Magma are a French progressive rock band founded in Paris in 1969 by classically trained drummer Christian Vander, who claimed as his inspiration a "vision of humanity's spiritual and ecological future" that profoundly disturbed him. In the course of their first album, the band tells the story of a group of people fleeing a doomed Earth to settle on the planet Kobaïa. Later, conflict arises when the Kobaïans—descendants of the original colonists—encounter other Earth refugees.
Magma performing live at Roadburn Festival, 2017
|Genres||Zeuhl, progressive rock, avant-rock, art rock|
|Years active||1969–1983, 1996–present|
|Past members||Francis Moze|
Jannick "Janik" Top
Vander invented a constructed language, Kobaïan, in which most lyrics are sung. In a 1977 interview with Vander and long-time Magma vocalist Klaus Blasquiz, Blasquiz said that Kobaïan is a "phonetic language made by elements of the Slavonic and Germanic languages to be able to express some things musically. The language has of course a content, but not word by word." Vander himself has said that, "When I wrote, the sounds [of Kobaïan] came naturally with it—I didn’t intellectualise the process by saying 'Ok, now I’m going to write some words in a particular language', it was really sounds that were coming at the same time as the music." Later albums tell different stories set in more ancient times; however, the Kobaïan language remains an integral part of the music.
In 1986, the French label Seventh Records was founded in order to (re-)publish Magma's and Vander's work. Over the years, Seventh has also released albums by related artists such as Stella Vander, Patrick Gauthier and Collectif Mu.
The band is widely considered to be musically adventurous and imaginative among music critics. Magma uses choirs extensively in a way reminiscent of the composer Carl Orff. Magma's music is also highly influenced by jazz saxophone player John Coltrane, and Vander has said that "it is still Coltrane who actually gives me the real material to work on, to be able to move on".
So many of the musicians who have played with Magma have formed their own solo projects and/or spinoff acts that the Kobaïan term Zeuhl has come to refer to the musical style of these bands and the French jazz fusion/symphonic rock scene that grew around them. Besides Christian Vander, other well-known Magma alumni include the violinist Didier Lockwood, bassist-composer Jannick "Janik" Top, and spinoff act Weidorje.
The band has a number of high-profile fans. Punk rock singer Johnny Rotten, prolific metal musician Kristoffer Rygg, Steven Wilson formerly of Porcupine Tree, and Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth, and Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky have all stated their admiration of the band.
In the 1980s, British World champion snooker player Steve Davis declared himself a passionate follower of the band since his youth and used some of his winnings to promote a series of concerts by Magma in London.
- 1970: Magma (reissued as Kobaïa)
- 1971: 1001° Centigrades
- 1973: Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh initial copies of the CD included a vinyl rip of the album with a different version of the album as a bonus track
- 1974: Ẁurdah Ïtah (originally released as 'Tristan & Iseult' by Christian Vander)
- 1974: Köhntarkösz initial copies of the CD included a vinyl rip of the album with a different version of the album as a bonus track
- 1976: Üdü Ẁüdü
- 1978: Attahk
- 1984: Merci
- 2004: K.A. (Köhntarkösz Anteria)
- 2009: Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré (CD + DVD)
- 2012: Félicité Thösz
- 2014: Rïah Sahïltaahk
- 2015: Šlaǧ Tanƶ
- 2019: Zëss
- 1975: Live/Hhaï
- 1977: Inédits
- 1981: Retrospektïẁ (Parts I+II)
- 1981: Retrospektïẁ (Part III)
- 1989: Akt X: Mekanïk Kommandöh (earlier studio recording of Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh from 1973) [different from the bonus track mentioned above]
- 1992: Akt I: Les Voix de Magma (from August 2, 1992 at Douarnenez)
- 1994: Akt IV: Theatre Du Taur Concert, 1975 (from September 27, 1975)
- 1995: Akt V: Concert Bobino 1981 (from May 16, 1981)
- 1996: Akt VIII: Bruxelles 1971 (from November 12, 1971 at Theatre 140)
- 1996: Akt IX: Opéra De Reims, 1976 (from March 2, 1976)
- 1999: Akt XIII: BBC 1974 Londres (from March 14, 1974 at the London BBC studios)
- 2001: Trilogie Theusz Hamtaahk (Concert du Trianon), CD + DVD
- 2008: Akt XV: Bourges, 1979 (from April 17, 1979)
- 2009: Live in Tokyo 2005
- 2014: Zühn Wöhl Ünsai - Live 1974 (2 CD; Radio Bremen recordings)
- 1972: The Unnamables (studio album released under the alias 'Univeria Zekt')
- 1986: Mythes et Légendes Vol. I (compilation)
- 1992: Akt II: Sons: Document 1973 (recorded in 1973 at Le Manor, featuring a scaled-back line-up of Christian Vander, Klaus Blasquiz, Jannick Top and René Garber)
- 1997: Kompila
- 1998: Simples
- 2008: Archiẁ I & II (included in the "Studio Zünd: 40 Ans d'Evolution" boxset)
- 2008: Studio Zünd: 40 Ans d'Evolution (12 disc box set, includes Kobaïa to K.A. plus Archiẁ I & II)
- 2015: Kohnzert Zund (12 CD; Live recordings, from 'Magma Live' to 'Trilogie Au Trianon' plus 'Triton Zund' and 'Alhambra 2009' )
- 2017: Retrospektïw (3 LP’s. Includes Retrospektïw I, II & III series. Limited edition of 1,500 numbered copies. Also includes the classic comic strip.)
- 1995: Akt VI: Concert Bobino 1981 (DVD) also released on VHS video cassette
- 2001: Trilogie Theusz Hamtaahk (Concert du Trianon), CD + DVD
- 2006: Mythes et Légendes Epok 1, DVD
- 2006: Mythes et Légendes Epok 2, DVD
- 2007: Mythes et Légendes Epok 3, DVD
- 2008: Mythes et Légendes Epok 4, DVD
- 2013: Mythes et Légendes Epok 5, DVD
- 2016: Nihao Hamtaï - Magma in China, DVD
- 2017: Ëmëhntëhtt-Rê Trilogy', DVD
- Violinist: Didier Lockwood
- Guitarists: Claude Engel, Claude Olmos, Gabriel Federow, Marc Fosset, James MacGaw, Jean-Luc Chevalier (actuel guitariste du groupe Tri Yann), Jim Grandcamp and Rudy Blas
- Bassists: Jannick Top, Bernard Paganotti, Guy Delacroix, Francis Moze, Laurent Thibault, Michel Hervé, Dominique Bertram, Marc Éliard (actuel bassiste du groupe Indochine), Philippe Bussonnet
- Keyboardists: Benoît Widemann, Michel Graillier, Gérard Bikialo, Jean Luc Manderlier, François "Faton" Cahen (ancien leader du groupe Zao), Guy Khalifa, Sofia Domancich, Patrick Gauthier, Simon Goubert, Pierre-Michel Sivadier, Jean Pol Asseline, Jean Pierre Fouquey, Frédéric D'Oelsnitz, Benoît Alziari (plus vibraphone and Theremin), Emmanuel Borghi, Bruno Ruder
- Saxophonists: Teddy Lasry, Richard Raux, Alain Guillard, René Garber and Yochk’o Seffer
- Trumpeters: Louis Toesca and Yvon Guillard
- Male vocalists: Klaus Blasquiz, Christian Vander, Guy Khalifa, Antoine Paganotti and Hervé Aknin
- Female vocalists: Stella Vander, Isabelle Feuillebois, Maria Popkiewicz, Liza de Luxe, Himiko Paganotti and Sandrine Fougère
- Drummers and percussionists: Christian Vander, Michel Garrec, Doudou Weiss, Simon Goubert, Clément Bailly, Claude Salmiéri and François Laizeau.
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