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ZED

Progressive Electronic • France


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Zed biography
ZED is the name of a late-classic Electronic/quasi-Zeuhl project, with an important pioneer and front-man in the person of Bernard SZAJNER, but also made out of a collaboration with good artists, some of them present in highly respectable and artistic ensembles of that classic scene and period. Not in vain, but neither in a too acute irony, are the ideas that ZED further completes a progressive branch/"family" of music, since Szajner's work is, more or less profoundly, associated with that of Richard PINHAS, HELDON or MAGMA, as also of course with the leading patterns of TANGERINE DREAM, Klaus SCHULZE, or, most scantly, ENO and JARRE (and GONG!!). Anyway you take it, ZED is an interesting project dating back in the extremity of the 70s, with a definite electronic program and a more arbitrary connection with the Zeuhl (artistic, acid) spirit.

Szajner is regarded, most of the times, as an outstanding electronic technician, creating the Laser Harp for many artists of the new generation, easily working on materials that contain from psychedelic/rock top ideas to Zeuhl or industrial touching sounds to finally some new-wave/pop-electro late sound-tracks, and developing inspirational laser shows, as well as growing a couple of DJ qualities, much after his best period and his synthesized, synthetic edge of creativity. His ideas, inventions, efforts, influences and interpretations did not make him see himself as, necessarily, a musician, nevertheless Szajner is an artist among artists, at least in the electronic scene, if not in the French Electro-Rock field as well. For ZED, at least, his music is reflected as a class study, a moderately impressive moment of art and a grand scale of electronic works, sketched minimally, yet played with a pleasant deep bounce.

Not to forget, forming ZED are also guitarist Colin Swinburne (a familiar artist for every BACHDENKEL fan), drummer Clement Bailly (Richard PINHAS's good collaborator), bassist Hanny Howe and vocalists Klaus Basquiz (from MAGMA) and Anannka Raghel - the vocals being either treated, either synthesized on the album. Szajner, as main musician, particularly chooses synthesizers, arps, laser plat generators or digital instruments, effecting (and slightly affected) the major chemistry of the music.

"Visions Of Dune" comes as a powerful work for any electronic tasters that are eager to see a bright flame of music and style being conceived out of a low-fuelled spark, plus to any fans that would...
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ZED discography


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3.06 | 13 ratings
Visions Of Dune
1979

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ZED Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Visions Of Dune by ZED album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.06 | 13 ratings

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Visions Of Dune
Zed Progressive Electronic

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars ZED was a project out of France led by Bernard Szajner. An Electronic album for sure but we do get some real drums on 4 tracks and guitar on 3 songs. That was the appeal for me along with Klaus Blasquiz being on here. Sadly I have to agree with the majority that this is but a 3 star album. I do like the electronics enough but I was so disappointed with the treated vocals of Blasquiz on that one track. He simply speaks. I was hoping for some chanting that was distorted somehow in a cool way. This album failed to click with me really other than a couple of tracks that are excellent.

A lot of these songs blend into one another. Up first is "Dune" a good start really with those high pitched sounds that rise and fall before atmosphere rolls in. Some guitar follows as the synths growl away. A good start. "Bashar" has drums with swirling synths and more. "Thufir Hawat" has more of the same without drums but experimental sounds come in over top. Not into this one.

"Sardaukar" continues with the swirling synths as drums and more help out. "Bene Gesserit" has electronics that are buzzing with an electronic beat and more. A melancholic synths arrives before 2 minutes then abrasive sounds. It winds down late. "Shai Hulud" has odd sounds indeed along with a beeping sound before an electronic rhythm kicks in. That odd sound continues but it's in the background before being upfront again after 3 minutes with atmosphere and more. Sequencers before 4 minutes and they stop around 5 1/2 minutes. It changes late with deeper sounds and synths firing off.

"Fremen" is a top two and one I liked right away. Drums in this one but it's starts with buzzing synths that rise as others join in swirling around. Synths start to shoot off like fireworks after a minute then electronics and drums. This is good. I like those deep synth sounds starting before 3 minutes. "Harkonnen" is my favourite. High pitched synths before deep electronics kick in as we get a rhythm with drums and guitar too. Nice.

"Abab" has sequencers leading the way but there's more including spacey synths. "Gom Jabbai" has a few different sounds that can be heard, all electronic. "Ibad" has spacey buzzing synths and another electronic sound before a beat then guitar joins in. Treated spoken words from Blasquiz are disappointing after 2 minutes. Not a fan. "Kwizatz Haderich" has loud electronics that come and go along with higher pitched synths in tow. Deeper sounds arrive too. I like this.

An interesting album that could have been so much better in my opinion. HELDON is an example of using drums and guitar with electronics to great success. This not so much.

 Visions Of Dune by ZED album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.06 | 13 ratings

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Visions Of Dune
Zed Progressive Electronic

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

2 stars ZED is a one shot electronic project from Bernard Szajner, a French musician that has a foot down in electronic as much as in avant garde. It connects the music to Heldon and Wakhevitsch rather then to Schulze or Tangerine Dream. As the title suggests, this album means to evoke some scenes, settings and characters from Herbert's Dune SF epic.

After the nicely textured one chord cosmics of the opener 'Dune', the album develops a more Zeuhlian vibe in the short rhythmically droning pieces that follow it. The synths grow increasingly dissonant and chaotic. 'Sardaukar' concludes this most interesting opening section. 'Bene Gesserit' and 'Shai Hulud' drop the drums in favor of minimalistic pulses adorned with plenty of non-melodic buzzing synth and bleeps. The album drops off my radar with the 'Fremen' and 'Harkonnen' pieces which sound dated and amateur with the overabundant effects. The album is from 1979 and introduces those cold digital synth sounds that also Schulze would soon be using. It marks a turning point in synth music and from here on electronic music stopped capturing the mystery and enigma of the analogue years that preceded. The last 20 minutes drop to a level of cheep sounding effects and failed avant garde aspirations.

There are some really exciting moments here but most of the time it sounds like a couple of kids having fun in a Luna park, or worse, abusing their big brother's synth apparatus. No, I won't buy into this, there's a reason why some music doesn't break through.

 Visions Of Dune by ZED album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.06 | 13 ratings

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Visions Of Dune
Zed Progressive Electronic

Review by philippe
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Much things have been said by my colleague about this astral-kosmsiche oddity. I largely agree with his interpretation. Conceptually based on Frank Herbert's popular sci-fi book, this album reveals a real musical signature. The work of the man behind the machines (Bernard Szajner) admits almost no comparison. Nevertheless, mainly due to the presence of others artists we can perceive an abundant use of menacing power rockin dynamics mixed with burgeonning buzz electronics. This aspect can also be noticed in the works of french contemporaries, notably Heldon, Pôle and Flamen Dialis. This album is not pure electronica despite that there's a solid use of digital sequencers. Visions of Dune is a highly inspired and meditative electro-raw-avant garde rockin trip. The opening theme starts with a buzzing droning waves for sutained loops, molecular vibes and suspensful e-guitar leads. Bashar is a sidereal tripped out piece for moving electronic scintillations, hypno-drums. The rest of the album features strange surreal ambiences, moody-intricate-schyzo electronic patterns, spacey rockin' guitar tricks. This is not an easy listening despite that we can detect some cold pop-ish electronic injections into the mix (Ibad...). To sum up things, Visions of Dune reveals complex, bionic-electro epics. This one is constantly eclectic and fascinating with an unique sound aesthetism. A must have for proggy electronic fans.
 Visions Of Dune by ZED album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.06 | 13 ratings

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Visions Of Dune
Zed Progressive Electronic

Review by Ricochet
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Electronic spices

ZED is, first of all, a particular project by Bernard Szajner that started, went on and ended exactly with one major work and with a great collaboration between different artists and stylists shining behind the achievement. Szajner has a rich career of playing music, producing, collaborating and guest appearing; many of the important works make him an 80s and 90s artist, with the proper music and instrumentation of those decades, still with the artistic sensibility of the golden 70s - almost nothing, however, seems more viable, shining and characteristic than his ZED project, trailed precisely around 1979, defined by one musical accomplished, but by more essences than beat the eye. It's quite Szajner's moment of pioneering some things, adapting and engineering other things, plus flaring artistically the whole and the rest of what electronic music means for him, in his (own) limits, despite that ZED's moment is precisely young during his career, plus has some details that can't highlight the best of (and the model in) Szajner, right from the spot.

As interesting as the music goes, similarly interesting are the facts about the band - and about Szajner in particular. Credited more than half of times as a sound and instruments engineer, he does however manage to create a variety of electronic games, effects and mixes into a genuinely musical work. Pioneer of the Laser Harp, he seems to use them in ZED as well. Szajner, in short, plays the electronic music he personally programs and fine-tunes as to be recorded, something that can be felt in ZED's big tactic: the music is alive, but the technique sounds just as sharp, just as material. Personally linked with Pinhas, Heldon or Magma, ZED is musically part of the first two's family, while the reason why Magma would be tangent with ZED is a really strange one. Suer, Blasquiz vocalizes in the album (but the vocals themselves aren't anything to be remembered for), while ZED gathers a group that is similarly linked with Heldon or Magma, as Szajner is. Musically, however, the Zeuhl nuance in this variation of electronic music can only be found in some upbeats and, perhaps, in the shady air of French rock art. Szajner is equally the legend, the natural musician, the person who slips the ropes of his work the most (and too much, at some point), the engineer, the steamroller in ZED. And ZED is his precious and original-coming project, though I'd say it places him nowhere near the giants of the genre (just like further links with Tangerine Dream, Schulze or Eno are more for the sake of promoting a familiar sound in Visions Of Dune's movements).

Leaving the rest of the review purely for the album, it itself flows in both a nice and a touchy direction, being (up a logical consensus) worth collecting and listening, but nowhere near extraordinary (and there's even a regret in that). Technically, the level of electronic work has been already mentioned, but its taste, turning on pop-electro, digital or sequence-mania stripes and creating a visible edge between the classic style (that's colored bit agitatedly) and the new influences (which are various in sound), its taste can mean accessible, dynamic music for some and an alarmingly shredded mixture of tones, beats and atmosphere for critic fans. I myself find some entire moments valorous and great, but can't stop feeling uncalmed by some chaos, synthesism and blunts in other fully-expressed passages.

Stylistically, digital & analogue electronic are the only definitions that can be used for the vast fragments of light, plastic or melodious electronic music, to avoid tags like new-age (which is too rough for the concept Szajner builds on) and pop-electro (which is realistic, especially in the rhythmic and expressive section, but tad bruising, again, for what the album tries to cover, qualitatively). ZED's album does create a small portrait of Dune, with, at most, its tough climat, alien atmosphere and dry-haunting environments being reflected (or deflected) in the music's tone. All the pieces are named after characters and symbols from the novel, in no particular order, Szajner succeeding maybe a collage of distinct motives for each track individually, but nothing more. The accompaniment of drums, guitars and orderly rock samples free the electronic style from heaviness - and sometimes beat the pace in an original, switching way.

Finally, the pleasure in Visions Of Dune is of the same ambivalence. Interesting in some moments, and with some electronic spices, it can grow tiresome when everything crashes on simple, but over-voiced effects, melodies or abrasive techniques. That being said, Szajner is guilty for not finding perfection and even bit more emotion (even if a sterile one) in his visions. Instead, disregarding ZED's album as anything else than a study of electronic textures and complex conceptual ideas can be very affecting for the mind, the mood and the impression.

ZED's music is electronic and progressive, abstract and digital-sounding, unfortunately not spicy and fantastic, and not without moments of stress, sorrow or bad music. Maybe notable for collections, and maybe the stronger (strongest) of Szajner's works, it's not good enough for the essential heights.

Thanks to Ricochet for the artist addition.

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