Alternative music reviews

April 9, 2008

Magma

Filed under: nostalgia,vinyl — @ 1:07 pm Comments (0)

Magma
It was a simple beginning, in Paris 1969 a French Jazz drummer has a vision of the ecological disasters about to befall the Earth. His response: to form a Avant-Garde/Prog Rock band. The story he planned to tell over the next nine albums (three trilogies) is of a polluted and degenerate Earth who come into conflict with the planet Kobaïa who have achieved harmony with nature and technology. The singing was to be in the Kobaïan language and Christian Vander invented this making it an Eastern European sounding tongue with lots of Umlauts and hard consonants suitable for this form of Rock music.

The basic Magma sound was multilayered. First was the Jazz-influenced drumming of Christian Vander – the only candidate for world’s best drummer for those who had heard Magma. His long term collaborationist was Jannick Top who played a Fusion bass style that hadn’t been used in Rock before as far as I was aware. The quasi-Operatic singing was provided from the choral influence of the composer Carl Orff (whose music is now used in just about every advert for anything) amongst others.

For those of you too young to remember the massive over-ambitiousness of Prog then prepare yourself – it’s Jazz, Classical, Rock, Linguistic, Utopian, Ecological and Spiritual. In an age where a band can make a long-term career by adding a few Bowie vocalisms to a bit of Smith’s style guitar, be prepared to have your mind expanded. I saw them back in the early 70’s at Oxford Polytechnic in a Hall dominated by the smell of Cannabis and musty greatcoats. Amidst the smoke and strobes and whiplashed long hair, I remember the Christian Vander drum solo. It still stands as the only good drum solo I have ever heard. Physical, technical, and of such Primeval intensity that Vander’s loud groans and guttural utterings became a vocal track.

With such an extensive musical reach, it is impossible to select any one track to demonstrate the Magma effect. But on the vinyl album Üdü Wüdü I just converted to mp3 is Tröller Tanz (Ghost Dance) that shows something of their uniqueness.

Tröller Tanz by Magma

Tröller Tanz by Magma

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