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. 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." 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." Later albums tell different stories set in more ancient times; however, the Kobaïan language remains an integral part of the music.
Considered by many to be musically adventurous and imaginative, Magma makes extensive use of the choral format, their album Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh being particularly reminiscent of the classical composer Carl Orff, while Ẁurdah Ïtah reveals connections to Béla Bartók's piano music and "Les Noces" by the Russian master Igor Stravinsky. 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."
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 style of these bands and the French jazz fusion/symphonic rock scene that grew around them. Besides Christian Vander, other well-known Magma alumni include the bassist-composer Jannick Top and Daniel Denis, the founder of and drummer for the Belgian group Univers Zero.
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 like Stella Vander, Patrick Gauthier and Collectif Mu.