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ULTRA ZOOK

RIO/Avant-Prog • France


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Ultra Zook biography
Founded in Clermont-Ferrand, France in 2011

A French combo ULTRA ZOOK were formed in Autumn 2011 as guitars / keyboards / drums-based trio and have played experimental / avantgarde rock tinged with RIO / Zeuhl flavour, which is called as "island music" according to what they say. They appeared on the rock scene with their debut EP "EPUZ" in June 2012, whilst they have gigged dozens of times mainly in Western Europe so far.

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ULTRA ZOOK discography


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

3.94 | 8 ratings
Ultra Zook
2019

ULTRA ZOOK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ULTRA ZOOK Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ULTRA ZOOK Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ULTRA ZOOK Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 4 ratings
EPUZ
2012
3.03 | 6 ratings
EPUZZ
2013
3.05 | 2 ratings
EPUZZZ
2014

ULTRA ZOOK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Ultra Zook by ULTRA ZOOK album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.94 | 8 ratings

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Ultra Zook
Ultra Zook RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Ultra Zook is a RIO/Avant Prog band from France that was formed in 2011. Their music consists of experimental rock performed by a basic guitar/keyboard/drum set up. They have produced 3 EPs during their time together, and finally, in March of 2019, put together their first studio album named after their band. This album consists of the original line-up consisting of Benjamin Bardiaux on keyboards, flute and vocals; Remi Faraut on drums, flute and vocals; and Emmanuel Slachoua on bass, flute and vocals. The album is made up of 10 songs with only one exceeding the 5 minute mark. The total run-time is just over 38 minutes.

It all starts off with "What Kind of Juicy Fruit Are You?", and you get the tasty, bright flavors of tapping percussion, happy flutes and sunshiny days in this odd combination of bright music that sounds like warped island music. The vocals are just as bright and happy as the music, with harmonies that sound like the Beach Boys on acid. As appealing and commercial as that all sounds, it isn't that at all. It is definitely weird, which is what one expects when you get 3 flautists and a bit of humor and mix it all together. The percussion comes and goes, and at times, it is only just the 3 flutes playing together. This sunny oddness continues on into "Conderougno" with the high pitched happy vocals, tonal percussion and occasional atmospheric breaks. The music is nutty, but you can't stop listening. Okay, that's all fun and original and everything, but just when you think you've heard it all, the music suddenly goes upbeat sounding like an island party and the addition of none other than bagpipes, because that is the last thing you would expect.

"La Plasticite Mentale du Monsieur" tries it's best to sound cheery, but it has some ominous organ added in and some strange vocals that sing along hesitantly, even adding in some "uhhhs" and each syllable (in French) annunciated like it's the most important thing you will hear today. "Gebeli Gibelo" starts off a cappella and then slips into a rhumba with tacky sounding synths and tonal percussion. Halfway through, you get what sounds like guest vocals from Mickey Mouse (or Topolino) as the music turns the cheerfulness and tempo up a few notches. Then it all ends with a solo piano playing in a rhapsodic manner as the band makes believe it is suddenly serious. "Ping Pong" is as nutty as you expect. The sound has a solider beat, almost like a ping-pong ball bouncing around and the lyrics come out one syllable at a time along with the beat, and later a counterpunctual vocal sings in between the words just to make things even more confusing. Even the tacky keyboards are fun. If you played this music with toy instruments, it wouldn't sound much different, and that's what makes it all fun. And bagpipes again!

"Hmong Song" is the longest track here at over 5 minutes. It's the return of bouncy room island tropical insane asylum music again. As crazy and odd as it is, you can't help but smile at it. Someone needs to go back to recorder school though. Even with all this fun, the ominous organ still seems to find a place amongst it all. Then something weird happens in the middle. Throbbing drums, scary, warped organ and a tribal flute maybe? The a dissonant synth with warped tones acts like a space ship taking off, probably trying to get off of this crazy planet. "En Veux Tu en V'la" sounds like a song made for warped children. See the happy faces? Happy? Happy? Happy!!!! Yay. Somebody got his finger stuck on one of the notes and it keeps repeating. "Frangipanier" starts off with repeating lyrics and what sounds like someone goosing the band member playing the recorder. There are a lot of percussive sounds and synths playing around on this one, and it becomes rather dramatic sounding at some spots. Vocals are mostly short and staccato with organ chords playing along. This goes on for a bit too long. "Espions du Ciel" continues with the same style as Nintendo style synths get stuck in loops. Then everyone gets to sing and play as fingerpainting class goes wild. "Kuwani" ends it all with happy recorders playing in harmony and shakers and percussion invite you to eat your Cap'n Crunch. I could be wrong about that, but it's all in French, so I could be right for all I know.

The music is fun and happy, and even though you don't know what's going on here, you can't help but smile, and I think that is what it is all about. There is nothing typical about this album, but it is Avant Prog, so you should expect that. The length is about right, because if it were any longer, you would have to be committed. 4 stars.

 Ultra Zook by ULTRA ZOOK album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.94 | 8 ratings

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Ultra Zook
Ultra Zook RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Harold Needle

4 stars [4 - 4,5 stars]

So, here we have an interesing little nugget coming from Lyon, France. I actually found out about this band via Dur et Doux label (which seems to be among the best places to search for new, fresh and original prog these days). I pre-ordered the CD blindly (mostly because of the fantastic cover art), and boy, am I damn glad I did.

The band consists of Benjamin Bardiaux on keyboards, Rémi Faraut on drums and Emmanuel Siachoua on bass. Each of the members also contributes vocals as well as some flute playing. And by "flute", I actually mean a recorder, a very cheap, cheesy-sounding instrument most of europeans are probalby familliar with (playing this abomination is tought in schools). I always thought that this instrument is too bad to be used in any serious musical recording. However, it sort of works in Ultra Zook's case, mostly because Zook's music isn't very serious at all.

The music on this record is actually really fresh and interesting, combining light-hearted comedy rock with complex prog-ish arrangements, children's music and even some bits of tropical music! As to the band's style, I can't really come up with any direct comparison, I guess Samla Mammas Manna and fellow countrymen PoiL are the closest I can think of. It's not saying much though, as Ultra Zook really has it's own, very distinguishable personality. As I mentioned, the music is fun and fresh, and you probably never heard anything like it before.

I was very tempted to give this one 5 stars, but I guess 4 (4,5 actually) is more fair. While really interesing and fun, some of the tracks I find to be not as exciting as the others, especially on the second half of the record. Also, I feel like the band is capable of making much more serious and sophisticated music - though I don't mind the silliness at all, it's a big part of Zook's charm anyway.

In conclusion, I have to say I'm very satisfied with this record, even though it's not a perfect one. While the band already has a very fresh and original style, I think there's still more exploring to be done. I hope the band will eventually come up with a new release, that will blow my mind completely. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying this one, especially on hot summer days. If you like your music complex, funny and fresh, grab yourself some Zook right away! I warmly recommend it, and keep my finger crossed for the band to deliever some more music soon.

 EPUZZZ by ULTRA ZOOK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2014
3.05 | 2 ratings

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EPUZZZ
Ultra Zook RIO/Avant-Prog

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

3 stars EPUZZZ - EP #3

On their third EP titled EPUZZZ which simply added yet another "Z" to the title started on the first release, cranked out another slice of their self-described tropical apocalyptic form of groove music with a post-modern touch. I'm not sure if there was a lineup change as Manu Siachoua is no longer part of the band and Emmanuel Siachoua is listed. So either he changed his name or his brother or other relative replaced him. Nevertheless, the Siachoua on this EP has taken up flute, bass and voice. Another feature that is different is that there is no presence of the guitar on EPUZZZ.

This third release finds a lot more emphasis on vocal interactions and harmonic dissonance in counterpoints. The zeuhl inspired bass rhythms remain intact as do the avant-prog counterpoints of the keyboards and like the second EP, this one has deviations into pure avant-prog territory with angular rhythmic twists and turns. Also once again i'm finding the falsetto wackiness of the vocal interplay very much reminds me of another French band named Poil. While it may sound like a distorted guitar at the end of "Can I Have Coens?" they seem to have gone the route of the crazy Japanese band Ruins as a bass and drums type of band for the rhythm section while the keys, flute and vocals add the zany freeform aspects.

"Raggapop" is surprisingly cartoonish and reminds me of the Warner Bros Looney Tune type constructs that Carl Stalling adapted from Raymond Scott only with a more freaked out approach that only adults who never grew up could think of. "Les Moins Nombreaux" has a very frenetic zeuhl type of bass line with some excellent keyboard work that ranges from a frenetic avant-garde classical piano style to smooth organ fills. This is probably the most dynamic track as it changes things up often with a driving keyboard attack that displays some excellent finger breaking workouts. Overall, this one is sort of a let down. There are some nice developments from EP #2 but something feels like it's lacking. Once again, ULTRA ZOOK provide an entertaining mix of eclectic influences but seem to just miss the essential mark and the Poil vocal styles start to rub me the wrong way after a while. I'd rather listen to them.

 EPUZZ by ULTRA ZOOK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2013
3.03 | 6 ratings

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EPUZZ
Ultra Zook RIO/Avant-Prog

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

3 stars EPUZZ - EP #2

ULTRA ZOOK shed the imagery of the dark underground on their first EP and went all out with a beautiful and quite busy psychedelic album cover on their second EP release EPUZZ (yes, they simply added a "Z" to the debut title). If you're paying attention you will notice that they merely added an extra "Z" to the the first release title and you guessed it. They would add yet another "Z" on for the third one. While the album art imagery has changed dramatically, the music itself hasn't. This is once again what the band deems a tropical apocalyptic from of groove music and although there would be a lineup change on the third EP, this one remains the same. Like the debut, this one is only available digitally or as a Vinyl 12."

"Yapati Yupata" immediately grabs you with the hypnotic beefy bass line that utilizes a zeuhl rhythm accompanied by some busy tropicalia type keys and a harmonic interplay of freaky falsetto style vocals. This one is pretty normal as it contains no progressive freak outs, however on the second track "Mozambiouc" the avant-prog enters the scene without mercy as the steady groove is often interrupted by time signature deviations that almost sounds as if they will derail the entire song structure. This one also has nice excursions into horror music but even when it slows down, it doesn't take long to bring back the hyperactive keyboard runs.

Overall, despite being slightly shorter in length at barely over fifteen minutes, EPUZZ is a bit more diverse than the debut. Instead of an incessant groove, there are more deviations into grovelers piano runs and even a saxophone solo on "Pisote" and "Aluminium C4" by guest musician François Sabin. While i thought ULTRA ZOOK reminded me of another French band Poil on their debut they seemed to be a little monotonous in their compositional style on that one. On EPUZZ, the band really do deviate from their comfort zone and have that same sort of flamboyant style that Poil engages in. The vocals on "Tiramasu" particular bring me to Poil's album "Brossaklitt." Personally i like this second offering much better than the first. It has all the zaniness and groove from the first EP and expands it all significantly. EP #2 is my favorite of the three but still doesn't have quite enough going on to hit the essential mark.

3.5 rounded down

 EPUZ by ULTRA ZOOK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2012
3.00 | 4 ratings

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EPUZ
Ultra Zook RIO/Avant-Prog

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

3 stars EPUZ - EP #1

ULTRA ZOOK is a trio from Clermon-Ferrand, France that has been described as playing a tropical apocalyptic form of groove music with a post-modern touch. This group is fairly unconventional in almost every way by having released three EPs to date but no album with this first release titled EPUZ. Despite existing in an avant-garde reality, ULTRA ZOOK sticks to a classic rock instrumentation with Manu Siachoua on guitar and bass, Remi Faraut on drums and Ben Bardiaux on keyboards although they would add flute on their third release. This EP is only available as a digital download or Vinyl 12'.

The sound of ULTRA ZOOK is characterized by heavy thick groove pumped out by the bass which is melodic and even danceable but with tracks titled 'Dance Broccoli Dance' and 'La Valse Des Titans Gays' it's apparent really fast that these guys are all about exhibiting a humorous and surreal experience built around their hypnotic and often aggressive grooves. The music has been classified as a zeuhl type groove alongside avant-prog counterpoints that do indeed exhibit a highly erratic and angular demeanor. This makes me thing of what Zappa's craziest stuff would've sounded like if he was a speed freak.

These guys definitely exist in their own camp as i can't recall any other group that has so masterfully married the steady flow of zeuhl rhythms with the angular dissonant chords and bizarre time signature counterpoints of avant-prog that are mostly delivered by the keyboard attacks. With a steady beat albeit irregular, this is still the most danceable avant-prog i've ever experienced. The only word that comes to mind with ULTRA ZOOK is quirky and the closest thing i've ever heard perhaps is another French band Poil, although Poil Deviates into all kinds of musical territories whereas ULTRA ZOOK keeps to the same shtick with the thick bass lines and time signatures run amok counterpoints. Pretty cool experimental stuff but seems to be lacking enough diversity to put it over the top for me.

 EPUZ by ULTRA ZOOK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2012
3.00 | 4 ratings

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EPUZ
Ultra Zook RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Very cool!

One of the things I love from Progarchives are its forum, where people can write about this music we love so much, and recommend or give some tips. In one of the topics someone recommended Ultra Zook and mentioned their music was free to download in their Bandcamp page. So I did it, and now I am reviewing their first release entitled "Epuz" which is a 5-track EP that lasts 17 minutes, in which we will listen to experimental or avant-rock music, good for the ears.

So if you can, try listening to this French band, it is worth it and now I'll tell you why. The EP opens with "Dance Broccoli Dance", a 4 minute track that starts with claps and a repetitive voice saying weeeoohaaah; seconds later bass lines appear and little by little the song is flowing, now with the introduction of a keyboard atmosphere as background, until at 1:30 the music changes, drums appear and the rhythm becomes faster in the symphonic vein. Then the voices disappear and there is an instrumental crescendo for some moments that create a cool but tense sensation; later the explosive symphonic tune returns and the song finishes. Excellent!

"Papier Bitte Schnell" has a clear reminiscence of Zeuhl bands, after all Ultra Zook are for france, so I assume some Magma albums might be in the musician's collections, though the music reminds me more of Japanese Zeuhl, which is also great. "Pasta Diva" follows the same path as the previous, its zeuhl-esque sound can be appreciated by the vocals and bass lines, though later the song changes a little bit, becomes even crazier with the great use of keyboards and put a nervous touch that makes it even better.

"La Valse des Titan Gays" has a fats sound but this time with a post-rockish tendency provoked by guitars and bass at least for the first minute, then it changes and becomes darker and experimental. Let me tell you this is a power trio, maybe not in the same league than other better known power trios, but it doesn't matter, Ultra Zook has its own style and I like it. The last song is "No Phono Sound" starts with a creepy keyboard sound and some seconds later drums and bass join and start to create a cool structure in that zeuhl mood.

If you like this kind of music, then you will have a good time with Ultra Zook, otherwise, do not even dare to listen to it. The music is cool, however, and according to my narrow procedures, I will rate it with only 2 stars, because I never (only in very special cases) give more than 2 to 20-less minute records.

Enjoy it!

 EPUZ by ULTRA ZOOK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2012
3.00 | 4 ratings

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EPUZ
Ultra Zook RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by VOTOMS

5 stars This is the Debut EP from the weird "island music" avant trio, Ultra Zook. Are u asking "what the hell is it, Island music?". I don't know why it's "island music", but it sounds funny. Full of Zeuhl-like passages, this is an... Alternative Avant Prog??? Awesome! Seems to be a Radiohead meets RIO. EPUZ is an underground gem. Dissonant chords, strange tempo, killing keyboards... Everything that pleases me. I'm a very fan of experimental music, and I wasn't expecting something so great coming from the last years (2010~~), I will recc this one to every musical avant-gardeheads. Five essential tracks! Check EPUZ at the Ultra Zook bandcamp.
 EPUZZ by ULTRA ZOOK album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2013
3.03 | 6 ratings

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EPUZZ
Ultra Zook RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by VOTOMS

3 stars The sequel to EPUZ, I like this. Ultra Zook is a self proclaimed "island music" trio. Their music is an avant-gardish experimental rock, with zeuhl and RIO influences, according to PA. The first track features some boring vocalization, but the song is cool. I like the five tracks from this mini album. Keyboard, guitar and drums. It have strange effects everywhere, and it makes the album very entertaining. I could spend some minutes looking at this psych album art, it's cool for me. If you are into experimental stuff and looking for new and underground bands, be sure to check EPUZZ. But it's not as good as their debut. Available at the Ultra Zook bandcamp.
Thanks to dAmOxT7942 for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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