is one more surprise .... Rene told me that later this year, he will be conducting an orchestra in his arrangement of .... wait for it ..... Wurdah Itah !!! (According to Memo, Rene has conducted this before ... so where is the video !!!)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Please Help Finish Romantic Warriors II

One of our readers wanted to know if I might be interested in publicizing the effort to complete a new documentary on the RIO music scene. TO that end, I have reposted a  message from the Progressive Ears forum. The filmmakers need our help in order to finish the documentary.

Hey there — Romantic Warriors - A Progressive Music Saga directors Adele Schmidt and José Zegarra Holder here. Thanks for taking the time to check out our new film, called Romantic Warriors II - About Rock in Opposition.

An IndieGoGo campaign has been launched to raise funds for our new documentary, Romantic Warriors II - About Rock in Opposition.

Watch the 5' min trailer by clicking the link below

We have 20 days to raise $5,000. The money will help us finish the film by July. You can pledge from $5 to $1,000. Any amount is truly welcomed. In return, we have listed a number of perks such as DVDs, T-Shirts and the opportunity to get your name listed in the final credits of the film.

We're so excited about this project and deeply appreciate that you've taken an interest. This time we spent filming in Europe and the U.S. and discovered a fountain full of incredible musical treasures. We couldn't be happier with the friendships we made and the footage we collected, and it will be a huge thrill to share the finished movie with all of you, once it's complete. We're extremely grateful for your help bringing this film to life.

Our team has been working on this project for over two years, and it's been a labor of love. Until now, we've been able to fund the entire cost of production on our own, and the good news is that the whole movie has already been shot and we have a rough cut. But as we transition into the completion phase, we need your help to get us over the finish line.

You can help in a number of ways. First and foremost — by donating to this IndieGoGo campaign. IndieGoGo is open to anyone who has a valid bank account or credit card anywhere in the world. This alone makes IndieGoGo better than Kickstarter to everyone outside the US.

Your contribution will make the film's completion possible, and as thanks for your generosity, we'll hook you up with some awesome and unique prizes. Your support will go directly toward:

Paying our Assistant Editors
Licensing fees
Sound mixing
Color/Sound Correction
Other Post-Production Costs

The funding goal we have set is the amount that will help us finish this project by our deadline. Additional money collected beyond our goal would be immensely helpful and allow us to promote the film and start an outreach campaign for the film.

There are some other important ways you can help. The more people who are aware of our project, the better our chances of raising the necessary funds. By emailing your friends about the film, posting a link to this page on Facebook, or spreading word on Twitter, you'll be giving us crucial, valuable support. Please help us reach as many people as possible!

We hope you will join us to bring the story of these outstanding musicians to the outside world — and help raise awareness for their music. It's a powerful story and we're grateful for the opportunity to tell it. Thank you so much for joining in and becoming a part of this!

We need your help! Pledge!

Our anticipated completion date is July 2012. Please help us finish our film by pledging via IndieGoGo. All funds raised will go directly toward the film to help pay our asistant editors, translations, transcriptions, subtitling, graphics, licensing fees, sound mixing, color correction and mastering.

Invite your friends to support our project!

We also encourage you to support us by liking our Facebook page or by sharing this project with friends, family, co-workers, or anyone else you know who may be interested in supporting this project.

Thank you for your contributions and support!


AND PLEASE: EMAIL YOUR FRIENDS, POST A LINK ON FACEBOOK, OR TWEET ABOUT US at!/ProgDocumentary! Anything you can do to help spread the word will be of tremendous service, and is enormously appreciated.

Please send us your email so you can get our news of the progress of the film:

We'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 14, 2012 - Nice

If you have any reviews of tonight's concert, please send them in !

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Magma - Carre Bleu - Europe 1 - October 1971

Thanks to Denis R. for a photo that he took himself. This is Magma appearing on the Carre Bleu radio show in October 1971. It was during this show that they recorded the 45 that contains Klaus Kömbalad and Mekanïk Kommando.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Keiser's Latest Transcription for Bass - The Last Seven Minutes

Bruno has a new bass transcription out .... the first two pages of The Last Seven Minutes. Bruno has two more pages to do of this transcription, and when he is finished, they will be published here.

Thanks Bruno.

Friday, March 30, 2012

All Clear To Buy Orkestraahl KA

Just got a note from Stella saying that the problems have been solved with the electronic download of Orkestraahl KA, and that everything is good.

Thomas from the avant-prog group on Facebook was wondering if this new digital download platform would allow Seventh to start releasing live concerts. We can only hope so. A lot of the post-1999 Magma shows have been recorded and shared through places like DIME. But there is a big market for the older Magma concerts. Maybe Seventh would consider a test run in order to gauge the demand for these shows.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Warning - Don't Buy the Orkestraahl KA Yet

Several people have reported the the link and/or ZIP file that contains Orkestraahl KA is broken. So, don't buy it until Seventh fixes the problem. One reader reports that he notified Seventh, but they have not responded yet.

When Seventh has fixed the problem, I will let people know.

(Update from multiple people at 2:45 PM EDT,  March 29)
Seventh has been sending out emails telling people that they are aware of the problems, and that they are trying to fix it.

(Update from Francis at 3:35 PM EDT, March 28)
I bought Okkestraahl KA this evening and the zip file contains three mp3 files and one pdf file in my case.

Scherzoo : L'An 01

Here is a live video clip of a performance by Francois Thollot's new band, Scherzoo. Francois is a huge Magma fan, and if you like the sound of bands like Zao, then you will enjoy this clip.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

K.a rähokhë

Now you too can sing along with Vander. Annoy your wife while you scream in the shower. Scare the dog. Summon the poltergeist.

Now, for a limited time only .... Buy Orkestraahl KA for only 10 Euros.


(Thanks to Ricky Kobaia for the link and the title of this blog)