Exposé Online banner

Magma — Zëss - Le Jour du Néant
(Seventh Records A40, 2019, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-07-12

Zëss - Le Jour du Néant Cover art

Zëss. Hardcore Magma fans will be familiar with it through two previous official releases: First, there is the Bobino Concert 1981 CD (released in 1995) where we get a 30-minute excerpt of it as it was at that point in time, then again on the release “Les Voix” Concert 1992 Douarnenez for a 17-minute mostly vocal version (as part of a suite with “Ëmëntëht-Ré” and “C’est pour Nous”) featuring nine singers, piano, and drums. Apparently the first draft of the piece is from 1977, hatched during the sessions for Attahk, but not to be heard on any releases from that time (even unofficial live recordings.) So finally here we have in 2019 the definitive studio version of Zëss, being somewhere in between what we have heard on those two previous versions. Interestingly, Christian Vander chose not play his drums on this one, instead concentrating on the lead vocals along with eight additional singers in the chorus (including Stella, who also sings some lead vocal parts), while turning the drum kit over to the very capable Morgan Ågren. Other players include Simon Goubert on piano, Philippe Bussonnet on bass, and Rudy Blas on guitars, while all of the additional orchestrations (arranged by Rémi Dumoutin) are provided by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Adam Klemens. The orchestra provides a powerful presence behind the band and the choir, just what the two previous recordings could have used; here the whole dynamic is enlarged by the orchestra’s presence, with complex arrangements that suit the piece perfectly, as it alternates between choral lead and solo voice, the players in the band pretty much holding down the paced rhythms while strings and horns take care of the melodic aspects. Listening to this new version is akin to revisiting those original versions with a more superlative and passionate realization. The earlier versions were fine, but this absolutely feels like the definitive version, now clocking in at 38 minutes. The piece is divided into seven parts, but there are no stops for the duration. Add to this some excellent and thoughtful liner notes regarding the piece, its evolution and meaning by Bruno Heuze (in both French and English) plus photos, lyrics, and translated lyrics (Kobaïan, French, and English) all housed in a 42-page CD sized hardbound book. This definitive version of Zëss has certainly been worth the wait.


Filed under: New releases, 2019 releases

Related artist(s): Magma, Stella Vander, Christian Vander / Offering, Morgan Ågren, Simon Goubert

Latest news

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music festival world, and music festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Nukli - The Time Factory – Nukli is a psych-rock band who have a fairly long history peppered with only a few, rare releases. Having spent a good part of the 80s gigging in England on the festival scene with the likes of the...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues