MEET THE BAND: Magma
Christian Vander (drums, vocals), Stella Vander (vocals, percussion), Isabelle Feuillebois (vocals, percussion), Hervé Aknin (vocals), Jérôme Martineau (keyboards), Benoit Alziary (vibraphone) Jim Grandcamp (guitar), Philippe Bussonnet (bass)
A UNIVERSE UNTO ITSELF:
The Magma universe began with a concept within a concept way back in 1969 at the beginning of the progressive rock era. The concept is summarized as "Theusz Hamtaahk" – a science fiction epic that would span over their first nine albums. It chronicles the deterioration of the Earth and the colonization of the planet Kobaia where a small group of humans left Earth to establish a utopian society based on the concept of universal harmony.
SPEAKING THEIR LANGUAGE:
Magma's sound is challenging and almost indescribable. The closest anyone has come to this feat would be early King Crimson mashed together with the original Mahavishnu Orchestra. The one common factor is the intense drumming of the leader/creator Christian Vander. The early albums were sung in a guttural language – Kobaïan – invented by Vander. "French wasn't expressive enough for the sound of the music I had in my head. Kobaïan is a language that is constantly evolving and the sounds/words come organically when I am composing," says Vander.
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM:
Over the course of the years, the sound has twisted and morphed even adding jazz horns in the mid-'70s yet remaining true to the original Magma ideal. The current line-up features eight musicians, including three vocalists. This isn't the band's first North American tour. It played eight dates in April 2015. The 2016 tour kicks off in San Diego on March 15 and winds up in Toronto by early April. Magma played the USA festival circuit before — once at Progfest 1999 in San Francisco and twice at NEARFEST (Northeast Art Rock Festival) in Trenton in 2003 and again in Bethlehem, Penn., in 2007. "Magma is happy to return to the United States to play for Americans," says Vander. "We know you are passionate, respectful and curious about music. We find you to be generous and open. It will be a joy for us to see you this year."
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM:
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM:
Magma performs with Helen Money at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23, at the Beachland Tavern. Meet the Band: Scarface (vocals)