Magma (band)

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MAGMA @ Roadburn Festival 2017 06.jpg
Magma performing live at Roadburn Festival, 2017
Background information
Origin Paris, France
Genres Zeuhl, progressive rock, avant-rock, jazz fusion, art rock
Years active 1969–1983, 1996–present
Labels Seventh
Members Christian Vander
Stella Vander
Isabelle Feuillebois
Rudy Blas
Benoit Alziary
Hervé Aknin
Jérome Martineau-Ricotti
Philippe Bussonnet
Past members Francis Moze
Jannick "Janik" Top
Klaus Blasquiz
Didier Lockwood
Bernard Paganotti
Benoît Widemann
Teddy Lasry
Himiko Paganotti
Antoine Paganotti
Emmanuel Borghi
Bruno Ruder
Laurent Thibault
Jérémie Ternoy
Jim Grandcamp
James MacGaw

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.

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."[1] 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."[2] 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.[3]


The band is widely considered to be musically adventurous and imaginative[4][5][6] among music critics. Magma makes extensive use of the choral format, particularly reminiscent of the classical composer Carl Orff.[7] 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".[8]

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.[9] Besides Christian Vander, other well-known Magma alumni include the violinist Didier Lockwood, bassist-composer Jannick "Janik" Top,[10] and spinoff act Weidorje.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

The band has a number of high-profile fans. Punk rock singer Johnny Rotten,[12] prolific metal musician Kristoffer Rygg,[13] Steven Wilson formally of Porcupine Tree,[14] and Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth,[15] 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.[16]

Television journalist Antoine de Caunes wrote a biography of the band entitled Magma.[17][18]


Magma has been criticised for supposedly embracing fascist aesthetics and ideology in their art, accusations the band has called a "myth" and attributed to journalistic misrepresentations of their performance style.[19] However, in an interview with Richie Unterberger, Gong's Daevid Allen remembered that Christian Vander "had swastika flags all over his bedroom and pictures of Hitler and would leap up and do kind of imitation Hitler speeches in the middle of his drum solo".[20] Vander has also been under attack for a 1970 interview in which he had described the people of India and Africa as "degenerates".[21][22]


Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • 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)


Compilations/Boxsets/Other material[edit]


  • 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



Magma has been the birthplace of many French jazz musicians. We can cite:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Da Zeuhl Wortz Mekanïk is kobaïan for Magma,". 1996-08-20. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  2. ^ Interview by David McKenna and Ludovic Merle, translated by David McKenna (2009-11-12). "Magma, c'est moi". 
  3. ^ "Seventh Records". Seventh Records. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  4. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Magma - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  5. ^ "Ground and Sky review - Magma - K.A". Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  6. ^ "Ground and Sky review - Magma - Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh". Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  7. ^ François Couture. "Wurdah Ïtah/Tristan et Iseult - Christian Vander, Magma : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  8. ^ "Christian Vander Interview by George Allen and Robert Pearson, April 22, 1995". 1995-04-22. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  9. ^ "Zeuhl, a progressive rock music sub-genre [sic]". Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  10. ^ Jannick Top. "Jannick Top - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  11. ^ "WEIDORJE music, discography, MP3, videos and reviews". Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  12. ^ "Interviews | "The Public Image", January 2004". John Lydon.Com. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  13. ^ "Stories: Ulver - Born Again From The Merciless Mother". Avant-garde Metal. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  14. ^ "Perfect 10: Steven Wilson interview and photograph". Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  15. ^ "Seminal Progressive Rock Pioneers Magma Confirmed For Mikael Åkerfeldt's Curated 2014 Roadburn Event - Roadburn". Archived from the original on 2013-12-17. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  16. ^ Lee Honeyball - The Observer (2004-03-07). "My obsession". London: Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  17. ^ Magma (Rock et folk) (French Edition). "Magma (Rock et folk) (French Edition): Antoine de Caunes: 9782226005632: Books". Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  18. ^ "Antoine de Caunes, fan de Magma". 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2012-11-14. 
  19. ^ ZEUHL. "Magma Web Press Book". Retrieved 2017-02-06. 
  20. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Daevid Allen Interview". Retrieved 2017-02-06. 
  21. ^ ZEUHL. "Magma Web Press Book". Retrieved 2017-02-06. 
  22. ^ "Some Words About the Recent Controversy With Vander and His Beliefs". Retrieved 2017-02-06. 
  23. ^ Les Musiciens de la Zeuhl :

External links[edit]