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

2020-01-21
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

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ozric Tentacles - Arborescence – With Arborescence Ozric Tentacles have their fifth studio effort in as many years. As usual the texturing of the soundscape remains their focus and their foremost strength. Alarmingly unique in...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues