The Bodhisattva Beat
Music and Life

Magma: Retrospektïw III


One of the advantages of living in an eclectic university town, like Ann Arbor, is the abundance of used music shops. This is a very diverse place, and is quite international. This means that you get a wider variety of musical tastes. It also means that if you find something unique, you’d better grab it. There is a good chance someone else is also looking for it. This was the case on one of my many visits to my favorite shop, and I noticed a MAGMA album in the M’s. At the time, I was just beginning to explore different music. I had heard “Mekanïk Destruktiw Kommandöh” a couple of times, but I still didn’t know any Zeuhl that well. I had no idea what “Retrospektïw III” was (I didn’t remember even seeing it listed on Prog Archives), but I had to follow my own guidelines and pick it up.

Once I put it on, I was extremely happy with my purchase. It just grabbed me right from the beginning. The funky bass, tight drumbeats, and crazy chatter are instantly infectious. The jamming then ensues. And jam they do. This is actually a very upbeat affair. The selections are three of their most accessible, played with incredible vigor and joy. The band is very tight (as you would expect), and the vocals pristine. They do get a bit dark at times (it is Magma after all), but it is generally positive, and very soulful. I think they must have been listing to some funk, and a lot of Soul before this show.

This could actually be the most, dare I say, fun album in their collection. It might also be the best place for a novice to enter into MAGMA, or maybe even Zeuhl in general. The selections are not the most complex or groundbreaking things they could have chosen, but it doesn’t fail to show the originality and excellence of Christian Vander’s musical vision. It’s also a great representation of the energy of a live MAGMA experience. This may have been recorded in 1981, but I can tell you that even in 2007, they haven’t lost a bit of it.

If you are a big time Zeuhl fan, or just becoming interested, go get this one. You’ll be glad you did.

Christian Vander – composer, drums, piano, and vocals
Rene Garber – 1st Lieutenant
Stella Vander – vocals
Liza Deluxe – vocals
Maria Popkiewicz – vocals
Guy Khalifa – vocals on tracks 1 & 3
Didier Lockwood – violin
Jean Luc Chevalier – guitar 0n tracks 1 & 2, bass on track 3
Benoit Widemann – keyboards
Bernard Paganotti – bass on tracks 2 & 3
Jean Pierre Fouquey – Fender piano on tracks 1 & 2
Francois Laizeau – percussion on tracks 1 & 2
Dominique Bertram – bass on track 1

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