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Zao Z=7L album cover
3.46 | 48 ratings | 10 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Marochsek (7:13)
2. Ataturc (5:49)
3. Ronach (4:39)
4. Atart (3:31)
5. La Soupe (7:20)
6. Satanyia (6:46)

Total Time: 35:56


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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- François Cahen / electric piano, piano
- Yochk'o Seffer / saxophone, clarinet
- Joël Dugreno / bass
- Jean-Yves Rigaud / electric violin
- Jean-My Truong / drums
- Mauricia Platon / vocals

Releases information

Musea #FGBG 4081.AR

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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Musea 1973
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$10.48 (used)
Z=7L by ZAO (2001-01-01)Z=7L by ZAO (2001-01-01)
Audio CD$53.44
Z=7L by Musea (2001-01-01)Z=7L by Musea (2001-01-01)
Musea (2001-01-01)
Audio CD$43.41
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Audio CD$25.06
$34.62 (used)

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ZAO Z=7L ratings distribution

(48 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(54%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ZAO Z=7L reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Between 69 and 72, Magma was boiling kettle of French musical talent, but starting from that moment and under Gomelski's impulse (now supposedly rid of Julie Driscoll that had married Keith Tippett ;-))), Vander will take complete control of Magma's musical destiny, leaving many musicians a bit frustrated. Indeed Faton Cahen and Yochk'o Seffer left the band and created the first of Magma's many offshoots. Playing in Seffer's other group Perception, they hired Jean-My Truong a Vietnamese-born drummer that knew how to pound the skins and then Joel Dugrenot bassist behind Jacques Dutronc, who will bring Mauricia Platon and her amazing voice to the group. After some tryout, the violin was handed to Rigaux, although some well-known musos tried for the post. Recorded in six days in March 73, the debut album came with artwork from Yochk'o himself and was released on the Vertigo label.

Musically, the group is still in the Kobaian territory, especially with the opening Marochsek, where Cahen's brooding piano line provides much menace behind the no-less impressive scatting of Platon that provides much drama. In the background "Dud" Dugrenot's bass is all over the soundscape and Seffer's sax is always waiting behind the corner for the best moment to intervene. Halfway through the track, it suddenly speeds up, gets nervous then dissonant (Seffer and Rigaud's violin) and finishes in fireworks. Cahen's Ataturc is much lighter, less Kobaian, but it doesn't mean more accessible as the song privileges almost strident sounds that could irritate some. Funnily enough Seffer's Ronach seems to pick up exactly where Ataturc left things at, but it goes in a different direction, although remaining in the semi-strident mode via Platon scatting vocals.

The flipside opens with Cahen's Atart a track where Truong's drumming shows all of his mastery over his kit. Seffer's Soup is probably the album centrepiece, drawing the group into a frenzied pace down boulevard, often digressing a bit to allow cruising the side lanes For Platon, Faton and his own sax to explore some collateral space. For this first album, Seffer dominates the songwriting with 3 songs to Cahen's two shorter ones, while Dud signs the closing Satanyia that starts on bass drones then explodes with Rigaux's violin and Platon's scatting sounding like Louis Armstrong this time, then going almost quiet, returning to the drones and more scatting.

Although a lot of Zao fan like to claim that there are not that many similarities with magma's music, it is really clear that the Kobaian heritage is damn heavy one to unload, and throughout their career, Zao will bear the unofficial Magma #2 label, no matter how unfair it might seem to all concerned. Let's face Zao's Z=7L is a pure gem of Zeuhl music that happens to be slightly more jazz rock, but the Orff, Coltrane and Stravinsky influences that haunt Vander's mind are also present in Zao's debut.

Review by Carl floyd fan
1 stars I like almost all prog, I really do. Search for me on this site and you'll find almost all my reviews are 4s with 3s and 5s scattered around. I like most of what I come across. I especially like the complexities of fusion, but zheul, which is supposed to be complex as well, is lost on me, or at least a lot of it is. I gave this album a chance a while ago and just did not like it. I decided to give it a second shot today. It wa snot a good sign that I was scared the opening second by a shrieking/yelling vocalist..totally did not expect that. This set the tone for the rest of the album as the vocals just are not pleasant to me, and just completely assinine babling in other areas. The music itself is...well, I just couldn't get into it, to much going on..sometimes LESS IS MORE!! - and this is coming from someone who loves fusion, the mahvishnu Orchrestras, napoli centerale, (sorry for spelling errors), brainstorm, lotus and other such groups!!
Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Zao was formed by Francois Cahen and Yoch'ko Seffer following their departure from Magma prior to the recording and release of Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh. Their departure was at least in part due to Christian Vander becoming the sole composer for the band. Cahen had contributed compositions to Magma's first two albums, so it's no surprise that this album sounds like a continuation of side 2 of 1001 Degrees Centigrade.

Right from the opening bars it's clear that this is very much a Zeuhl project, and one which has interesting parallels with MDK, also released in 1973. Perhaps the most significant is the presence of female vocalist - although Cahen and Seffer had played on early versions of MDK Stella Vander did not become part of Magma until 1973, and prior to that only male voices had featured. Mauricia Platon sings mostly wordless vocals (aside from the opening cry of ZAO!) but the effect is similar to Kobaian. The rhythm section of Joel Dugreno and Jean-My Truong has a distinctly Magma-esque feel, with Dugreno supplying the kind of bubbling bass lines that underpin a lot of the best Zeuhl, and Cahen's electric piano also sounds like a refugee from the mothership. For all that, Zao had their own distinct take on things; the inclusion of a violinist predated Didier Lockwood's brief but remarkable tenure in Magma, while the music in general had a looser, jazzier feel and Seffer in particular gave rein his own distinctly East European style of playing. Although they're quite distinct from one another, the album's 6 tracks flow beautifully and the general effect is of a themed album (as opposed to a fully fledged conceptual piece).

Z = 7L is an intriguing glimpse of what might have been if Christian Vander had been content to share the composing credits for Magma and to play more overtly jazz tinged music. It's also a crucial missing piece in the Zeuhl jigsaw, and as such is essential listening for Magma fans. Newcomers to the genre may prefer one of the subsequent albums, where the vocals are less prominent and there's more of a jazz fusion feel.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars As others have mentioned Cahen and Seffer left MAGMA because Vander was now in control of the musical direction that MAGMA would take, instead of it being a band effort as on the first two albums. Seffer and Cahen's last recording with MAGMA would be under the name of UNIVERSIA ZEKT. It's interesting that MAGMA's next album ("MDK") after these two left would emphasize female vocals, because ZAO's first recording that would come out the same year (only sooner) would also emphasize a female vocalist.Two very different records mind you. I think the vocals here and on "MDK" are what will make or break the two albums for you, because they are so prominant. The female vocalist Zao hired was a much in demand backing vocalist named Mauricia Platon, who is nothing short of incredible. Seffer being Hungarian badly wanted a violinist for this project,so they hired Jean-Yves Rigaud. Jean-My Truong was added as the drummer, he had played in a band with Seffer before Seffer had joined MAGMA. Joel Dugrenot was added as the guitarist. The album cover was painted by Seffer.

"Marochsek" starts off rather ominously before Mauricia yells "Zao !" and then goes off into some unique vocal melodies. Unfortunately this would be the only studio record she would record with the band. Keys, bass, sax and drums fill out the sound. Some good guitar after 4 minutes. She is amazing 5 1/2 minutes in with liquid sounding keys to follow. "Ataturc" has a nice jazzy soundscape with vocal melodies. The tempos shift and violin comes in. Vocals stop as the song calms down. The drums, bass and piano become prominant before violin comes back. Vocals are back before 5 minutes. "Ronach" is all about her vocals that sound like another instrument. They are very high pitched at times. In "Atart" it's like Mauricia is competing with the sax and she is definitely holding her own. The bass is relentless. Great tune.

"La Soupe" has a nice little intro before i'm blown away by not only her vocals, but the bass and drums. This is killer ! Some beautiful horn / vocal interplay before we get a sax solo. 3 minutes in the violin comes in. Great sound ! Then some ripping guitar as drums pound. The song calms down as only bass can be heard at first. Vocals are next, then a full sound. "Satanyia" features violin, vocal, bass and drum sounds but not much of a melody until after a minute. Her vocals are deeper here with a fantastic melody to follow. The tempo and mood continues to change. Themes are repeated including her deep vocals. Her vocals are so good 6 minutes in as the drums pound.

Well it took a while, but this became everything I had hoped it would be. I wasn't expecting the vocals that were presented or the violin, but it all worked perfectly. I much prefer this over MAGMA's "MDK", and it's a step better than MAGMA's first two albums in my opinion. Brilliant !

Review by Gooner
2 stars Zao's Z=7L is, well...just strange. Sort of like Magma meets Return To Forever and Yoko Ono. I don't find the vocals pleasant whatsoever even if many find Mauricia Platon's voice unique. A bit of a Henry Cow/RIO sound to this Zao recording as well. As another reviewer wrote here, I gave this one more than a few tries and I generally enjoy all fusion. Zao's KAWANA recording is very enjoyable and listeneable, whereas this just sounds _avant garde_ for the sake of it. Maybe the band felt the same as they dumped (or she left?) ZAO after this recording. For collectors of Zeuhl music only.
Review by Dobermensch
3 stars The first magma offshoot by the mutinous Francois Cahen (piano) and Yochk'o Seffer (saxophones). Both of whom appeared on Magma's first two jazzy sounding albums. I was pleasantly surprised by 'Z=7L' which sounds like a cheery and bouncy Magma - with a lot of really cool operatic Zeuhl vocals by Mauricia Platon. There isn't the same feeling of impending doom present as you get with Magma. This is far more playful.

'Z=7L', leans more towards the Fusion end of jazz. Refreshingly light and jumpy with quite a few references to '1001˚Centigrade' thrown in from '71. Easier to digest than Magma and not so brain damaging. If you like this, you'll love 'Weidorje' and Yochko Seffer's excellent solo album, both from '78.

Review by zravkapt
4 stars Zao was formed after keyboardist Francois Cahen and saxophonist Yock'o Seffer left Magma. They did not like Christian Vander's growing control over the group, making Magma's music less jazzy. In fact, after the second album Zao becomes less Zeuhl and more fusion oriented. The drummer here is from Vietnam and the female vocalist I believe is from the USA. I have no idea what the album title means. The music is similar to Magma's first two albums, but with more emphasis on piano. There is a violinist as well whose contributions are important. The vocals are either in the 'drunk opera singer Zeuhl' category or in the 'drunk scat-singer Zeuhl' category.

You can listen to the first song "Marochsek" here on PA. Opens with some electric piano and bass with some subdued almost inaudible drumming. Then you hear "Zao!" and some violin and sax blaring away. Proceeds to go into a great groove with "doy-yu, da-doy-yu" type vocals. Changes slightly to a more melodic part before the music and singing gets louder and more intense. Some scat-singing with the sax and violin mimicing the vocals. I love the part that starts just before 4 minutes; a screeching violin leads to a more mellow part with some great vocals and a good drumbeat. Next part sounds very much like Magma with singer Mauricia Platon really belting it out at times. Briefly reprises an earlier section before ending on a dramatic note. Love the feedback at the very end.

"Ataturc" begins very '70s sounding. A nice light jazzy funk groove. First half sounds like a mix of symph prog and fusion. Nice vocal melodies. Music slows down in the middle and changes to a more laid-back jazzy section with great Rhodes soloing. Drumming gets really good before some horns play repetative lines. "Ronach" starts off sounding like a hiphop DJ is manipulating a disco record...and then it gets weird. Some start/stop playing with drum rolls and crazy scat vocals. After gets more melodic and operatic. Double-tracked vocals at one point. Changes to a part that sounds like the much later Koenjihyakkei. More start/stop jazzy playing and scat-singing. "Atart" is very jazzy until the singing starts where it gets more symphonic and operatic. Some dissonant sax and clarinet in the middle. Unlike the other songs, this one doesn't change much.

"La Soupe" begins dramatic and operatic. Then gets almost folky and jazzy with scat- singing and instruments playing in unison. Later gets more operatic fusion. Violin almost sounds like a theremin at one point. Later on goes into a great long mellow groove with electric piano and bass; vocals and other instruments play over top. Music changes and gets more upbeat sounding. Reprises beginning section. "Satanyia" has some bass harmonics and mumbling voices being faded in at the beginning. Full band joins in shortly and it gets both jazzy and folky. The vocals arrive. Later goes into a great symphonic jazz- rock part.Goes back to the jazzy/folky part as the music fades out. Overdubbed sax and violin work their way in. The rhythm section is still going. The music then increases in volume and intensity. Reprises the symphonic part afterwards.

Zao would be a good place to start in Zeuhl if you are coming from the jazz end of things. This is their most Zeuhl sounding album and I also think it is their best. The vocals are very Zeuhl sounding but the actual music only sometimes can be described as such. Nonetheless, whatever this is, it's great. Deserves 4 stars.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars From the bubbling pools of Kobaian energy emerged France's first and foremost original early progressive rock / jazz-fusion act extraordinaire that proved to progophiles all the world over that not all progressive rock needed to be derived from the English stockpile. Magma emerged in 1969 Paris and released their first two albums and another under the Univeria Zekt moniker before the band ended the first phase of their lineup and began spinning off many splinter groups over their decades long run. The first of these was ZAO which was immediately formed by Hungarian born Yochk'o Seffer (sax, clarinet) who left the band due to a power shift leaving Christian Vander in control of the band's musical direction that spawned the birth of their classic "Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh" and beyond. Soon François Cahen (piano) would join him and they would form ZAO with the original intent to create music in the vein of the first two Magma albums "Kobaia" and "1001 Degrees Fahrenheit." Wasting no time the duo rounded up several musicians including the phenomenal drum maestro Jean-My Truong from Seffer's jazz-fusion project Perception and they released their debut album Z=7L alongside Magma's "MDK" in 1973.

If you are familiar with any Magma album, then you will instantly recognize that this was spawned from the greater Magma universe for there is nothing quite like the zeuhl style of avant-prog that only Kobaians from that far away world could create. The similarities are quite striking with the stunning operatic diva duties of Mauricia Platon in the spotlight and the jazz-fusion meets avant-prog virtuosity of the accompanying musicians, but what is even more striking are the differences from any given Magma album. While the intent was to create more of what came before from the first two Magma albums, the truth is more that ZAO engaged in a convergent evolution with Magma advancing similar ideas but with radically different approaches. While Z=7L may sound like the sister release of "MDK" simply because of the dominance of a dramatic diva with the spaced out musical fury of the frenetic zeuhl instrumentation, the fact is that this variety of zeuhl sounds more Earth-bound than the otherworldly visions of Christian Vander's Kobaian odyssey.

Love her voice or not, one can only admit that Mauricia Platon has an absolutely phenomenal vocal ability. She sounds kinda like a space age Ella Fitzgerald meets Cecilia Bartoli for her ability to perform operatic scat vocals with a sense of über-control that is only comparable to the prodigious vocal command of Yma Sumac which is nothing short of amazing. Her ability to wail up and down the scales weaving her magic around the exceptional instrumental section is the magic of this release. While Magma leads the listener more into the realms of rock opera, ZAO delivers more of a jazzy fusionist's paradise that revels in bombarding one with unexpected time signatures and tempo changes and more of a feel like a Kobaian Flora Purim gone wild with an air of early Return To Forever Chick Corea type keyboards alongside with Mahavishnu Orchestra electric violin runs. And of course i can't forget to mention the beautifully woven in sax and clarinet parts all punctuated by the intensely precise percussive talents of Jean-My Truong who quite possibly matches if not exceeds Vander's abilities.

While Magma themselves are hardly a household name around the world finding itself in the more esoteric parts of the prog universe, ZAO is even less known. In fact very little info can be found about this band at all and it remains obscure even within the niche market in which it resides. I have to admit that i came to my first taste of ZAO long after my familiarity with virtually the entire Magma canon and found this to be a little jarring upon first listen simply because it takes many of the Magma-isms and incorporates them into its musical structures but after a few spins the original aspects started jumping out at me and successfully differentiated themselves from that other better known zeuhl creation. I find Z=7L to be an excellent example of a splinter group taking the parts they contributed to their previous band and recontextualizing them within a new paradigm and ZAO pulls it off with flying colors. True it is most likely a grower for most because for the entire run of this album it sounds something like a classic 40s vocal jazz diva crossed with the neo-noir alien diva heard in the movie Dark City, so basically i find this to sound like nothing else even within the tiny niche of zeuhl. The musicianship is nothing short of outstanding and once the listener calibrates his or her ears to the vocal shrillness and eclectic musical developments, it actually becomes quite intoxicating.

Latest members reviews

3 stars I am really getting into zeuhl at the moment and is hoovering up zeuhl albums at online auctions and other places. So it was only a matter of time before I bumped into this band and this, their debut album. Zao has been described as a Magma copy. For me, Z=7L sounds like a mix of Magma and Retu ... (read more)

Report this review (#555975) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, October 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The first work released in 1973 "Z=7L". Jazz-rock as eccentric as MAGMA. Kooky rhythm and minimalism, and, MAGMA influences it in bass. Playing a saxophone and the violin is fresh. The sound is refined by a compact organization. It is a group of the same type as WEATHER REPORT. Technical, r ... (read more)

Report this review (#81275) | Posted by braindamage | Friday, June 16, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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