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POTEMKINE

Zeuhl • France


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Potemkine picture
Potemkine biography
Potemkine managed to blend in a very good way the basis of Zeuhl music with its prominent bass role and a lighthearted spirit of fusion with some 20th century contemporary music. They this deviate from the norm of "mainstream" Zeuhl, but they manage to deliver an original sound, making them unique in this scene. Potemkine was formed by three brothers from Toulouse - Charles (guitars, piano, vocals), Philippe (drums and percussions, piano) and Michel (piano, vocals) Goubin. They had taken other musicians to fill in the positions of bass, violin and some drumming and percussions parts. They released their first album Foetus in 1975. This album was more influenced by Magma, though it contained the fusion leniency. In 1977 Triton was released and it featured a more clear inclination towards a fusion sound, but the Zeuhl characteristics are still there (in the bass part, theatrical piano playing and the occasional chanting vocals) and also the chamber music sound that would later appear in RIO originators bands such as Univers Zero. This approach reached its peak in Nicolas II released in 1978 which also marks their last album. You can get both Triton and Nicolas II on CD from SOLEIL ZEUHL.

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POTEMKINE discography


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POTEMKINE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.78 | 35 ratings
Foetus
1976
3.61 | 46 ratings
Triton
1977
3.98 | 58 ratings
Nicolas II
1978

POTEMKINE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

POTEMKINE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

POTEMKINE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

POTEMKINE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.07 | 6 ratings
Mystère
1974

POTEMKINE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Foetus by POTEMKINE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.78 | 35 ratings

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Foetus
Potemkine Zeuhl

Review by bartymj

3 stars Definitely some Zeuhl influence, far more than their earlier EP Msytere.

Title track Foetus is a lovely calming tune, as others have said, actually quite in Canterbury style. The Zeuhl influence is more in the slow rhythm that develops towards the end of the track around the 5 minute mark, but Zed is the truly Zeuhl track on the album.

From here I do lose a bit of interest though. Nuit sur le Golan is an Avant/Musique concrète track that I'd just skip. Ballade needs a bit of mixing work - the keys are so loud at times compared to every other instrument its impossible to find a comfortable volume to listen to it. Hymne is similar but a fairly interesting track.

Loolite does bring things back to decent levels again, a good jazz fusion track with a swirling guitar. Cedille is an interesting piano melody, starting almost like the intro to a Mafia film but then breaking into some very calm, beautiful melodies. Laure is another decent jazz number if a little bit strange in that it takes a long time to develop - no Zeuhl to be found though. Sadly the album ends weaklywitha short jam, Cycles.

A disjointed album in all, with a handful of good tracks mixed in with the bad.

 Mystère by POTEMKINE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1974
3.07 | 6 ratings

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Mystère
Potemkine Zeuhl

Review by bartymj

3 stars A couple of tracks that would later appear as bonuses on their 1977 album. I managed to listen via Youtube and the quality is a little rough but not sure whether that's the recording or the uploader so I won't hold it against them

There's definitely some Zeuhl influence here with the sporadic vocals, but both tracks are very much in the Jazz Fusion realm and very similar in style. The clear difference from early Magma is the presence of a violin right from the off which is the loudest instrument in the lineup. Keyboard also Jazz style. Vocals are lyric-free melody just occasionally adding to the ensemble rather than being a focal point in any way.

The two tracks are very similar, jazz jams with occasional bridges offered by the violin. The title track though does calm down in the middle for a short 'Pink Panther' style section from the bass + violin before picking the jamming back up again.

Worth ten minutes of your time for a pretty decent bit of jazz fusion but if you're looking for a hidden gem of Zeuhl nothing to see here.

 Nicolas II by POTEMKINE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.98 | 58 ratings

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Nicolas II
Potemkine Zeuhl

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars With this, the final album release from the French band that had its start in the Zeuhl world, we hear less of the influences of Zeuhl and more of the melodic jazz fusion in the vein of contemporaries NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN, NATIONAL HEALTH, BRAND X, RETURN TO FOREVER, and BRUFORD. Too bad the Brothers Goubin decided to call it quits: they were quite talented and definitely made some nice contributions to the progressive rock scene.

1. "Tango Panache" (6:18) very nice playing with a very engaging structure and melodies--sounds a lot like Al DiMeola and NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN. (9/10)

2. "Raspoutine" (5:56) more in the WETHER REPORT wheelhouse, there are some strong keyboard foundations here despite the Corrado Rustici-like guitar lead play. The bass and drumming sound and feel so close to the WEATHER REPORT style. Even the main melodies scream out WEATHER REPORT. Nice electric piano work. (8.5/10)

3. "Theme Pour Un Swing Imaginaire" (5:37) funked up jazz like STANLEY and AL were playing at this time. Great play by Dominique Dubuisson on the bass and by Michel Goubin on the keys. The dirty yet speedy guitar play reminds me more of Ray Gomez than either Al Di or CORRADO here. No, there is no Zeuhl here; this is all-out, funked up jazz-rock fusion. (8.25/10)

4. "Air De Famille" (3:19) opens with some more sensitive WEATEHR REPORT-like keyboard-dominated music within which drums and fretless bass play nice supporting roles while electric guitar tries to lead the way--though on this song Charles seems just a little out of sync with the other musicians--his attempts at John McLaughlin-isms either fail or are just off tempo. (8.25/10)

5. "Ode De Mars" (5:23) starts rather benignly before clavinet, bass, and drums bounce into something a little more lively at the end of the first minute. Once the tempo and structure are established and Michel is doing his magic at filling the sound palette, guitarist/brother Charles tries to steal the show with his guitar play. But it's always Michel's keyboards that seem to own the heart and soul of the music. Charles does reach some nice heights in the fourth minute, but Michel is so smooth, so effortless, so cool! (8.75/10)

6. "Aux Images" (2:41) some pretty Chick Corea-like piano sets up and maintains the foundation of this song well into the second minute while other key boards and percussion instruments have joined in and have added their magical little embellishments. Nice piece; probably the best song on the album; definitely my favorite. (5/5)

7. "Amphitheatre Magique" (6:45) a solid song in the style of the slower, more steady-paced Chick Corea/Return to Forever songs, this song has the most hints at any remnants of Zeuhl the band may still harbor with some of the bridges and transitions as well as Philippe Goubin's fine drumming--also in the nice shift at the five minute mark-- but the final section is a return to J-RF. (14/15)

Four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection--especially those lovers of 1970s Jazz-Rock Fusion. For those of you really looking for the Zeuhl be forewarned: There is little or no Zeuhl here.

 Foetus by POTEMKINE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.78 | 35 ratings

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Foetus
Potemkine Zeuhl

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Another 21st Century discovery for me (I am so late to this amazing Zeuhl scene!) Yet another French band with influences of the early MAGMA/Zeuhl scene but, unlike so many others, none of the artists here had played with Christian Vander. Thus, the influences of other contemporary musics might be more prominent in this music than your typical Zeuhl.

1. "Foetus" (6:26) (9/10)

2. "Zed" (5:22) (8.75/10)

3. "Nuit sur le Golan" (2:24) May have been relevant in the mid-1970s; not so much now. (3.25/5)

4. "Ballade" (6:24) opens like a Japanese lullaby with vocalese and violin and tuned percussives before the whole band joins in at the 2:15 turning it into some veritable jazz-funk-tastics. (9/10)

5. "Hymne" (2:05) sounds and feels a bit Canterbury-ish. (4/5)

6. "Loolitt" (3:11) has Zeuhl written all within it. Electric piano, straight time drums with lots of flourishes, chunky (though rather sparsely included) bass--and then electric violin and guitar. (9/10)

7. "Cedille" (6:00) a gorgeous little collection of notes opens this sad yet beautiful piano-based excursion. There is almost a spiritual insistency in the melody--not unlike Bill Evans, John Coltrane, John McLaughlin or David & Steve Gordon might use. (9.5/10)

8. "Laure" (4:39) opens with a melody played on electric guitar and supported by flurries of whole-band crescendos sounding like it came from one of Santana's jazzy albums. By the time the song finally establishes itself in its fullness around the 1:20 mark, we're still not quite sure where the Goubin brothers are taking us. This is jazz fusion, not Zeuhl. Until 2:25. Jean-Luc Ponty-like violin and melodies and interesting guitar & keyboard chords work their way in and out of this odd but, ultimately, beautiful song. (9.5/10)

9. "Cycles" (2:21) sounds like something between early Mahavishnu Orchestra and The Allman Brothers--only gone horribly wrong. (3/5)

4 stars; a very good and certainly interesting and enjoyable ride through the fringes of 1970s Zuehl.

 Nicolas II by POTEMKINE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.98 | 58 ratings

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Nicolas II
Potemkine Zeuhl

Review by LearsFool
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A rough hidden gem of zeuhl. Potemkine plied a fusion infused take on the genre that on paper looks particularly wonderful. I went into this album with high expectations, hoping for a smashing take on zeuhl-fusion ruminating on the revolutions in Russia over the course of 1917. What I and every listener got was a decent yet ever catchy zeuhl-fusion rather not in the spirit the title and track names implied. It was a smaller form of the disappointment I got from "Romantic Warrior". The reason it wasn't so much of a let down was that it did grow on me to a degree; the band does play some good music, and it can and does draw a listener in. The opener is especially wonderful, and is what grabs you and keeps you listening through all the album's ups and downs. This is rather unique and enjoyable stuff, it just doesn't live up to potential. A lesser favourite of mine, results may vary but this is worth a try.
 Nicolas II by POTEMKINE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.98 | 58 ratings

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Nicolas II
Potemkine Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Hailing from the more fusion-influenced side of zeuhl, Potemkine combine the more urgent- sounding aspects of the Mahavishnu Orchestra with a Magma-influenced zeuhl underbelly to create a hybrid which fans of both musical styles can appreciate. Those who dig what the RIO crowd or the more complex Canterbury units were doing in the late 1970s may also enjoy the album for its experimental take on jazz-rock (an element which underpinned many Canterbury and Rock In Opposition groups during the era). It's certainly much easier going than much Zeuhl or RIO too, so it may be a more accessible entry point to both of those styles than, say, the iconic albums by Magma or Henry Cow.
 Foetus by POTEMKINE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.78 | 35 ratings

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Foetus
Potemkine Zeuhl

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Having started as early as 71, the Goubin brothers (four of them at one point) started as a cover garage group; they evolved into this JR/F band upon hearing Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra. After an initial single released in 74, they got the ball rolling with Foetus and its crusader ship of their band name as an artwork, but by that time Dubuisson had taken over the bass and Vidal had appeared on violin. The appearance of the violin will immediately make you think of MO, but more of the Goodman period than the Ponty era. Of course, the main difference between Foetus and the rest of the JR/F pack is the use of wordless vocals, chants and choirs, one that sound rather "female", despite being the work of the five (male) members. The group's previous single had a slightly Canterburian feel added to the JR/F musical realm, but with their Foetus, it seems to have disappeared.

The band's first opus is definitely a tad derivative on its avowed JR/F influences but one can't really find much Zeuhl in the present album, Foetus still manages to develop its own personality and some excellent and inventive high-pitched choir vocals. But if it is clear that tracks like Laure, or Hymne have MO roots, reinforced by the presence of Vidal's violin, her tracks like Cedille are much slower-paced, which is a piano-based ambient piece, but things can also get even a tad dissonant with the Golan track. Elsewhere, Vidal's violin comes dangerously close to coming un-tuned in the middle section of Ballade. Zed is a very repetitive nature, turning over and over its choppy descending riff.

Although Potemkine's debut album Foetus has never seen a proper CD release (and is not likely to, unless vinyls are reissued), but since all of it came as bonus tracks on their later albums CD reissues, I was able to re-construct their album, and managed a review. According to the great Soleil Zeuhl label reissues' booklets, the band's fortunes grew rapidly, opening for MO or Magma and creating an unison project with other French bands from different parts of the country to play concerts in each other's regions. Despite not getting a proper release, Foetus is a very honest (at times brilliant) JR/F album, a typical product of its time, despite lacking the fully-professional feel of the groups it inspired itself upon, but if you're interested enough, you will get it through their other two CDs, and it's very much worth it. Actually I may even prefer it to both Triton and Nicolas II.

 Nicolas II by POTEMKINE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.98 | 58 ratings

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Nicolas II
Potemkine Zeuhl

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Strangely enough, I thought I had written a review for ll Potemkine some two years back.... Oh well!! ;o))

Potemkine's last album is more of a return to their Foetus origins than Triton was, since we see the return of one of the Goubin brothers (Michel) as a full-time member, but also musically with a return to jazzier-rock than Triton. Armed with a superb proggy artwork, the group's soundscapes are definitely fusionesque, this could be their easiest album to get into.

The band's Brand of JR/F is not so much of the X type (less flashy), rather more in the MO, RTF, the Spanish group Iceberg or their countrymen Transit Express mould, but the Zeuhl influence is still resent in some tunes, mainly through Dubuisson's bass. Yes, we're very much into the typical mid-70's fusion wit the usual prog-quartet line-up, so it's not like the fusionhead will be unsettled, as there are plenty of 100 MPH tracks, namely the excellent Mahavishnu-esque Tango. The following Raspoutine is the only track that refers to the Russian-derived album title.

Sometimes things can get a bit funky with Swing Imaginaire (where the group adds some ethnic instruments too), but they can also slow down to a more delicate Air De Famille, which goes through a wide array of ambiances and dynamics, despite being the second- shortest track on the album ? this also goes for the album-shortest Aux Images. The album's highlight is the slow-starting Ode To Mars that slowly evolves in a scorching rapid- fire fusion, but the closing Amphitheatre Magique is also fine in my book, and the only time on the album where you'll hear some choirs.

So in terms of accessibility of the music, Nicolas II is easier to get into, but not that much more than their debut foetus album, of which most of the album is featured in the bonus tracks (read my review of that album in the specific Foetus page). Sooo don't expect Nicolas to sound like Triton, strictly on the assumption that it is the follow-up album, but think of an up-graded but wiser (no violin or choirs) Foetus album. A typical 70's JR/F album but also their more conventional (IMHO), a bit like there were dozens of them around at the time.

 Nicolas II by POTEMKINE album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.98 | 58 ratings

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Nicolas II
Potemkine Zeuhl

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars (please note this is a review of the original album and my review does not include Foetus which was added as bonus tracks)

Potemkine ended up as a clean cut fusion band on their third and final album. No zeuhl in sight, as far as I can detect. Well, the bass and some tangents can be called zeuhl, but they are also typical fusion and jazz melody lines too.

The music on Nicolas II is pretty nifty with a hammering Hammond organ dueling with electric guitars. The bass is always present and the drums are also always there. The music is pretty close to Mahavishnu Orchestra, soundwise. Unfortunate for Potemkine; not in the same league.

The quality is pretty good throughout. There is not greatness about this album though and the material is pretty anonymous too. Only a track like Raspoutine can be regarded as a very good track. There is a good drive throughout that track. The rest is OK but nothing more. It is a safe album and that's all.

3 stars (barely)

 Triton by POTEMKINE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.61 | 46 ratings

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Triton
Potemkine Zeuhl

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars The second album from this band who really never managed to carry it off.

The music on this album is somewhere between Hatfield & The North, Magma and Mahavishnu Orchestra. The two tracks from Foetus they have carried over to this CD (which also includes the two songs from their only single) drags this album squarely over to the zeuhl camp though. In particular, the excellent Zed which is the best song here as it was on Foetus.

The quality is good throughout. But it never raises above that standard, with the exception of Zed. The original tracks from the LP named Triton is more in the Hatfield & The North direction. They still have this dark, menacing zeuhl undertone throughout though. But these songs never becomes really interesting and engaging. But this is still a good album, nevertheless.

3 stars

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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