Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thanks to Laurent Futura

I have been very busy in my new job, but I have a lot of things in the queue to post here.

I wanted to give a brief word of thanks to Laurent (aka "Futura") who was the administrator of the French Magma forum for the past few years. Through this forum, I have met many fellow Zeuhl fans, and have exchanged many ideas.

Laurent made the courageous decision to leave his post as administrator of the forum after a recent series of heated discussions revolving around a certain controversy that most readers here are already aware of. Sometimes, there is too much factual evidence that turns up that support certain rumors. When you realize that rumors turn into fact, you need to re-evaluate certain premises. Laurent has done so, and he has realized that he cannot administer a forum about Magma in good conscience.

Good luck in your future travels, Laurent!


  1. What controversy? Tell us more...

  2. the controversy is that Christian has been rumoured for years to have a certain, very abstract fascination for Hitler, and seems to be slightly paranoid in regards of how "jews" are in control of planet earth. These rumours started already early on in the Seventies (there was a link to an eyewitness account from 1971, maybe Marc could post that one?), then it got really serious when a J. Goebbels quote appeared in the bonus interview section of the Trianon DVD. Finally in June this year, a chat protocoll has leaked (but was later confirmed by both chatters (Emanuel Borghi and YANN) which featured the first confirmation of all these rumours coming from someone from inside the band....apparently, when christian has drunk a little bit too much, he regularly gets into anti-jews rants, and must have said some really ugly things in the bar of a club in Paris. Emanuel also confirmed that he had a few pretty ugly conversations with Christian over the years, that the spoken intro in Zess was a phonetic imitation of a Hitler speech, and that the line from Mekanink saying"fur mehn fuhl endoh litah", was originally meant to be "für mein Führer Adolf Hitler" (for my leader Adolf Hitler).

    It is actually funny, but i as a german have been bringing up this topic in the past, but remained pretty much unheard, as no one really wants to believe things like that. How can some who says he loves Coltrane, and had a jewish wife, be like that? The answer is quite simple: he just is a real weirdo.

    Listening to the new ER, i found some new "evidence" in the Hhai section (which have been featuring kind of Hitler snippets for as long as I can think), After the Manter Kreuz scream. he always says "stuermen werden", which means "will storm" in the sense of military troops.

    Now, I don´t think that imitating or including parts of Hitlerisms in arts (criticizing) is that bad, but if you really seem to support parts of those ideologies, it becomes very, very problematic, which is just happening now.

    Marc, I think it is time to shed more light on this, and include the "evidence" we have been able to collect over the last few weeks and present them to the public. I think that everyone who dearly loves Magma, does not deserve not to be told what it seems to be. It should be discussed here in the non-french section of Magma followers as well. I know you have been hesitating to do so....but isn´t it our duty? Or are you still not sure about it all being true?

    best, olvator

  3. This is a VERY troubling development... This would cast the entire Kobaian mythology into a very different light. I for one would like to hear more.
    Dana Lawrence

  4. Very interesting - and of course a bit disturbing. I was guessing something like that but wasn't sure.
    As you all know the Kobaian language was always linked to German by a lot of critics/fans and the way the Magma members dressed always reminded people of uniforms. And then there was/is this logo...
    It might be that Christian Vander is a weirdo, but the music he created is obviously still wonderful and when I had the chance to do an interview with him some time ago I found him to be a really nice and handsome guy. But judging from what is discussed here now there might be something lurking deep inside - unfortunately...

  5. Wow, this sure is interesting and sort of difficult topic.

    I'm not sure if it's wise to speculate about this kind of things. I think that only Christian himself knows how the things really are. But I gotta admit that I'd be quite eager to know more about these so called "evidences".

  6. Olve, I will try to address this later with another comment.

  7. It has always seemed clear to me that part of the Magma project involves an attempt to channel the trauma of Nazism. From the imagery and insignias, to the more declamatory Germanic vocal passages and the militaristic sections, war, Germany, Europe and Nazism are clearly resonating themes from the beginning. A serious discussion of these issues would have to take into account that Magma is a rather singular, determinedly oneiric art-music project. It has an entire dramatis personae, a narrative and an apocalyptic mythos. It involves characters and archetypes (expressed in clearly demarcated different voices). One of the many reasons that Magma is so unusual is that the memory of Nazism is indeed audible in their music, where much other (non-classical) music of the 60s and 70s effectively pretended that the Nazi catastrophe hadn't happened. Which is the weirder response?

    Magma should be experienced alongside works like Hans-Jurgen Syberberg's 'Hitler', as well as Stockhausen's Licht.

    I would be interested to see the documentation as well, but I think one has to be careful interpreting the utterances of mercurial artists, especially when they may be 'acting out' their material.

    The music is made of nightmares as well as ecstasy, because it takes everything in. Nothing is scotomised - you're as likely to hear the voice of a militaristic maniac as ethereal, angelic voices. This is what it does. It is challenging stuff!


  8. Good post Chris. This is the first I've heard of all this, but if it's true I don't think it would diminish my respect for Christian's music and drumming / vocal ability. Being something of a metalhead I am well used to darker reflections of humanity in music, so I can see where you are coming from there. Equally, if someone whose talent I admire holds questionable beliefs then that doesn't really affect how I feel about their art, unless this art was in some way trying to espouse or glorify those beliefs. But I don't think this is the case in any way (not that I claim to fully understand Kobian!). And can a man who idolises John Coltrane and performed such a beautiful and spiritually uplifting track as "Another Day" possibly be a secret Nazi? I doubt it. My instinct would be no, he's possibly a little eccentric, if not downright weird (as mentioned by olvator) but then I always thought that anyway, and for me this was part of the charm. So this is a bit disappointing, given I idolize CV and Magma, however I will keep an open mind until I hear the full story....can anybody tell me if Borghi and the Paganotti's departure was related to this issue in some way?

  9. Love the music and that makes everything okay? When I think abou the Kobaian mythos, the actual storyline about perfecting humanity, and I contextualize that in terms of Nazism, that is deeply troubling if this turns out true. I cannot so easily forgive the artist simply because I love the art; I am, after all, Jewish- and I am certainly one of the hugest magma fans in existence.

  10. Why not ask CV directly about this? And then it would hopefully be possible to drop the subject.
    I dont think its very plausible that he should be a racist when you look at Magma's history and the musicians who have been in the band. Apparently his eventual anti-jewish feelings must obviously be much less important than having great musicians in the band.
    The lyrics have never meant much to me, its just a framework, but I cant see any nazireferences in the music or the lyrics, and its actually possible to interepret a lot in to kobaian without a shred of evidence.
    Maybe he has an idiosyncratic grudge against jews as an ethnic group, maybe not, but its not reflected in his art, and thus, in my personal view belongs to his privacy. And we can all say stupid things when we are drunk, hopefully whithout having to hear for it the rest of our lives.
    So why not ask himself?

    (Paganotti is to my knowledge born in Algeria.)

  11. well michael...it is more than just rumours. There are of course lyrics that are directly linked to the third reich, such as the clearly audible "NS-Stürmer" in Retrovision. Or listen to any Hhai version and the listen closely to when he screams "Manter kreuz"...Or the quote on the Trianon DVD which was even signed as being from J.G. (Joseph Goebbels)...

    and the clue is: this is not saying I am calling CV a "racist"...it has alway been the main argument from people who can´t believe these stories-how can he be a racist if he loves Coltrane. Well he is not a racist, people have asked him this many times before, and he always said no. It seems to be more like an anti jewish paranoia thing mixed with profound sympathy for the Nazi movement for its power, its ability to glorify things and its strange mass movement development....this of course are only guesses, as no one from the band, let alone CV, have ever been willing to comment on any of that. The only response I have ever got, was: Well aren´t we all the Hitlers of someone else?
    Please believe me, I am not happy to bring up these topics, and I am not at all keen on being branded as someone who wants to destroy Christians legacy as a musician, how could I? He is one of the most fantastic drummers ever walking on this planet. But all these infos come from people that were very close with him and have stopped being with Christian because of these things. I know it is hard to face, I have been there...

  12. Yes, the best thing would be to ask. I do not know how to do that, but perhaps someone with a bit of backbone working in the rock press could do so.

  13. Magma's other founder member is a black man. The band that's the whole life of Christian ! So for me it's very hard to believe he's a racist. The german language is powerful and can sound pretty harsh, so Germanic influences on kobaïan language fit perfectly well the dark, apocalyptic imagery of the music.
    On the other side, the 'malawala' section of Mekanïk and the beginning of Hhaï sound nothing like 'Hitlerism' !

  14. No, it cannot be a question of loving the music making everything ok (to take up Dana's point). It has to be that the music and narrative are more complex than we might have thought (or wanted to believe).

    The more ecstatic passages are usually (always?) distinct from the militaristic passages. Indeed, the angelic/ecstatic passage from the end of Wurdah Itah that is repeated in the second half of the second section of KA is interrupted brutally at the end of the section. There is a conflict between the 'yearning' parts of Magma and other forces represented in the music. Sometimes the yearning is brutally suppressed, or interrupted by what seems to be consciously ridiculous marching music (I'm thinking of Wurdah Itah in particular).

    Dana, I think the music expresses a conflict - the problem is working out what the conflict is (or the conflicts). The historical allusions to fascism are definitely there, and so our task as listeners is to interpret what is going on.

    However, just because Nazism is alluded to in the music does not mean it is all about Nazism. It does not ignore Nazism, which makes it unusual in 60s-70s music. But clearly the historical tableau Magma are working with is vast, and takes in aspects of Egyptian religion and the history of religion in general as well.


  15. Although thinking about it further (it's my day off), there is another aspect that needs to be taken into account when talking about the 'militaristic' passages in the music. MDK is more like a Scythian 'war-machine', and this aspect should probably be distinguished from the more parodic 'militaristic' passages where there's a sort of regimented frenzy. It's difficult to analyse, but someone will have to do it sooner or later. Someone should do a PhD thesis on Magma, if it hasn't already been attempted!

  16. Okay, let's be clear here. You can do all the critical analysis of the music you want to, but the actual question here is whether or not Christina Vander is anti-semitic. Period. It may or may not manifest in the music, but that is not what matters. Does Christian harbor these attitudes? That's the question- and it matters.