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XING SA

Zeuhl • France


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Xing Sa biography
Xing Sa is an instrumental Zeuhl/fusion band based in France. The group is a side project of some members of the band Setna, namely Nicolas Goulay (keyboards), Christophe Blondel (bass) and Nicolas Candé (drums). The trio has only released one album to date, Création de l'univers, released in early 2010 on the Soleil Zeuhl label. The album displays strong playing by all three members, with Moog playing reminiscent to that of Benoit Widemann. The band played with several guests on their album, who provided vocals, Chau gongs, and saxophone to augment the band's tight playing. The band is led by Goulay, which is apparent while listening to the music and the prominent keyboards. At times, the band brings to mind the music of Guapo (a la Five Suns, though not as heavy) and of course Magma and other Zeuhl groups. Currently the members are busy recording a new album with Setna.

Bio written by Jon Hilty (SaltyJon)

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3.79 | 94 ratings
Création de l'univers
2010

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XING SA Reviews


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 Création de l'univers by XING SA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.79 | 94 ratings

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Création de l'univers
Xing Sa Zeuhl

Review by Starhammer
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Heads or tails? Neither...

This is debut release from French Zeuhl collective, Xing Sa, and with a name like 'Création de l'univers', accompanied by some equally beautiful cover art my mind was conjuring up all sorts of magnificence. The reality is a bit of a mixed bag. Whilst the music isn't at all bad, in the words of Fish, 'Création de l'univers' has problems.

The problems stem from the direction the album takes, or rather, the lack of it. Feu (Part One) drew me in with incredible "lighter than air" drumming and sparse instrumentation. I really thought I could be in for a bit of a treat with this release. Then came Feu (Part Two) with its bouncing synth and signature bass line. I love Zeuhl and so this also pleased me. So why don't I particularly like this album?

The overall style is caught in limbo between the soporific ambient sounds of Feu (Part One) and the pulsating interplay of Feu (Part Two). It's the musical equivalent of falling into a deep sleep then being hit over the head with a hammer every three minutes. Except that this isn't even a hammer, its too weak to be a hammer, its more like a soggy banana. Irritating doesn't even come close.

I've lost count of the number of times I've tried to appreciate 'Création de l'univers' and in the end I realise this is the only reason I listen to it. Musical discovery can often require patience, but it should never be a chore.

The Verdict: Not interesting enough to merit dedicated listening, but too bombastic to be left on in the background.

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 Création de l'univers by XING SA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.79 | 94 ratings

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Création de l'univers
Xing Sa Zeuhl

Review by desistindo

3 stars My first listening of this album was before seeing it here in PA. So it was a suprise that the band was labeled as Zeuhl. I mean, they recorded on Soleil Zeuhl label, yes, but when i listened those extraordinary Moog momments it reminded me the Canterbury scene atmosphere, with excellent dynnamics between keyboards and bass, a la Dave Stewart's. Of course, in tracks like "Feu 2", we sense a typcal Magma´s bass and percussion explored in M.D.K.

For a trio, i had to admit that i would like to feel more energy in some parts. In fact, i would say that Nicolas Candé´s drumming is a weak point, cause occasionally it don´t give the heaviness the music asks. Maybe because of a certain "jazzy" orientantion the drummer follow, we miss those "tribal" and consistent Vander-esque drumms, wich fills all the music´s spaces.

"Création De L'Univers" also shows a certain tendency in the french prog scene to make albums with no "high production" recording. Im not saying that this is a low-fi album, not at all, but there is no preoccupation to fill every piece of the music with arrangements and overdubs; its more like a jazz recording experience. By this, the music is more "concret", in a broadly sense, and the musicians got to show what they are capable.

Recommended for Zeuhl appreciators or not; its easy to listen and can give a direction for those seeking more accessible music in this genre.

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 Création de l'univers by XING SA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.79 | 94 ratings

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Création de l'univers
Xing Sa Zeuhl

Review by The Truth
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars A very good Zeuhl album full of music that kind of gracefully glides through your ears.

If there was ever an album for people who have had a hard time getting into Zeuhl, this would be the one for them. This album would be an easy one for any prog fan to take in as the keyboards are so accessible and yet a hardcore Zeuhl fan could likely enjoy this album as well, appreciate it at least.

The main focus is the smoothness of the keyboard and synth playing which is the first thing you hear on the album with a gentle hum. It will follow you throughout the rest of the record but will for the rest of the time be surrounded by other instruments such as guitar and sax and the overall blend of the music is just a great sound. A great texture, rather. And the Zeuhl vocals are never the least bit too rough, they sound much like normal vocals.

Another great part of this album is that the drummer has a great sense of time and he is a very good addition to this album's sound.

I say delve into this album whenever you can get your hands on it, definitely worth your time.

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 Création de l'univers by XING SA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.79 | 94 ratings

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Création de l'univers
Xing Sa Zeuhl

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars This is a spin-off from one of the best Zeuhl band to come out for years (if not decades? time will tell) Setna which is a sextet. However this side-project features half that band: bassist Blondel, drummer Candé and keyboardist Goulay, but also receives some help from saxman Wolff and some vocals/chants from Duchene. Recorded under much the same manner as Setna's Cycle 1 album and mastered by the always excellent Udi Koomran, it must be noted that the group did take the trouble or time to encode the different pieces so that you can read on your disc-player display the title track. Something rather basic that hardly anyone does.

As the title might hint you, we're dealing with a concept of the origins of our world, and it is divided in five elements, each divided into two or three sections, but it is not the usually- cited four elements, since air gives way to metal and wood. One might expect the Fire (Feu) movement to be incendiary, but it is rather tamed and subdued, even a tad ambient and cosmic. The following movement Terre is quite a bit more dense, compact and down-to- earth, featuring more electric piano and some typically Zeuhl-ish male vocals. The Metal- Water movements are definitely more energetic and feature a great tense crescendo with a mellotron (most likely a sampled synth) that is slightly reminiscent of Morte Macabre's sole album and some more shamanic chants. A tad later, we get some synth evoking a melancholic Vemod-ian cello, before slowly erupting red-hot lava, spewing from your speakers right into your living room (not advised to listen to this elsewhere, beit car or public transport) and flowing right into your brains. The closing Wood movement finally features the long-awaited-for woodwind instrument sax in a lengthy wild solo, increasing again the intensity of the album. Indeed, a definitively slow-starter, Création De L'Univers gradually increase the tension and the energy level, to come to a wild brooding climax and suddenly come to rest with itself at the very end.

While Creation is one of my top 10 releases of 2010, Xing sa doesn't nearly float my boat as the mothership Setna, because the musical possibilities are more restricted given the instruments used. I'm not exactly sure why the sole composer of both Setna and Xing Sa, Nicolas Goulay chose to record this at three, instead of using more colours and making another Setna album, because this musical concept might have magnified. But don't let this remark scare you away from a real excellent album that one of the most-striking Zeuhl release from the very early 10's, probably dethroned by the up-coming Cycles 2 release later this year (11). This could've been Setna's second oeuvre, but it ends up being their 1.5 releases, which is still much worth the investigation and investment.

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 Création de l'univers by XING SA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.79 | 94 ratings

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Création de l'univers
Xing Sa Zeuhl

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars Xing Sa did not like the Zeuhl label when I interviewed them. After the interview and while listening to this album, I now understand their sentiments.

This is the debut album from this French band. The first of many albums, I hope. Music wise, they actually reminds me a lot about a more pastorial, somber Soft Machine. For example from Seven. Xing Sa's music also reminds me about the post-rock genre too. Zeuhl ? There are some reminders about that genre too, but they are nowhere near Magma or Shub Niggurath. Most of all; Création de l'univers is a jazz album though. An atmospheric, pastorial jazz album where less is more and the tones gets time to breathe. That is also due to the production and the sound. Both are excellent. The music is based on both tangents, bass, drums and electric guitars. There is hardly any vocals here. The vocals are only used as instruments.

The quality is excellent throughout this album. There is a couple of less interesting melody lines which prevents me from giving it a fiver. But that is only a small gripe. The large part of this album is stunningly beautifully superb. Favorite song ? Most all of it and this album will be a MP3 player favorite when I am going on some walks. I can walk 500 miles with this album in my ears.

4.5 stars

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 Création de l'univers by XING SA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.79 | 94 ratings

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Création de l'univers
Xing Sa Zeuhl

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars Xings Sa have delivered a truly impressive album with their Création De L'Univers debut. The band is a side project of the - equally obscure - French Zeuhl band Setna. Création De L'Univers is basically a progressive jazz-rock album but the steady hypnotizing rhythms and the occasional guest vocals give it just enough Zeuhl credibility to file it as such.

The album feels like a jazzy, more relaxed and spacious version of Guapo's Five Suns. Also Magma's 1001 Centigrades comes to mind. On occasion there are influences from Area (check the Arabian theme halfway in the opening track) and the first part of Metal isn't far removed from the tripping bleakness of Massive Attack's Mezzanine. A couple of tracks feature vocals that chant along with the music. They are quite subtle and certainly not as distressing as Magma's vocals might be to some.

In other words, the band offers a fresh and inspired melting pot of slightly dark avant jazz-rock, created by a trio of drums, bass and organ/mellotron, with the occasional help from guest vocals and sax. The band sounds very confident and keeps their improvisations very focused, never too long or indulging in unnecessary solos. It isn't as dense and dark as Guapo or Nebelnest, but on the plus side it means the music remains fairly accessible and might serve as a good introduction for this type of modern Zeuhl/Avant rock.

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 Création de l'univers by XING SA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.79 | 94 ratings

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Création de l'univers
Xing Sa Zeuhl

Review by idlero

3 stars I have to be honest that until now I had no idea what Zeuhl is, (I was attracted by the high rating in the TOP 2010 which aroused my curiosity), the problem is that after listening to this album I don't regret my ignorance.. I write this review for people who are not from planet Kobaia or who like me haven't heard until now about Zeuhl. In order to make clear where my tastes tastes stand on the progressive map, let me tell you that my tastes go from Renaissance to Yes,I listen(but it's hard to me to say 'I enjoy') to KC, I also love classical music and Jazz(from Louis Armstrong to John Zorn). Xing Sa have gone a long way from the traditional french music most of us know, and it's not a wrong way but it's a hard way. Creation de l'Universe is a rather difficult piece of music, I disliked it at first listening, and started to accept it at 3rd listening, I can't say I like it. I am not sure how well it describes the universe creation because I wasn't there. According to Xing Sa it was mostly instrumental, with a lot of keyboards, a lot of fusion but also with many boring moments. Overall, not a bad album, interesting , but one that it's difficult to fall in love with.

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 Création de l'univers by XING SA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.79 | 94 ratings

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Création de l'univers
Xing Sa Zeuhl

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

5 stars Many years ago, reading "The first three minutes", a book about the birth of the Universe written by the Nobel prize winner Steven Weinberg, I start thinking that it would have been a great idea for a concept. I never wrote a single note of that, but I kept it in my mind for a long time. After about 30 years I have discovered that somebody else had a similar idea and has developed it very better than I could have ever made.

This album follows this line and I have to be honest, is my first Zeuhl other than Magma. What a surprise! Not only for the concept, but also for the mix of relax and pathos that's also a mix of jazz, Canterbury and maybe some Vangelis.

I won't go track by track. This is an astonishing album, less "difficult" than Magma, but not less intriguing. In particular "Terre" (Earth) all the three parts of it are really great,

Listening to this album I've been transported into a different realm. For me it's the best new discovery of 2010 thanks to PA and the reviewers who made me curious about this band.

I'm aware that this is not a great review, but I was wishing to tell somebody about this music so I couldn't wait to have totally uderstood it before writing. I'm sure that every new thing I will find into this will only increase my listening pleasure.

Of course 5 stars.

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 Création de l'univers by XING SA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.79 | 94 ratings

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Création de l'univers
Xing Sa Zeuhl

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Zeuhl is still alive and kicking in some sectors of the new breed of France's experimental rock and jazz scenes. Bands line Neom and Setna keep on providing exciting progressive musical journeys from the Fatherland of zeuhl to the world: Xing Sa, an off-shoot of Setna, brings its own stance and vision to this 21st century zeuhl mission. Take Setna and bring away the vocalist, the saxophonist and one of the keyboardist and what you get is Xing Sa, whose repertoire is marked by Nicolas Goulay's compositions: "Création de'l Univers" is the result of this amazing musical adventure. The jazz-rock factor is more pronounced in Xing Sa than it was in Setna, which enables it to create more robust atmospheres and more vibrant interplaying: while the mother band put a special emphasis on atmospheric moods and subtle developments, the Xing Sa guys are heading for a more elaborated sort of jazz-prog sonorities in which the majestic vibe is more noticeable at face value ?but again, this does not mean that this band does not utilize subtle deliveries now and then. The thematic axis of the album's concept follows the sequence of fire, earth, metal, water and forest, in this way channeling the universe's creation from the individual elements toward Mother Nature. 'Feu 1' starts with cosmic cymbal and synth effects that develop eerie atmospheres gradually spreading an area for what will soon be the main body of 'Feu 2', a solid exercise on RTF-meet-Potemkine. The magical confluence of Moog and bass guitar is stated on the tight dynamics provided by Candé's dexterous drumming. This track easily comprises much of this album's ultimate greatness, but again, there's still more to be enjoyed along the way. With equal energy but a more somber attitude, the third delivery of 'Feu' settles in and brings a pertinent continuation of the current sonic incandescence. The 'Terre' sequence gets started with ethereal layers of chorale and synthesizer: not really disturbing, but definitely mysterious as if something distant threatened to make itself present and break some sort of order. The second 'Terre' is an exercise on jazz-fusion that is equally robust and warm: early Weather Report and 69-70 Soft machine are the most likely references here. The third 'Terre' deepens the warmth and shapes an introspective landscape, not devoid of tension due to the electric piano's dissonant nuances and the spacey textures on synth. 'Metal' continues on the same vein albeit enhancing the spacey factor: the rhythm duo's litany and the pompous melloton washes make Xing Sa lean closer to the Guapo we loved from the "Black Oni" and "Five Suns" efforts: authentic zeuhl for our modern times! 'Metal 2' bears a more grayish mood, languid as a winter night, bringing a majestic climax of semi-constrained gloom for a 5 minute span. On the other hand, the 'Eau' sequence begins on a most powerful note, delivered on a propelling swing that states a first 3 minutes of pure extroverted avant-prog. The final 30 seconds state a calm coda in order to pave the way for 'Eau 2', which in many ways retakes the warmth of 'Terre 2' with added spacey touches we had already heard on 'Metal 1'. 'Bois 1' starts the album's concluding passage as a serene prelude of majestic quietness to the catchy swing of 'Bois 2'. The presence of a guest saxophonist helps to feed and enforce the piece's current colorfulness, which in itself was mostly based on the synth washes. 'Bois 3' ends the album with a relaxed atmosphere that partially regenerates the metaphysical abstraction portrayed in 'Feu 1', only with a subtler delivery that reflects the retraction of a gradually waning magic. This sort of calculated dramatics is the best way to end such a terrific album: to my eras, Xing Sa's debut album is an undisputed member of the progressive Top 10 of any list at the end of the year.

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 Création de l'univers by XING SA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.79 | 94 ratings

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Création de l'univers
Xing Sa Zeuhl

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars Now there is album worth of listening. I was aware of SaltyJon's enthusiastic review, even I didn't realize that sinkadotentree made his own recently.

It's breathtaking. At first (before listening it), I wanted to say that I won't (probably) be as pleased as Jon, because I'm not that into Zeuhl (and connected genres). I always do that when I see too high rating (I feel nervous when listening something with high ratings, it's sometimes difficult for me to review it fairly).

This was before I heard Création de l'univers.

Now I can say that its graduation (not only within one song, but through entire album, 63 minutes of music) is remarkable. Also Fusion element is strong (it always worked well with Zeuhl genre, guess why). If it should resemble Creation of our Universe, then it's partially successful. It's certainly slow at times (I would almost say boring, sadly), yet thrilling at other occasions.

The big advantage is the atmosphere. It really shines. Chant singing, so usual in Magma releases is almost absent here. Not really featured here. Something which can (doesn't have to) be Mellotron and Hammond Organ are two of the most prominent keyboards. Extensions are done by saxophone, which is great for "duelling" with keyboards. Drumming is efficient and well played.

Some will find mellow harmony here. I do too, only to not so great extent.

4(+), great concept, great performance, slightly less great impression. But as rating suggests, still good.

Thank you Jon.

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