I wrote a feature article for the website Echoes and Dust on a band I thought could use a little more attention, the avant-garde Belgian group Univers Zero. I look over some of their key albums over the years, and it was a lot of fun (albeit an odd, creepy bone-chilling sort of fun) going back through their discography.
Originally written for Prog Zone Magazine in April 2013.
While many progressive rock bands owe a debt to the classical and jazz music that came before, few were as successful at combining both styles simultaneously as the French band Magma. Their unique sound arose from the brain of drummer, vocalist and main composer Christian Vander in response to the death of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. Coltrane’s themes of spirituality and transcendence (most obvious in his later albums A Love Supreme, Ascension and Meditations) persist throughout all of Magma’s works, even as their sound changed to further incorporate classical and operatic influences – those of Carl Orff in particular. Vander unified these influences with an ambitious sci-fi concept that lead to the most controversial aspect of Magma’s sound. All the albums (excluding a one-off flop in the 80s) are sung in Vander’s invented language: Kobaïan.