Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Poster for the Zukunft Concert (Thanks to GZeuhl)

Zukunft - June 6 1993 Paris - Available on DIME

Théâtre Clavel
Paris, France
06-06-93 (June 6th, 1993)


1. Kohntarkosz
2. De Futura
4. MDK

Luke Vejux - vocals
Julie Vander - vocals
Isabelle ??? - vocals (this is not Isabelle Feuillebois)
Philippe Bussonet - bass
Vincent Dupuy - Fender piano and moog
James MacGaw - guitar (and twin keyboards at one point)
Marc Delouya - drums
Rene Garber - sax (special guest)

This is the first time that this recording has been circulated on the Internet.

Mr. Barfix, who is on DIME as DeFuturist, asked me to seed this concert for him. Zukunft was a band who performed covers of Magma. For historical perspective, I have enclosed part of an email that Mr. Barfix sent to me, as well as a review from the Ork Alarm website.

Mr. Barfix sent me the following email along with the recording.


This is the first time you will see this concert on the Web, i have the only existing tape (i think) of this... and you are the first person I share with ;-)

At this period i was a "groupie" (huge fan) of XAAL and I was very close with them... I took bass courses with Nicolas Neimer (the bassist) and I played in 1995 with Jad Ayache (the guitarist). He played keyboards on our Mekanik...

for your memory, some links :

so, as usual, I was at this concert with them and I gave a 100 mins tape to the brother-in-law of Patrick Boileau (the drummer). He was managing the soundboard of the show and he recorded to me this first part of XAAL concert : Zukunft.

This tape was sleeping at my home since this time...and a few weeks ago, a friend of my friend Yann encoded the tape for me :-) so cool !!!!


The review below of the Zukunft set was taken from the Ork Alarm website:

The recording that Mr. Barfix gave us is from the 2nd night (June 6), where Zukunft was "less nervous", but did not play Om Zanka.


Théâtre Clavel - Paris (05-06-93)

During the half-hour interval after Xaal's set, the crowd sprawled out into the sunshine to cool down; it was that hot inside the theatre. I popped backstage to meet René Garber and Stella Vander.

Soon the crowd swarmed back into the still steaming auditorium for the ZUKUNFT show. Their set started with 'Köhntarkösz' a full thirty-five minute version. The new additions to the group were Luke Vejux the male vocalist in a red T-shirt who left out some of the vocal parts when he seemed to forget the lyrics and Julie Vander (Aïna Kobaïa) who was quite low in the mix, making it difficult to hear everything she sang clearly. The core musicians of Zukunft were: Philippe Bussonet on bass, Vincent Dupuy on Fender piano and moog, James McGaw on guitar (and twin keyboards at one point) and naturally their leader is still Marc Delouya on red Gretsch drums.

I felt that Luke was struggling a bit and it probably was not helped by some of the audience who sang along - noticeably filling in all the original parts that Luke missed. Apart from that, Zukunft have improved with a great leap since I saw them in March 1991. The performance was competent, although lacking a lot of the zest that a real Magma show would have. Overall this was more than an adequate alternative.

The vocalists left the floor, (there is no stage as such at the Théâtre Clavel) and the instrumentalists stormed through a cracking version of 'De Futura' with some titanic bass playing from Bussonet - shut your eyes and it becomes a real Magma concert from the seventies in parts. At the start the bass seemed a little slow and stilted but gradually the keyboard parts enhanced the interpretation and Philippe's bass took on a growling omnipresence. After ten minutes, McGaw stopped playing guitar and played the synth siren section. They followed this with 'KMX - B XII' with Zukunft still a quartet. When the vocalists came back at the end of this instrumental diversion, there were three of them. A redhead called Isabelle had joined them.

After a wavering start the opus 'Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh' was reasonably successful, perhaps not quite as tight as it should have been, and hampered by the lacklustre acoustics of the theatre. There was no P.A. system to speak of, just the main amplifiers and monitors. I guess that with a reasonable amount of rehearsal, particularly on the first ten minutes, and in a decent acoustic environment they will steadily improve. Still it is always an impressive song to hear live. Of course one great advantage of this line-up's version of 'MDK' is the presence of electric bass, played in Jannick Top's style. In the third quarter of the piece, the special quest came forward from the audience and plugged in his Yamaha WX7 electric sax - it was Stöht Wurdah Melekaahm Stündëhr!

René jammed along, trading riffs with McGaw and filling out the sound very well. But it seemed as if he was not a real part of the group as yet. For an encore the group returned with Stündëhr on WX7 sax again to play a terrific 'Om Zanka'. Looking back now, I think 'Köhntarkösz' was the best part of their show, because it is one piece I had not seen live for almost twenty years. That, for me, is the principal justification for a cover's band. I want more!

There is of course an obvious danger for a cover's band such as Zukunft: How can you observe their performances without at least sub-consciously comparing them to the originals? And with such unique original musicians as Jannick Top and Christian Vander there is no chance that any imitators can match their skills. Klaus Blasquiz's vocals with Magma are also impossible to recreate totally successfully. From that point of view a Magma cover's band has an insurmountable battle. When they play pieces that Magma can no longer perform, such as 'De Futura' and to an extent 'Köhntarkösz', they succeed because many of the audience have never had a chance to see this material in concert. But with 'Mekanïk' which is still being played by Magma and LES VOIX DE MAGMA, the comparisons are unavoidable.

I accept that it is totally unfair to compare any group's live performance with the studio albums. But I feel that ZUKUNFT should concentrate on the material that Magma are unlikely to perform again, or develop their own material. Their musicianship is proven, and they are certainly entertaining - but the survival of a cover's band, playing material of limited appeal is unlikely. Having said that - you should still go to see them, because opportunities to see MAGMA themselves perform are very rare and, for us Zeuhl fans at least, these classic works deserved to be heard live.

Théâtre Clavel - Paris 06-06-93

The following evening, Xaal had started their show quite late in the afternoon, therefore Zukunft's set started later than planned. Because of this they had to drop 'Om Zanka' from their set, but otherwise the 6th of June show was almost the same as above. Many of the problems with the acoustics had been sorted out and the vocalists were more confident and less nervous. An even more enjoyable show, except for the lack of the great rendition of 'Om Zanka' - speaking to René Garber before the show he had confirmed that this would be played. It's just a shame that the the ran out and presumably someone else required the hall later that night.


During the RIO Festival, I got a chance to hang out a bit with William, the bass player from a French Zeuhl-inspired group named Neom. They come from around the Valence area in South-Eastern France, and in fact, they opened for Magma on May 1, 2009 in Bourg Le Valence.

I bought a copy of the Neom CD, Arkana Temporis, from the Soleil Zeuhl stand at the RIO Festival. When I played it for the first time, I thought that it was a good CD. But, last Monday, Steve Davis played most of the CD on his radio show, and everyone REALLY got into it. Yannick and Carole from Neom (guitar and keyboard) were there during the show, and provided a running commentary to the music.

You can order the CD from Alain Lebon of Soleil Zeuhl Records here. You can listen to some of their music here.

Magma - Barbican, London October 6, 2009

Magma is getting prepared to invade the British shores once again.

I think that there might be a special guest soloist on Kobaia....

Magma - Extra n° 12, November 1971

Thanks to Akoustikus for this rare document.

According to the Ork Alarm website, Magma played at the Golf Druot on October 29, 1971. This article says that Magma only played two pieces, but there was a monstrous jam session following their set in which Vander and Cahen participated in (along with another drummer).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

RIO Festival 1978 - Handwritten Booklet from Chris Cutler

Another "petit cadeau" from our friend, Steve Davis. This booklet is something that Cutler put together for the first Rock In Opposition Festival in London in March 1978.

I know that this blog is basically devoted to Magma and Zeuhl, but most of the readers of this blog also share a love for RIO-type music. So, I thought that everyone would be interested in this booklet.

Many years ago, I used to correspond with Chris Cutler. Every two months or so, I would receive a nice hand-written letter from Chris, with his musings on music and politics. I was only a teenager at the time, so I probably didn't see the gold that was contained in those letters. It's a shame that I threw out all of this correspondence years ago in one of my periodic purges of my music-related junk. I bet that Steve Feigenbaum still has his old letters!

Recording - Magma in Issoudun, France, October 3, 2008

The audio for the Magma concert in Issoudun, France on October 3, 2008, can be found on the Yo-Cats blog here.

Color Version of Theusz Hamtaahk Video 1976

Thanks very much to Akoustikus from Geneva. This is a color version of the "Mystery Video". Olvator posted a black and white version on YouTube last week, and Akoustikus went through his video collection to bring us a color version.

We think that the original comes from the video collection of a guy named Georges Piganau. If Georges is reading this .... please consider sharing some of your work with the fans around the world who love Magma.

(Update - JC Alluin says that this video was filmed in Antibes, October 9th 1976)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Christian Vander - Gibus 1971

My friend Barfix sent me this remarkable photo to me several weeks ago, but for some reason, I forgot to post it. It was given to him by a person who was the bouncer at the Gibus. This bouncer saw a Magma medallion around the neck of Barfix one day, and gave him this souvenir.

(The folks at the Zeuhl and Beyond like this photo so much that they decided to make it the new banner for their blog.)

RIO Festival Photos from Fabrice Journo

One of the official Magma photographers, my good friend Fabrice Journo, just posted photos of the RIO Festival on his site here.

Here is an example of his work:

Download the Steve Davis RIO Restrospective

On September 21, 2009, Steve Davis's radio show was devoted to a retrospective of the groups that played the RIO Festival. The show was even more special because it featured a very handsome guest DJ from the USA.

You can download the show in three parts. Davis 210909 pt1.mp3

Steve Davis Radio Show Tonight

Tonight, September 28, from 22h00 to 24h00 CET (c'est 23h00 a 01h00 pour mes amis en France), Steve Davis will be hosting his regular radio show on

Tonight's broadcast will feature music from all of the musicians who attended the RIO Festival but did not play. In the audience, we saw musicians from Miriodor, Yugen, Neom, Ahvak, Panzerpappa, and Bob Drake.

Make sure to register for the Stickam and the interactive chat room. It's a lot of fun!

Magma Logo (Welcome to Akoustikus)

Our new friend Akoustikus from Switzerland is going to start sending us some of his archives.

The first article, from the German magazine "Sounds", gives us precise directions on how to make the Magma logo. If you would like to bother your wife or your girlfriend, make several hundred of these and hang them aroudn your house. And wear a Magma logo around your neck for good measure.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Photos from the Panzerpappaman

Trond, the drummer from Norwegian band Panzerpappa, sent me a lot of photos from the RIO festival. Over the next few days, I will be choosing a few and posting them here.

Photos From Marco - Christian Vander Solo, Le Triton, Sept 26, 2009

Photos of the Christian Vander solo concert at Le Triton on September 26, 2009 can be found here.

Sheet Music to Maahnt (Thanks to MT)

I "stole" this from my friend MekanikThing, who posted it on the Zeuhl and Beyond forum. I love sheet music! Maybe I will try to play this intro on my marimba today....

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Best Magazine December 1975 - Magma Tour Ad

Best Magazine June 1978 - Weidorje

Best Magazine 1973 - The Superb Return of Magma

Best Magazine March 1973 - Interview with Klaus Blasquiz

Best Magazine May 1974 - Magma in London

And, here is a translation into English.

Another Onslaught from Steve Davis Coming

Steve has been a busy boy this week, and is starting to scan some of his old magazines. What is about to follow are scans from various French magazines from 1973 and 1974.

The most important one for me is the pictorial of Magma in London in 1974. Who wants to translate it into English for us? :-)

Video Help Wanted for Akoustikus and Willy

The way that the Magma community has come together on this video mystery has brought a tear to my eye. As I have said many times, part of what we hope to accomplish with this blog and the Zeuhl and Beyond blog is to attract Magma fans from all over the world who might have rarities in their closets and need help in sharing these artifacts with other Magma fans. We need to be able to document Magma properly, especially the early years, where not many souvenirs exist.

Mr. Akoustikus need our help to digitize and share some of his videos. In a comment earlier, he wrote the following (I edited this a little bit for grammar and spelling):

This snippet comes from "Culture Rock - 1975", broadcast by French channel M6 around 1994. The mention of "document amateur" (not pro) tends to indicate that it comes from a private collection and has nothing to do with the INA. Georges Piganau - friend of CV and redactor in charge of - is mentioned in the final credits.

My guess is that he owns it or even filmed it himself. I'm sure Georges filmed Magma concerts, since CV mentions him and the problem of editing concert films here:

I do own it first gen but I have no clue how to post it. Any help?

I am not very good with video, so would someone be able to help Mr. Akoustikus?

Mr. Akoustikus .... can you let us know what format your film is in (VHS, 8mm, digital)?

Also, Mr. Willy is starting to post some snippets from his collection on YouTube.

The best way to encode videos from VHS is in VOB format. If you want to, you share the videos on Soulseek. You can limit the sharing to the users on your customized userlist. Or, if you are REALLY feeling generous, you can upload the video to DIME. Our dear "UncleMeat" has offered to be the Koordinatuhr, if anyone need help.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Utopic Sporadic Orchestra 1975 (from Willy)

Wanted - Video from Castellet 1976

According to Olvator and others, there was a professional camera crew at the 1976 VanderTop concert at Castellet. This town is not too far away from Marseille. Most likely, the M6 video was taken from this concert. (However, Magma played in Le castellet in July 1976, and this was when Paganotti was still playing for them.)

Does anyone have this video, or know how we can find the source of this video?

The Mystery is Solved (thanks to Olvator)

Electric Epic (with Bussonnet) at RIO 2009

A Big Magma Mystery - A Video from 1974 ???

When I was at Chez Steve Davis this week, I took a look at some of the photos that the late Paul Mummery has accumulated. These two photos were labeled "1974-05-08", which is the date that Magma played in Frejus, France. Frejus is a town that is close to Cannes and Nice.

The photos look like a snapshot of a television program or video. Also, look at the "6" logo at the top-right corner. This looks like the logo from a television station.

So, perhaps somebody filmed this concert for a TV broadcast or for a video release.

If there is video footage from 1974, it would be an incredible find.

Can anyone shed some light on this? Is there a TV station that has this logo? Can some Magma footage be sitting in the archives of some TV station in France?

Update - It looks like the logo is from French music channel M6. Thanks to Hanwaker and Olmain. Now, we have to find out if M6 has this footage of Magma.

RIO Festival Photos from Lutz Diehl

Some wonderful photos of the RIO Festival can be found here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

E-R Mysteries Solved

A reliable source has told the Kohntarkosz blog these two pieces of information concerning the release of E-R:

1) Emanuel Borghi's keyboard parts have remained intact. Bruno Ruder was also used on the CD, so there are two keyboard players on the recording.

2) The vocals of the Paganottis have also been kept, but only the background vocals. Christian and Herve have re-recorded the lead vocals.

Another Review of RIO 2009

From Israel

Interesting to see where he ranked Aranis.

Magma MDK "Remaster"

The unanimous feeling on the French Magma forum is that the new Mercury re-release of MDK is truly sonically spectacular.

I tried to order it from yesterday, but the shipping cost is almost as much as the CD itself. Maybe I will wait for my next trip to France to buy it. Or, maybe I will pray that Wayside Music decides to carry it (which they probably won't).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review of the RIO festival 2009 - Part 5

The next day, Monday September 22nd, Steve and I left the hotel at 5:30 in the morning with two hours of sleep under our belts. We walked through the town of Albi in pitch dark, found the railroad station without the benefit of a car ride, and took the 6:14 Am train to Toulouse. A 1.5 hour flight and we were back in Gatwick. Steve drove me to his amazing apartment, I took a two hour nap, then headed into London to take my son out to dinner. That night, I was a guest DJ on Steve’s weekly radio show on Phoenix FM, a small 50-watt radio station based in Brentwood, England. Steve plays RIO and progressive music on his show every Monday from 10PM to Midnight, GMT. You can listen to this show by going to

The next morning, we went out to some breakfast, and Steve very kindly drove me 50 miles to Heathrow. Both of us had an absolutely incredible time over the past 5 days, and we are both making plans to attend the next RIO Festival in Carmaux. The music was only one half of the fun. We loved meeting people from all over the world who share our singular passion for Zeuhl and RIO music. There are only a few thousand of us in the world. Every time we get together, it is a special occasion.

(End of Review)

Review of the RIO festival 2009 - Part 4

The big question that Steve and I asked ourselves is what time we should wake up the next day. We were both suffering badly from a lack of sleep. But, we also wanted to see Aymeric Leroy’s English-language talk. Anytime you can see Aymeric talk, it is a treat, as he is a walking encyclopedia of Canterbury and RIO music.

The lack of sleep won out, and we woke up at 11:00. We took a taxi to Cap Decouverte, and arrived just in time to see the 2nd half of Yolk’s set. However, the previous night’s antics caught up to us, and we both left Yolk’s set after one song so that we could get breakfast and some much-needed coffee.

We came back to catch the set by The Muffins. During the festival, Steve and I became somewhat friendly with the guys in The Muffins. We all sat in the balcony, next to the lighting board, and we formed a little American enclave. The guys were a bit nervous about performing, because they thought that their Canterbury-style music would not mesh well with the overwhelming “Zeuhlness” of the festival.

The performance came off well. I was most pleasantly surprised by the drumming of Paul Sears, who in my mind, does not look like a drummer at all (although he certainly acts like one!). I didn’t recognize any of the tunes they played, as I was never really into the Muffins. But the Canterbury element was there.

They did not get to play an encore because they were told beforehand that they must play for one hour exactly. But, they appreciated the sentiment of the crowd.

Then came the double dose of Present and Univers Zero. This was the real reason why I came to the festival. Both of these Belgian groups were in the initial RIO movement that started back in around 1979. I had stayed with drummer Daniel Denis, the leader of Univers Zero, for several weeks in 1983 and 1984, and I had not seen Daniel (and his wife Chantal) since then. I had my reunion with Daniel earlier in the festival, and he is still the sweetest, most unpretentious person in the world. I am going to do my best to bring him to the United States sometime in 2010.

Present and Univers Zero were both limited to one hour sets, and then there was to be a grand finale that combined the forces of both groups.

Present played Delusions, and then a track from their new CD called Visages, and then the first half of Promenade from their first album. Well, what could I say? They ruled. They kicked butt. Everyone was great. It was sad to see Roger Trigaux reduced to sitting on a chair at the left side of the stage, meandering along, but whatever illness he has seems to have advanced. Nevertheless, Roger is still the heart and soul of the RIO Festival.

Univers Zero came on and they were equally amazing. They had the unfortunate circumstance of being annoyed by a random stream of static that emanated from one of the speaker in the PA, and I just knew that Daniel (ever the perfectionist) would be extremely pissed off. But, this was the first time that I saw UZ, and I finally got to see them play Dense, their signature composition from the Ceux Du Dehors album. Daniel was a real monster on the drums, displaying his unique brand of creativity …. I cannot really describe his style of playing. Also, they played Civic Circus and Pressage, the later being their finest composition of the mid 1980’s.

Then came the grand finale, consisting of the combined forces of Present and UZ. When you get these “super groups” together, they result in a mess most of the time (see my review of the combined Magma and Infernal Machina last February in Paris). The group first played Jack the Ripper from the Heresie album of Univers Zero, and they hit a home run. It was tight, and the ending part brought a few tears to my eyes. Dave Kerman, the drummer from Present, was dutifully respectful to Daniel, and let Daniel have most of the drumming spotlight. They ended with the 2nd half of Promenade from the first Present album. This wasn’t as tight as the first piece, but it gave the combined group an opportunity to have some fun. Daniel performed a drum solo, which is a big stretch for him, as he seems to shy away from solos. Towards the end, I thought that Reginald Trigaux was going to do a Hendrix and light his guitar on fire.

The crowd gave the boys an extended standing ovation. Roger and Michel Besset said a few words to the crowd in both English and French. Although nothing has been signed yet, they said that they were going to get Art Bears, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, and Robert Wyatt for next year’s festival.

After the concert, we all filed out to the tables outside the venue for more wine, cheese, saucisse, and cornichons. Maxence led a big sing-along of Magma tunes, and it was incredible to find how many people knew every word of MDK, including how many times to repeat each verse.

I had some time to catch up with Pierre Desassis, the sax player from Present. I know his dad Denis, who was the original creator of the famous Magma Web Press Book. Pierre seemed really happy after the concert, and he thought that the performances went really well.

Steve and I had an early night …. We got to out hotel at 2:45 in the morning, thanks to Fabrice’s and Francis’s willpower to leave the party a bit early.

(End of Part 4)

Video - KOENJIHYAKKEI Live at Rock In Opposition festival 18-05-2009

Review of the RIO festival 2009 - Part 3

Day One had ended about 3:15 in the morning with James MacGaw of Magma looking to see who had more bottles of wine and looking for a place to crash for the night (Kavas from Guapo had offered his hotel room to James, but I am not sure if James was in any shape to understand him!). Steve and I got back to our hotel at about 3:30, and at 9:30 the next morning, Steve rudely woke me up with a telephone call. Both of us walked like Zombies to the Hotel Ibis in order to get a ride from Fabrice and Francis to Cap Decouverte.

We walked into the lobby of the hotel, and we saw a couple of the guys from Magma having breakfast. Steve is a minor celebrity in the Magma world, as he spent his own money in the late 1980’s to bring Magma/Offering over to London. I have always subscribed to the old saying “Never Meet Your Heroes, For They Are Sure To Disappoint You”, but some of the guys from Magma came over to chat. I had a nice little talk with Philippe Bussonnet in English, and then I had a good talk with Benoit Alziary about percussionists and marimba players. Benoit told me that he was a huge Magma fan before he was joined, and that he was in awe at landing the gig. We saw James floating around the lobby, which meant that he thankfully survived the previous night. We got to chat with Stella Vander and Francis Linon, and I even got to shake hands with Christian. Overall, a great way to start the morning. I am waiting for the drops of poison that I slipped into Benoit’s coffee to take effect …. and then I will be the new vibes player in Magma.

Steve and I found Gaetan Villard, and we gave him some money to buy a few bottles of wine, as we intended to host the post-concert festivities. Thanks Gaetan!

The first act of the day was Charles Hayward, and to tell you the truth, he blew me away. He is still the one act that I keep thinking about. Charles was the drummer for Quiet Sun, This Heat, and Camberwell Now. In fact, I saw Charles play with Camberwell now in Reims in 1984. Charles now gives solo concerts that combine electronics, piano, and drums.

The set opened with Charles prowling around a darkened stage with a blue flashlight. There were contact microphones planted on the floor of the stage, and the mikes were piped into various electronic effects. After crawling around the stage for a while, Charles moved to the grand piano, and played a few songs that reminded me a bit of Robert Wyatt. Then Charles moved over to the drums and played and sang at the same time, all the while being backed by some tracks of electronics. It was quite an interesting set, and was a very pleasant surprise for me.

The next group was the Belgian band, Aranis. This band is comprised of ex-students from the Antwerp Conservatory, and the instrumentation consisted of piano, guitar, double bass, two violins, flute, and accordion. The music reminded me a lot of Astor Piazolla’s Zero Hour, or perhaps early Art Zoyd. Very composed, and very tight playing. Lots of 16th notes. They were warmly received by the audience, most whom had never heard of the band. They are my pick for inclusion in a future Nearfest.

Combat Astronomy was next up. This band had great potential, as it featured Elaine DiFalco and Dave Wiley of Thinking Plague. However, the band was plagued by sound problems, with Elaine’s vocals ending up way under the mix and the bass ending up way above the mix. They also had a new drummer and did not have their bassoonist with them. I walked out about 3/4 through the set, and I was not the only one. Everyone was disappointed with Combat Astronomy, and from what I heard, the band was puzzled about why they received such a lukewarm reception. This shows you the importance of the sound engineer at a festival. Most of the bands at the festival used the in-house sound engineer and light technician, and it came back to bite Combat Astronomy. Later on, Steve Davis played me their first CD, and to tell you the truth, it was pretty good.

The final band of the night was Koenji Hyakkei from Tokyo, who I am just going to abbreviate as KH. The musicians were supremely confident when they got on stage, and the crowd just knew that this was going to be something special. The band was led by drummer Tetsuya Yoshida from Ruins, a long time disciple of Christian Vander. The band was rounded out by bass, keyboards, soprano sax and operatic vocals. The Austin Powers-ish outfit that was worn by the lead singer was a fantastic bit of design, and actually contributed to the power of the music :-)

KH was complete 300% Zeuhl in-your-face for over an hour. Extremely complex time signatures and breaks, with the vocalist and soprano sax moving in unison. It is just amazing how some musicians can commit this stuff to memory. The slowest song was about 160 beats per minute.

The crowd gave them a huge standing ovation, and would not let them leave the stage.

After the concert, more drinking and eating. Thanks to Rodolphe, who brought me a chunk of excellent French cheese. Again, we got back at 3:30 in the morning, totally happy and shit-faced.

(End of Part 3)

The Cover Art for Emehntehtt-Re

Review of the RIO Festval 2009 - Part 2

We caught a bit of rush-hour traffic, but we got to Cap Decouverte in time to catch the first band, Electric Epic. This band is composed of Philippe Bussonnet (Magma) on bass, Yoann Serra (ex-Offering) on drums, Jim Grandcamp (Jannick Top’s Infernal Machina) on guitar, and the leader, Guillaume Perret on sax. The music reminded me a bit of later-day Miles Davis a bit. Take a complicated riff, and jam over it. The sax was piped through an array of electronic devices, so in that respect, the sound of the group differed from the sound of a standard jazz quartet. It was good, solid music; it didn’t make a huge impression on me, but it was a perfect opener to Magma.

In between Electric Epic and Magma, the British group Guapo played a short set. Guapo took home the title of the Hardest Working Band of the Festival. During the festival, Guapo played five or six different sets, each one about a half hour long. Guapo was set up in a much smaller hall that had no seating. The small stage was placed in the middle of the hall, and Guapo set up their instruments “in the round”, so that all of the instrumentalists were facing each other, with the audience in a circle around the stage.

When the bands were not playing, you could hang out at the bar in the lobby, or outside of the Grand Espace de Musqiue. There were two food vendors set up in trailers, one cooking all sort of omelets, and the other serving crepes and various kinds of sandwiches. Since the attendees were basically captives of the festival (due to the location and the weather), these very pleasant vendors did a crisp business providing sustenance to the attendees.

You also got to reunite with old friends and meet new ones. I met up with my old friends Marie-Emmanuelle Bretel (Madi), Gaeten Villard, Aymeric Leroy, Eric DeLachat, and Robert Guillerault. Madi is one of the other official photographers of Magma, and Robert runs the very excellent Magma Web Press Book.

I met up with several people from the Magma chatroom on Soulseek and the Zeuhl and Beyond blog. Un Gran Salut to Epanou, Rodolphe, Mekanik Thing, Hamtai. I caught up with German trader Jurgen and his sister Rita, who I first met in Nancy in 2007.

The main music distributors were at the festival as well. I met Alain Lebon from Soleil Zeuhl Records for the first time. Steve Feigenbaum runs Wayside Music and Cuneiform Records, and I ran into him and his wife Joyce for the first time in 30 years. Steve made the memorable comment that if someone tossed a hand grenade into the festival, it would basically wipe out the entire RIO movement. That’s how many important people from the movement were there.

A few months ago, I joined the large message board on the Progressive Ears website, and there were a number of people that I met at RIO that I only knew by their nicknames on Progressive Ears. A big hello to SpaceWaltzer, KevinInExeter, and Maribor.

There were a large number of musicians at the festival who were not playing. We could have gotten various incarnations of musicians together and very easily extended the festival for another two days. I was happy to meet Trond and Nina from the Norwegian band Panzerpappa, Yehuda Kotten from Ahvak, and William from Neom. The guys from the Italian band Yugen were there too.

The organizers remarked that at least 20 different countries were represented. It was quite remarkable to discover the distances that some of the people traveled in order to get to Carmaux.

Back to the music…..

Magma was the headliner for the first night of the festival. I saw them in February 2009 for a 3-night series of concerts at Le Casino de Paris, and since then, they have been madly touring France. The pieces have evolved a little bit, and the band seemed to be tighter and more energetic at the RIO Festival than they were in Paris. In fact, Magma’s energy level was sky-high that night.

They opened with Slag Tanz, the new piece that they have been playing throughout 2009. The opening section is now played at a greatly increased tempo, and there were some other minor changes in the arrangement. As I have said before, it reminds me of Steve Reich at times, with ascending and descending vocal lines.

The next piece was Felicite Thosz, a 25-minute piece which I am trying to like but ends up putting me to sleep. Since I knew what to expect, I was not too bothered by this elongated Bing Crosby Christmas carol.

Then came Emehntehtt-Re, a 50 minute piece which is going to come out on CD on November 5th. My favorite part of this piece is the Grand Zombies section, and on this night, Magma played Zombies at a super-fast tempo. You could tell that the entire band was really into the performance.

They closed the concert with the first tune off of their first album, Kobaia.

Everyone had such a great time. The crowd spilled out of the festival hall in such a joyous mood. Our friends Maxence and Maahnt took out a cooler with bottles of wine, bread and cheese. We were joined eventually by Paul Sears, the lovable maniac from The Muffins, and Keith Macksoud from Present. People just kept wandering over to partake with us, and at one point, we must have had 50 people sipping wine and noshing on great cheese with us. We finally staggered out of Cap Decouverte at 3:00 in the morning, drunk, sleepy, and enormously satisfied.

(End of Part 2)

Review of the RIO Festval 2009 - Part 1

The Rock In Opposition Festival took place in a “nature camping site” called Cap Decouverte in the small town Carmaux, France on September 18-20, 2009. Since I quit my job at the end of August, and I have a mandatory 50 days of “gardening leave” before I start my new job, I decided at the last minute to fly to Carmaux and attend a festival where several of my favorite bands in the world were playing. And, I am so glad that I went.

Carmaux is a small town that is a suburb of a slightly larger town named Albi, which is a one hour train ride away from the city of Toulouse in southwest France. Instead of flying from Newark (New Jersey) to Paris, and then taking a train ride to Toulouse, I flew to London to meet my friend, Steve Davis, and then we flew to Toulouse. I chose the London stopover because my son is studying in London this semester, and I wanted to make sure that he was well settled in his new situation (especially after he was detained at Immigration in Heathrow for 5 hours!).

I took a 9:00 flight on Thursday morning into Heathrow, and Steve met me at the airport. It was about 10:00 in the evening London time, and my body was still on New York time, but we decided that we were going to stay up the entire night, since our flight to Toulouse was at 6:30 the next morning from Gatwick airport (about 30 miles away from Heathrow). We went out to dinner in London, and then made our way to Gatwick, where we found an all-night pub that was open inside the terminal.

At that point, I saw the first little glimpse of Steve’s celebrity. When we went through the Security at Gatwick, the female security guard recognized Steve, and thoroughly gushed over his presence. Steve was the 6-time World Snooker Champion, and in the 1980’s in England, he was as well known as someone like Zidane or Derek Jeter. Steve is a color commentator on television for snooker matches, and is constantly flying all over Europe to give exhibitions, so he is still well known and widely regarded. (Snooker is a game that is close to Pool, and is popular in the UK and Germany.)

We spend a quiet 4 hours at the pub drinking “real ale”, and as the terminal grew a bit more crowded, people started to recognize Steve, so I was the victim of spate of “Can you take a photo with me and Steve” requests. But, it was all good-natured fun, and I rather enjoyed my imagined role as Steve’s burly American bodyguard!

The flight to Toulouse was a quick one hour and ten minutes via EasyJet, and then it was a 15 minute bus ride to the Toulouse train station, where we picked up a train to Albi. After wandering the maze of little streets in Albi (a very quaint town that is known for its cathedral), a French woman took pity on what looked like two very confused gentlemen and gave us a car ride to our hotel. This was the first instance of the amazing hospitality that we experienced while we were in France. I find that if you make the slightest effort to speak French while in France, and you don’t try to act like you own the place, the French people will adopt you as one of their own.

We were both completely dead on our feet, so we napped for a few hours in our tiny (by American standards) room, and then we made our way over to the Hotel Etap to meet our friends. As we walked, we got caught in the first of many rain showers. In fact, the entire 3 day festival was plagued by constant rain and cold, and of course, I did not bring a single long-sleeved shirt!

At the Hotel Etap, we met our French Magma buddies Fabrice Journo, Francis Lecointe, Maxence Bilsky (Zwenskaia), and Denis (Maahnt). These are some of the same good people that I hung out with at Le Casino de Paris this past February when I went to see Magma play their 40th anniversary shows. Fabrice is one of the official photographers of Magma, and since he got a press pass for the RIO Festival, he was able to spend the entire festival in the first row and backstage taking pictures.

Cap Decouverte was an interesting place. Steve remarked that it looked like an Al-Qaeda training base. There is a family fun area with a skateboard and bicycle park, and during the festival, there was loud rock music blasting from the skateboard park, perhaps to drown out the sounds coming from the RIO Festival. I would have liked to see if the skateboarders could do their tricks to the music of Magma….

(End of Part 1)

Video - RIO Festival 2009 (from Aymeric Leroy)

Aymeric Leroy, reknowned expert on Canterbury and RIO music, posted a video on DailyMotion of some of the bands at the RIO Festival. Enjoy ....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back from RIO

Just got back home from RIO and I am busy checking my email. I have a lot of things to write, so over the next day or two, watch out for a complete review of the entire festival.

Back from RIO

Just got back home from RIO and I am busy checking my email. I have a lot of things to write, so over the next day or two, watch out for a complete review of the entire festival.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Off to the RIO Festival

I leave on the morning of September 17 for London, where I am meeting Magma fan Steve Davis, then a flight the following morning to Toulouse/Carmaux for the Rock In Opposition Festival.

Magma, Present, Univers Zero, and more.

See you there! Stop by and say hello. I will try to wear by black baseball cap that has an orange F on it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Message from our friend Olvator

Dear Magma fans, and Zeuhl music collectors!

My name is OLVATOR, I think some of you might have heard or read my name by now. I have been in the lucky position to pass on numerous Magma tapes to the general public (along with some very dedicated other Magma collectors like hanwaker, juhab1, rushomancy, nadir53...just to name a few...). I would like to take this opportunity once again to talk to you all about mp3, and the distribution of mp3 sourced material of the shows that we uploaded at DIME in lossless quality.

First of all, let´s get one thing out of the way: I do not own the shows that I shared with you all. So in the end, after I uploaded them I have no more control about what will happen to them, and of course you are all free to do with them whatever you want (except for selling them!). But I want to remind you about a few things:

First of all, when people share their shows with you all (which you get for absolutely free) and when they request you not to transfer and distribute them as mp3, please respect this wish. Of course you can turn them into mp3 for private use, but not for distribution.

Some people say that it is elitist bullshit when we talk about "polluting the trading pool with mp3 sourced material". But that is only the case on first sight. It is indeed true and it is very bad for the future generations after us, who would still like to get clean copies of shows.

There are numerous shows by now which are traded as lossless which in case they are not. In the last 15 years, since all this mp3-ology has started, we have already lost many lossless sources in the Magma trading vaults. Just because people are not caring about this issue. They "remaster" concerts and do not use the proper settings in their audio software and then they upload them as flac again. Or they grab shows from blogs that use mp3 and start trading them as cdr´s. The result is very depressing.

Most of this happened because people just did not know better. It has always been the step of transferring the audio tapes to digital (to the computer) when this happened.

A few examples: the ORTF 1971 show that I uploaded on DIME some time ago. Go ahead and check it with a spectral analyzer. There is mp3 in the lineage!

The Brussels 1974 show. There is mp3 in the lineage.

Frejus 1977. Mp3 in the lineage...

There are many more examples I am sure....if we would only take the time to really check them all.

Why is this so bad? Well....because in about 20 years from now, most of the original tapers might be dead (no kidding), and then the original tapes will most likely end up in a dust bin. It has happened many times before. What then? It probably means that we will have lost the real lossless versions forever!

Imagine that sometimes in the future as technology advances, we might be able to fix hiss or other distractions and equalizing problems in a much better way then today, but the bit-rate and frequencies are not there anymore to do a proper job. All this mp3 is really a big problem for this.

If you had a master copy of a video from a TV station, would you transfer it to a small mpeg file and then throw the master away?

If you had an original manuscript by Kafka, would you typewrite it and then throw the original away?

I think that in the long run, by transferring shows to mp3 for distribution, we are not at all honouring the efforts made by the tapers and collectors themselves, we are indeed kicking them with our feet.

Today, our society wants to live life quickly. Everything has to be available NOW. Maybe it´s that. To upload and download mp3 does not take so much time. Well, ok. But don´t you think that you should be happy you get all this stuff for free?? Don´t you think it should be ok to wait for a download of flac files, even if it takes 3 hours?

The shows that you all grabbed from DIME (or that were used as a basis for mp3 distribution on blogs) were the result of intensive research to find the best available sources still around. Weeks of comparing , discussions, trying to get in touch with people,driving 900 km per day with a car, etc...have been done to present you the Magma flood. To see all these shows being distributed as mp3 is really hurting myself, as we all have always stated in the descriptions that we do not support mp3.

But even our descriptions are not always reproduced. There is even no credit to the people who did all this, when something is posted on the web. And I think it is a shame.

But as I said, I cannot change the world, and the shows do not belong to us. We have to thank the guys who recorded and preserved them for all these years. People who have lovingly preserved rare Magma tapes for more than 30 years....and now our generation comes along and turns them into mp3 cause its quicker, smaller, or whatever......

Please take a few minutes to think about this, THANK YOU!

And thank you all for keeping the music alive.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Please Look for Old Magma Souvenirs

We all hope that old Magma fans will try to look through their closets and basements and find the old recordings and photos that they made. I know that many old fans might not have the technical knowledge to digitize their old tapes. If you need help, just leave a comment on this blog. We would be glad to help you, and we assure you that you will get your original tapes back.

Thank you,

The Franco-American Society for the Collection and Investigation of Scarce Magma

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Magma - Grenoble 1975

Another rare tape has been unearthed from our favorite French Gentleman. As with the recording from Chateavallon 1972, the gentleman prefers to have very limited distribution of this concert. He would love to see some of the other collectors of Zeuhl start to share some of the hidden treasures that they have.

Here are the liner notes for this concert:

Palais des Sports
17 may 1975
Festival (with
Mahjun, Mama Béa Tekielski, Henry Cow)
01 Intro (1:44)
02 Köhntarkösz (34:52)
03 Emëhntëht-Rê (announcement) (7:20) >
04 Ptah (22:35)
05 Hhai (14:32)
06 Intro (1:29)
07 Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh (43:33)
Total : 2h06
Christian Vander (dr, voc)
Klaus Blasquiz (voc)
Stella Vander (voc)
Gabriel Federow (g)
Didier Lockwood (v)
Jean-Pol Asseline (k)
Benoît Widemann (k)
Bernard Paganotti (b)
AUD > reel-to-reel (mono, 1st gen.) > wav > flac

Friday, September 11, 2009

A New Magma Blog

Our friend Korrigan has just started a new blog for Zeuhl music. It can be found here:

I think that between this blog, the Zeuhl and Beyond blog, Korrigan's blog, the Magma Web Pressbook, Ork Alarm, and MagmaFan's blog, we will attract Magma fans who have hidden treasures in their basements (do they have basements in France?)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jannick Top - Bass Amplifier Advertisement

Magma - Club Europa, Brooklyn, June 23, 2007

Club Europa is a Polish club and discotheque that is in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, a neighborhood of working-class Polish immigrants. In the summer of 2007, someone decided to promote a few Progressive Rock shows. Magma played one week, and Hawkwind played the next week.

This gig was booked at the last minute. Magma played the Nearfest festival the very next day, so this was a good warm-up gig for Magma. I expected a very small audience, given the facts that it was in Brooklyn and that most Magma fans would already be at Nearfest. But, about 200 rabid Magma lovers showed up. I brought my son to his second Magma show, and he loved it.

Magma played a good gig, and the fans would not let them leave the stage. The promoters were very strict about keeping Magma to a 90 minute time limit, because after the Magma show, the club was to turn into a disco. As we left the club, there was a line of people who looked like they were ready to do The Hustle until the wee hours of the morning.