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ZYMA

Canterbury Scene • Germany


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Zyma biography
Formed in Heidelberg, Germany in 1972 - Disbanded in 1981

ZYMA, named after an artificial ferment, were a band founded by musicians from the area around Heidelberg and Mannheim. At that time, in the initial stages, they were playing progressive hard rock. Their keyboard player was Günter Hornung (b. 02/16/1938 in Karlsruhe), a teacher, who had played in many jazz and jazz-rock bands before, among them a big band, and whose last one had been the Groovers, a soul band. Due to his many years of experience and outstanding abilities and skills, Hornung was the leader of ZYMA. Yet their driving force was Bodo Brandl (b. 04/10/1943 in Nikolsburg) on bass, also a teacher, who had been performing since 1963. He, too, came from the Groovers, as well as Meinrad Hirt (b. 01/05/1945 in Triberg), who was now singing, playing violin, flutes, keyboards and sometimes guitar. Their lead guitarist and lead singer was Tim Pfau (b. 06/08/1951 in Mannheim), their drummer Karl-Heinz Weiler (b. 07/24/1951 in Mannheim). Günter Hornung's wife Ellen was the band's manager, Mitsou Kührbis was in charge of the PA. In 1973, they began playing progressive jazz-rock, whereupon Karl-Heinz Weiler left the band. He was replaced by Udo Kübler (b. 03/31/1951 in Heidelberg), a drummer since 1966. In 1970, Kübler had founded Filter, an experimental band, and before joining ZYMA he had been a member of Medusa (pop), Ra and Brassy Brew (both jazz-rock). When he left Medusa, with whom he had released a single, Karl-Heinz Weiler took his place. In 1973, under the pseudonym Hyazintus, Weiler was also to play drums for the band Nine Days Wonder on their LP, "We Never Lost Control".

After Meinrad Hirt had left ZYMA (he was to rejoin them some years later) in early 1974, Dorle Ferber (b. 09/07/1952 in Mannheim) joined them as singer and on violin and flute. She had studied classical music, had a folk background and brought these influences into ZYMA. In the same year, they were given a chance by Alfred Kersten to release two of their own compositions, "Law Like Love" and "Tango Enough", on the double LP, "Proton 1" (Kerston FK 65017) which also featured Nexus, Andorra, Penicillin and Sun. This compilation had a run of only a few hundred copies, probably no more than 300, but it is, in view of its rarity and quality, valued amazingly cheaply in collectors' circles. The album was recorded at the TFE studio in the town of Neustadt/Weinstrasse in the summer and autumn of 1974. In 1975, South...
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ZYMA discography


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

3.95 | 57 ratings
Thoughts
1978
3.42 | 15 ratings
Brave New World
1979

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ZYMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Thoughts by ZYMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 57 ratings

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Thoughts
Zyma Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars There's all sorts of reasons offered why the idea of the "Canterbury" scene may be a bit of a misnomer, and one of them is how a range of groups who never even had much connection to the Kentish town managed to nail the style. A sprinkling of European outfits produced compelling work in the style, and to those ranks we can add Zyma, whose debut album teases out the jazzier and folkier aspects of the Canterbury sound. Imagine Hatfield and the North if they were less rock-oriented and one of the Northettes stepped up to become lead singer and you wouldn't be too far away.
 Thoughts by ZYMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 57 ratings

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Thoughts
Zyma Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Outstanding recording engineering and sound clarity to support great performances from all musicians, great vocals from both Greg Lake-like male vocalist Meinrad HIRT and Amanda Parsons-like female vocalist (and violin, flute and percussion contributor), Dorle FERBER. The keyboard work from Günter HORNUNG is top notch throughout and the bass work from Bodo BRANDL also stands out.

1. "Thoughts" (8:19) flows along beautifully, superlatively, for the first four Zeuhlish minutes as choir intermittently exchange support and lead moments with lead singer Dorle Ferber--who sings wordlessly in a vocalese style. Steady, almost funky bass with rock-Zeuhl drumming while Günter Hornung plays on a number of different keyboards. By the time the violin takes the lead, the music has shifted to a more spacious jazz foundation. At 6:20 there occurs a rather radical shift into a kind of West Coast blues-jazz-pop with Dorle singing in English about what's going on in your brain. I like the first third the best. (8.5/10)

2. "Businessman" (12:33) spacey synth and jazzy keyboard opening with delicate cymbal play make it feel as if we're at the dawning of something. Separate drum kit and bass track emerges from 1:30 resulting in a quick-paced Fender Rhodes chord-based foundation over which synths and electric violin (and, later, female vocalese) solo and collectively repeat complex jazz melodies. At 4:15 clavinet and different (arp?) synth take over. Love the bass play throughout this one. Male lead vocal enters at 5:15--with stage musical-like background choral shouts. Raucous piano solo follows the second verse in the fifth minute. Another sound shift at 5:45 while bass and drums continue to play at their frenetic pace. Violin takes another turn alternating with synth sound soli. Rhythm section finally slows down and decays into near stillness in the tenth minute before a varied return occurs at 9:55. More synth soloing over clavinet while drums and bass race to the finish. Pretty amazing display of musicianship! (9/10)

3. "One Way Street" (8:04) oddly weird and, unfortunately, dated, but stands up due to great clarity and cohesiveness among the band members--unified focus. (8/10)

4. "We Got Time" (3:43) sounds like a little flower child pop songs like something from Britain's Sonja Kirsten (CURVED AIR), Lulu or Dusty Springfield. Catchy and upbeat if not wholly prog. (8.5/10)

5. "Wasting Time" (9:39) the centerpiece of the album and a Canterbury epic for the ages! I LOVE FLANGED DRUMS! Awesome bass line, drumming and piano work throughout this classic. One of the best, most definitive Canterbury songs ever. (10/10)

While not totally fitting into the classic Canterbury Scene, the experimental nature of the sound and stylistic choices definitely makes this album a shining example of the Canterbury approach to jazzier pop/progressive rock music.

 Brave New World by ZYMA album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.42 | 15 ratings

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Brave New World
Zyma Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I'm such a massive fan of ZYMA's debut called "Thoughts" that it was a no-brainer to track this one down. "Thoughts" just hit all the right buttons for me plus it was pretty cool to hear some Canterbury and Zeuhl shadings over the mostly Jazz/ Fusion style. This one continues with the Fusion at times but there's a Canterbury flavour mainly through some of the humour on here. It's just not the same as the debut, in fact it's a huge step backwards in my opinion. Plenty of violin and viola on this one as well as some flute and trumpet. We also get something called a Solina String Ensemble and there's a guest adding percussion, congas and bongos. Yes this is called "Brave New World" and it's 1979.

"Brave New World" gets things off on the wrong foot in a major way(haha). Lots of percussion, bongos etc. after a very lame intro that sounds like an ad for a new condo development or something. It reminded me of a part of the MIRTHKON debut which is funny, this not so much. Male vocals join in followed by female vocals as that lame chorus is repeated a couple of more times. A violin solo after 2 minutes followed by humerous male vocal melodies. The violin is back leading then the female starts to scat. Not a fan of this one.

"Sundays" is much better as we get this Fusion track with some killer drumming and bass playing on it. Atmosphere to start before the drums and bass kick in then the trumpet and electric piano. This reminds me of Miles it's so good. Distorted keys after 3 minutes changes the feel here as they replace the vocals. Vocal melodies return before 5 minutes and it ends with church bells. "Lunch Time" is a short 2 minute track of piano melodies until the bass arrives late. It's okay.

"Sunday Fever" sounds great as we get another Fusion piece. The drumming is outstanding. We get plenty of synths as the Solina String Ensemble joins in. Bass and a change a minute in as keys, percussion, drums and more help out. Vocal melodies followed by drums, violin and electric piano. That earlier sound is back late. "Transit" reminds me a little of DFA except the violin is very prominent here at times. The bass, drums and electric piano also stand out. Distorted keys and vocal melodies 2 1/2 minutes in then the violin is back late. Good song.

"Colours" is also very good except for the female vocals that turn me off part way through. This is the longest track at 8 1/2 minutes. Like "Sundays" we get atmosphere to start as sounds come and go. Violin is the first constant as drums, bass and percussion join in. The female vocal melodies after 3 minutes aren't bad but the vocals that follow are. She stops after 4 minutes as the flute takes over with the drums and so on continuing. Violin leads after 6 minutes then the Solina String Ensemble joins in. "A Nice Way To Say Hello" ends this recording and we get drums, flute, female vocal melodies, electric piano and more. I'm just not into this though. Violin comes to the fore early on as well.

A disappointment for sure but the instrumental work I have no fault with, in fact I quite enjoyed it many times over a listening period of this album. Just not my thing overall I guess.

 Brave New World by ZYMA album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.42 | 15 ratings

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Brave New World
Zyma Canterbury Scene

Review by Suedevanshoe

4 stars A very good album that features a wide range of instruments and styles. Zyma, a six-piece amalgamation of styles, uses its diversity as its cornerstone. "Brave New World" sounds mainstream soundtrack-meets as yet unheard new wave-meets disco-meets Ruphus (vocals and fiddle and groove very reminiscent). "Sundays" starts with killer dissonance featuring keys, percussion, and trumpet. A superb mood piece riding a wave of jazzed out bliss for six minutes and change. Funk permeates halfway through, sounding like Il Baricentro on "Trusciant". Wordless vocals add to the Canterbury feel. "Lunch Time" is a short piano solo throwaway. "Sunday Fever" starts in grand National Health style, tossing in the funk through the meat of the song. More scat wordless vocals enter the picture. An open groove, plenty of room for the band to stretch out. Very tight. "Transit" is a happy jazzfunk instrumental of the highest caliber. More scat and wordless add color. "Colours" is the longest track on the album, an 8 and a half progressive tour de force for violin. Synths add color and deep funk basslines sink in. Pastoral and majestic. "A nice way to say Hello" seems out of place at the end, but a good happy skipping through the meadow type of song that sounds like it could be from a mid-70's Hal Ashby movie. Light, cheerful, and creative, this recording gets four stars in my collection easy. The Canterbury mixed with jazz fusion mixed with campy soundtrack vocals plus obscurity and a great album cover make for a treasure album in my house.
 Thoughts by ZYMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 57 ratings

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Thoughts
Zyma Canterbury Scene

Review by Suedevanshoe

4 stars The first thing I noticed about this record spinning it for the first time is how easy it is to discern one instrument from the other. The sound is very clean - it sounds like a Genesis record or, more to Zyma's level, Curved Air. This reminds me somewhat of a Canterburied "Phantasmagoria" Not one instrument stands out, vocals are present yet not at the fore. A man and a woman share vocals on this record. The vocals are operatic, almost amateur, and give the songs a feel like they belong in a classic movie from the '70's like "The Conversation". Zyma's sound on "Thoughts" is best represented by their opening two numbers, "Thoughts" and "Businessman". Bass and drum driven progressive rock from seasoned artists who are obviously having a lot of fun. Synths give songs a spacey feel and the instrumental sections are exciting. Personally, I'd label this eclectic prog, Canterbury is a bit of a stretch, although the elements are there. This takes the elements of some of my favorite sounding groups on the obscure end of the classic prog scale - Ruphus, Alquin, Curved Air, Il Volo - and make it sound unique. Zyma's sound here also owes a debt to Hatfield and the North for sure.
 Thoughts by ZYMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 57 ratings

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Thoughts
Zyma Canterbury Scene

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars German group from the region of Heidelberg/Mahhheim, formed in 1972 by drummer Karl-Heinz Weiler, who would join Nine Days Wonder the next year under the pseudonym Hyazintus.The rest of the team were Bodo Brandl on bass, Günter Hornung on keyboards, multi-instrumentalist Meinrad Hirt and Tim Pfau on guitars.Drummer Udo Kübler was Weiler's replacement in 1973.Hirt would be replaced in 1974 by female singer/flutist/violin player Dorle Ferber and the new formation would participate in the Kerston compilation ''Proton 1'' with two tracks.In 1976 Pfau leaves the band and two year laters Hirt would rejoin Zyma for the recordings of the debut ''Thoughts'', privately released in 1978 in about 1000 copies.

Zyma proposed an elaborate and refined Progressive Rock with extended room for instrumental workouts and an expanded instrumentation with violins, flutes and varied keyboards in the process in an amalgam flirting with Teutonic Progressive Rock and Canterbury Prog/Jazz-Rock at the same time.All lyrics were delivered in English with both male and female vocals and someone could easily confuse the group as being a British one.''Thoughts'' consists of five, mainly long tracks with some very good interplays and numerous solos of impressive technique blended with more mellow vocal moments, when Zyma's sound obtains an obscure folky flavor.The long instrumental passages though have a very jazzy/Fusion-esque vibe akin to bands like BRUFORD or NATIONAL HEALTH, while there are also plenty of spacey textures with atmospheric keyboards, more in the vein of German bands.The album is characterized by its dominant work on keyboards, featuring long electric piano jams and cosmic synths, the melancholic violin themes, the melodic flutes and the strong dose of Canterbury-flavored interplays.

The Garden Of Delights CD reissue contains as bonus the two tracks recorded by the group in 1974 for the ''Proton 1'' compilation.''Law Like Love'' has nothing to do with band's later sound, it's more in a Heavy/Psych/Prog vein with strong female vocals and evident bluesy influences on the guitars, while ''Tango Enough'' is more consistent and closer to the style of ''Thoughts''.This is again energetic Psych/Prog Rock, but this time the use of synths and violins make it quite rewarding, though the vocal parts sound quite psychedelic.

A trully accomplished group with a very sophisticated style at a time, when producing trully proggy efforts wasn't really recommended.''Thoughts'' will find a nice place in the collection of any fan of diverse and adventurous Progressive Rock with long instrumental parts.

 Thoughts by ZYMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 57 ratings

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Thoughts
Zyma Canterbury Scene

Review by Gatot
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars I knew the band only couple of months ago as a friend of mind told me about this Canterbury outfit when I told him about The Tangent and Khan. The name itself did not ring me a bell at all as this is actually a vintage album and by that I knew nothing about it. When I spun this album for the first time it really blew me away and I did not believe that the 'unknown' (at least to me) is actually an excellent collaborative work among the members of the band. I don't see any dominance from the view point of the music even though I can hear many keyboard work as well as violin. The first two to three spins I thought I would give an approximately four star rating. Unfortunately it grew on me and I really enjoy the music this band plays in this album from opening track to the end. It deserves a five-star rating, for sure.

The album title track "Thoughts" (8:19) at the beginning of the album clearly indicates the musical quality of the band members as the music flows nicely with excellent female vocal. The track is basically not complex, composition-wise, but definitely it's not mellow pop style as there are many jazz rock components. The second track "Businessman" (12:33) is truly a masterpiece as the music is built around simple structure but it's very rich in textures. It seems like a simple composition at the beginning. But when I observe while he music flows I can see the great combination of bass, drum as well as guitar. While the third track "One Way Street" (8:04) there are parts with avant-garde piece. There are segments that remind me to the style of Gentle Giant plus unique vocal work - this time is predominantly male vocal. The short track "We Got Time" (3:43) brings back the female vocal work with excellent violin solo supported by good supporting music. The concluding track "Wasting Time" (9:39) brings us nice jazz rock fusion with excellent keyboard work, fabulous violin and excellent female vocal. ' Overal, this is a masterpiece that no one can afford to let it go.... Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

 Thoughts by ZYMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 57 ratings

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Thoughts
Zyma Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Well it definitely hurt to read the news this morning that Francois Cahen (MAGMA / ZAO) passed away yesterday. I listened to ZAO's "Osiris" album this morning after listening to this record by ZYMA that i'm about to review, and I was overwelmed by Cahen's keyboard work all over again. If there's one thing that lifts my spirits though it's music, and this ZYMA album called "Thoughts" did that and then some. I still can't get over how good this record is.The compositions, vocals and instrumental work are inventive and outstanding. While this German band is listed under Canterbury (a rare thing) they really combine several styles including Zeuhl, Jazz / Rock / Fusion and Krautrock. For me this is a Jazz / Rock / Fusion hybrid and they implimented a lot of great ideas in creating this masterpiece. Lots of Fender Rhodes and growly bass, while the highlight for me is the drumming. Unreal ! A fair amount of violin is used while the guitar and flute seem to be used sparingly. I really enjoy the female vocals and the way she sings those wordless melodies.

"Thoughts" opens with female vocal melodies with drums and bass that brings Zeuhl to mind right away.This made me smile knowing this is a German band. It then settles in with vocals, intricate drumming, bass and Fender Rhodes. So good. Piano to the fore 3 minutes in. It turns spacey with synths 4 1/2 minutes in then the violin joins in as the intricate drumming and synths continue. Bass too.Vocals are back before 6 1/2 minutes. "Businessman" is an interesting track. It has a very spacey intro that ends before 2 minutes then intricate drumming, bass and Fender Rhodes kicks in and builds.Vocal melodies and some distorted keyboards follow. Male vocals before 5 1/2 minutes. I cannot get over how good the drumming is here. Piano to the fore before 7 minutes then violin after 8 minutes.This is so intricate and there's so much going on.Too good to be true.

"One Way Street" opens with female and male vocals. Funny lyrics here with some very cool vocal arrangements. Inventive. It turns experimental in that Krautrock style and spirit before 2 minutes. She's screaming in the background. It kicks back in at 3 minutes to an uptempo rhythm with male vocals.Violin after 4 minutes then silly vocal melodies come in followed by flute.

"We Got Time" is uptempo with flute, female vocals and a beat. When the vocals stop the violin leads then the violin stops and the vocals lead as they trade off. "Wasting Time" opens with female vocal melodies as the bass and drums join in. Drums to the fore 3 minutes in then piano and violin join in as well. Male and female vocals arrive as the drums pound. Piano and drums then lead as they jam in a relaxed manner. Nice.

It's like this was custom made for me. Simply outstanding in every way.

 Thoughts by ZYMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 57 ratings

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Thoughts
Zyma Canterbury Scene

Review by DeKay

3 stars Zyma was a strange german '70s band. Strange, because their music has little in common with the rest of german prog/krautrock bands of that era. Zyma sound similar to Caterbury bands, their prog elements remind of classic british prog and their distinctive sound also includes jazz influences which are dominating their songs, especially the longerst ones.

Their debut, released in 1978, is a really impressive album. The songs are very good, and quite variant in style. From the first notes of the opening title track till the end of "Tango Enough" Zyma explore various musical styles and I think that they are quite successful. The combination of male and female vocals is nothing original, especially in (prog) folk bands, but it sounds like a Zyma thing, rather than a copy of anything else. The voices of Hirt and (especially) Pfau are nothing special (not bad at all though) and the lyrics refer mostly to social themes.

Technically, Zyma are really good and this allows them to change their style from prog-folk (:Thoughts"), to prog jazz-rock ("Businessman"), more experimental and complex ("One Way Street"), typical prog rock ("Wasting Time"), blues prog ("Law Like Love") and a soft (but always prog) ending ("Tango Enough"). Among these seven songs, my favorite are "Thoughts" and "Wasting Time". The latter is a surprise, sounding like a more jazzy Yes with violin.

Recommended to all fans of british progressive jazz-rock.

 Thoughts by ZYMA album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.95 | 57 ratings

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Thoughts
Zyma Canterbury Scene

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars Funny, that's it, feeling somewhat old and weary, like something that you know from your past, was long forgotten and is here now. Or at least that's impression it makes on me, as I wasn't there when this was released (my father was, therefore I can enjoy this one). Looks like Canterbury comes to Germany. Wild in heart, fast paced in rhythm, its calm and shady (like oasis is providing shade) atmosphere reminiscent those of for example Gryphon (We Got Time). It's from German, but members were either interested in Britain, or it's been some kind of parallel evolution. But not at all times, because in first moments with this album, I felt like listening Zeuhl music (choir style of singing), also this type of drum&bass (it sounds terrible, it reminds this style of doom that's popular today, but this style is actually based on strong bass and prominent drumming).

Well, it's also nice funk music (again, just something).

4(-), oh yeah.

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