Magm-Mah

Magma (France): Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh (Vertigo 6499 729, with insert, 1973)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (backing vocals), Muriel Streisfeld (backing vocals), Evelyne Razymovski (backing vocals), Michèle Saulnier (backing vocals), Doris Reihnardt (backing vocals)
This truly remarkable piece of avant-prog combines influences from John Coltrane, Carl Orff and Richard Wagner into an incredible 38-minute suite, sung in a bizarre language of the band’s own creation. With two male and five female singers delivering soul-inflected call-and-response vocals, the music ebbs and flows through seven sections packed with power, intensity, vitality and imagination. Devoid of flashy soloing or self-indulgence, this is a pinnacle not only for jazzy and experimental progressive music, but for the entire prog genre. GRADE: A+.
Magma (France): Mekanïk Kommandöh (Seventh REX VI, CD, 1989, recorded 1973)
Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (backing vocals)
This alternate version of Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh emphasises the classical, rather than rock, roots of the piece, with no guitar whatsoever and backing from a full choir. It also differs structurally from the released version, with a different beginning (featuring prepared piano and a spoken-word section) and conclusion. Altogether, this is a fascinating interpretation of the piece, making this a very important archive release. It is generally accepted that this was the band’s preferred interpretation, rejected by their record label, who demanded that it be re-recorded; however, Stella Vander has contradicted this, stating that the rejected version was yet another take. GRADE: A+.
Magma (France): Köhntarkösz (Vertigo 6325 750, 1974)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (occasional vocals)
Very different from its predecessor, this is a much more minimalist and understated album, with the two-part title track (which dominates the LP, at around thirty minutes) combining atmosphere and drama in equal measure. Meanwhile, ‘Coltrane Sündïa’ is gentle and elegiac, whilst the cello-driven ‘Ork Alarm’ is powerful and sinister. Like its predecessor, this was enormously influential on several generations of zeuhl, RIO and avant-prog bands. GRADE: B.
Magma (France/Algeria): Live (Utopia CYL2-1245, double, France, 1975)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (backing vocals)
Featuring Köhntarkösz in its entirety, about half of Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh and several unrecorded pieces (including the absolutely magnificent Hhaï, this is a superb concert document with outstanding sound quality to boot. GRADE: B.
Magma (France/Algeria): Üdü Wüdü (RCA FLP1-7332, France, 1976)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (backing vocals)
Taking a slightly different modus operandi to the last couple of albums, this features five short pieces on the first side and the eighteen-minute ‘De Futura’ on the second. For the most part, the music is more symphonic than before, whilst adding a metronomic, Krautrock-like quality to the band’s usual zeuhl sound. In particular, ‘De Futura’ is astounding, with some remarkably ferocious fuzz bass playing from Jannick Top. GRADE: B.
Magma (France): Attahk (Arabella 25376, 1978)
Jazz/Soul/Funk/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (backing vocals), Liza Deluxe (backing vocals)
This transitional album makes clear Magma’s black music roots, crossing their familiar zeuhl style with funk and soul. It’s also their only LP to be completely dominated by Christian Vander – in addition to composing and arranging everything and playing keyboards, drums and percussion, he takes all the lead vocals. The end result is a good rather than great album that maintains a high standard throughout without really taking the band’s music forwards. GRADE: B–.
Magma (France/Algeria): Rétrospective Vols. 1 & 2 (RCA PL 37497, double, France, 1981)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (occasional vocals), Maria Popkiewicz (occasional vocals), Liza Deluxe (occasional vocals), Claire Laborde (occasional vocals)
One of two releases documenting gigs intended to mark the end of Magma (although they were back touring within a year), this superb set features full-length versions of MDK and ‘Theusz Hamtaahk’. The former is dramatic and powerful and the latter subtle, creating another superb concert document. GRADE: B.
Magma (France/Algeria): Rétrospective Vol. 3 (RCA PL 37481, France, 1981)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Stella Vander (occasional vocals), Maria Popkiewicz (occasional vocals), Liza Deluxe (occasional vocals)

The companion piece to the above volume (which was actually released first, judging by the catalogue numbers) is the slightest Magma live set to date. Side one features the previously unreleased ‘Retrovision’ and side two a new version of the then-unrecorded ‘Hhaï’ and the four-minute ‘La Dawotsin’. The end result is an enjoyable if slightly inconsequential album, concentrating on the lighter jazz and soul-influenced end of the band’s repertoire. GRADE: B–.
Magma (France): Merci (Jaro Medien JARO 4120, with insert, West Germany, 1984)
Jazz/Funk/Soul
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals, handclaps), Liza Deluxe (occasional vocals)
Completely different from their other work, this has very little to do with either zeuhl or progressive rock, instead offering rather eighties-flavoured jazz/funk with soul and rock edges. The seven cuts, sung in a mixture of English, French and Kobaïan, are pleasant enough on their own terms and together form a conceptual work about death – but ultimately this is a completely unremarkable LP, which makes it remarkable for Magma. GRADE: C+.
Magma (France): KA (Seventh A XXXIV, CD, with digipak and two booklets, 2004)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals, percussion), Isabelle Feuillebois (joint lead vocals), Himiko Paganotti (joint lead vocals)
Also known as Kohntarkösz Anteria, this was Magma’s first studio album since 1984 and their first large-scale piece since Kohntarkösz itself. It was generally greeted as a masterpiece, and for once the hype wasn’t wrong: as a contintuous suite of music running for almost an hour, it’s superbly crafted and beautifully arranged. Admittedly, there’s nothing here that really startles or breaks new ground, but it’s hard to imagine any other band in middle age – or maybe any other band full stop – who could have pulled off something like this. GRADE: B.
Magma (France): Ëmëntëhtt-Ré (Seventh A XXXV, CD plus DVD, with digipak and booklet, 2009)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals, percussion), Isabelle Feuillebois (joint lead vocals)
This highly accomplished album stitches together elements of older works – there are excerpts from ‘Hhaï’, ‘De Futura’ and ‘Ëmëntëhtt-Ré’ itself – into a beautifully crafted suite. If the album has a failing, it’s maybe just a little too polished (as the accompanying ‘making-of’ DVD demonstrates, the disc was virtually assembled bar-by-bar), but it’s certainly a masterful piece of work. GRADE: B.
Magma (France): Félicité Thösz (Seventh A XXXVII, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2012)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals, tambourine), Isabelle Feuillebois (joint lead vocals, bells)
Focusing on the gentler end of the band’s repertoire, this features the 28-minute ‘Félicité Thösz’ itself and the four-minute ‘Les Hommes Sont Venus’, making for a surprisingly short album. The former features full band arrangements and the latter the ‘Les Voix’ line-up, making for a varied and beautifully crafted album, if one that’s never really radical. GRADE: B.

Magma (France): Rïah Sahïltaahk (Jazz Village JW 570045, with digipak and insert, 2014)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals), Isabelle Feuillebois (joint lead vocals)
Housed in a striking silver foil digipak, this short (24 minutes) album demonstrates Magma’s fondness for recycling old material and themes. A re-recording of the first side of their 1971 LP 1001º Centigrade, performed in the semi-choral MDK style, it’s highly polished and very accomplished. However, it also reinforces the fact that this once-pioneering band haven’t had any new ideas (or composed much new material) in decades. GRADE: B–.

Magma (France): Slag Tanz (Jazz Village JV 570051, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2015)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals), Isabelle Feuillebois (joint lead vocals)
The hype sticker describes this as ‘a jazz metal symphony’, but this is basically business as usual for twenty-first century Magma. Whilst the set is dynamic, bombastic and exciting, there is nothing original or startling here, and like all their recent work it’s incredibly short, clocking in at little more than 20 minutes. GRADE: B–.

Magma (France): Zëss (Seventh A XXXX, CD, with book sleeve, 2019)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (occasional vocals), Isabelle Feuillebois (occasional vocals), Julie Vander (occasional vocals), Sandrine Destefanis (occasional vocals), Sylvie Fisichella (occasional vocals), Laura Guarrato (occasional vocals)
Another day, another ‘new’ Magma album consisting of a studio reworking of live material from the seventies. However, this differs from similar recent ventures for two reasons. First, it has backing from the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Secondly, whilst their last few albums have been a bit too bombastic for their own good, this one is laid-back in the extreme, sometimes sounding as much like Offering as Magma. Repetition has always been a central element of Magma’s hypnotic music, but here they take it to the extreme – very little actually happens, with the same mellow riff continuing ad infinitum, whilst Christian Vander (who doesn’t even touch his trademark drums) intones something or other in Kobaian. On the plus side, it’s pleasingly atmospheric, but next time round it would be nice if they struck a balance between this and their heavier work. It would be even nicer if they could actually write something new. GRADE: B–.

Magma (France): Eskähl 2020 (AKT AKT XIX, double CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2021)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals, tambourine), Isabelle Feuillebois (joint lead vocals)
This live set covers a fair range of territory – excerpts from all three parts of the ’Theusz Hamtaahk’ trilogy plus everything from ‘Kobaïa’ from their first album to a cover of McCoy Tyner’s ‘For Tomorrow’. But whilst this scores on variety and takes Magma to places they haven’t been for years, I don’t find the performances here particularly compelling, so there are significantly better live offerings out there. GRADE: B–.

Magma (France/Algeria): Théâtre Du Taur – Concert 1975 (AKT IV, double CD, France, 1994, recorded 1975)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (backing vocals)
This official bootleg makes an interesting companion piece to the contemporary live album recorded the same year, sharing a similar tracklisting (although 'Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh' appears in its entirety here). The two-track recording is of variable quality, particularly on the first disc where the stereo image is off-centre, but musically this is often incendiary, depicting a truly original band at the peak of its powers. In particular, 'Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh' is astounding, including an outbreak of frenzied, feedback-laden bass soloing followed by some equally impressive violin histrionics. GRADE: B.
Magma (France/Algeria): Concert 1976 – Opéra De Reims (AKT IX, triple CD, France, 1996, recorded 1976)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (occasional vocals)
Running for almost three hours, this epic triple album is among the most interesting Magma live retrospective releases. It features the unrecorded ‘Theusz Hamtaahk’, ‘Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh’, ‘Kohntarkösz’, ‘De Futura’ and the unique ‘Sons Et Chorus De Batterie’. The latter is a rather dull improvisation-cum-drum solo but everything else is impressive, especially the ferocious ‘MDK’, which descends into an orgy of guitar and bass feedback. GRADE: B.
Magma (France): Bourges 1979 (AKT XV, double CD, 2008, recorded 1979)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (occasional vocals, piano), Maria Popkiewicz (occasional vocals), Liza Deluxe (occasional vocals)
With superb sound quality, this is possibly the best of the Magma retrospective live albums. The set is exceptionally varied too, from the unrecorded ‘Rétrovision’ through a powerful ‘Hhaï’ and an excellent ‘MDK’ to a couple of numbers from the then-current Attahk. If not for a lengthy drum solo, I would have graded this even higher. GRADE: B.
Magma (France): Concert – Bobino 1981 (AKT V, double CD, 1995, recorded 1981)
Jazz/Rock/Soul/Progressive
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals, tambourine), Liza Deluxe (joint lead vocals, tambourine)
Although Magma had supposedly broken up the previous year (as documented by the two Rétrospective albums), they continued to tour extensively. This set mostly focuses on new and recent material, showing increased influences from soul and jazz/funk and much less in the way of their traditional zeuhl sound. The tiresome ‘Otis’ aside (on which Christian Vander’s falsetto vocals quickly become wearing), it’s a very enjoyable set, although not up to the standard of their seventies work. GRADE: B–.
Magma (France): Concert – Bobino 1981 (AKT VI, VHS, 1995, recorded 1981)
Jazz/Rock/Soul/Progressive
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals, tambourine), Liza Deluxe (joint lead vocals, tambourine)
The video (and later DVD) version of the Bobino concert is fascinating. It’s interesting to see how much Magma resembled a soul revue at this point in its career, with a very theatrical style of dressing, performance and stage layout. The picture quality is less than brilliant, likewise the sound, and there are a few technical glitches, but this is an important archive release nonetheless. Musically, my feelings are the same as with the CD: this is consistently good, but markedly below their seventies peak. GRADE: B–.
Magma (France): Les Voix – Concert 1992 (AKT I, CD, 1992)
Progressive
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals), Isabelle Feuillebois (joint lead vocals), Julie Vander (joint lead vocals), Bénédicte Ragu (joint lead vocals)
This fascinating set basically demonstrates Magma performing unplugged, with a large number of vocalists (as the title suggests) backed principally by piano. With an interesting selection of material (including an excerpt from ‘Murdah Ïtah’, which was of course originally arranged in a similar fashion), this is among the most distinctive Magma releases. GRADE: B.
Magma (France): Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogy (Seventh A XXIX/XXX/XXXI, triple CD, with gatefold minisleeves, booklets and box, 2001)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (occasional vocals, keyboards, percussion), Isabelle Feuillebois (occasional vocals, percussion), Julie Vander (occasional vocals)
As its title suggests, this lavishly packaged set features full-length performances of all three parts of the 'Theusz Hamtaahk' trilogy. The result is conceptually fascinating but musically disappointing, as the versions of all three tracks are fairly tepid (simply compare Rétrospective Vols. 1 & 2 to hear how this material can be played live). GRADE: B–.
Magma (France): Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogy (Seventh VD2, DVD, 2001)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (occasional vocals, keyboards, percussion), Isabelle Feuillebois (occasional vocals, percussion), Julie Vander (occasional vocals)
Whilst this is taken from the same concert as the triple CD, the visuals serve to disguise that these are not among the best versions of these pieces. With the band appearing to enjoy (and exert) itself, this is an excellent live document of Magma. GRADE: B.

Magma (France): Live In Tokyo (Seventh Japan SJCD-2005, double CD, with poster booklet and obi, Japan, 2005)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals, percussion), Isabelle Feuillebois (joint lead vocals), Himiko Paganotti (joint lead vocals)
Issued only in Japan, this features the full electric band performing ‘KA’ in its entirety on the first disc, and the unplugged ‘Les Voix’ incarnation reinterpreting ‘Theusz Hamtaahk’, ‘Wurdah Ïtah’ and ‘MDK’ on the second. Overall, this is an interesting and unusual set that deserved wider release. GRADE: B.

Magma (France): Köhnzert Zünd (Seventh JV 570100 11, 12CD, with gatefold minisleeves, booklet and box, 2015, recorded 1975-2011)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals, percussion), Isabelle Feuillebois (occasional vocals, percussion), Lisa Deluxe (occasional vocals), Maria Popkiewicz (occasional vocals), Claire Laborde (occasional vocals), Julie Vander (occasional vocals), Himiko Paganotti (occasional vocals)
Lavishly packaged in an unusual oversized box, this set compiles all official Europe-released non-retrospective Magma live releases to date – 1975’s Live (a solid B), 1980’s Rétrospective Vols. 1, 2 & 3 (B for the double album, B– for the slightly weaker single LP) and Theusz Hamtaahk Trilogy (also a B). The hook for collectors – aside from the packaging and the thick booklet – is four discs of rare material. Two compile songs from the Mythes Et Légendes series of DVDs, covering the band’s entire career – this material is excellent. Finally, there’s a whole unreleased concert from 2009. This superb set comprises the entire Ëmëntëhtt-Ré and Félicité Thösz albums plus a couple of unrecorded pieces, and is also comfortably Grade B. GRADE: B.
Magma (France): Mythes Et Légendes, Volume I (Seventh VD4, DVD, with digipak, 2006)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (occasional vocals, keyboards)
In 2005, the band celebrated its 35th anniversary by staging four concerts in weekly cycles, each featuring different line-ups and showcasing different material. Volume I concentrates on songs from the band’s early years, including numbers from Magma and 1001º Centigrade (both recorded with all-male line-ups) that they hadn’t played for years. Whilst this isn’t a spectacular show visually, it’s quite astounding musically: the band is simply on fire, tearing into some of their jazziest and most austere songs. In particular, the savage rendition of ‘Theusz Hamtaahk’ blows the version from the previous DVD away. Stella Vander is not heavily featured during the show, appearing only for the second half. GRADE: B+.
Magma (France): Mythes Et Légendes, Volume II (Seventh VD5, DVD, with digipak, 2006)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals, percussion), Isabelle Feuillebois (occasional vocals, percussion), Himiko Paganotti (occasional vocals, percussion)
Although the tracklisting isn’t as unusual as its predecessor (‘Wurdah Ïtah’, ‘Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh’ and ‘De Futura’ plus a Jannick Top bass solo), the musicianship is again absolutely incendiary. In short, this is simply superb stuff, and it’s amazing that the vitality the musicians – many in their fifties and sixties – inject into their performances. GRADE: B+.
Magma (France): Mythes Et Légendes, Volume III (Seventh VD6, DVD, with digipak, 2007)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (occasional vocals, percussion), Isabelle Feuillebois (occasional vocals, percussion), Himiko Paganotti (occasional vocals, percussion)
Another superb live performance, this time centred around ‘Köhntarkösz’ and a lengthy version of ‘Hhaï’. Once again, the intensity is remarkable and the musicians appear to be enjoying themselves to the utmost. GRADE: B+.
Magma (France): Mythes Et Légendes, Volume IV (Seventh VD7, DVD, with digipak, 2008)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander (occasional vocals, percussion), Isabelle Feuillebois (occasional vocals, percussion), Himiko Paganotti (occasional vocals)
The fourth instalment of the series is every bit as remarkable as the first three, focusing around a stunningly intense ‘Zess’ and a full-length ‘KA’. Everything climaxes when the band goes full circle, adding Klaus Blasquiz for an anthemic ‘Kobaïa”. GRADE: B+.
Magma (France): Mythes Et Légendes, Epok V (Seventh VD8, DVD, with digipak, 2013)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Stella Vander (joint lead vocals, percussion), Isabelle Feuillebois (joint lead vocals, percussion)
Recorded in 2011, this is another classic instalment of live Magma, packed with power, energy and invention. The set is interspersed with brief interviews with Magma fans, including their number one celebrity admirer Steve Davis. GRADE: B+.

Magma (France): Nihaohamtaï (Seventh, DVD, 2016)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Stella Vander, Isabelle Feuillebois
This is a difficult DVD to grade, as it’s a documentary about the band’s first Chinese tour rather than a concert document. It’s certainly a cut above the usual tour diary, and it’s interesting to see Chinese fans reacting to the band’s local debut, but I would have preferred less footage of the band larking around between gigs and more footage of them onstage. In fact, there’s surprisingly little of the latter, which is doubly annoying as the few excerpts are superb. GRADE: C+.
See also Ad Vitam, Lydia Domancich, Pascal Duffard, Patrick Gauthier, Offering, Bernard Paganotti, Prince, Rahmann, Rosebud, Stella, Utopic Sporadic Orchestra, Christian Vander, ZOU

Magnolia (Italy): La Zona D’Ombra (Lizard CD 0085, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2012)
Progressive
Chiara Gironi (lead vocals), Donatella Valeri (keyboards)
This is classic Italian prog, with a folky feel and rich instrumental textures, featuring songs and a few instrumentals stitched together. On the downside, it’s not a very varied album, and that’s the real drawback: with a few moments of rock excitement or some extended instrumental sections this could have been an outstanding set. GRADE: C+.

Magnolia (Italy): Con Fuoco (Lizard CD 0130, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2017)
Progressive
Chiara Gironi (lead vocals), Donatella Valeri (keyboards)
With its songs about political oppression around the world, linked by narration and sound effects, this has a far more interesting concept than most progressive albums. They also get bonus points for singing it entirely in Italian, though as with their debut the musical backing is accomplished rather than truly exceptional. GRADE: C+.

Colette Magny (France): Les Tuileries (CBS 62416, 1965)
Singer/Songwriter
Colette Magny (lead vocals, guitar)
Magny had been recording since 1958, but it was not until 1965 that her first album appeared, following two EPs: the first dark, haunting and almost psychedelic; the second focusing more on big-band jazz. Les Tuileries blends material from both styles, along with some Bob Dylan and coffeehouse folk influences and a definite lineage back to Édith Piaf. Some songs are better than others: the stripped-down numbers with mildly trippy organ are clearly the best, whilst the English-language bluesy and jazzy covers are far less impressive. Nonetheless, this is a prescient album overall, making clear her influence on a new generation of French female singers (Brigitte Fontaine, Catherine Lara and most of all Catherine Ribeiro). GRADE: C+.
Colette Magny (France): Frappe Ton Coeur (Le Chant Du Monde LDZ M 4289, 10", 1965)
Folk
Colette Magny (lead vocals)
Magny’s second album, compiled from two EPs, consists of eight songs that don’t even total 20 minutes. It’s also far less interesting musically than her debut: with all the rock elements removed, this is pure protest folk, with the perfunctory music, complete with chanson edges, firmly taking second place to her screeds of socially conscious lyrics. GRADE: C+.
Colette Magny (France): “Avec” Poème (Mouloudji EMZ 13510, 1966)
Avant-Garde
Colette Magny (lead vocals)
This is the album on which Magny’s reputation as an experimental music pioneer rests. Teaming up with composer André Almuro, she sings, speaks, intones and screams poetry (both her own and others’) over his bizarre electronic backing, which often sounds like incidental music from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. It’s fascinating, formless stuff that was several years ahead of its time (with echoes audible everywhere from Gong to Henry Cow). She continued her experimentation, in a much jazzier vein, on the equally fascinating EP Snarkrose. GRADE: B–.

Colette Magny (France): Colette Magny (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74319, 1967)
Folk
Colette Magny (lead vocals, guitar)
The weird, strident ‘Bura Bura’, with its ethnic stylings, is fascinating, but for the most part this marks a return to protest folk. It’s enjoyable enough, and quintessentially French, but although her influence on Catherine Ribeiro et al is once again obvious here, Magny isn’t pushing any boundaries this time around. GRADE: C+.
Colette Magny (France): Magny 68/69 (Taï-Ki TK 01, 1969)
Folk/Avant-Garde
Colette Magny (lead vocals)
Whilst still firmly rooted in folk, this is decidedly more interesting than its predecessor. The A-side is an audio documentary of the 1968 Paris riots, mixing songs (featuring both acoustic and electric guitars) with narrative and sound effects, and is a fascinating period piece. In contrast, the short second side is rather perfunctory, though it’s listenable enough. GRADE: C+.

Colette Magny (France): Feu Et Rhythme (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74444, 1971)
Singer/Songwriter/Folk/Jazz/Avant-Garde
Colette Magny (lead vocals, guitar)
Ever thought you’d experience the genre of experimental coffeehouse protest folk? Me neither. But here it is: Magny wails and screams and howls like a particularly enraged Catherine Ribeiro over her own acoustic guitar and some wild free jazz-inspired string bass work from Barre Phillips and Beb Guérin. The results are intriguing, to say the least, and often not for the faint-hearted. GRADE: C+.
Colette Magny (France): Répression (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74476, 1972)
Singer/Songwriter/Jazz
Colette Magny (lead vocals)
Much jazzier and slightly straighter than Feu Et Rhythme, this sometimes harks back to Magny’s early work inasmuch as the music is often secondary to the lyrics. Indeed, for the first few songs, she almost trips over herself as she spits out invective at ninety miles an hour whilst a jazz combo noodles aimlessly in the background, but the LP subsequently improves considerably to offer some decent material. GRADE: C+.

Colette Magny & Free Jazz Workshop (France): Transit (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74570, 1975)
Singer/Songwriter/Jazz/Folk/Avant-Garde
Colette Magny (lead vocals, guitar)
Don’t be put off by the ‘Free Jazz Workshop’ credit: this is indeed Magny’s most experimental and interesting album in almost a decade, but there is no freeform saxophone wailing or flailing drumming here. Instead, this mixes dark, folky songs, mellow jazzy improvisations and weird spoken word sections into a fascinating and unpredictable mélange, culminating in a short poem set to an extract from Bach. As always with Magny, there’s occasionally a feeling that the music is secondary to the message, but there are few weak moments here, and this makes clear just how influential she was – at times it’s obvious that there was a direct lineage from her work to new wave stylists like Vi Subversa of the Poison Girls. GRADE: B–.
Colette Magny (France): Visage-Village (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74619, 1977)
Folk/Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Colette Magny (lead vocals)
In a radical change of direction, Magny here sounds as though she’s been influenced by artists she herself influenced, notably Catherine Ribeiro. Like Ribeiro’s albums, this has a conceptual unity, and the songs flow together to create the sense of a journey. There the resemblance ends: whereas Alpes’ backing was spacy and psychedelic, the moods here are mellow and elegant, mixing folk and jazz in different combinations, with some Édith Piaf-like Parisienne nightclub moves thrown in for good measure. The mellow, propulsive, mildly proggy feel of the music is something completely new for Magny, but her vocals remain as varied and experimental as ever, though mostly she opts for a laid-back croon that perfectly supports the music (which, for once, never feels like mere accompaniment to her words). GRADE: B–.

Colette Magny & Les Enfants De L’IMP De Fontenoy (France): Je Veux Chanter (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74669, 1979)
Folk/World Music/‘Incredibly Strange Music’
Colette Magny (joint lead vocals), Marie-Gabrielle Vanson (occasional vocals, percussion, flute), Patricia Lecomte (occasional vocals, percussion, flute), Elizabeth Didier (drums, percussion)
To be read aloud in a Marks & Spencer TV commercial voice: ‘This is not just a school project album. It’s a Colette Magny school project album.’ Magny’s occasional sung and spoken vocals mix with improvisations from the kids – who sing, speak, scream, imitate animals and bang percussion instruments to create a mock-Oriental flavour – to constantly surprising effect. In many ways, this could be seen as the spiritual successor to “Avec” Poème, and it’s certainly more interesting than the Langley Schools Music Project. Whether you’d want to listen to it regularly is a different matter. GRADE: C+.
Colette Magny (France): Thanakan (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74770, 1981)
Avant-Garde
Colette Magny (lead vocals)
This single-sided LP is possibly Magny’s oddest effort. It’s mostly pure spoken word, though that description doesn’t do justice to her presentation – at times she sings acapella, at times she croons Antonin Artaud’s poetry like a little girl and at others screams and roars with rage. It’s odd through and through, and a fascinating addition to Magny’s always unpredictable discography. GRADE: C+.
Colette Magny (France): Cahier D’une Tortue (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74770 Bis, 1983)
Avant-Garde
Colette Magny (lead vocals)
This shorter single-sided LP (just under 13 minutes) was originally intended as the B-side of Thanakan, but Antonin Artaud’s estate forbade the inclusion of Sylvie Dubal’s poem on the same LP. As a result, Le Chant Du Monde issued two single-sided LPs; this one has slightly more in the way of musical backing, with some minimalist, slightly jazzy piano and wind chimes, but it’s sometimes as weird as its predecessor. GRADE: C+.
Colette Magny (France): Chansons Pour Titine (Le Chant Du Monde LDX 74776, 1983)
Jazz
Colette Magny (lead vocals)
And now for something completely different: Magny offers a set of straight-ish jazz covers, with arrangements from a classical pianist. It’s nice enough, and proves her to be a fine interpretative singer – so if you’ve ever wanted to her Magny perform ‘Strange Fruit’, ‘My Heart Belongs To Daddy’ or ‘House Of The Rising Sun’, here’s your chance. GRADE: C+.
Colette Magny (France): Kevork (Colette Magny Promotion CMPCD 01, CD, 1989)
Singer/Songwriter/Jazz
Colette Magny (principal vocals)
She’s back to performing original material, but this is again very mellow and jazzy stuff, with arrangements built around her frequent co-writer Michel Prescatelli’s mellow piano. The results are pleasant and mellifluous, showcasing her excellent voice to fine effect. As a footnote, the CD version features a number of bonus tracks. GRADE: C+.
Colette Magny (France): Inédits 91 (Colette Magny Promotion CMPCD 05, CD, 1992)
Singer/Songwriter/Jazz/Progressive
Colette Magny (lead vocals)
Magny’s final album is dominated by the 17½-minute ‘Rap’toi D’là Que Je M’y Mette’, a stream-of-consciousness piece that resembles a mellower, jazzier Catherine Ribeiro or Béatrice Tekielski, or perhaps more closely mid-period Ann Krist. It finally transmutes into an orchestrated version of Francesca Solleville’s ‘Le Chant Des Hommes’, confirming Magny’s continmued ability to innovate and surprise. The short vignettes that follow – including a few covers – aren’t in the same league, but this is a consistently enjoyable end to her career. GRADE: C+.

Mahagon (Czechoslovakia): Mahagon (Supraphon 1 15 2145 H, 1977)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Zdena Adamová (lead vocals)
This Czech collective offer lively, funky jazz-fusion that’s varied, inventive and often surprising. But like a lot of releases in the genre, it’s more technically accomplished than suffused in personality, though the results are undeniably impressive. GRADE: C+.

Mahagon (Czechoslovakia): Slunečnice Pro Vincenta Van Gogha (Supraphon 1 15 2145 H, 1980)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Zdena Adamová (lead vocals)
Whilst this partly offers the same kind of inventive funky fusion as its predecessor, it’s both straighter and more varied. There’s everything here from symphonic ballads to mutant Suzi Quatro-like rock, all of it pretty good, but you may find yourself wishing they’d simply stretch out and jam. 

GRADE: C+.
See also C&K Vocal

Mahesh (Chile): Procesos (Mylodon MyloCD058, CD, 2008)
Progressive/Metal
Francisca Moraga (principal vocals)
Latin America seems to produce an inexhaustible supply of this kind of modern prog band, and Mahesh tick all the boxes. Dense metallic riffs? Check. Symphonic keyboards? Present and correct. A knotty and rather claustrophobic sound? But of course. Mildly jazzy and slightly off-key female vocals? Naturally. In fairness, there’s a touch more ambition than usual here, but there isn’t the faintest hint of anything unique or even original. GRADE: C+.