Magma is the orchestra of the Universe. Christian Vander is the chief.
The glance. More than the powerful arms of the beater inspired, it is the glance which strikes, which retains at Christian Vander, the organizer, the spirit of Magma. A glance of visionary at thousand light-years of modernity, the current one. Out-of-date, immortal magma? One would be tempted to believe it by listening to Christian Vander, priest enthusiastic of a very close Universe, stubborn militant of the going beyond of oneself. At his place, royalty to be joined it the concerns of the last of the philosophers of our time, giant solitary, without school and disciples: Heidegger.
Still relatively solitary - he also the organizer of Magma is anxious, tended. Anxious to be badly included/understood, badly followed, regarded as a hurluberlu. Tended in front of the aggressions that Magma underwent of all shares during years.
Whatever our level of perception of Magma, rhythmic, purely musical or mystical, even “fantastic”, it is necessary to follow closely the answers - even voluntarily partial - of Christian Vander.
PROCLAMATION/PREAMBLE/CONCLUSION (provisional) OF CHRISTIAN VANDER
“Nothing is created to be created, in Magma. One among the servants of the Universe, I wait until he speaks for me. When I feel that he wants to speak to me, I sit down with the piano and I wait. Then my fingers move. I cannot describe what I test. All the feelings of joy, infinite sadness, hope, all these feelings are so dependent and strong that when they penetrate in me, it in is not too much, I cannot any more but retransmettre than my human perception enabled me to receive. However, it is only the bottom of my heart. Only the Universe is also like a mirror, an immensely large mirror, and when in front of him I expose my heart, its image is projected on all the galaxies, the solar systems, the stars, and the intensity of its reflection is multiplied billion and billion times when it returns to me to flood of its celestial radiation.
The men want to always rise compared to an elite of individuals whom they chose, because for them, it is an achievement which to be above this elite. However it should be known that, on ground, we are nothing, the human being does not represent anything in the Universe, and, with the more high degree to which it can arrive on ground, he anything is not still compared with the Universe. If one seeks to rise above the human being, one will be tall compared to something of small. If his thought is turned, its glance, towards the Universe, one will be small compared to the incommensurably large one. They is so marvellous to be a piece of the Universe. II is generous, and when his offering is brought to him, however miserable is it, it returns it to us, in his measurement, proportionally with him. The Universe creates unceasingly for us and others. One should not be satisfied always to take to him, it is necessary to give him, it is necessary to create for him, because it is its only food.
We live thanks to him. This is why I dedicated to him for eternity my being material and immaterial. On ground, that wants to say Magma and Uniweria Zekt. I want that people know this: it is not for my ego that, for five years, I have taken this step with respect to them. It is because that must be made. Soon, I will not speak any more. Time will do it for me. “
“Magma, it is something of very simple”
Magma records from now on on Vertigo label and returns itself from there from its first English round. Is this thanks to Giorgio Gomelsky, your new producing manager/?
CV: Perhaps. But that would have occurred in any case, now or later. Magma was really awaited in England. One made a large impression, over there… Magma, it is really all the European folklore, Bartok… That appears very current. A little as what also certain musicians of jazz do today (Keith Jarrett) which introduce European folklores into their music. People, even of the musicians, say: “It is fantastic”, because they are not even able to recognize their folklore! II exists in our country a distracting musical deficiency: 70°/of the young French does not have any musical education. Whereas at eleven years, the Americans assemble already symphony orchestras or of Big Bands of jazz. And they learn the European music better than us…
English too? Therefore did you to them strong impression?
CV: Yes. But, finally, there is not yet of public for us in England. It is the same thing that in France, four years ago: it was or Claude François or Triangle, it did not have there yet of public for a music like that of Magma. It was created, this public, one created parallel circuits, sometimes making six hundred kilometers to go to play in front of forty people. That always cost us money, but we did not want to wait until people come to us, we want to go towards them. Then, by reaction, by the word of mount, others, more, came to us.
Same creation remains to be made in the United Kingdom?
CV: Yes. But that will go much more quickly than to France, because most of the time, the British have much respect for the music. In France, at the beginning, the public very often did not have any respect for our music. Now, it is the reverse: people have for us a fantastic respect, they want to really include/understand what occurs.
Finished, therefore, incidents of the beginning; Is magma, from now on, “installed”?
CV: Yes, and another public is appearing, different from the small core of supporters of the beginning: people of more modest, culturally less privileged mediums than “the elite”. Moreover, this public “of elite” often disappears the day when a group starts to make its hole, to have success: “They make concessions”, says one. I make a point of saying that we never made concessions, and that it is undoubtedly the reason why Magma succeeded in being essential on a certain public. Magma will never make concessions, will always play the music for the music.
Why this concept of “elite”?
CV: To indicate those which discovered us, which sought with more on our music, which returned several times to see us. Without them, people would undoubtedly not have understood today that the music of Magma did not occur to the first degree. It was especially in the studied medium that these people-there were found.
They in vain return several times, they will nevertheless not bore the mystery of the language of Magma, the kobaïen. Why the kobaïen?
CV: It was instinctive. The first time that I composed something - it was with the guitar, and I had never touched a guitar of my life, I sang it in kobaïen. I had some so much on the heart, which I had to say was so violent that these words came all alone.
It was thus the birth of Magma?
CV: Yes. I returned of a round to Italy; I accompanied Arthur Conley…
“I always played the music which I liked”
… and one had recommended to me to go to listen to certain groups of “progressive music” in Rock' Roll Circus. I found that had sophisticated, died, without life. Is the music, it initially the life, not? Coltrane played really its life on scene. I do not include/understand the half-measures. The music, that is not a relaxation. Certain musicians, in France, think due the music, it is a trade of lazy, think that in scene it is necessary, vulgarly,” of bursting themselves “, and left scene, leave their instrument for a jug of beaujolais wine in a box and, if possible,” a small chick “. Not me. For me, the music, it is the life. And death. Moreover, at the time, I left dead Coltrane, very had crumbled around me with his disappearance. Then in front of this invaluable group which seemed to raise the delirious enthusiasm of everyone, I said: ” Listen, me, I will assemble a group, and it will be really of the music “. They burst all to laugh… I had initially thought that after Coltrane, I could nothing any more make. Then I felt that it was necessary nevertheless to try to make live, modestly, the reason for which it had lived, him. I.e. to bring something to people. I always try to do it, I hope that I arrive there.
Wasn't Coltrane your only contact with the jazz?
CV: Not, I worked two years with Elvin Jones, one of the largest beaters with Tony Williams and Jack DeJohnette. Elvin was the buddy of Bobby Jaspar, a Belgian flutist, today dead, that my mother knew very well.
You thus grew in the middle of the jazz?
CV: Not, at all. I was not raised by my parents, but by my uncle and my aunt, in a working medium. They listened of Verchuren to length of day. The only musical illumination that I had, it was when my mother came and a disc of outside brought to me. At six years, I listened to Stravinsky, Bach, Clifford Brown, max Roach. Very young person, I was sensitive to all this music. Perhaps because I am with the three-quarters of German blood, and for a Polish quarter… Lastly, very early, I felt that the medium where I had grown, that was not the life. And I started to play of the jazz, because my mother was in this medium. At sixteen years, I tried to make oxen in the clubs, under the sarcastic remarks of the musicians. It was very hard like environment. They always looked at their watch… That cooled me a little jazz music, I thought that they were dying in small fire in their ghetto. I had the same impression besides when I started to seek pop musicians “professional” to assemble my group: - You want to play of the sax in my group? - Yes, how much you pays? Or: - What is it like kind of music, your group, they are cool? I said: “That is enough” and I trotted myself of club in club, a little lost, without more seeking to make ox, and I met nevertheless people who wanted to play. Completely unknown, but which wanted to play: François Cahen, Paco Charléry, Francis Moze, etc
And of speaking kobaïen?
CV: Yes, there were all of them enough people who did not listen to the music or of those which played it but foutaient some.
The kobaïen, that resembles German much?
CV: Yes, that is due to my origins. The kobaïen, it is German, they are Slavic, Polish, that can sound a little Russian, some even Japanese time! But the kobaïen, that is not Esperanto. It is a very organic language and at all intellectual: one tries to find the word which defines really the object.
They are initially sounds, then organized in a vocabulary?
CV: Yes. I realized of this: in a climate given, when a certain thing is evoked, in fact always the same words return. Kobaïa, it is the same thing. I am in a certain climate, I connect the tape recorder, I compose (because, if the music of Magma is very structured, it is obvious that at the base it is impromptu) and I invent a whole screen… I start again two or three times, and in the same climate in fact always the same words return at the same times. Then I réécoute fifty or sixty times the band and, there, I know what want to say the words, undoubtedly. Now, there are approximately six hundred words of which I am sure.
“Our music, it is the pulsation of today”
Then, it is maturity, for Magma?
CV: Magma, for me, was born with “Mekanïk Kommandöh”. Front, it was purification. The preceding group had several directions; each one brought a little its claw, because we all were not absolutely of agreement on the philosophy of the group. One was diverted a little the original spirit. With “Mekanïk Kommandöh”, one fully returned there. I was likely to meet musicians who have the same frame of mind. Now, we all go in the same direction.
This frame of mind, how to define it?
CV: II is necessary well to know this: each one, in the group, must be achieved. Soon, I will not be any more the single type-setter. Everyone will compose. Each one must be able to be intended “to resound” completely at the others. But, for that, i1 is necessary all to be on a common basis.
And one reaches that point how?
CV: Only by one common frame of mind, a common philosophy, and because one works all in the same direction: spiritual disciplines. Jannik Signal, for example, works in a certain discipline since several years, Klaus in another, me in mine, etc But, before, each one played with people who “did not work” not.
Is this discipline, this “work”, what it?
CV: It is a discipline, a work which makes it possible to arrive “high”… Everyone can learn, but everyone does not learn, in fact. It is one of the laws…
CV: Good, there are two worlds: the objective world and the subjective world. Everyone can have access to the subjective world. Not very many is those which can reach the objective world, spirituality. II has there a work required for that. Few people do it, because that requires efforts enormously. This would be only to acquire the bases…
This work consists of what?
CV: That can be the study of Egyptian symbolism, for example. Currently, the spiritual side, it is a little with the mode. In what concerns us, that is not a question of opportunism. But, if one had spoken about that only four years ago, one would have taken to us for the insane ones. To plane, it is necessary to know the bases at bottom, all to control. II is not necessary to escape only by the cosmic forces, it is also necessary to work the ground, the telluric powers. II is necessary all “to give” before starting to rise…
And does this spirituality refer to what?
CV: Each one in the group has its discipline. In what relates to me, it is Egypt, Egyptian symbolism, but I am still far from having all the keys.
CV: II exists manuscripts, there are things which are transmitted hand in hand or of word of mount in the objective world, whose subjective world is not aware. With these elements, one can begin work. For the study of symbolism, it is necessary to have keys. To know that if one reads in the Bible: “II killed the dragon”, that wants to say anything else: “II killed its ego”, for example. It is a whole work of simply knowing to read between the lines. One can start to include/understand only when one starts to know the symbolism of the things. From there, one can begin work on oneself. For example, me, I soon will have to go to the countryside to be able to work in-depth and start to control each thing.
To control what?
CV: To give an example, a Master (in a spiritual discipline) can take an extreme brick in a fire, leave it and pose it with ground. How did it do that, without burning itself? By accumulating the moisture of its body at the end of the fingers. But, to arrive from there there, it is necessary to know to feel each one of its arteries, each one of its vertebrae, to be able at each second to control its body with deepest.
It is a really possible thing?
CV: Of course. It is that the discipline. II has there also average, in the same way, to select the air which one breathes, to only take some what is healthy and to leave waste. Or this: a large Master settles outside, with a table, to eat: it rains… everywhere, except on the table to which the Master is installed! I know… For the subjective world, that appears completely insane, but it is true
And does that relate to people of flesh and bone, of 1974?
CV: Absolutely. And visible, moreover. But does not have there demonstrations! The rule, it is TO BE… when one “is”, that comes. II is not necessary to seek to be something, to show or want to learn anything with the others. II is necessary to be, to be satisfied to be. I know… that appears enormous, but that opens doors…
At which price, too?
CV: At the price of much of clearness, of total objectivity, permanent “dépassion”… it is very hard.
Therefore, of a certain asceticism?
CV: Of course. No drug, obviously. No alcohol. And I am ceasing smoking; the cigarette, it still is too for me.
And human relations, man-woman, man-man…?
CV: II no more lie has there, more possible hypocrisy. That can affect certain relations between man and woman, indeed. With regard to the group, there is no more no barrier between us, one always goes at the bottom of what one has to say.
But with respect to the “subjective” world, how do you comprise you? Surely not “naturally”?
CV: II is necessary to have a code. The terrestrial code. To know that, from time to time, a smile can slacken the atmosphere. Obviously, more one goes at the bottom, more one has evil to take part in the subjective world. Not that it is finally so difficult for us. That is especially for the others.
And with respect to the public? Do you make, will do you one or two steps towards him?
CV: Yes. With regard to the language, the kobaïen, there will be soon a small dictionary. For us, all starts with “Mekanïk Kommandöh”. Soon, one will play on scene a piece which leaves the base - the human robot, the machine - for gradually releasing “the spirit”. In the music of Magma, there is passage-key which remains of each one, internally. Each one must feel them with its degree. Initiation, that is done by stages. For example, with an Egyptian statuette in hands, a normal type will say “It is a very beautiful statue”; an initiate will see his proportions, the golden sections; a Master, it, will enter straightforwardly in vibration with the statue, the time to which it was conceived. The music, it is similar: there are the three levels.
Most accessible being the rhythmic one?
CV: Yes, the mechanical level. In “Theusz Hamtaahk”, the rhythmic one is relatively heavy to emphasize very air choruses - the second stage. But it is necessary nevertheless to tighten the ear to hear them.
And the third level?
CV: It is the connection of the whole: telluric power, plus the neutral power, the cosmic power.
And will the day when everyone perceive these three levels? II will this elite have there no more about which you spoke presently?
CV: Of course that not. I want to make mass an elite. However, in this moment, to my knowledge, there is so to speak no musician turned towards this frame of mind. Mahavishnu, I believe, did not pass yet by the stage of purification: to play a note, it is necessary fifty of them for them to make it pass. In the music, each note has its importance. The music, that can be four notes during five minutes if it is needed. II is not need to play about it of others if these are really felt, it would be superfluous. The more one works, the more one goes far, the more one eliminates the blah, the show-off.
Does that suppose a new type of relations with people?
CV: Yes, and more and more, we play on same level as them, “in bottom” of the scene, especially when this one is too high.
With a predilection for these parallel circuits about which we did speak presently, MJC, etc?
CV: Yes. And since the beginning. We often made six hundred kilometers to play in front of forty people. I repeat it, because it was a job of Titans. But it was the only solution to have the contact with people.
How you do you leave there? Eight musicians, few official receptions, few discs…?
CV: One did not leave oneself there at all! One had, and one always has debts. Our wives work. And, in this moment, we always play to pay our debts. I remember, at the beginning, I had evil to replace the three-four times rods which I broke each evening!
Why to have chosen Giorgio Gomelsky like managing?
CV: Because we needed somebody who is a little with the measurement of Magma. A manager, of course, but also somebody who has original ideas, a little insane.
II does Zao also deal with, whose founder is François Cahen, ex-Magma?
CV: Yes. And soon, there will be more and more groups which will play in this same frame of mind. It is not the pop one, nor jazz, but of ZEUHL WORTZ or UNIWERIA ZEKT: it is as that which should be called it.
Zeuhl Wortz starts to be recognized. It causes as many aggressions as at the beginning of Magma.
CV: It is a little a mirror, where each one can read the amount of aggression which it has in him, where each one can be updated. I never included/understood how one had been able to take to us for a fascistic group. When I think that I heard that during three years!
The policy, since one does speak about it, what that represents for you?
CV: Nothing. Nothing the whole. When a politician speaks, it is to be died of laughing. And they keep their serious! That will not be able to continue like that, people will awake.
If that is not the policy, what will bind the human relations, then?
CV: That could be Zeuhl Wortz, for example… But later. Not in the immediate future. In dix-quinze years, perhaps, it will occur something… Many people “will work”… I do not specify more, because one still will say to me: “That is not possible”.
In this near future, the spectacles of Magma will play their part?
CV: Yes. And even front. We will improve them. Y to add more the audio-visual one, ballets… Not “to only distract”, but to go further in the same frame of mind, so that each one really left there “upset” a little” in progress “…
All wouldn't that translate a certain will to be the “initiatory Master” of the sinning poor which we are?
CV: At all! If one IS something, if one is satisfied TO BE, people will come all alone. On the other hand, if one wants to be, that means that one already has in oneself the factor of destruction and that one will end up being destroyed, without being able to go further. When one IS, it is with perpetuity. Outwards even of Magma, important it is especially the frame of mind which will be created after us, or around us. If, by chance, it is that turns around me, I will have sought it, not wanted. I will have been satisfied to bring something, of best than I could.
In connection with the last disc of Magma, can I ask to you whether you listened to “Carmina Burana much”, of Carl Orff?
CV: Yes. I discovered it by chance, there are two years and half, and I found that fantastic! But, before even this revelation, all the music of Magma had been written already for choruses, a little air songs…
Curiously, there is in this moment an unquestionable renewed interest around the work of Carl Orff and, especially, around “Carmina Burana”.
CV: Yes, of course. And this, since one evening in Gibus, one passed the disc of Carl Orff before one in the concerts of Magma. Front, nobody had never heard it!
The music that you prefer, often say you, it is that of Magma. Why?
CV: Not by claim, in any case. Before discovering my music, I played the music of John Coltrane, because it was that which approached more my heart. But it was not my heart, it was it his. From the moment when the music is played which comes from my own heart, I cannot play, to like another thing, because then it is this other music which I would play. It is logical.
Remarks collected by François-Rene CRISTIANI.
Rock'n'roll & Folk n° 85 - February 1974
Caballo de Feria - Diluvio
6 years ago