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Sonic Circuits announced part of its 2010 festival lineup today, and the headliners may come as a surprise: French giants Magma (whose drummer and bandleader, Christian Vander, is pictured above) heads up the bill. Magma are legends in prog-rock circles, essentially creating their own indescribable genre of rock music, “zeuhl,” in the early 1970s. Zeuhl has been glibly referred to as “Klingon opera,” and with its martial rhythms, repetitive themes, and strident vocals that range from beautifully harmonized singing to militant chants, that’s actually not bad for a two-word description. Here’s our review of Magma’s latest album, Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré.

While Magma and fellow Sonic Circuits band Univers Zero are generally affiliated with the more avant-garde end of progressive rock music, it’s still a bit of a welcome surprise to see them appear in the lineup of what’s largely been known as a noise and improv festival. Of course, for fans of that sort of thing, there’s still plenty in the lineup to get excited about: notably, Austria’s Fennesz will make an appearance, and Japan’s Merzbow will perform with French ambient guitarist Richard Pinhas (who packed the Velvet Lounge a few years ago; also check out our review of the Pinhas/Merzbow album that came out on Cuneiform Records in 2008). On the jazz/improv side of things, the most notable name may be the prolific Italian-American percussionist/composer Andrea Centazzo.

There are also plenty of local artists rounding out the lineup, which anyone who has been to previous Sonic Circuits shows and festivals will be familiar with: Tone Ghosting, Janel and Anthony, Gestures, Insect Factory, Matta Gawa, and so on. From here, it looks like 2010’s Sonic Circuits festival might be the most interesting one yet.

Creative Commons-licensed Christian Vander photo courtesy of Guillaume Laurent