Ork Alarm! # 2

November 1990

CONTENTS

  • The Mathematics of the Zeuhl sign
  • Zebëhn 20-10-90 (photo: Kristina Pohl)
  • The Mr. Peach Interview (Jad Ayache)
  • Band Breakdown 09-03-74 (Steve Lake & Barrie Wentzell)
  • Music to build Empires by… (Chrissie Hynde)
  • Stella in Schiltigheim 20-10-90 (photo: Kristina Pohl)
  • Mythes et Legendes Vol 1
  • Offering III et IV
  • Ork! Update

Magma Tour

MAGMA TOUR
French Radio announced a European tour from September to December 1990 by MAGMA, which included:

20-10-90 SALLE DES FETES, SCHILTIGHEIM (near Strasbourg)
21-10-90 LE POLLEN, ELANCOURT (near Versailles)
13-11-90   L’AERONEF, LILLE
05-12-90 SALLE DU VIGNEAN, EYSINES, BORDEAUX

CHRISTIAN VANDER TRIO
08-09-90 NEW MORNING CLUB, PARIS
27-10-90  THÉÂTRE DUNOIS, 75013 PARIS
11-90 VAL D’OISE FESTIVAL (near Paris)


The Mr. Peach interview

Jad Ayache 1990

STELLA VANDER since the very beginning has been the most faithful of the spokes-people from MAGMA. At the forefront, and more than any other, she has a lot to tell us. And its good for us that she likes to talk.

JA:     Could you tell me your own views on Coltrane’s music?

SV:     They are certainly not the same as those of Christian, since I am much less engrossed in it. I’ve listened to that music ever since I was a kid and I never cease to find new things in it. There is such an enormous wealth to it, that perhaps the music deserves an entire lifetime’s study, but I am far from being rooted in the course of each note as Christian is.

JA:     He is an extremist in that field…

SV:     Exactly.

JA:     Since joining the choir for ‘Mekanïk’ in 73, your role in Christian Vander’s line-ups never ceases to evolve. Could you go back over your contribution to the music of Christian Vander?

SV:     I started a little by chance. At one point when they were auditioning girls for the backing vocals, they realized that I would be perfectly capable of doing the job. At this time, very few girls worked in music, especially in France and particularly in rock groups. Essentially it was just guys… This was to be quite problematic. I felt bad vibes, but when I re-listen to the recordings of that time, I realize that I carried out my job well and that I had no reason to get a complex, but alongside people like Klaus and Jannick, I was considered small fry.

JA:     You started your career in a variety style, quite restricted by the 60′s pop fashions. What attracted you towards Magma?

SV:     I started my career at the age of thirteen making simple songs, which were the thing at that time. (Ed: At this point I wish you could listen to ‘Pourquoi pas Moi’, there really was no English pop music in the 60′s of this type… no wonder that IQ were later considered progressive music! – meow!). I messed around with those for three years. As soon as I realized a true level of technique, there was no one trendier than me, until the day I saw Christian. I had heard of him from his friends who spoke of him only in flattering terms. I imagined a very trendy bloke, so skilled as to be capable of reading the smallest musical note at 3km. That day I had been working; jamming in a club, I was totally bowled over. I’d say that if it ever existed, he had the knack for music. I would have moved heaven and earth to meet him… that day or the next, all my musical friends no longer existed. I was nearly nineteen, and I said to my boyfriend beside me “Is this the revelation of your life or what?” It really was.

JA:     Is there, amongst the innumerable formations within which you played, one of them that you particularly regret?

SV:     No, because I always found each one in turn was very interesting. I definitely have many fond memories of the two eras with Jannick, then with Bernard (Paganotti) and Didier (Lockwood) because those were the most consistent. But I have no regrets because although they achieved formidable things musically, it was much less formidable in human terms. It’s also true that Christian changed, that I myself changed…. It’s true that I had a big mouth… Well, now I’m here to balance things out a little. Now, we talk as equals, whereas before I was often only just tolerated.

JA:     I remember an amusing dispute between you and Christian after the concert at Chateau-Arnoux on the subject of an error in the structure of one piece, which provoked a crisis. I think that in OFFERING, Christian wanted to be free of the structures that rigidly controlled MAGMA, but it seems to me that you did not share that wish…

SV:     It’s true for many of the OFFERING pieces, parts of ‘Another Day’… but not for ‘A Fiïèh’, it is closer to a MAGMA piece. It could not function any other way.

JA:     I get the impression that you always attempted to “Bring things down to earth”.

SV:     Because he desperately needs someone to do that. This is extremist, as you were saying. This is all very well to attempt some of the things in rehearsal, but on stage he needs to be realistic, problems arise, which he poses for himself, and a there is limit to what is possible…

JA:     I think that the risk is precisely what Christian is searching for.

SV:     Myself, I am all for a calculated risk, If we are unfortunate enough to be playing in the back of beyond with fifty people, it’s not dramatic, but for an important festival, it’s not right to take risks. The journalists do not like you before you start….

JA:     Not all, Not all!

SV:     Yes, well I’m talking about the journalists of “DJAAZE” among others.

JA:     Finally could you tell us a little of your own musical feelings. Which kinds of music and musicians do you like?

SV:     For two years I have not listened to a great variety. Always the same things. Classical, Coltrane, a little jazz. As for more recent music there is no big thing that I have switched onto. From time to time, two or three tracks by Sting because I find the sound is superb…. The happy lyrics… The melodies…. I would say that twice a year, something catches my ears. It’s a bit sad. I am content in fact with the things that Christian does. Often, one works without ever performing it on stage or making a record…. And then, in another way I listen to the same things that Christian does, all the Tamla era, all the rhythm & blues. We have the same background; I do not think we would have had the same dialogue if that had not been the case.

JA:     Have you any information on tile subject of your solo album?

SV:     It is in the paste-up stage. I have eliminated a lot of things, added some other pieces by Christian that he has had for a long while, which we should have recorded at the time they were first written. It will be a very tranquil album, very much “ballads” with little things… Perhaps a violin section if I find the finances, probably not very rhythmic. I have started to listen to more and more things without a regular beat.

JA:     What are the prospects offered by the new studio?

SV:     We will try to be more productive now that we have a studio adapted to our needs. We will try to make more records that previously we were unable to capture because of the time it took. And if it functions well, why not also record the people who we like very much?

JA:     For example, Pierre-Michel? (Keyboards and vocals in OFFERING)

SV:     Yes, or even older friends than that… Patrick Gauthier, who I have asked for a piece for my album.

Good hopes therefore, at the start of 1990, which will begin with the release of an album by the Christian Vander Trio. (An album I cannot recommend highly enough, even to those of you who have not so far been inclined to listen to jazz, since the wild energy emanating from this trio is astounding).

A lot of plans to make your mouth water: The completion of ‘OFFERING 3 et 4′, but equally for the album ‘A Fiïèh’. Even for an album from MAGMA that Christian announced would break new ground in composition and conception and which would allow an important space for him to play his inimitable drums alongside the electronic music. And certainly, for the more impatient among you, plans of the concerts which are not to be missed: The Trio will pass near your town soon, but above all an exceptional concert by MAGMA at the Cigale on the 22nd February, where ‘Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh’ will be played for the first time in ten years.

Some concerts by OFFERING (16th January at Venissieux, 15th February at Elancourt) and a project for the Twentieth anniversary of Magma at Aubervilliers.

That should help fulfil the grumpy old fans and all those of you who wish to join the train in progress. You will be able to seize the day…. End of sermon.

Jad Ayache
Loosely translated from Mr. Peach # 2, an excellent French progressive magazine


 

Band Breakdown

Melody Maker 09-03-74

Steve Lake, photos by Barrie Wentzell

It was five years ago that, in the face of local apathy, Christian Vander set about forming Magma. Vander, initially a jazz drummer, and one with a pedigree as long as your arm, had become scornful of the abilities of his jazz-improvising contemporaries. He could find no one that shared his passion for the musical and spiritual path adopted by the late John Coltrane, and, somewhat disillusioned, he ultimately abandoned the jazz scene and took whatever commercial gigs were available. Thus it was that at one point in 1969, Christian found himself laying down a half-hearted off-beat behind Arthur Conley on a tour of Italy.

On returning to France, he found that a number of French rock groups had sprung into existence, possibly motivated by the lack of visiting talent. Amongst these bands were Triangle and Martin Circus, unknown over here in the U.K. but for a while fantastically successful in France.

“The audiences were on their knees before these bands” recalls Vander, “and everyone was telling me that they were tremendous. I knew differently. There was nothing there at all”.
So Vander decided that he’d alter the listening habits of France by forming his own band.

His dream was to realise this by playing music that was spiritually as well as physically satisfying. The problem was finding the right musicians. There were initially no virtuoso jazz players that were prepared to attempt Christian’s experiment, so Vander looked instead for people who were not necessarily great players, but who had character, imagination and energy.

Surprisingly, the first musicians that wanted to play with him were the horn players from Johnny Halliday’s band, who were honking and riffing themselves to sleep every night, playing music in which they had neither faith nor interest. Thus it was that the first inception of Magma, by Vander’s own admission, was “Musically atrocious.”

A twelve-piece band, it incorporated the Halliday front-line, a free jazz double bass player, Laurent Thibault on electric bass, who was later to produce the first album (“a lovely guy but he couldn’t play in time”), Eddy Rabin on keyboards, the excellent Claude Engel on guitar, and René Garber on vocals. Garber, who rejoined the band last year as a contrabass clarinettist, suffered from an inability to sing in tune, and has since returned to Music College to study pipe organ. But from shaky beginnings, Magma gradually took off, having picked up Klaus Blasquiz at a demo studio, when Garber had failed to turn up for the recording.

Vander had decided that the band shouldn’t sing in French, as the language is essentially a weak sounding one and as he couldn’t speak any other language, he invented his own. Full of guttural noises, and strange Teutonic syllables, perhaps instinctively reflecting Vander’s own background, for his roots are not in France, but rather in Poland and the Baltic forests – his grandfather was a nomadic gypsy violinist.

To make the new language functional, Vander sketched out a kind of outer-space morality play, a continuing rock cantata entitled “Theuz Hamtaahk,” being a multiple-part story of relationships between Earth and an imaginary colonised planet named Kobaïa. Using this unlikely plot, Vander has created a sci-fi microcosm that bulges with all manner of contradictions and controversies, using the theme to propose all manner of arguable points. Among these, that tyrants are, or can be, guides for civilisation, and that wisdom and enlightenment can only be achieved via punishment. Strong stuff, and the recorded tales of Kobaïa so far centre on damnation rather than salvation, with multiple cyclic disasters much in evidence.

To date there have been three Magma albums: ‘Magma’ (French Phillips 63595 001/2 – double album), ’1001 Degrees Centigrades’ (French Phillips 6397.031), and – ‘Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh’ (A&M SP-4397). Of these, only the A & M record is widely available in this country, although the first two may be obtained from better import shops.

It has to be emphasised however, that it’s not just in lyric content that Magma are a force apart from the rest of rock. Musically, they’re more far-reaching than any other I can think of, and absorb influences from literally every musical form, taking in elements of Bartok, Stockhausen, Carl Orff, Wagner, Coltrane, Ellington, fragments of European folk music, oriental drones, yet all the time retaining a rock ‘n’ roll vitality, with explosive use of dynamics. They breeze effortlessly through crippling time-changes, yet without sounding overly “intellectual” or “tricky.” Indeed, at recent English Magma gigs, idiot dancers have been observed happily getting it on in 7/4 and 9/4, something unthinkable at, say, a Soft Machine concert. And speaking of the Softs, it’s interesting to recall that their ‘Third’ was hailed as a masterpiece of invigorating invention, and we were told that the band’s “crucial importance in the future of popular music cannot be denied.”

That’s as maybe, but it’s fascinating to observe that Magma’s first album is exactly contemporary with ‘Third’, and in compositional and instrumental terms it far outstrips the Softs’ record, although the two bands at this period share a certain unity in their use of horns. The principal reed player on all of Magma’s recordings has been Teddy Lasry, who’s no longer with the group, but is far too important to leave out of any history. Lasry’s departure has not been one of choice, but the saxophonist/flautist is only partially-sighted and cannot take the strain of life on the road. Nonetheless, Lasry helped shape the direction of the band, and contributed several compositions, notably ‘Sohïa’ and “Iss” Lanseï Doïa, to Magma’s repertoire.

Lasry still performs with the band occasionally in France, where the group, play six-hour long sets. A somewhat daunting prospect, since the two-hour concerts they’ve given in England have proved to be the ultimate sensory overload. Even now, Magma continue their unstoppable path through Britain leaving behind a string of standing ovations, and a legion of new believers.

Magma’s self-styled “Zeuhl Music” is like nothing else ever heard by English audiences, and yet it’s met with an open, positive response almost everywhere the band has played. Christian Vander has been drumming for more years than he cares to remember, but it looks as though his time is finally at hand.


 

Christian Vander: INTENSE

That’s a word that sums up Christian Vander’s attitudes to both life and music. He seems to set himself almost impossible standards and after the most stunning of performances can be observed with his head hung in despondency. For five years now, he’s led various versions of Magma, and he seems to be never satisfied always urging the musicians around him to play more, and harder and harder still.

In his youth he shunned local jazz musicians for their failure to recognise Coltrane’s genius, and it seems that Vander half believes that he’s inherited Coltrane’s mantle. ”Our music is not the same”, he has often said, “but ours is the same spiritual quest. Now for the first time, I’ve got musicians who are of one mind. Our goal is the same, which is why this version of the band is the most successful to date.”

Christian generally declines to talk about the period prior to Magma’s formation, feeling that then was merely a preparation for now. But repeated inquiries and investigations reveal that he was Jean Luc Ponty’s drummer for a while, and has worked with other luminaries including the mighty Grachun Monchur III and Chick Corea. Ultimately, however, Vander believes that a musician has to play music that’s truly his own. He loves Tamla Motown, Rhythm and Blues, early Rock music, and McCoy Tyner too. ”But it’s not my music, you know. There is really no point at all in being an imitator or a copyist. It’s better that you don’t play rather than do that. ”Yet very few musicians have the courage and conviction to search deep inside themselves and play from their hearts, reflecting their own background.”

Vander has in the past analysed his own musical background, and acknowledges his gypsy heritage is something of great importance. Voodoo, exorcism and trance-inducing music, are all things that he has studied, and he’s fond too of the grandiosity of German music and Russian opera.


 

Gerard Bikialo

The young Gérard Bikialo’s musical career was almost over before it began. A child prodigy at the piano, he used to travel 75 Kilometres unaccompanied from Montargis to Orleans at the age of nine, two days every week. The purpose of this exercise was to study at the Orleans Conservatory, and it was ideal training for a youngster set on being a concert pianist. Gérard’s junior school head teacher thought differently, and banned him from attending the music college, effectively terminating his career.

Music was abandoned, but not forgotten, and nine years later, when Gerard was at university in Paris, he began to do gigs with dance bands and all sorts, before forming his own Rock and Roll band, the proceeds from which he put towards further piano lessons at Paris Conservatory. Meanwhile he was studying Mathematics and Psychology.
“But my heart wasn’t really in that. Eventually I dropped out and decided to devote my life to playing music.”

Once again, he was thwarted by external situations. The military demanded that he do his national service. That over, he decided to enrol at the Conservatory as a full-time student, studying Piano and Saxophone.
“I studied on Alto Sax, because that’s the easiest to learn, but later I got into Tenor as well. It was a drummer called Christian Moran who introduced me to Magma’s music. He had the first album, and we just played the thing over and over, all night long. I’d never heard anything like it”

Four years later, Vander and Moran were kicking around ideas for a part-time percussion band, and Vander happened to mention that Magma was currently without a pianist. Moran suggested Bikialo. Eventually Gérard was asked to join Magma.
“I was terrified. Really scared. Everybody in the group was a virtuoso musician, and I really didn’t think I could do it. I’d only ever played with money orientated guys. Still, it hasn’t worked out too badly.”


 

Jannick Top

To an outsider, Jannick Top is certainly the weirdest member of Magma. A small, bald-headed man, with a bone-crunching handshake and quite the most startling bass guitar technique you’ve ever seen, Jannick is also a mystic and philosopher. Rather than answer questions about his past, the mysterious Top produced a hand written piece of prose.
“This has the answers to all the questions you could ever ask” he said, and began to read.

The rest of the band seemed overwhelmed by the bass man’s profundity. Space doesn’t permit me to print the whole of Jannick’s epistle, but here’s a brief excerpt:
“Music doesn’t aim to instil one person’s dogma in another’s mind, but like all arts, can contain an element of knowledge. And all aspects of life are arts. The art of communication, with oneself and with others.”
“A human being appears to be a touchable, palpable vehicle, governed by certain physical laws. But the body is merely a vehicle, and there’s another vehicle formed by the disassociation of the body with substances that surround us.”
“This concept of layers can be illustrated in the conscience, and is paralleled in art by attempts to get out of the eternal ‘for and against’ struggle.”
“What Magma are aiming for is a kind of total art, absolute communication, the kind of art that built the pyramids. That art is not dead.”

Christian Vander courteously filled in details of Jannick’s past. Classically trained as a cellist and double bass player, at Marseilles Conservatoire, Vander discovered Jannick playing bass guitar in a small club, in a band called Troc, fronted by former Brian Auger vocalist, Alex Ligertwood.

“I was overwhelmed,” the drummer recalls, “I couldn’t hear the other musicians, all I could hear was this beautiful bass guitar concerto, and I knew that I had to have him in Magma, although I realised that his inclusion would mean the destruction of the band in its current form. Jannick has changed everything.

It appears that Jannick Top will continue to change Magma. His melodic, inventive approach to the bass is certainly one of the major highlights of any Magma performance. As a soloist, he’s probably without par. Certainly there’s no one else in rock to touch him.


 

Michel Graillier

It’s probably been more difficult for Michel Graillier to adapt to the rigorous discipline that Magma imposes than it has for any other band member. Michel plays electric piano, clavinet and organ, and has a long established reputation as one of France’s leading jazz players. He’s worked with Charles Tolliver, Slide Hampton and Steve Lacy, and recorded with Phil Woods, Johnny Griffin, Ted Curson and Hank Mobley. Aside from which, he’s achieved a multiple piano album with three other keyboard players (amongst them, Christian’s stepfather, Maurice Vander), and played and recorded with Barney Willen’s band, Moshi. For three years he shared front line duties with Jean-Luc Ponty in the violinist’s group. Naturally a certain amount of flamboyance and flair for improvisation was required to fulfil these posts, and after such “freedom,” it was hard to come to terms with Magma, where soloing isn’t outlawed, but where ego trips are frowned upon.

“A long time ago I realised that as an improviser I could never match any of the giants, and I readily admit that for me, freedom is most likely to he found by playing very structured music.
“Even so, it’s taken me a long while to accept that. This is actually my second period in Magma.”  “I just was not strong enough to take the music first time around, but now I’m adjusting. All the same, controlling one’s indulgence is a never-ending task”


 

Klaus Blasquiz

At the outset of a Magma performance it will probably be the noble, operatic gestures of Klaus Blasquiz that first catch your attention. One hand on his heart and the other clawing at the air in the grand, stylised tradition.

The voice too, has an operatic precision, immensely powerful, and with perfect pitch, and a vast range of octaves sufficient to make Beefheart, Sly and Annette Peacock nervous. One minute he’s scat singing high and free, and the next adding a sub-baritone melody line to Magma’s symphonic structures.
“I’m trying to widen my range,” he says, demonstrating the two ends of his spectrum without the slightest, effort, rattling the floorboards with a terrifying croaking noise.

Klaus is from France’s Basque country, long famed for its singers, and began singing in churches with his family, before getting harmony parts in various local choirs. Just as with many English musicians, he began taking an interest in Rock and Roll at Art College, being initially turned on by Elvis Presley. Later he formed various semi-pro bands of his own, singing Beatles songs, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and others. Later he earned a local reputation as a fine Blues singer, having long abandoned his Basque roots, and adopted the conventional “Americanese”.

It was Vander who motivated Klaus to utilise the knowledge he’d acquired as a child. Klaus just happened by fate to be at Magma’s first demo recording. He was a friend of Claude Engel, the original guitarist, and had turned up uninvited at the studio. As Magma were negotiating a few new riffs. Klaus began singing absent-mindedly to himself. Vander stopped playing.
“That’s the voice that the music needs,” he said. Klaus declined the offer first time around, deterred by the un-togetherness of the original band. Later he relented. He’s been with Magma ever since, and has seen some forty personnel shuffles.

Although the singer has not as yet contributed any compositions to Magma, he’s passionately devoted to the music.
“Magma is my life”,he says, with conviction that doesn’t allow for scepticism.


 

Claude Olmos

A stone rock n’ roller is Claude Olmos. He’s seen it all, and done it all, played all the riffs from Chuck Berry through to Hendrix, Clapton and Beck. He’s twenty-seven now, but at fifteen he was bopping, with “Los Gentlemen”, apparently France’s premier R’n'B band of the period. Years later he came to Paris and played with Alice, Coeur Magique and the Alan Jack Civilisation, none of whom were up to much he says. Sessions proved to be an early financial salvation, and like Vander before him, he accepted a number of commercial gigs, working for a while with Sylvie Vartan. And then for two years, Claude hung up his axe, and decided to study music.

He learnt to read music, and whilst at college was introduced to the music of McLaughlin and Larry Coryell, with whom he felt a certain affinity. More importantly, he discovered African and Indian music, and these, he claims, have had a more profound impact on his own style, than have any other guitarists. He also discovered Coltrane, naturellement!

“I didn’t like Magma at all when I first heard them. I was impressed by their courage in being as far-out as they were, but it was during the period when they had four brass Players in the front line, and everybody seemed to be shooting away in different directions”.
“There seemed to be no unity of direction. So I went back to my Rock and Roll bands”.
“Then, a year later Jannick insisted that I came to one of Magma’s concerts, so I reluctantly came to a Sunday afternoon Youth Centre gig at St. Michel and I was absolutely knocked out”.
“I was really dazed. I thought, wow, this is total madness. So after the show I jammed with them and I’ve stayed ever since. But I’m still finding my feet”.
“The temptation is to play like either a rock or jazz guitarist, but neither of those is right for Magma, so I’m trying to define a new style for myself But it’s not easy.”

Also none too easy is the way that Claude actually plays the guitar. Left-handed and upside down, without reversal of the strings. Thus the bottom E is at the top, and when chording, Claude strikes upwards rather than down. It looks weird as hell, but sounds fine.

Equipment:
KLAUS BLASQUIZ:
African and classical castanets, cowbells, sleigh bells, Brazilian “Agogo” bells, Mexican claves, Tibetan and Indian bells, African Rapetta, Brazilian Carioka, Glockenspiel, triangle, Zildjan cymbals.
CLAUDE OLMOS:
Jacobaca guitar, with position of controls altered for left-handed play. Fender strings, Ampeg V4 amplifier.
GERARD BIKIALO:
Fender electric piano, Schaller wah-wah pedal, Ampeg V4 amplifier.
MICHEL GRAILLIER:
Fender 13 electric piano, with Fender fuzz and wah wah pedals, Spherosound Farfisa organ, Hohner D6 Clavinet, Ampeg V4 amplifier.
JANNICK TOP:
Fender Jazz bass, tuned as a ‘cello with strings in fifths, thus – A, D, G and C. Schaller volume pedal, Ampeg SVT amplifier.
CHRISTIAN VANDER:
There was some difficulty here in ascertaining the measurements of some parts of Christian’s kit in English units. So the list that follows is an amalgam of metric and English measurements – work it out for yourself! Black Gretsch drum kit, with 47cm bass drum, 12″ top tom-tom, 14″ bass tom-tom, and 14″ chrome snare, Cymbals: two 55cm ride cymbals, one 45 and one 50cm crash cymbal, plus 36 and 38cm hi-hat cymbals, all Zildjan plus one 50cm Chinese cymbal. Various sticks and beaters, plus maraccas.
MICROPHONES:
Various, all by Shure.
P.A.:
Magma at present don’t have their own P.A. One is shortly to be constructed by Claude Venet.


Magma

Music to build empires by …

Walthamstow 02-03-74

Anyone who has a face like Christian Vander deserves some attention. At least that’s what I thought after seeing his fascist features splashed across the advertisement pages of the music-papers over the past few weeks. And I was right. His charisma is one of superhuman quality: massive arms and a face of cruel severity.

The inspiration for his music is explained as being a representation of the collective voice of a piece of metal that’s been circling the universe for some millions of years. Absorbing all the sound produced therein/there-out. The lyrics are provided in his own self-wrought language. “Kobaïan”.

Even Elvin Jones was reportedly most devastated by young Christian’s drumming prowess when he spotted him many years ago in his father’s Parisian nightclub.

The ensemble appears clad in the uniform of the new military; unornamented black, graced with a large medallion symbolizing what, I don’t know.

The vocalist assumes the stance, seemingly, of an intergalactic interpreter. His voice is not unlike that of a Wagnerian opera chanteur. His gesticulations reduce Charles Manson’s vibes to hot dog vendor proportions.

Magma’s music is not easily comparable. Try to imagine a combination of Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’, the mad paradiddles of Tony Williams’ ‘Lifetime’ with John McLaughlin and the discovery of a piece of Kryptonite in your soup.

Never does the manic intensity ease. All transitions are clean and tedium does not obstruct its visionary awareness. Each move is premeditated, masterminded.

The expertise of each member meshes to create an atmosphere of brooding anonymity. No place for bejeweled pretty boys here.

Vander’s wild flailings are frightening and beautiful to behold. He sits proud, erect. Not bothering to look at his kit. His assault is precise and immaculate, no compromises, he has definitive control.

It doesn’t seem unlikely that Magma cults will soon arise, but you won’t find perverts, civil rights, gay lib, or religious fanatics here. White man no like weakling.

Mr. Vander has more up his sleeve than sizeable biceps. Eva Braun – eat your heart out.

Chrissie Hynde


Stella In Schiltigheim 20-10-90

In Strasbourg and Elancourt, MAGMA were playing the following pieces ‘COSMOS’, ‘A FIÏÈH’, ‘HELLO’, ‘M.D.K.’, ‘ANOTHER DAY’, ‘LA DAWOTSIN’ & ‘EHN DEÏSS’. However, fictitious promotional literature claimed they would be performing: ‘ZËSS’, ‘M.D.K.’, ‘THEUSZ HAMTAAHK’ and ‘KÖHNTARKÖSZ’. This was denied by STELLA VANDER, saying “It would take too long to teach the current line-up all these pieces”. CHRISTIAN said that they would soon stop performing ‘ANOTHER DAY’ in their live shows.


Mythes et Legendes Vol. 1

‘MYTHES ET LEGENDES’ Is the compilation of rare early (& ’80) material that was released with stunning lack of promotion in 1985. Unfortunately it does not contain any extra material, and is still (in my opinion) ruined by the verbal commentary which partially overruns into the introductions of most tracks. However, the remaining musical content is still brilliant and where else can you get a mint version of ‘KLAUS KÖHMBALAD’ for 115FF?


Offering III et IV

Naturally the principal piece on ‘OFFERING III et IV’ is ‘ANOTHER DAY’ (44mins) with GUY KHALIFA, STELLA and CHRISTIAN in fine form and some very intricate piano and percussion interplay. The arrangement here seems much more complicated than the live versions they have performed recently. The overall sound reminds me more of the way it was played in 1983 than the 1990 tour performances. This new OFFERING release also contains a beautifully clear version of ‘EHN DEÏSS’ recorded in June ’87 and a fine performance of ‘OFFERING (2)’ which is basically a vocal duet they have been playing since 1989 (or earlier?). These digital studio recordings are all very delicate compared to the more bassy and frantic live performances. However, being a vinyl fetishist, I would have been keen to hear an LP version, but it has been decreed that “ALL FUTURE RELEASES WILL BE ON CD & K7 FORMAT ONLY”


ORK! UPDATE # 2

The Prague Festival appearance scheduled for 19-10-90 was cancelled. So far on the MAGMA tour, the CHRISTIAN VANDER TRIO have only played once (as the encore in Strasbourg), they only played two pieces :- ‘MY FAVORITE THINGS’ and ‘IT ALL DEPENDS ON YOU’.
MAGMA’S EXPANDED LINEUP – A reformation of some old friends… Welcome back KLÖTZ ZASPIAAHK and MARC ELIARD. The group also contained members of the new young Zeuhl band – DON’T DIE.

PIERRE MARCAULT somehow fell out of favour with CHRISTIAN during the Elancourt show and has left the band, (GUY KHALIFA left in January). A video of the Elancourt show is rumoured to exist, which might give some indication of PIERRE’s unfortunate faux-pas. I remember that while KLÖTZ introduced the members of the current line-up, ZEBËHN STRAIN DE GEUSTAAH glared furiously at PIERRE.

JULIE VANDER

STELLA’s daughter, JULIE, has been performing with MAGMA since February, (is she really 20 years old?).

L’AERONEF

Those still in employment at Lille included MARC DELOUYA, ISABELLE FEUILLEBOIS, PIERRE-MICHEL SIVADIER, PHILIPPE DARDELLE, JEAN-CLAUDE BUIRE, EMMANUEL BORGHI, FRANCK VIDEL (guitar) and the keyboard player from DON’T DIE. They played two sets in Lille. First MAGMA performed ‘COSMOS’, ‘A FIÏÈH’, ‘M.D.K.’ & ‘LA’ DAWOTSIN’. Then OFFERING performed another stunning version of ‘ANOTHER DAY’, but due to local by-laws the hall closed just after 10 pm. so there was no encore that night. Before each set they played the MAGMA (Piano) and OFFERING (Bells/Wind) intro tapes.

NO ENGLISH TOUR!!

There was a false rumour of a tour covering England & Belgium this autumn. It was claimed in TELERAMA magazine to be by: CHRISTIAN VANDER, MICHEL GRAILLIER, SIMON GOUBERT & N’GUYEN LÉ. But sadly, this has been denied by GEORGES BESNIER. He expressed bemusement at the source of this announcement. He was also surprised by the claim on French radio that the MAGMA tour would be a “MAJOR EUROPEAN TOUR”. However, he did confirm that although there are no immediate concert plans after the Bordeaux spectacle, there will be some concerts by MAGMA or OFFERING in March and April 1991. These will of course be in France.

PAGA UK TOUR??

KLÖTZ ZASPIAAIK and WURD ^ëMGALA? have expressed an interest in touring the U.K. with PAGA GROUP.

CHRISTIAN VANDER TRIO UK GIGS?

There still remains a slight hope that some form of short U.K. tour by Christian’s jazz trio could be mounted. Ronnie Scott’s club in Frith Street features in all the rumours I have heard this year. While on the subject of Ronnie Scott, there is a video of Michel Graillier playing with Chet Baker at Ronnies.

FRANCIS LINON

FRANCIS LINON (a.k.a. VENUXE DELUXE to all you Pot Head Pixie’s) said that the ‘A Fiïèh’ album has not been recorded yet (October ’90).

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