Magma: Visionary sounds from another planet

27. April 2015
Giulia Oro

The last day of Jazzkaar presented the audience with a curious, adventurous and imaginative band Magma from France. The progressive rock band who sings in an invented language, gave a compelling and interesting concert at Vaba Lava.

Magma is 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. The band is even more characterized by the particular sounds they display. Vander invented a constructed language called Kobaïan in which most lyrics are sung.

Kobaïan is basically a phonetic language made by elements of the Slavonic and Germanic languages able to express some things musically. The band is, in fact, widely considered to be musically adventurous and imaginative among music critics. Magma’s music is also highly influenced by jazz saxophone player John Coltrane, as Vander has said: “It is still Coltrane who actually gives me the real material to work on, to be able to move on.”

During the concert the band featured three long tracks taken from different albums: Rïah Sahïltaahk, Köhntarkosz and Slag Tanz. They displayed them continuously, with very short pauses, showing a strong energy to keep the level of the performance high. Since the overture the show had a strong impact, as the musicians displayed loud and distorting sounds, performing lyrical parts as well with a choral structure. It seemed this oxymoron wanted to evoke a visionary statement, probably the same that inspired Vander in the beginnings. The musicians were able to combine different styles creating different levels of perception of the music. When the drums, together with the guitar and the bass, gave to the gig the typical rock tunes, the vibraphone and the piano created jazz and fusion pitches and the voices evoked something similar to the medieval lyrics. The result was an original mix of different structures, an amalgam of words and sounds. The name of the band can even remind something similar, as Magma means also a mixture of molten or semi-molten rocks, volatiles and solids.

Although the band showed high levels of performing, some parts could be felt as something strange or unfamiliar, as this kind of music is more experimental than classical or standard. It’s a musical genre that requires a preparation to be listened; otherwise it can be a shock, although this could be the aim.

The audience showed a good reaction. The applauses were really loud and the band was called again to the stage to perform the last song. After the concert, one of the fans went in front of the stage to congratulate the artists and he received one of the sticks from the drummer.

Saturday 25th of April, Vaba Lava

Stella Vander – voice
Isabelle Feuillebois – voice
Hervé Aknin – voice
Benoît Alziary – vibraphone
James Mac Gaw – guitar
Jérémie Ternoy – piano
Philippe Bussonnet – bass
Christian Vander – drums and voice