Philip K. Dick Inspired a Whole Wave of Trippy Euro Prog Rock

You think U.S. and U.K. prog rock groups like Emerson Lake & Palmer or Yes were trippy and futuristic. But some groups in France and Italy, inspired by the works of Philip K. Dick, went even further.

Over at RedBullMusicAcademy, there’s a great article about some of these European prog bands like Heldon, Magma and Musica Elettronica Viva (MEV). As one ex-punk/prog mutant is quoted as saying, “Philip K. Dick was a prophet to us.”

Above is a video of Magma circa 1972, from the band’s official YouTube channel. The whole article at RedBullMusicAcademy is worth reading, for the trippy Gifs by Gustavo Torres, but also for author David Keenan’s great album descriptions. For example:

But perhaps it was Magma who first set the direction of the French underground as being somewhere out there. Drummer Christian Vander was much puzzled by the conundrum of the future and dream-visioned it into the startling form of Magma’s self-titled 1970 debut, an album that imagined humanity set adrift in the cosmos. They eventually settle on the planet Kobaïa, where the cosmic migrants fight amongst themselves. Vander minted a new language for the planet, Kobaïan, and most of the songs are sung in it. In the future, Vander seemed to be saying, language itself would have to become unearthly in order for man to take his place amongst the stars.

In the same year, others were preparing for take-off. Musica Elettronica Viva, AKA MEV, had formed in 1966 in Italy as a free improvising ensemble dedicated to the experimental use of live electronics featuring the composers Alvin Curran, Richard Teitelbaum and Frederic Rzewski. Spacecraft, recorded in Cologne in 1967, was a ferocious live ritual that used the violent friction of extended high energy electro-acoustic assaults to approximate the sound of an intergalactic vessel.


Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, coming in January from Tor Books. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.

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Since when were ELP and Yes American?