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Vak Budo album cover
4.17 | 72 ratings | 3 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2018

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Budo (27:28)
2. Hquark (23:03)
3. Au Fond Des Creuses (8:19)

Total Time 58:50

Line-up / Musicians

- Aurélie Saintecroix / vocals
- Alexandre Michaan / keyboards, mixing
- Joël Crouzet / guitar (1,2), bass
- Vladimir Mejstelman / drums

- Michaël Havard / alto & sopranino saxophones (1)
- Hyder Aga / guitar (3)
- Nora Froger / flutes (3)

Releases information

Artwork: Alexandre Michaan

CD Soleil Zeuhl ‎- Soleil Zeuhl 55 (2018, France)

Digital album

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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VAK Budo ratings distribution

(72 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)

VAK Budo reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Nogbad_The_Bad
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Eclectic Team
5 stars VAK are back with their second Soleil Zeuhl release three years after their debut. The core of the band is the same with Aurélie Saintecroix (wordless vocals), Alexandre Michaan (keyboards), Joël Crouzet (guitar & bass) & Vladimir Mejstelman (drums). The sound is filled out with guests Michaël Havard & Nora Froger on sax's and flutes respectively.

Their sound is heavily influenced by Eskaton, particularly the wordless vocals, and Magma. They have a very retro zeuhl sound with driving rhythmic bass and drums with keys primarily leading the composition. If you like long instrumental pieces that suck you in with the a groove that grooves and grooves you'll love this. One of the highlights of the year.

Mastered by Udi Koomran and a very happy return of the Soleil Zeuhl label who have been quiet for a couple of years.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This second release from this French Zeuhl band is very well constructed and produced. The compositions are complex and dynamic with rarely a dull moment or overly-prolonged passage and the musicians are equally up to the task of delivering this complex music in a powerful and jazzy fashion. The freshness or innovation does not go much beyond what bands Magma, Eskaton, and Ga'an have already done, but the second song, the 23-minute epic "Hquark" synthesizes sounds and stylistic elements from other related subgenres in the way that SETNA did with their 2014 masterpiece "Guérison."

1. "Budo" (27:28) opening with busy bass, steady drums and background keys before a jazzy chordal fabric is announced by keys and horns. Multiple keys and, later, voice and R&B guitar chord play are introduced to fill out the sound in a second section. Aurélie and Alexandre play off each other harmonically to create melody lines out of voice and synth until 3:30 when there is a slowdown bridge for a syncopation display from the rhythm section. Then we briefly recapitulate the vocal-synth melody before a stripped down section allows the bass to be on display. Keys and playful drums provide background as Aurélie enters and scats and soars á la Stella Vander. A "power chord" bridge of piggy-backed bass, guitar and keys follows before another recapitulation of the vocal-synth theme. Then around 7:15 there is another breakdown in which bass and keys offer their solos. Aurelie supports as bass and drums fall away and only provide simple, syncopated support until the tenth minute when prominent drums play beneath and within the keys. Bass is sliding up and down the fretboard, back and forth. At 10:30 guitar announces its turn with a couple of loud chord strokes and a deep, wailing wah-ed sound. Nice solo, nice drum play. Another thematic shift at 12:00 before keys take a Brian Auger/Eumir Deodato-like solo over a blues-rock like foundation from the rhythm section. At the end of the fourteenth minute the synth and bass get pretty creative as the drums maintain an often straightforward rock tempo--shifting into an odd time signature just as multiple saxophone (two) tracks enter with their mutually exclusive soloing. This section ends up being the most prolonged of the song as the saxes keep jamming for over three minutes--even over a thematic shift in the seventeenth minute just before the slowdown and spacious shift that leads back into a pretty Fender Rhodes arpeggio-based section over which multiple tracks--voice, synth, and guitar--present and carry forward the melody. At 19:30 we again shift as the Fender alone carries the music into a more cinematic section in which cymbal play is the keyboard's main companion. Eventually, by the 24th minute, drums, gentle bass, and space-guitar notes are added over the Magma-esque keyboard foundation. The weave that is slowly built is quite cool--definitely moving toward a climax. Voices, saxes, and everything but the kitchen sink is thrown into the mix before the crescendo is maxed out mid-26th minute. A long, slow deconstruction and fade is then slowly executed to reach the quiet, complete end. It's hard to find fault with this awesome pure-Zeuhl epic. Perhaps the frenzies and crescendo's do not reach the fanatical heights achieved by the Vander-Magma masters. (46.75/50)

2. "Hquark" (23:03) drum sticks, bass tom, and triangle create a rhythmic MAGMA-esque weave to open this one. Single note "horn," piano, and wordless vocals soon join in and eventually supplant the rhythmic weave sounding very much like something off of the two GA'AN albums. At 1:50 drums kick in as synths and full volume voice and electric guitar carry the song into its full form (at 2:05). Aurélie's vocals play a dominant role in the establishment of this, even as electric guitar takes a stab at soloing and the full band bursts into a section of loud power drive. Soft and heavy dynamic shifts seem to be the key to this one not getting stale, and this is never so well demonstrated as the first downshift that occurs at the five minute mark. Aurélie scatting wordlessly (and without consonants)--even via multiple tracks--while Fender Rhodes and very cool bass play proceed until the keyboard-guitar(and, later, -synth) weave double their speed at the end of the seventh minute. Drums and vocals increase intensity commensurately until everything slows down to a walk at the 8:20 mark. Keyboard, synth, and scratchy electric guitar solos start and duel in a crazy frenzied dance until the 10:00 mark. There follows another ominous slowdown section--even coming to a full stop at 10:32 before a pretty, gentle, SETNA-like Fender Rhodes solo initiates a new slow section over which Aurélie sings a complex melody line of "hey dah yah"s and more. The music slowly but insidiously picks up pace and intensity with drums paving the way while Aurélie's work remains fairly constant. Cool! At 13:45 there is yet another stoppage and slow entry of a solo Fender keyboard--this one not as melodic or autonomous as the previous one. While Aurélie and drums and bass rejoin fairly quickly, the rebuild is quite slow and protracted. Aurélie's repeating pattern reminds me of Amanda Parsons' work with National Health. In the eighteenth minute an entirely new groove is established with bass and drums sounding, in fact, a lot more like the aforementioned NATIONAL HEALTH than Zeuhl founders Magma. Even the keyboard solo is more Dave Stewart--though the backing guitar and bass work is definitely Zeuhlish. Fender Rhodes gives way to synth while complex rhythm section and a more in-the-background Aurélie provide the foundational support. This is easily the most sophisticated section of the song. By the end of the twenty-second minute we are fully and firmly back into the land of Kobaďa--and this is how the song flows to its end. The middle section of sparsity with keys, bass, drums, and lone female voice treading softly for several minutes is, I have to admit, my favorite part. I love Aurélie's more loose and melodic "lead" vocals as well as the the Fender Rhodes theme here. I think Aurélie unique talents are much better put to use--"set free"--here than on "Budo." Overall, this is another great song--creatively and skillfully melding several styles and influences from within and the fringes of Zeuhl World into something engaging, interesting, and definitely begging for repeated listens. I like this one better than the opener--probably because of its expansive inclusion of other styles as well as the greater range, freedom, and prominence in the lead capacity given to the vocalizations of Ms. Sainte-Croix in the first two of the three middle sections. (47/50)

3. "Au fond des creuses" (8:19) opens slowly with a slow bouncing Zeuhlish Fender Rhodes chord sequence accompanied by simple drums and bass while Aurélie sings her vocalise. The tempo and intensity pick up in the middle of the third minute. Again, I am quite reminded of Chicago's GA'AN's two 2011 releases. At the five minute mark a cool guitar and Fender Rhodes weave sets up support for the entry of solo flute. This is very cool! But, alas! It ends all too quickly; at 6:30 we are back to a slow, plodding section--though this one is heavier due to the guitar's "power chords." The song then softens as it deconstructs toward the very delicate Aurélie Sainte-Croix-led end. (17.5/20)

Five stars; a masterpiece of progressive rock music. It is so difficult for me to find fault with Zeuhl music because it's usually so well-constructed and takes such instrumental prowess to render. Plus, there often seems to be present an underlying emotional and even spiritual component to this music. I think of the recent UNIT WALL, PioL, CORIMA, and even this year's PinioL and ALL TRAPS ON EARTH albums as other examples of this fact. Perhaps this subgenre is the pinnacle--or synthesis--of all that is best about progressive rock music. The wordless vocals of Aurélie Sainte-Croix are awesome and so very welcome--they're as good as another lead instrument--and yet I feel that they have not yet been fully liberated--that they are not yet realizing their fullest potential. Perhaps in future releases!?

Review by Rivertree
5 stars VAK are a really fantastic Zeuhl entity!? I'm not a big fan of this genre in general, often enough coming in touch with a very strange, overly complex approach. I mean experimental in a sense of mentality-wise tilt or so ... nearly :-) Okay, trying to be fair, let's start again, occasionally I just had problems to dig such stuff, to make friends with. This band is awfully good, so good! Man! More of an accessible example quite simply. Hence, is this Zeuhl really in the end? Who knows. Anyhow, the album is consisting of three tracks solely, two of them crossing the 20 minute border. That alone is revelation enough, isn't it? One hell of a musical experience, I can confirm. Just like it is with the All Traps On Earth debut from the same year maybe. I would also name Alco Frisbass when looking for another proper reference.

Of course they are from France, the birthplace of Zeuhl music. Tiny but important part of their DNA, one or two may argue. In the first instance, just to be on the safe side, you may check this on their bandcamp page. They are capable of transferring the listener into another dimension. Hey, running about 28 minutes or so, the title track is pure bliss! When you're in a good mood, take your headphones, and slowly, carefully dive into this sensation. Alternating groovy and highly melancholic parts. Fusion alike and spacey electric guitar contributions. Dramatic synths and sparkling Rhodes piano all over, contributed by Alexandre Michaan. And then Aurélie's vocal presence, not to believe! Who can make it better? What will follow after this? Time to let loose. 'Budo' is a masterpiece of progressive rock music, no doubt.

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