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Noa biography
Noa were a short-lived French Zeuhl group who released a single self-titled album in 1980. In addition to more familiar Zeuhl elements such as prominent bass lines and operatic vocals, the album features several free jazz passages, which distinguishes Noa from most other Zeuhl bands.

The group's line up consisted of Philippe Vincendeau on saxophones, Christian Robard on drums, vibraphone and xylophone, Bernard Nicolas on flute and soprano saxophone, Alain Gaubert on guitar and bass and Claudie Nicolas on vocals.

Recommended for fans of other French Zeuhl bands of this period like DŁn, ArchaÔa and Shub-Niggurath, provided you're not averse to a bit of free jazz.

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3.68 | 19 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Noa by NOA album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.68 | 19 ratings

Noa Zeuhl

Review by bartymj

2 stars One of many Zeuhl-ish groups of this era that came and went in the blink of an eye. Quite an avant-garde effort this, comibining free jazz, zeuhl tropes, and chaos.

Catastrophe is a good description of the first track. A minute of deliberately badly played flute and other instruments before Repos Blanc which utilises lyricless vocals in Zeuhl style over a slow suspenseful baseline. Not a huge amount to remember about these two tracks.

Tape Tape starts with chanty vocals in French, building suspense again with cymbals, flute and clarinet but at a slightly faster pace. It continues the same throughout most of the track, fairly melancholy but energetic in parts.

Pellerin is very interesting, starting with a short noted 'plinky-plonk' intro mainly through a xylophone. Soon though it slows right down into a bass dirge that sounds stuck in mud. Eventually there is some very nice flute playing over the top of this. This goes on for most of the track before some very chaotic cacophonic free play for the final minute.

L'Oiseau Fou is one of the jazzier tracks, and the vocalist shows off her skills the most here too. Good interplay between saxophone and flute. The first track I would happily listen to again to be honest.

The final track is the showpiece 12 minutes of Le Mer. Slow and atmospheric, and again incredible vocals (this time more soothing than scatty). Saxophone section two minutes in also very good. Following this it speeds up with a jazzy Zeuhl like drumming setting the pace. Half way through there's a bit of fun chaos with the xylophone. The final half of the track is some cool fast paced free jazz. The best track on the album by far.

Recommended for fans and collectors of the avant-garde and free jazz. Not entirely my cup of tea though, would only be interested in the last two tracks again, so no more than 2.5 stars for me.

 Noa by NOA album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.68 | 19 ratings

Noa Zeuhl

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars One of the more obscure zeuhl outfits that rode the wave of Magma in the early 80s alongside other French acts such as DŁn, Eskaton and ArchaÔa was the short-lived NOA which blurred many distinctions between zeuhl, avant-prog and jazz-fusion. Virtually forgotten, this true obscurity from Point-Saint-Martin, France consisted of Alain Gaubert (guitar, bass), Bernard Nicolas (flute, saxophone), Claudie Nicolas (vocals), Philippe Vincendeau (saxophone) and Christian Robard (drums, xylophone, vibraphone) and was one of the more original bands to be tagged with the zeuhl tag owing more to the Rock In Opposition sensibilities of Art Zoyd and Henry Cow than to fellow countryman Christian Vander and his Magma project.

This sole eponymous release by NOA was self-released on vinyl in 1980 and remained virtually unknown until the patron saints of all things zeuhl, namely the Soleil Zeuhl label reissued this long lost classic on CD in 2011. While the qualifications for zeuhl are accurate for the lockstep marching rhythms and hyperactive bass backbone, the remaining instruments eschew the Magma playbook altogether and verge into a hybrid mix of avant-garde jazz a la Sun Ra and the avant-prog angularity of Henry Cow including the dynamic female vocal style of Claudie Nicolas whose vocal dynamics serve as another instrument despite conveying lyrics in the French language.

The marriage between the zeuhl and avant-prog makes this a much smoother ride than say the most harsh aspects of Univers Zero and Henry Cow as the repetitive hypnotic effects of the bass groove keep everyone else on a leash and only allowed to improvise within short bursts instead of aimless rambling into alternative universes. In comparison to the above mentioned bands, NOA sounds like a sampling of the scene circa 1980. The band took a cue from the psychedelic otherworldliness of ArchaÔa, the vocal charm of Eskaton and the more adventurous complexity of DŁn and the band exhibited an original persona with a squawking sax, touch of guitar and a flute but also borrowed the Magma trait of incorporating a vibraphone to the mix.

This short album of 33 and a half minutes is quite the gem for those who love a true celestially sounding style of zeuhl that often cranks out oddly timed bursts of rhythmic angularity as it does an incessant hypnotic groove. The six tracks commence without repeating ideas and display one of the most innovative and distinguished French acts to follow in Magma's footsteps. The band remains mysterious but ultimately found the 80s weren't conducive to a highly eclectic progressive rock sound and disappeared nearly as quickly as they convened for the creation of this album. I love this one. The operatic vocals mixed with the avant-jazz and RIO flavors is a real treat and one that should not be missed by those who grave the true flavors of the prog underground of the early 1980s.

 Noa by NOA album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.68 | 19 ratings

Noa Zeuhl

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

4 stars Why could they keep such a high potential entirely in this album (or in a studio)? This eponymous album was released as only one creation by NOA, a short-lived Zeuhl combo in France, and this gem flooded with energetic vibes and tension always notifies me they should have stroke all of their motivation onto this obscurity or should have focused a session recording filled with their massive pleasure. The phenomena mentioned above can be heard in the last "La Mer" suite ... powerful saxophone battles, flexible wind- instrumental passages, and explosive exotic female voices ... all of them have been strictly harmonized and fantastically crystallized in spite of such a free-jazzy improvised session. This perfect sound combination drives the audience into an incredible comfort.

"L'Oiseau Fou", followed by "La Mer", is overflown with danceable tribal rhythms and surrealistic sensation. Mysteriously, even complicated melody lines through their innovative outrageous play can be absorbed into our brain like cool, smooth water stream. Splendid atmosphere is guaranteed for the audience. "Tape Tape" or "Pellerin", on the contrary, has no connection to delightful texture but weird quietness for unconscious depth psychology. Like a mind operation they would have done plenty of tonic works riding updraft. The first two short track full of improvisational bizarre are impressive too, as the curtain call in this album theater. Like the title itself, catastrophic stickiness hits us definitely. Wondering what is the basis of sound credibility for such a temporary project. They have created an excellent Zeuhlie shot no matter how obscure it is, let me say.

 Noa by NOA album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.68 | 19 ratings

Noa Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Another great 1980 release ! How cool. This French band according to the liner notes was influenced by HENRY COW, ART ZOYD and the free Jazz movement.They liked to blend "Composition and improvisation, texts and Free-Jazz, vocals and instrumentation". Christian Robard the drummer / vibes player "Brought to life a series of expansive musical landscapes, wild songs and atmospheric scenes in which the tension slowly builds to a climax before bursting like a bubble. Breaking points, abrupt theme changes and the use of the voice as an instrument all feature heavily". To my ears this isn't Zeuhl but more in the Avant style of things, although the high pitched and melancholic female vocals along with the dark mood maybe brings that flavour to the table.Two of the guys play sax but one of them is often playing the flute.This re-issue was mastered by Udi Koomran.

"Catastrophe" features female vocal melodies and some insane flute passages in this short into to the album. What a start ! "Repos Blanc" is also fairly short and laid back with more female vocal melodies, a beat, sax and flute. "Tape Tape" opens with female vocals, cymbals and guitar with the flute arriving before a minute.The sax comes in when the vocals stop. She's back a minute later as she and the sound become more passionate. It's melancholic before 4 minutes as it settles back some. "Pellerin" has these high pitched vocal melodies with intricate sounds to start. It's pretty intense really. A change after a minute to a dirge-like soundscape with vocals.The flute sounds amazing before 2 1/2 minutes as it replaces the vocals.The sax then replaces the flute after 3 1/2 minutes.Vocals are back and then we get vocal melodies 6 minutes in.Insanity after 7 minutes to end it.

"L'oiseau Fou" starts out with vibes and bass then the sax joins in. Drums and vocal melodies after 2 minutes.Vocals and flute follow.The drums are prominant. Man this lady can sing. Mournful sax as the vocals fade away 5 1/2 minutes in. "La Mer" opens with the flute and vocals standing out as the sax and flute add depth. A change before 3 1/2 minutes as it stops and an uptempo vocal led section takes over. It settles after 5 minutes. Vibes to the fore with sax as the vocals continue. It's actually doom-like with drums and vocals.Vocals stop then a change after 8 minutes as the tempo picks up. An incredible soundscape ! Dissonant dual sax and throbbing bass lines here while the drumming kills. Amazing sound right to the end.

This is adventerous music that continues to grow on me. 4.5 stars.

Thanks to the hemulen for the artist addition.

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