- Where is Paga’s Music? (Olivier Fromentin)
- Offering at Jazz Velanet 5 (Patrick Dupont)
- Murnau and Art Zoyd A communion between two worlds (Illustration: Vincent Sauvion)
- For all the children Songs for generations (Christian Vander)
- Magma 1971 – A volcano in effervescence (Jean-Marie Moreau)
- Christian Vander & Friends Paris 15-12-94 – (André Liedet)
- Zeuhl Grafiks (Thierry Moreau)
- Ork! Reviews
A Triggering Myth
Mekanïk Zeuhl Wortz
Zao – Akhenaton<
- Ork! Update
WHERE IS PAGA’S MUSIC?
All references are the original French pressings.
There are hundreds of other sessions, but only these ones have Bernard Paganotti’s own compositions.
CRUCIFERIUS! - Progressive rock LP – ‘A Nice Way of Life’ – (Egg 940 011)
Compositions: ‘What did you do’, ‘Annabel Lee’
MAGMA - Zeuhl LP – ‘Üdü Wüdü’ – (Utopia FPL1 7332)
Co-composition with Klaus Blasquiz: ‘Weidorje’ (CD Seventh Rex XII)
WEIDORJE - Zeuhl LP – ‘Weidorje’ – (Cobra COB 37.014)
Composition: ‘Elohims Voyage’ (CD Muséa FGBG 4058.AR)
BERNARD PAGANOTTI Bass tutor LP ‘Méthode de Guitare Basse’ (Cezame CEZ 1.045)
Compositions: ‘Starting Rock’, ‘Bizarre Boogie’.
MICHEL HAUMONT - Fusion LP – ‘Michel Haumont’ – (Carrere 67.791)
Composition: ‘Du Piano pour la Guitare’ (ZEUHL TRACK).
CITY & INDUSTRY - Illustration LP – ‘City & industry’ – (Koka Media KOK 15)
Composition: ‘Bizarre boogie ‘.
BERNARD PAGANOTTI - Zeuhl LP – ‘Paga’ – (Cream CREAM 120) – (CD Columbia COL 468441 2)
Compositions: ‘Talk Back’, ‘Michinoku’, ‘Show Town’, ‘Une Parcelle d’Urantia’, ‘Final d’Urantia’
ENNEADE - Zeuhl LP – ‘Enneade’ – Muséa FGBG 2005)
Composition: ‘Urantia’ (CD Muséa FGBG 4005)
PAGA GROUP - Gothic fusion LP – ‘Haunted’ – (Bleu Citron BLG 004) (CD Bleu Citron BLC-D 004)
Compositions: ‘Haunted’, ‘Memorial’, ‘King for a Day’
PAGA GROUP - Gothic fusion SP ‘Memorial’ / ‘Rainy Days, Lonely Nights’ (Bleu Citron BLC 45004)
PAGA GROUP - Gothic fusion CD – ‘Gnosis’ – (Bleu Citron BLC D 016)
Compositions: ‘Urantia’ ‘Caravan”, ‘Niklaw’.
TO BE CONTINUED!!!
JAZZ’VELANET – 11-11-94
Words & Pictures: Patrick Dupont
The hall was full, about five hundred people. The support act were Sylvain Kassap (clarinet, bass clarinet and soprano sax) and François Corneloup (baritone and soprano saxes), they played from 21h30 to 23h00. We all found this duo very interesting indeed.
Then Offering played from 23h15 until about one o’clock in the morning. The sound was very good and I discovered new things in every title they played. (The last time I saw Offering was when they played in Bordeaux on the 4th of May). So after the show I was surprised to hear some people saying that they were disappointed because there were no new titles since Offering played in Bordeaux. For my part, I am not so blasé.
The repertoire consisted of: ‘Joïa (le chant du sorcier)’, ‘Cosmos’, ‘A Fiïèh’ and ‘Les Cygnes et les Corbeaux (50m long version)’. Then the encore comprised ‘Purificatem’ and ‘Ehn Deïss’. A further encore was impossible because the hall lights had already come on.
At the end of the concert, after the presentation of the musicians, Stella thanked the festival organizers for the good job they had done.
Murnau and Art Zoyd
A Communion Between Two Worlds
Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre, London 24-11-94
RC = Richard Castelli (artistic director)
GH = Gerard Hourbette (composer)
TZ = Thierry Zaboitzeff (composer)
RC: Hello. We are Art Zoyd, the two composers are Gerard and Thierry. Myself, I am the artistic director – I would say the “third man” in fact. There are also two musicians who will appear during the performance (Patricia Dallio and Daniel Denis). The people from the South Bank asked us to give you some explanation about our work, so we think it would be interesting to speak about this project which we began in 1988, basically Art Zoyd is a musical group from the seventies, but we are very interested by music and all sorts of arts like Visual arts, ballets, theatre, drama and also film. We were hoping to do this kind of project ten or twelve years ago when we received the tapes from other composers like the “Metropolis” film by Fritz Lang and we watched them along with the music of Art Zoyd and it gave us the idea that it was possible and interesting to do it. But we decided not to take “Metropolis” but to do the German film “Nosferatu” instead (this was in 1988). To choose this film we watched about two hundred different silent films and the two choices we made were “Nosferatu” and “Faust”. “Nosferatu” was the earlier work of Murnau, so we said it would be interesting to begin with “Nosferatu” and maybe make “Faust” later. And in fact that’s what we did, so tonight you will be able to have the work of Art Zoyd with this film by Murnau.
Now I will ask the composers to give a description of how they work and their feelings about that film.
GH: ”I can’t talk in English.” (whispered – Ed.)
TZ: ”Nor me.” (audience laughs – Ed.)
RC: I am sorry, we say that music is universal and of course Gerard and Thierry are basically universal about music but not really by language it seems, so maybe I will translate for them and of course this will permit me to say whatever I want… not really, but let’s see. (audience laughs – Ed.) Gerard could you tell us something?
GH: ”That is a very good question.” (whispered – Ed.)
RC: Even if it is in French, it is interesting to have the sound of your voice.
TZ: ”It’s the usual moan for composers to say that it is difficult to talk about their music, I think that for a long while we have our heads full of images, but with those images come questions. We have little experiences from all sides, we see videos; a friend of mine has a CD-i for example, which has films (or videos) like Calvert’s “Des Fin d’Universitaire” which has a summary of “Metropolis” the Fritz Lang film. Also diverse music like that of Pierre Henry, Popol Vuh, Vangelis and Art Zoyd. And the results of these influences on our own feelings are a sacrament based on watching many films. So it is impossible to explain without the aid of thirty or forty films… sorry.”
RC: So basically Thierry is talking about the genesis of the work but what can you say about “Faust”?
GH: ”To make a comparison with “Nosferatu” it was the first music that Art Zoyd had made for silent movie and we played that in concert, and now “Faust”. In fact we decided to be more independent from the film and use the film as a liberator for the music that we had made for “Nosferatu”.”
RC: In fact I will maybe add some information I get from them so that we can express it quicker; you know there are often two ways of working with silent film. One way you make an illustration where you are completely dependent on the film and the other way is to crush the film, and when you make live music it is very easy to destroy the sense of the film. So the idea was to be between these two different methods, not to be completely dependent, not to be realistic; just illustration. But also to work like a sort of a symphony with two lines, a sort of counterpoint between the drama and the live, the internal music of the film and the Art Zoyd music. So more a sort of companion and not only as the slave or the master. Basically this was the main will of Art Zoyd for that project.
GH: ”We see our own music for the “Faust” project as the projection of our feelings.”
TZ: ”Also, this is an occasion to explore more and more technology and equipment to permit us to enlarge the shape of sound and music.”
RC: You know with the film it’s sort of like sport, for instance it is not possible to make only written music with a film. For instance if the fun was cut, and this could happen today, if the music is completely written for a symphony orchestra you will have a big problem. So the idea was to make a real, completely live music using programmed events which permit us to react very quickly, but this means that all the music is completely live, there is no tape because you can imagine if the film stopped, the tape would continue and it might be comical, but not really the will of the musicians. For instance critics from our performance in New York were very surprised that the sound was like a symphony orchestra. But in fact I would say that what is more interesting is not only to sound like an orchestra but also to be able to have – for just a quarter of second – a sound like strings and one second later to have a very techno-rock music or very hard or soft in just a few minutes and this is completely live, it must be said and we insist.
Would you like to ask some questions? We are not used to having this sort of talk before a show. I think you can see that this is our first time, you know Gerard and Thierry are more like actors they prefer to do instead of thinking, sometimes they think also….
Q: I know that for “Metropolis” that a symphony orchestra score already existed. Is there any piece that still exists for “Faust” or was there anything for “Nosferatu” that you used as a basic element? Sometimes there are piano scores that were used during the performance. Perhaps some themes you used for certain scenes?
RC: Talking about the original music, with silent films in the twenties and thirties there were often two versions. There would be a version for the premiere and maybe the first two weeks, which might have been with a chamber orchestra, but this would be in Berlin and after that it would just be performed with a pianist. Dr. Ehrmann made the original music but anyway Murnau was not pleased by this music. But he didn’t care because when the film was shot and edited, Murnau as any director had no power over these musical additions. You are probably a fan of silent films and know that already, but maybe when the film was sent to different countries it was a not a big film and was distributed on many small reels so it was very easy for the producer to take a scene from here and a scene from there. I think that now a lot of people who like silent films are very cautious to have the original music, but in fact at the time of Murnau they did not care about that. We wanted to make new music but maybe far, far away from the previous will of the producer or even the director.
Q: What is the relationship between the film and your music? Were the films originally designed to have a musical complement or is this something that has developed and got more sophisticated as time has gone by?
RC: As I said before, at the time of Murnau they did not care so much about that, basically Murnau was very interested by sound, and it is a pity that he died in 1931 because we have some letters from him saying that he was very interested by the new technology of sound but unfortunately he died too soon, but it has to be said the music was not important for most of the directors of silent films, they didn’t care about sound, they didn’t care about music mainly it was the producer who asked for it. For instance Eisenstein was very lucky to have Prokofiev to work with him and there are a few examples like that. So what we did with “Faust” is a mix between illustration and… but I would say it is two worlds working together, and as I said before it was a counterpoint, we have a name for it in France - redondant, which means when the image means something you do the music exactly in that sense and this is often very bad because you reinforce the sense and it is much better to play with the sense. Not to cut it, not to destroy the meaning of the image, but to play with it and this is really what we want to do.
Q: Can you explain in what way is your approach different to any modern composer for a film now, you know – underplay and not reinforce too much; isn’t that a precept for any film composer?
RC: This should be asked to the other composers, I have seen “Faust” and “Nosferatu” made by other composers and sometimes it was very nice, very clever but sometimes it was bullshit. But you know it’s a question of taste. One thing is sure we have more freedom with a silent film, because when you make music for a modern film you have dialogue – even in that case you can change the music and change the sense of the film. It can be very hard or very relaxed. So we try not to be so strict, also I am pretty sure that the composers do not think we have made the ultimate or optimum version of the film. One thing is sure it is an encounter between the world of Murnau and the world of Art Zoyd. We can say that for sure, but for the rest we have to be very careful.
Q: Do you also compose for “sound” films?
RC: No not for modern films; not yet. We have been asked by a French director to make the music for his film, but it will be shot next year. We have worked for videos and actually we are working with the Murnau family who have asked us to make the official music for “Faust” and “Nosferatu” which will mean that in about six months when you see these films on television it will be with the music of Art Zoyd. For us this is very important, it is a sort of recognition of our work and it will exist perhaps for the next twenty years. We are not eternally certainly, but in about twenty years maybe they will ask some other composer to make the new official sound-tracks. We are only members of a big file. But anyway, for now it is us.
Q: You were saying earlier about trying to avoid responding in the obvious way to a melodramatic moment with a loud noise, is it possible to find musical equivalents for Murnau’s very striking visual style or even go beyond that and find musical structures that open it out?
RC: I will give you an example concerning “Nosferatu2. In that film there is a part towards the end (the plague scene) where normally people would make very dramatic music, but if you do that you make a sort of overacting work so that you have no reserve, no power for the end of the film. So we decided at the time of the plague to use a sort of Zen Music, very calm music because the image was enough, because it was stupid to be very dramatic. And to do that permitted us to be stronger for the end of the film and that means that we combined the internal story of the film and the drama of the music.
Q: I ask as a listener to Art Zoyd’s music (rather than a viewer) how do you feel, with it being a German director, about the intrinsic sense of French progressive music being amalgamated? You have sort of tagged along on the Zeuhl Motif.
RC: Well I would say we don’t think of ourselves as a French style of group, Thierry’s surname is ZABOITZEFF, he comes from the north of Russia near Siberia and Gerard has a very French name but in fact there is no other HOURBETTE in France! I don’t think we are enamoured to a French composer, I am pretty sure about that. We don’t have a French style. Because you speak about the French style for German films. I think Art Zoyd is not based on a nationalistic idea – even though we speak only French. (Laughs).
Q: When you performed “Nosferatu” a couple of years ago, the Canary Wharf concert was cancelled, do you still plan to perform it in the future?
RC: You are very well informed; I am really very surprised. Yes we were hoping to make a very big open-air concert of “Nosferatu2 at Canary Wharf and just a few weeks before the performance there was the bankruptcy that you know about. We had a beautiful agreement, quite well made, when I showed it to Peter Gabriel’s lawyer in Bath, he said “Oh what a wonderful agreement, but there are thousands of other accounts to be settled before yours, so maybe in twenty-five years…” So anyway, now it is much easier to joke about that but you can imagine that for us it was a big disaster. I think the project would have been very interesting. The screen would of course have been much bigger than the one here. Here it is not bad for a small place, but we planned to do that concert for about two thousand people. It would have been more than the one we did in the main square of Stockholm that was for thirty thousand people. For this we used the complete building and put the musicians on the roof. So normally Canary Wharf would have been something like that. But we think there are some other possibilities to present “Nosferatu” in London in a few days, I am pretty sure you will be informed. Because if you knew about the cancellation you will know when we play. (Don’t bet on it – Ed.)
Q: What is the compatibility between the music of Art Zoyd and the film itself?
RC: First we chose it, as I said we watched about two hundred films and if we chose “Nosferatu” and “Faust” it was really because we seem to be in phase with Murnau. For us he is certainly the best filmmaker so it was very natural to work with Murnau. And it became even more natural during the work, because before it was just an impression and now Gerard and Thierry have seen the film one thousand times. If you don’t have the feeling of community (rather than compatibility) it would not be possible to do “Nosferatu” and of course five years later “Faust”.
Q: Could you expand on that?
RC: It would be more interesting to discuss this after you have seen the show, but basically “Faust” goes to the essential, it is very dynamic and a very unknown method of cinema. The quality of editing and Murnau was one of the first directors to use travelling artistically. But one thing is certain; Gerard and Thierry chose to do “Nosferatu” first because “Faust” is a more mature work and they felt it was much better to do “Faust” after they had the experience of “Nosferatu” and there is five years between the works for the composers and it was the same for Murnau and it is the more mature work of Art Zoyd with the more mature film of Murnau.
Q: You play with the meanings of the film. Is your music in competition with the film?
RC: We are not in competition; we play with the film. Like a team, in fact it is quite an interesting team because Murnau is not here, but it is really like a team, it is not competition with the film, it’s nothing like that. We are not commenting on the film we are communing with it.
Q: Do you think this is the ideal staging for this sort of event, or if you could, would you prefer something like an opera house?
RC: You speak about the optimum space it would be better to have a bigger screen for technical reasons, and the technical crew here are very good. But it is just the basic problem of length and so on. But the idea to make this as a triptychon came because we have seen a lot of silent films with music, with the musicians in front and the screen above them. But when you have the image from the projector, the lights on the musicians cause interference and sometimes you see the musician in beautiful white shirts with beautiful colours shining on them but half of the screen becomes red and half is green. So we chose this stage set-up with the screen in the centre and the musicians on the sides. But of course as I said in Stockholm we used a complete building with the musicians on the top so we adapt to the different places. We have played more than one hundred times with this configuration and it permits us to have more light on the musicians without interfering with the screen; no I think it is quite OK.
Q: What inspired you most from the film “Faust”, what was the image in your mind?
GH: ”First of all I think about the images of the film, but to be honest, to make the right job for that you have to clear out these different images, create a vacuum to concentrate on the music for the film if you do not have this fixed idea it could be a failure.”
Q: In what way do you mean “a failure”?
RC: He said that in fact the project would be awful, or would not be interesting. It is a mix of images coming from the film and also to be able to avoid everything sometimes.
TZ: ”The music has its own logic as well.”
RC: So it is a combination of these three directions./p
GH: ”It is very difficult to make film music without your own image without falling into desperation.”
RC: It would be a failure, if you don’t have your own image, if you don’t grasp the sense of the film. It is a combination of these three abstracts
Q: What was your personal image?
GH: ”The telephone number…” (Laughs)
RC: You really want to know that, take care!
GH: ”I can’t say”.
TZ: ”The first phase is inspiration, based on examining the film. The second phase is abstraction to be apart from the film to determine your own logic and the third phase would be to make a sort of distillation of the music according to the different sequences of the film. So it is a combination of inspiration, abstraction and technology, something like that.”
RC: Thank you very much.
A tous les enfants… Songs for Generations
On the 12th of December, Seventh Records presented in the forum of a CD / 40 page book, my new album which is dedicated to all children, for those today, yesterday and tomorrow, for those that have known it to remain in their heart and in their soul.
To discover or to make discover… in this period at the end of the year to celebrate our traditions
This disc claims to hold in awakening the conscience of generations at one time.
It is my intimate contribution to the re-establishment of the truth and in the natural order in time.
This disc resembles that which I would have wanted to listen to in my childhood and which I lacked until today.
I have made it for us all. I hope that it will please you…
It tells us the history of the period that we want to know and which holds a luminous dust for each of us…
It brings us closer to those that have once suffered a thousand deaths to be able to leave us today, some places where we can again evolve freely… Those that we have never known and that illuminated for us again today, paths leading to the light.
This disc does not propose contraries, happiness-misfortune, graciousness-wickedness, wealth-poverty these are exiles, and when they appear, even fleetingly, they are hunted for ever.
It does not ask questions but gives simply answers, primarily of which: Life.
Life is without question.
A volcano in effervescence
Jean-Marie Moreau (Salut les Copains #113 – February 1972)
“There is in Magma a volcano that dozes”. This is the very beautiful title of a strongly eulogistic article by André Drossart, which appeared in the newspaper ‘Le Soir’ following the triumph that the French group achieved in Belgium at the end of 1971. I would gladly resume my account like the Belgian newspaper by modifying just one term, perhaps something like; “There is in Magma a volcano in eruption…” Indeed, for the top seven musicians of the Hexagon, the time has come! It is four o’clock in the afternoon; outside, it is cold and grey, while I roll quietly towards Perray-en-Yvelines where Giorgio Gomelsky has acquired a country residence. Giorgio had taken the career of Magma in hand, for some months now, and he has invited me to rendezvous there with all his team. I am a bit anxious: one has read so many disagreeable things on the subject of the musicians of Magma… Although I know their music well, I had not actually had any real contacts with these mysterious and apparently very aggressive guys. It is therefore a trifle warily that I park my car in the small yard of the ancient dwelling where the members of Magma are gathered. Giorgio, a smile on his lips, welcomes me into his large house. Everyone is already on the spot. Installed in a small corner of the living room, the group is at work. After a cool handshake, I install myself in the position of observer (sunk in an armchair, a glass of white wine in the hand).
Christian Vander, sat on his drum stool as if on a throne, seems to reign in absolute mastery of his musicians. His hard and blue gaze does not forgive their slightest harmonic or rhythmical relaxation. His steel drum kit is to the fore, as if to protect him from a world that hurts. Metallic points attached to the front of its large case confirm this impression. Francois Cahen brushes the keys of an electric piano with an applied ease. Faton (that is his nickname) is a bit like the press-attaché of the group; his evident graciousness and his high stature immediately inspire confidence. To his side, perched on a stack of amplifiers, Klaus Blasquiz sings with his beautiful powerful and serious voice into a faulty microphone. With his very long hair and his old man’s beard, he resembles a hero of the Russian revolution. Yet he is Basque and proud of it. Francis Moze, the bassist with the tranquil force, caresses the four cords of his translucent guitar. He is attentive to the smallest nuances of the piece. His father was a Redskin and he has kept this affiliation, likewise the physiognomy, the wisdom and the intelligence. They are “the rhythmical force”. There remains the three magicians of the “brass platoon”: Teddy Lasry, within Magma, the saxophonist and flautist, but he is capable of playing anything on any instrument. Within STRUCTURES SONORES LASRY-BASCHET he has a very close rapport with his father, Jacques Lasry, the pianist and composer. Jeff Seffer, the Hungarian guy, plays equally on the saxophone and the flute. He is again a little gypsy around the edges… Louis Toesca, nicknamed Loulou, was born in Nice, which gives him a light southern accent. It is amusing, for example, to hear Loulou describe the tour of Magma in Belgium! His lively character does not prevent him being a trumpeter of the first order. He won first prize at the conservatory (but such distinction is common currency within Magma).
But how in fact did the musicians of this super-group meet? Francis and Francois told me.
JM: = Jean-Marie Moreau
FM: = Francis Moze
FC: = Francois Cahen
CV: = Christian Vander
GG: = Giorgio Gomelsky
FM: It all began with a very hot summer on the Côte d’Opale. A large record company had assembled a musical trio to enliven evenings at a summer club. On bass there was Laurent Thibault, on drums, Christian Vander, and on the organ, myself. It was a very folkloric adventure that began with a fabulous surprise: when we arrived in the small town, the walls were covered with notices announcing the name of CARNABY STREET SWINGERS. We were ready to make an about-turn, thinking we had been “double-booked” when one of us had the idea to go to see the leader of these over-familiar guys… We soon learnt that the CARNABY STREET SWINGERS was us! A bit surprised to have been baptized so pompously, nevertheless we made the effort to retain our composure. We were well received, and some days later, I improvised a bass line that was going to become that of ‘Kobaïa’… (Francois intervened ironically)
FC: And, on your return, you were conscripted and Magma began without you.
FM: My absence was not long, because, by the end of the month, the army had released me due to “incompatibility of mood”. I took the place of Laurent on the bass and I found Francois and Christian.
JM: Where did you come from, Faton?
FC: I had just left LES ENFANTS TERRIBLE! Little by little, the work was begun and the team of Magma formed as we went along. Richard Raux, Zabu, Claude Engel and Paco have now left us. The case of Paco is not really definitive; perhaps he will return one day with all his drums… As for the others, we are still on very good terms with them and I persist in believing that Claude is one the best guitarists in Europe. (Christian Vander comes to rejoin us. He seems a bit more relaxed than he would be later on).
JM: One frequently hears that Magma is the group of Christian Vander. What do you think of that?
CV: Nothing or very little, It is obvious that I am not the sole composer for the group and that the music of Magma is not solely that of Christian Vander. I imagined a planet that is called Kobaïa, I have written a musical language, Kobaïan, and I am perhaps behind our community of thought. That is my share of the activity… But I am not afraid to say that our group is surely one of the most homogeneous.
JM: How did you get the idea of a new language?
CV: Quite naturally. I have always been fond of some words, which do not contain semantics. That is not a darkness nor mysterious desire, it is a need of purity, simplicity. It is necessary that words, as linguistic signs are beautiful in themselves. I required a word in the Kobaïan dictionary such as “wurdah” because of its expressive wealth. “wurdah” expresses the displeasure, the lassitude… I do hot like it when people accuse Kobaïan of being a secret language, because it is absolutely untrue. Kobaïan has to be sung to be felt as a musical support. Where are the people who understand the words howled by Mick Jagger? Where are the people who complain about him? In the Rolling Stones, the words are distorted like the guitars… (I turn back to Francis who has a great urge to speak).
FM: Yes. I wanted to tell you that we are grateful that our contract does not require us to record a disc every week. We have endless new ideas, new pieces to propose to the others.
JM: How does that come about?
CV: We are not soft with each other. Albeit we are even harsher with the other French musicians! If someone has a dubious idea, it is immediately rejected. It is necessary to have the absolute unanimity of the group in order that a piece be included in the repertoire. Also, we continually reshape the old songs.
JM: Tell me about time ‘Univerïa Zekt’ album.
CV: It is very simple; it is the music that we would have played if we had not formed Magma. For this album, we have reunited with Claude Engel and we have made our own type of pop music… THE MOTHERS and FLOCK are unanimously appreciated by the musicians of the group, but it is almost all what we accept as pop.
JM: What do you think of the French public?
FC: We disapprove of it, to be blunt. I prefer the attitude of sixteen year-old youths, who have a freshness in their ears and the spirit. In general, French people annoy us because they are no longer interested in anything. How do you explain that all the Belgian groups have elected Magma as the number one group in the world? Why did “Télé Moustique” classify us above PINK FLOYD and JETHRO TULL? Because one is not a prophet in his own country, especially if one resides in France! Encouragement and tolerance are little known notions in our country. When we eventually return from the United States or England as a big name, the French will bless us! By that time we will have become very, very expensive… Briefly, the life On Kobaïa flows in the happiness and the beauty. The earth has learnt of our existence; it is in effervescence…
Giorgio, excitedly calls us into the house. The television is on and emits a programme about Haroum Tazieff and its team of vulcanologists. The images are very beautiful and the musical accompaniment is by… Magma. It is a surprise for everyone!
GG: We need a film like that for our light show! What do you think, my children?
A vague murmur marks their general approval. Christian Vander, who had left some minutes earlier, does not participate in the euphoria of late evening: his comrades regret it.
GG: Do not form an impression of Christian too rapidly. He is a very pure guy, very skilful, but he is very timid. His aggressiveness is a mask that disappears very rapidly when he feels joy. One can talk whole nights with him because he is sensitive and intelligent. Christian demands a lot from life and he is surprised to see that it does not render what he gives it. Thus, he detests concessions and the deceits of show business. He also refuses to write lyrics in English, yet he speaks it fluently. In no circumstances, even for ‘Univerïa Zekt’, would he abandon his Kobaïan… He is very strong, Christian, and he will win! The night is already well advanced when I resume the road to Paris. Francis, silent, is sat beside me. We do not waste any time catching up with Teddy’s car, then that of Faton’s. Soon, we lose then on the turnpike… Finally, the time has been very well spent; I have seen perhaps the best group in the world! I wonder simply if we are not going to lose them, these extraordinary musicians… It would be necessary perhaps to hurry to tell them all the things one thinks of them, before they leave us definitively.
A tous les enfants
Concert by Christian Vander – Paris 15-12-1994
Christian Vander organised a small concert in Paris on December 15th to present his new CD ‘A tous les enfants…’ It took place in the back of the Fnac Musique Italiens shop on a small stage set between the racks of CDs. The line-up was Christian Vander (piano, vocals), Stella and Julie Vander and Isabelle Feuillebois (vocals). They played six tracks from the album, songs for which the orchestration mainly uses piano: ‘Hymne aux enfants – Zoland’, ‘J’ai du bon tabac’, ‘Ronde de Nuit’, ‘A la claire fontaine’, ‘Mr Vent’ and (perhaps) ‘Il est Noël’. It was a great pleasure to attend this 25-minute preview of music that we have been waiting for, for such a long time, even if some tracks have already been played a few times since 1993 (for example, at Christian & Stella’s concert in Le Plessis Robinson and also at the Seventh Records anniversary shows). ‘Ronde de Nuit’ is definitely a masterpiece of Zeuhl music. The last song, which might have been ‘Il est Noël’ started with some phrases that you will find on the CD (“au premier coup entendez-vous”, “au deuxième…”) but I am not certain what this song was, can anyone help? The next rendezvous for this ensemble is the 27th March and for a few weeks after that, be there for more music and emotion. Come with your children, bring your brothers and sisters, the music is for them too.
A Triggering Myth
Twice Bitten (The Laser’s Edge 1019) 1993
A TRIGGERING MYTH are a band from the States. I knew very little about them until a hint concerning some UNIVERS ZERO influences to be found on their CD ‘Twice Bitten’ caught my attention. Having listened to it, I think it’s likely that they have heard ‘Heatwave’ (the 20-min-track ‘Myths (Parts I-VII)’ reminds me a bit of ‘The Funeral Plain’) and Daniel Denis’ solo CD’s. Yet it’s not pure Zeuhl music – in fact, it’s sort of a combination between the spirit of Zeuhl and some more romantic influences.
The sound is quite keyboard-dominant, for Rick Eddy and Tim Drumheller, the two group members, (although they employ five guest musicians) are mainly keyboard players. The production is very clean and the keyboard sounds used are more in the beautiful domain (very good keyboard soloing) – certainly not a weird CD. The rhythm section is quite competent, yet their playing is not intense enough for my taste (the bass sounds Jaco Pastorius influenced), while the quiet passages seem to lack some depth. Some of the mood changes seem a bit unmotivated (a purification of the structures would have been useful).
So this CD won’t get your haemorrhoids bleeding, but it still has a lot of good melodic and harmonic ideas, especially ‘The Perils of Passion’ which features some really inspired playing; a bit like Daniel Denis’ ‘Second Presage’.
Malombra (Black Widow Records CD 003-2) 1994
This is really dark progressive stuff as good as some Atomic Rooster, Sabbath and Hawkwind. This Italian band love Magma, but I’m sorry to say it’s not evident on this disc. Still, some tracks are interesting musically and perhaps they will develop Michele Marchese’s “Zëss-guitar” into something approaching Zeuhl Music. Pity about the English vocals, which remind me of The Cure…
Self Portrait (Midi Mandoline MMI CD01) 1991
Apart from being ex Offering, Claude Salmiéri was the original drummer with Bernard Paganotti’s eponymous group. Here we have what seems like a direct continuation of Paga Group’s gothic fusion – one could imagine that Salmiéri composed this work for an unreleased Paga album – with just the occasional twist of more straightforward fusion. Come to think of it, some of the melodies remind me of ZAO’s new record… but more of that later. The opening instrumentals ‘Mr Herbie’ & ‘Open Sky’ are pure Paga in style, yet it’s not until track 3 (‘In Out’ – a more conventional tune) that Bernard makes an appearance on Chapman stick. The highly percussive ‘Fat Tuesday’ (co-composed by Gerard Bikialo) sees a forceful return to this Gothic / Zeuhl form, though with a fierce guitar solo which is rare in this type of work. ‘Another Life’ sneaks up on you with its ethnic wordless chanting, like a subtle Weather Report with strong hints of PAGA GROUP’s ‘Gnosis’. Paganotti, Bikialo, Bertrand Lajudie, Eric Seva and Yvon Guillard make substantial contributions to this splendid album that should appeal to fusion aficionados, but the killer track for Magma completists is ‘God Knows’, which was co written by Klaus Blasquiz (and I think I’ve heard Klaus sing this in concert with Paga…). The closing track is a piano solo in time same vein as Vander’s ‘Coltrane Sündïa’. If you like any of the Paga albums this is an indispensable CD.
Serge Perathoner / Jannick Top
Simple Mortel (Not on the Baillemont label….) 1992
Perhaps only two tracks can be considered to be Zeuhl Music: ‘Simple Mortel’ and ‘A la poursuite de Fabien’. The others are film / rock / variety with no great interest. ‘Simple Mortel’ is more like Eric Sera’s music (‘Le Grand Bleu’ and others): piano, synth (voices-choir), typical film music – just backing music for dramatic sensations. There is only one bass note (but repeated many times) that could have been done with a synth. ‘A la poursuite de Fabien’ comes near Zeuhl Music because of Top’s sound (in the middle of the track). The rest is synth and piano for dramatic effects, not really melody, more like rhythms done by pre-set synth sounds. Typical film-music, but with Janik.
Miriodor (Cuneiform Rune 14) 1993
MIRIODOR are a four-piece band who sound like a quartet of saxophone, violin, percussives and synth. This is the French-Canadian’s 1988 ‘Miriodor’ LP combined with their 1987 cassette ‘Tôt ou Tard’ – in total a full length CD of inventive quirkiness. Beginning with the more structured 1988 recording, roaming sax and odd time signatures abound, shades of VDGG perhaps? ‘Spirale’ is a very strong composition with a heavy bias towards the sax. Yet it is an instrumental album, which is far more impro-jazz than Hammillian. In ‘Piège’ a terrific vamp develops between the sax and piano parts alongside crisp percussive movements. The result is an album that oozes strange progressive rock in equal measure with modern RIO (strongly reminiscent of L’ENSEMBLE RAYE and NIMAL). The earlier work ‘Tôt ou Tard’ is less absorbing, yet ‘Suspicion’ evolves via shrill violin grating towards a Zeuhl piano riff that is hypnotically repetitive and intriguing. Another centre of interest is ‘Convoi Nocturne’ which sounds like a film soundtrack with baleful sax and percussive tinkling. Overall, the more adventurous will find something here of merit, it’s Non-Zeuhl, I suppose some might find it a little eccentric, but still highly recommended.
Mekanïk Zeuhl Wortz
Kisses Deluxe KISS 30 1994
Peter Thelen (Exposé 5)
Here’s one of those unbelievably powerful Magma concerts that’s been circulating on cassette for years, finally cleaned up and transferred to CD. Hallelujah! This is one of the best live shows around, recorded March 2, 1976 at the Opera, Reims. Other portions of the same show were released as ‘Theusz Hamtaahk’, also on Kisses Deluxe, a couple years ago.
In addition to Zebëhn Straïn dë Geustaah and Tauhd Zaïa, the line-up at that point in time included Klötsz on vocals, Didier Lockwood on violin, the dual keyboards of Benoît Widemann and Patrick Gauthier, Gabriel Federow on guitar, and bass-monster Bernard Paganotti who stole the show on almost every track that night. This is a 2CD set, the first disc containing a 42-minute (and unfortunately prematurely truncated) version of ‘Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh’.
This is perhaps one of the most gripping versions of this track I’ve heard, at least equal to the version on ‘Retrospektïw 1 & II’; Wurd begins showing off his chops about halfway through in an apocalyptic duel with Federow, gradually increasing the speed and tension in a fight to the finish that ends in pure chaotic madness. The track fades at 42:00, a couple minutes short of the applause, presumably because the tape ran out. Still, this one’s a stunner. Those who enjoyed ‘De Futura’ on ‘Üdü Wüdü’, but wished for more – well, here’s the more: Disc two opens with ‘De Futura Hiroshima’, a full twenty-five minutes of it, this time with Paganotti instead of Janik Top. Needless to say this one is a smoker as well, as one might well imagine – more of the Paganotti-Vander-Federow rave-ups, and plenty of support from the others. Disc two closes with ‘Ëmëhntëht-Ptäh’, which after the short intro, turns into a lengthy 20-minute plus drum solo by Zebëhn himself, and I believe the first time the whole thing has been captured on record or CD. If you enjoy a great drum solo you’re bound to enjoy this; if not, consider it a bonus track, as the other two alone are certainly worth the cost of this set. A must have for all Magma fans.
The Pillory – (Ad Perpetuam Memoriam APM 9404) 1994
Martz was influenced by Christian Vander’s music and in 1977 he worked with Zappa. Ruth Underwood and Eddie Jobson feature on this CD. The Magma influence is clear in the early movements of this electronic/contemporary masterpiece. Martz calls it Neoteric Music. A sombre start like an eerie premonition of Vander’s ‘Swans & Crows’ leads into the thrusting section that has the dynamic force of Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’. With more than a passing resemblance to early period Univers Zero, the core inspiration must be Bartok and Penderecki. Just when the 40-piece Neoteric Orchestra are peaking, the mood becomes meditative – almost King Crimson-esque. He manages to combine a wealth of musical styles and develop a consistent vision beyond classification (Martz calls this lusion). There follows a long percussive passage and an ominous choral bit recalling Varese’s penchant for air-raid sirens. Vander has used a similar blend of wailing voices and screaming synths to depict agony and destruction. ‘The Pillory’ closes with an electronic chamber orchestra – mellotron, organ and massed choir. The bonus track is a four-part improvisation for Piano, Electric Violin and Clarinet; ‘in light in dark in between’. ‘The Pillory’ is one of the major orchestral works of the late 20th century. And particularly as an interesting Zeuhl variation, the first fifteen minutes are truly indispensable.
Akhenaton (Muséa FGBG 4125.AR) 1994
A reformed ZAO demands some questions: such as “How does the new work compare with their masterworks of the early 70s”? But basically the main question is for the listener – “What do you want from a reformation”? To sound the same as their early stuff? To play the same instruments or even the old tunes? The only questions for ZAO themselves are “Is it in the right spirit”? “Are we evolving / developing our music”? One day we hope to have an interview with Faton or Yochk’o, maybe we will have answers, maybe not.
ZAO have chosen the path of continual evolution. Herein we have a clear feel of some progressive Zeuhl and jazz pieces in the unique mould of ‘Osiris’ – this is partially a ZAO album in the classic style, with the strong interplay between violin and sax as the basis of their sound. Perhaps 30% of the material is Zeuhl (or at least indisputably ZAO). Understandably, the rest of the album is more reminiscent of the late 80′s solo projects by Faton and Yochk’o. Cahen’s keyboard playing is instantly recognisable as is Seffer’s intricately structured blowing which teeters on the edge of improvisation whilst constantly reinforcing his Hungarian roots. Patrick Tilleman is an exceptional violinist but his sophisticated style is the inverse of the rawness, which Jean-Yves Rigaud once exhibited. Dominique Bertram on bass is very subtle for much of ‘ Akhenaton’. Like Tilleman, Bertram played with Zao in ’76. Jean-My Truong remains awesome – when the composition allows, and tasteful for the remainder.
That tackles my confused emotions regarding ‘Akhenaton’. I have one other niggling reservation- regarding the piano timbre. Call me a technophobe, but wouldn’t you prefer the sound of a Fender Rhodes to a sampled and sanitised Wersi? ‘Akhenaton’ highlights: ‘Elioth’ – Nice bass sound, classic Seffer sax phrasing. ‘Thebes’ – the main theme is a perfect continuation of the early material. ‘Sable’ – A powerful track with a scorching violin section. But, returning to my initial thoughts, how does this CD compare with the 73-75 material? To be frank, I still prefer the early albums but maybe in time I could grow to love this one too. If you prefer Cahen’s solo albums to his work with ZAO then you will like this a lot. In terms of musicianship, the whole album is exemplary. The last question is “Should I get this”? Answer? Yes…. after you buy the first three!
with Tony Conrad (Concert 19h45)
17-02-95 Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.
03-03-95 Théâtre Gabrielle Dorziat, Place Mendes France, 51200 Epernay
(Lockwood / Top / Vander / Widemann) Their one & possibly only reunion concert!
11-03-95 Musique de Nuit, La Médoquine, Talence-Bordeaux.
CHRISTIAN VANDER & FRIENDS
‘A Tous Les Enfants’ (Matinees 16h30, Concerts 20h30).
27-03-95 to 15-04-95 Espace Kiron, 75011 Paris.
From Magma, the mythical group of the Seventies, in ’82 was born Offering: a more acoustic formation composed of ten singer musicians where keyboards and voices hold a preponderant place. As in Magma, one finds there the unclassifiable music and magic composed by Christian Vander.
Fascinating blends of African music, classical, jazz and rhythm ‘n’ blues, Offering contain both the symphony and the requiem, the big band and Stravinsky, Bach and John Coltrane. But it is above all the music of Vander, a music of passion, faith and poetical madness.
A singular Creator devoted body and soul to the music of John Coltrane, a mythical drummer but above all a unique composer, for 25 years Christian Vander has pursued, on the edge of fashion, his utopia and his quest for the absolute truth.
“From the music to the lyrics, all elements are united to allow us to approach the lyrical madness of one of the greatest living poets….”
Antoine De Caunes
First of all, sincere apologies to readers of the first print batch of issue #23… We were told that one of the Jazz ‘Velanet Festival organizers had heard that the OFFERING concert on the 11th of November 1994 was deferred until spring 1995. This was later proven to be untrue, the promoters put this down to ‘a bad joke’ – unfortunately some readers subsequently cancelled their trips to Lavelanet and evidently missed an excellent gig. Everyone involved in this sorry episode is mortified by this error…
Claude Salmeri, Jannick Top and Eric Seva have apparently formed a new group dubbed STS. They gave some incredible demonstrations of their music on the Pearl stand at a music business exhibition in Paris last October. If this was not a one-off event, we all hope they manage to arrange some concerts soon.
Now we have some more bad news – this time it comes direct from Georges Besnier of Seventh Records – Christian Vander’s winter solstice residency in Paris had to be delayed until April 1995. Christian had planned to present his new work ‘A Tous les Enfants’ with a show specifically geared towards a young audience. The music is for voices, keyboards and double bass (with no loud instruments) and an integral part of the performance will be a magician. However due to some unspecified problems with the magical elements of this set, the shows have all been postponed. Current plans are for a residency at the Espace Kiron, between the 27th of March and 15th April 1995, the exact dates have now been confirmed but always check with the Vander Hotline before travelling. On some of those days there will be matinée performances at 16h30 and evening concerts will start at 20h30. The good news is that Christian’s new album ‘A Tous Les Enfants’ was released on the l2th December, and it was presented in Paris on the l5th December, see concert review on page 15.
Now a really spectacular ‘scoop’ – Francis Linon told our intrepid reporter at Lavelanet that FUSION will reform for just one concert in 1995. Yes that’s right; Benoît Widemann, Christian Vander, Didier Lockwood and … Jannick Top together again in Talence-Bordeaux on Saturday the 11th March 1995. Patrick Duval who has contacted Benoît, Christian and Didier is organizing the concert and they have all agreed to play. A variation of this story, from Georges Besnier (Seventh) is that the gig is to celebrate the 15th anniversary of JMS Records (who released ‘Fusion’ on LP with different sleeves in 1981 and 1982 and eventually as a CD in April 1991) and that Christian was the first to sign the contract. Talence is a suburb, less than 5km from the main railway station in Bordeaux itself. Further information from Francis Linon (Cyborg) suggests that it is possible that FUSION could play a few more concerts in France. However, Jean-Marie Salhani (JMS Records) has said he is worried that Jannick may not be available due to his other commitments. Book your place now!
‘La Légende du Golf Drouot – (1959-1981)’ (Polygram 525-133-2) is a new triple CD box set celebrating the singers and groups who played at this important French club during its 22 year history. One of the sixty-six pieces included is ‘Mekanïk Kommandöh’ by MAGMA, this version is believed to have been taken from the Philips single release. A single CD version with the Magma track is also available (Polygram 525-136-2).
ANTOINE DE CAUNES
Antoine de Caunes, who is known in the UK for his deliberately crass TV shows such as ‘Rapido’ and ‘Eurotrash’, in France for the rock music programme ‘Chorus’ and the more sophisticated chat show format of ‘Nulle par ailleurs’, would like to make ‘an evening of Christian Vander’s music’ for Canal+ TV. He would sincerely like to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Magma. However, we understand that neither Stella nor Christian are interested in a Magma reunion. Antoine de Caunes, is the author of the 1978 book ‘Magma’ (ISBN 2-226-00563-3) published by Editions Albin Michel. In the late 70′s and early 80′s Antoine presented Magma in concert on ‘Chorus’ on the Antenne 2 channel.
We hear that Harmonia Mundi are enthralled by Christian’s latest album (reviews next issue…. if you write them in time) and want to do a special promotion for it… no further info as yet. We definitely got the impression that this means Harmonia Mundi (UK) will be pulling all the stops out for this one.
Muséa are working on the reissue of ‘Ghilgoul’ by NEFFESH MUSIC (i.e. Yochk’o Seffer) and thankfully they have finally got permission to release JEAN-PAUL PRAT’s superb album ‘Masal’. Their next Zeuhl releases will be ‘Osiris’ by ZAO and HONEYELK’s fascinating Stoyz vi Dozévéloy’. Other Muséa projects for 1995 include the albums by ARACHNOÏD, FRANCOIS BRÉANT and RHESUS O.
There is a double CD bootleg of Magma called ‘Brussels 74′. It is a limited edition of 300 copies on the Japanese Spiral label (Spiral 001-002), I don’t know where you can get it in Europe. The sound quality of this one is no better than the audiotapes of this show, which are in general circulation. I would guess it was produced from a fourth generation copy of the original tape. I understand that there is another oriental version of the double CD available on the Yakuza label – presumably distributed by the Japanese Mafia. ‘Crystal Infos’ claims there is a bootleg of the BBC 14-3-74 session on the Akhenaton label – but I suspect this is a mistake.