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Zeuhl • France

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Alta´s biography
Alta´s was a French Zeuhl band who independently released just one short self-titled 12? EP in 1986. The band was comprised of Sandrine Fougere (vocals), Philippe Goudier (vocals, percussion), Patrick Joliot (drums, percussion), Isabelle Nuffer (vocals, piano, synthesizer), Michelle Puttland (synthesizer) and Jean-Marie Sadot (bass). Their music was in a very similar vein to that of their French compatriots Eider Stellaire and is recommended to fans of obscure Zeuhl.

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Apsara / Altais

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3.03 | 12 ratings

ALTA¤S Reviews

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 Alta´s by ALTA¤S album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1986
3.03 | 12 ratings

Alta´s Zeuhl

Review by Sagichim
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars Oh..I wish this would have been a whole album. Altais is an extremely obscure band from france who managed to release only this very short EP in 1986, not much is known about the band, and when I say not much I mean nothing. They are actually a brief glance at the world of Zehul, this EP contains only three songs clocking at 14 minutes, and if that's not enough, the last track is 2 minutes of atmospheric keyboards, which can be regarded as a filler. So basically we are looking at two songs, the only reason I'm reviewing this is because I really like those songs.

Altais plays a heavy type of Zehul, very dark and creepy. Aside from the inevitable Magma influences, the closest comparison I can make is Shub Niggurath which surprisingly released their debut album in that same year. It's not as slow going as Shub, but that very low thundering and deep bass along with the frightening atmosphere is very much alike. The keyboards are used mainly for essential atmosphere but there is some modest playing too. Vocals are in gibberish or is it Altaisish? Whatever it is they are very good, and when I say good I mean it suits the music perfectly, Philippe Goudier's vocals are deep and growly (not growls like in metal) more like a pissed madman, I think their vocals are one of their best aspects.

Actually for a very small band that only played a brief visit and came up with only two actual songs, this is very good and mature, I believe if they had a chance to continue, this would make one hell of an album. The music is not focusing on one particular idea, it changes from one part to the other pretty quickly and very easily too. "Altais" is the first song, it starts with a mysterious mood, wind noises and a typical Zehulic female vocals in the background, which makes you wonder where would this go? then they hit you with a relentless bass as vocals are mumbling over it. It then stops and the tension immediately rises as it gets even more creepier, the bass continues to growl as Ziltoid The Omniscient hops for a visit and asks for another cup of coffee using the local idiom, only this time he is really pissed. Then comes the mantra chanting turn using all the vocals they can think of, along with some cool breaks, this is excellent as the rhythm gets more intense until it explodes. "Promenade" is a song that shows their sympathy for percussions and all kinds of noises. It's a little more complex, great rhythm from the beginning with a slow piano lead and cool percussion noises, I love it. The piano keeps on going like it's looking for something as the bass helps him out only this time it sounds like a sedated beast. After a quick piano interlude It continues the same path only now it's more intense with all kinds of noises, elephants and birds too. Very good stuff.

This very small snippet of Zehul is a very good addition only if you would like to complete your Zehul collection, but not essential in any way. The first song appeared on a Musea compilation of Zehul called "Enneade". I'll definitely keep listening to it whenever I have a spare ten minutes. 3.5 stars.

 Alta´s by ALTA¤S album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1986
3.03 | 12 ratings

Alta´s Zeuhl

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Alta´s' - Alta´s (6/10)

The world of Zeuhl music is full of obscure one-off acts that seem to have disappeared as quickly as they introduced themselves. Alta´s is a virtually unknown act even within the avant- garde niche community, and for good reason; they only ever released one EP before vanishing. Having now been released almost three decades ago, its a good bet that we will never hear anything more from this band than the sixteen minutes of music here, but for what it is, 'Alta´s' is a very good snippet of Zeuhl music. Featuring a style that falls between better known acts Magma and Shub-Niggurath, Alta´s build off of the innovation of greater acts, and create something both whimsical and terrifying.

This album opens up the way it ends; with spacey ambiance and the ethereal wail of Sandrine Fougere, who sounds eerily similar to Shub Niggurath's Ann Stewart. Her operatic soprano shares the sound with a less melodic male accompaniment that sounds much more within the Zeuhl canon. Phillippe Goudier barks and howls as Alta´s hits their musical stride, that being a dense jazz fusion observation. The pianos and rumbling bass both lead the band. Throughout the music of Alta´s, there seems to be a constant conflict between the light- hearted, whimsical sounds of Magma, and the horror-inducing style of Shub-Niggurath. In the end, the latter appears to win this contest, and perhaps a little too well. While Alta´s make a very intriguing effort here, their sound is far too close to that of Shub-Niggurath, be it their plodding rhythms, operatic soprano voice, and general atmosphere of creepiness.

Alta´s is not an essential act in Zeuhl, nor are they a particularly astounding obscure gem, as some may hope. What they are though, is an interesting supplement to the Zeuhl that you may have already heard, an apocalyptic jazz-fusion combo that excites, but alas, has been done better before.

 Alta´s by ALTA¤S album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1986
3.03 | 12 ratings

Alta´s Zeuhl

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars A 12' EP is not enough to give an impression of a band.

It is obvious that Altais has been listening a lot to Magma. Their music is a lighter, a less complicated version of Magma. The music is also pretty much leaning towards spaced out jazz at the same time as it is well within the tried and tested Zeuhl formula. Strange male vocals, operatic female vocals, galloping piano, well articulated bass lines and some good keys. All boxes has been ticked.

The quality is good throughout and I will probably include this EP in my rotation next time I connect the turntable to the USB port again. I have heard worse and I have heard better Zeuhl. It is well worth checking out, though.

3 stars

Thanks to evolutionary_sleeper for the artist addition.

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