Magma In-depth Biography
Led by classically-trained drummer Christian Vander}, the Paris-based Magma} was, in their way, perhaps the ultimate progressive-rock group; while other artists achieved greater commercial success and critical acclaim, Magma typified the many ambitions and excesses of the genre which won it as many detractors as fans, even going so far as to invent their own lyrical and musical language in order to bring their unique vision to life. The son of a jazz pianist, Vander initially followed in his father's footsteps, modeling his technique on the work of John Coltrane} alum Elvin Jones} and starting his career with a number of jazz and R&B outfits. While in Paris in 1969, however, he was struck by a vision of earth's spiritual and ecological future which so disturbed him that he decided to explore his fears by musical means, assembling Magma with the aid of wife and vocalist Stella, singer Klaus Blasquiz}, and fusion bassists Francis Moze} and Jannick Top}.
As outlined on the group's eponymous 1970 double-album debut, Vander's tale -- projected to be told over the course of ten LPs -- pitted earth against a rival planet named Kobaia}. Over the course of 1971's 1001 Centigrade} and 1973's Mekanïk Destructïw Kommandoh} (recorded with a choir), the story -- much of it told in native Kobaian -- unfolded to depict an earth so uninhabitable that its citizens must flee to the nearby planet, where years of conflict culminated in the achievement of cosmic harmony and a reconciliation with the deity Ptäh}. Chart success was not forthcoming, and after a few early tours of the U.S. and Britain Magma spent the middle years of the decade almost exclusively in France, where they launched records including 1974's Kohntarkosz} and the next year's Live}. After the commercial failure of 1976's Udu Wadu} and 1977's Edits}, Magma essentially disbanded, although the group lived on in various forms, as alumni founded a number of loosely-affiliated splinter groups to carry on Vander's work in subsequent years, including Art Zoyd}, Univers Zero}, Ensemble Nimbus}, Happy Family} and Ruins}. In 1983, Vander himself resurfaced with the acoustic project Offering}, but later returned to more grandiose designs with Les Voix de Magma}, an attempt to resurrect his early material for a new generation of listeners. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide