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Progressive Electronic • United Kingdom

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Zoviet France biography
Multifaceted British soundscapers whose music was born from the 80s British industrial underground. With dexterity, intelligent capabilities and an innovative electronic sound approach, the band signed part of the most original sonically psych-active drones and striking, weirdly avant-garde electronic abstractions. An intriguing and pioneering whose releases can be considered as a milestone in the electronic music anthology.

Similar artists in the archives: Coil, Throbbing Gristle, Dead Voices of Air, Contrastate, Randy Greif

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Soleilmoon 1996
Audio CD$18.94
$7.89 (used)
Soleil Moon Records 1995
Audio CD$39.99
$18.95 (used)
Loh LandLoh Land
Staalplaat 2003
Audio CD$288.90
$90.00 (used)
Shouting At The GroundShouting At The Ground
Audio CD$35.87 (used)
The Tables Are TurningThe Tables Are Turning
Soleilmoon 2014
$68.91 (used)
Shadow, Thief Of The SunShadow, Thief Of The Sun
Audio CD$138.90
$150.00 (used)
Popular Soviet Songs And Youth Music by Zoviet FrancePopular Soviet Songs And Youth Music by Zoviet France
Audio CD$478.66
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FIRST HUMAN FERRO CD Troum Coil Rapoon Zoviet France Deutsch Nepal Lustmord SPK USD $12.99 Buy It Now 7 days
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RAPOON Seeds in the Tide Vol. 2 2CD Zoviet*France Ethno Ambient Reformed Faction USD $15.99 Buy It Now 13 days
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ZOVIET FRANCE >> Vinyl LP << Misfits, Looney Tunes And Squalid Criminals (1986) USD $99.99 Buy It Now 19 days
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ZOVIET FRANCE >>> original Vinyl 10" LP <<< Gris USD $99.99 Buy It Now 19 days
ZOVIET FRANCE >>> original Vinyl 2LP <<< Mohnomishe (1983) USD $159.99 Buy It Now 19 days
ZOVIET FRANCE >>> original Vinyl LP <<< Garista (1990) USD $59.99 Buy It Now 19 days
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ZOVIET FRANCE discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

ZOVIET FRANCE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.98 | 3 ratings
3.95 | 2 ratings
3.00 | 1 ratings
5.00 | 1 ratings
3.95 | 2 ratings
3.00 | 1 ratings
Popular Soviet Songs and Youth Music
3.00 | 1 ratings
Gesture Signal Threat
4.00 | 1 ratings
Misfits, Loony Tunes and Squalid Criminals
3.00 | 2 ratings
A Flock of Rotations
4.00 | 1 ratings
Assault and Mirage
4.90 | 2 ratings
Shouting At The Ground
3.00 | 1 ratings
Look Into Me
5.00 | 1 ratings
Just An Illusion
2.95 | 3 ratings
Shadow, Thief Of The Sun
3.00 | 1 ratings
2.05 | 2 ratings
The Decriminalisation Of Country Music
3.00 | 2 ratings
Music for a Spaghetti Western

ZOVIET FRANCE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ZOVIET FRANCE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Digilogue by ZOVIET FRANCE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.00 | 1 ratings

Zoviet France Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars By 1995 Zoviet France were past their best. Gone are the industrial loops and ritual percussion and most of the of vocals. This is due to the departure of stalwart Robin Storey (1980- 92, now of 'Rapoon').

I, like most, prefer the analogue approach they once inspiringly maintained for so many years, creating many wonderfully weird albums. Recordings that were so dark and unusual that you could imagine the band looking like they'd just escaped from a collapsed mine-shaft on it's completion.

Now things are digital. Clinically processed and if truth be told... somewhat forgettable. The opener 'Alchemagenta' is a repetitive loop that you can easily envisage being created on a Mac computer. It's too clean, too precise and ultimately sterile. You can almost see the 'iceberg' graphics floating from right to left across the computer monitor. The only saving grace on this lame 13 minute opener is an unusual horn that is played over the top of the recording.

Sadly, this is their only album that appears to have been in wide circulation.

'Haze Polder' continues in this fashion and sounds like you're hearing someone's car alarm go off 3 streets away. It's too precise and without the feel of human hands behind it.

My listening abilities become strained by the time I reach 'Soft Helion' which displays big tubular blasts of swirling air which meld into what sounds like someone crushing a broken accordion.

Things improve with the 8 minute 'Another Soft Helion' which sounds like it belongs on 'Shadow, Thief of the Sun'. Long drawn out drones have what might be extremely distorted human vocals over the top - but they're so over processed it's difficult to tell. Still, this is far better than anything that's gone before. This is the kind of creepy sound I was hoping for when I bought this upon it's release in '96. Gone is the clean surgical white sound, to be replaced by an altogether more malevolent darkness, helped enormously by unintelligible voices.

Angel's Pin Number' has a multitude of reversed sounds under swirling swathes of drones atop high pitched vocals similar again to 'Shadow Thief of the Sun'. Stamped with a trademark 'Zoviet France' seal of approval. Excellent stuff.

I'd forgotten how much better this gets the longer this progresses. From the dreary beginning, things have improved dramatically and I'm much happier now reviewing another LP by my all time favourite band. The final track 'Init' is a 13 minute ethereal, floating oddity with vocals that sound like an audio-tape cut up of cats whining. There's that unmistakable background swirl that leaves you in no doubt as to who's playing.

All of a sudden I'm happy again. I thought this was heading for a miserable two stars, but there's been an upsurge in proceedings. Whilst not tuneful in the normal sense of the word, 'Digilogue' does what it says: mixes the digital with the analogue, where the analogue is the clear winner. I'd still recommend anything from '86-'87 for newcomers, but this is actually pretty good if you can get your head around the shift in sound that the band introduced at this time.

Oh, and beware the last 5 seconds... What sounds like a nuclear explosion almost ripped my heart in two with fright!

 Untitled by ZOVIET FRANCE album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.98 | 3 ratings

Zoviet France Progressive Electronic

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars Of all the great industrial bands of the genre's '70's and '80's heyday, Zoviet France were one of the the strangest. For one, they made unique covers for their LPs, here a burlap sack - though most often referred to as hessian material by fans. They didn't bother with an official title, so call it "Untitled", "Hessian", "Burlap", "Zoviet France", "Soviet France"... and, yes, they spelled it correctly this outing. And their music, at least on their now legendary debut, was not just as pitch dark and eerie as the other industrialists, it here switches between Throbbing Gristle style freeform soundscapes and a particularly tribal and brutal rhythm set. Those other industrial bands with rhythm were more standard and even already at times danceable. Only someone who's insane dances to this. This album is like listening to "Aumgn" and "Peking O" on repeat, with the tracks getting darker, weirder, more mechanical, and more tribal as they keep replaying, and eventually plumbing dark depths of irrational oblivion even Damo Suzuki himself was afraid of exploring. And, in the end, it is all perfect. Alongside "The Second Annual Report" this is a highpoint of the truly irredeemably lightless and sinister core of industrial, and as such is one of the genre's classics. If "Tago Mago" and "Klopfzeichen" are really your bag, then this, not even the works of TG, should be your very next stop.
 Popular Soviet Songs and Youth Music by ZOVIET FRANCE album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.00 | 1 ratings

Popular Soviet Songs and Youth Music
Zoviet France Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars I've left this most awkward and difficult review of Zoviet France until last. I've put this off for months due to the enormity of the task. There's no point in describing each tune, as there's 39 of the damn things sprawling over two and a half hours. This review would therefore run into thousand upon thousand of words. A better approach will be to describe each of the three cd's individually and as a whole. Firmly wedged between two sheets of thick carpeting felt, the 3 cd's of 'Popular Soviet Songs...' contain some of the best and also some of the the worst Zoviet France ever laid down on vinyl.

Disc I begins with a nice Pittsburgh Steelworks sound as if heard from two miles away as little strings and bopping percussion dance around playfully. It's all very untuneful so far which is very surprising.. Deep moaning, ritualistic vocal grumblings follow which are hugely reverbed and distorted, leaving the vocalist more wolf-ike than human. This belongs more on the original 'Evil Dead' soundtrack. How scary would that have been?

Ghostly vocals drearily moan in this more minimalist Zoviet France recording. Popular Soviet Songs...' sounds more raw, without the multitude of electronic effects you'd come to expect by this point in their discography - vocals excepted - they are invariably distorted beyond recognition. This is a dark, foreboding piece of work where monstrous goings on occur in the background as large swooshing slabs of vocals tremble and flutter in the foreground. This has to be the least 'user friendly' Zoviet France recording in their entire discography, being more alienating than the ultra noisy experimentation of 81-82.

Popular Soviet Songs...' is a very difficult album to take in one sitting unless you are clearly demented like me. It's not 'In Your Face' weird, but is continually indescribable during it's huge duration, having no points of reference or sounds that are similar to other bands. Without tune, chord, bass, guitar, drum or keyboard - you'd be left wondering how anyone could fill out a triple album of this length. Quite frankly I've no idea, but these guys were clearly devoted to their task with a sheer bloody mindedness that separated them from literally every other artist of their era.

Clearly some of this should have been cut during the editing process, but quality control seems to be two words that were taboo to Zoviet France during 1985. Parts of the 2nd disc in particular is a noisy, unstructured mess that goes nowhere, has no discernible instruments and is just noise for the sake of it, and is quite honestly not up to their usual standard. Definitely the poorest tracks they ever officially released appear in 'Birch Brake' and the cyrillic Russian title where the inept vocals are painful and excruciating to listen to.

Without rhyme or reason things get back on track with 'Sein' replete with deep bass like echoed vocals as watery splashes bounce from ear to ear. Surprisingly nothing reaches 10 minutes on this recording which is literally unheard of for a Zoviet France LP. The 3rd disc is the best by a long shot, where it almost sounds like it was recorded at a different time as it sounds much clearer, beefier, more coherent and altogether much more palatable.

Sweeping swathes of stringy weirdness increase until the ultimate oddity - a vocal that sounds like it's sawing a plank of wood in two, in the strangely named 'Swine'. This is followed by probably the best tune on all 3 discs - 'Veil sloe semen' - a superb track which HP Lovecraft would have gained inspiration from in writing ' At the Mountains of Madness'. It's full of resonating strings and horns that are hugely slowed down creating a melancholic graveyard of an atmosphere - the kind of music you'd expect to hear in the aftermath of the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Things continue in this manner and infuriatingly I have to say that this 3rd dic borders 5 stars. Compared with some of the tripe we've had to endure on discs one and three I can now lie back and relax, safe in the knowledge that only class follows. None more so than in 'Chirm Geis' - a beautiful number with strummed strings and creepy flutes.

Pretty much a 'for fans only' recording due to the fact that large parts of discs one and two are very patchy. This is an album which infuriates and delights by equal measure throughout its massive duration. It could have been so much better if they'd taken a pair of sharp scissors to it and cut it down to a single 75 minute monster disc. It's almost certainly not going to appeal to many 'Prog Archive' listeners I can guarantee that. Ah well, at the end of the day it's good for scaring children.

 Gesture Signal Threat by ZOVIET FRANCE album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.00 | 1 ratings

Gesture Signal Threat
Zoviet France Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars Another swirling reversed patchwork of tribalistic weirdness from Zoviet France.

Morphed, twanging strings of unknown origin strum as subdued fake ethnic chants open 'Gesture, Signal Threat'. Odd little whistling instruments are layered throughout 'Gllisten'. It's a repetitive swirling track that makes you feel you're listening to music whilst in a coma. Unfortunately it ends as a few tracks do on this recording with a huge rush of static buzz which is enough to make you jump out of your skin if listening on headphones.

Literally every sound is played in reverse in 'Host' - which is pretty much par for the course as far as Zoviet France go. In many ways, listening to their albums is similar to lying in a hospital bed where the only sense available to you is hearing. Devoid of all human contact and being totally alone.

Coming to terms with 'Gesture, Signal, Threat' is a tough proposition in that it's unlike anything else in the Archives.It is however similar to everything Zoviet France recorded from this era.

Wooden and almost prehistoric xylophone runs rampant throughout 'Signal 8'. All the while strange whooping backward instrumentation wheezes in the background. Another of those intensely annoying static clicks at 100% volume makes your heart leap into your throat. It almost sounds like a production fault, but is clearly intentional.

A one note spooky bass throb which sounds like an elastic band twanged at low speed introduces 'Threat' as high pitched vocals warble in a non-human manner as time tunnel swooshes, full of reverb and echo proceed to the end of this most typical of Zoviet France tunes.

The seven minute 'Grote' cools it a bit with the overloaded effects and instead offers a strange extreme stereo approach using 'Wicker Man' percussion with blobs and beats of wooden bells. This sounds very ritualistic and rather sinister as you can hear faint tribal vocal grumblings in the background. It's good barbecue music if you fancy battering away at empty plastic tubs and plant pots as someone cooks the food.

The lengthiest track follows with 'Blow' - an utterly destroyed tune that was once possibly lovely, now reduced to a cacophony of electronically filtered noise which belongs in 'Eli Roth's' 'Begotten' film. A sickly and disorientating malaise of sound.

The final track named 'Bran' returns to that weird floaty indescribable percussion that only Zoviet France seem to have mastered. Whistles are squashed through more effect units of unknown origin. A truly bizarre album if you're new to the band, but no surprises at all if you've heard anything before or after 'Gesture, Signal Threat'.

Another successful recording in the Zoviet France catalogue which is spoiled by huge bursts of static noise at one or two points. This one is a shimmering, creepy and non linear oddity and is as good a place as any to start if you haven't heard them.

 Just An Illusion  by ZOVIET FRANCE album cover Studio Album, 1990
5.00 | 1 ratings

Just An Illusion
Zoviet France Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
5 stars Presented in a spectacular wooden cigar box, 'Just An Illusion' is a box I would never dream of putting a cigar in. It's too precious to me. 'Just An Illusion' Is a conglomeration of 'Musique Concrete' and Ambient music. It's much softer but still as weird as any of Zoviet France's previous recordings.

Playful, Sprightly oriental strings and ethnic vocals appear on 'Lief Lulla' which sounds like it could originate anywhere from Helsinki to Vladivostok. Being heavily mixed through a delay filter makes this all the more difficult to comprehend.

The American spoken vocal 'But Is it all just an illusion' is almost the only vocal you'll hear on this entire album. It's also used in ''Nachtmaal' - a track that sounds like a scene from the David Lynch film 'Eraserhead' - where an unimaginably stretched out vocal pours over an outstretched drone.

Pottery clay work and wooden objects pitter patter as extremely unusual strings play in the track 'Wood Stock'. This is a hypnotic tune that segues into the even more dreamy 'Nature But Not', with it's odd twangy thrumming and quietly industrial pumps and squeaks.

The beautiful 'Ascend A Fall' follows with echoed chiming metal bars immersed in very pretty filtered vocals. Undoubtedly the best tune on the album, it spans over 7 minutes. Every second is bliss to my ears. It's so beautifully slow and unaware of time, where everything is stripped to an absolute minimum, as gorgeous horn like objects recite a tune while fluttering percussion occasionally passes by. Easily one of Zoviet France's most memorable tracks. Fans of Harold Budd and Eno will love this.

The more repetitive 'Caught in a Square' revolves and mutates around a single chord that sweeps and morphs in a dizzying manner from ear to ear. It lifts imperceptibility to an altogether higher plane of ghostliness as curious twangs, throbs and ululating male vocals are threshed through God knows what effect units. It leaves you with a completely alien sounding medley of circular devolving loops that deteriorate into a thing of beauty with 3 minutes to go during this 14 minute track. Clearly Zoviet France had no idea of pace or tune. Everything was allowed to develop at it's own unearthly pace. It all sounds so natural and beautiful. Where every chime and pulse is where it's meant to be.

Sounds from the Pittsburgh steelworks follow where looped metal and whines are delicately played in a very pretty track named 'Swelled Out Downward'. An industrial recording with a difference in that it's very clearly recorded and is easy on the ears.

Larger percussive loops which are deliberately out of synch bring forth a more doom laden atmosphere in 'Signing Papal Briefs'. Replete with haunting high pitched vocals. This is sure to give any listener shivers up the spine.

A murmuring throb is the best way to describe 'Is It?.' It's very David Lynch ' Twin Peaks' - style, where, sickening grumbles and backwards slabs of noise and vocals pulse. This ever threatening track continues for 5 minutes.

Plucked home-made strings and horns that defy description play around in 'Mute Moon'. This sounds as much 'Cherokee' Indian as it does 'Aborigine Australian'.

Two short bizarre tracks are tagged on at the end. Both are excellent, one is instrumental and the other is an ethnic sounding Red Indian chant where seriously damaged vocals are repeated with huge echo to fade.

This is just too good for 4 stars but I have to admit it barely scrapes 5. In my books I can't find a thing wrong with it other than the fact that others may find it overlong and repetitive - a bit like this review eh folks?.

 Music for a Spaghetti Western by ZOVIET FRANCE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.00 | 2 ratings

Music for a Spaghetti Western
Zoviet France Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If ever an album title didn't fit the music within, this surely has to be it. There's nothing Western or spaghetti on display whatsoever.

Steve Reich's 1968 vocal loop experiment 'Come Out' springs to mind whilst listening to the infuriatingly repetitive opener in what is otherwise an excellent album that was strangely sidelined in 1986 and didn't see the light of day until 2005. Perhaps they were ashamed by the embarrassment of riches released during that year? Continuously looped spoken vocals are repeated to distraction. Thankfully things pick up when we hear American political speeches as thrumming strings and bouncy percussion enliven proceedings.

Once again - the longest track on a Zoviet France the album is the best. This time it's at a duration of 30 minutes. A tune appears to play in reverse with sweeping electronic effects until some ghostly stretched male vocals materialise. They're no ordinary vocals of course and are so delayed they sound like keyboards. Plucked percussion thrust through some seriously damaged echo effects then follow, surprisingly it leads to a very laid back and atmospheric track which plods along very slowly in a Brian Eno kind of manner. Layer upon layer of heavily treated vocals are heaped upon one another as alien strings twang and warble in the most inscrutable of manner.

Wobbly back to front bells and shimmering gongs fill up the next few eccentric minutes. It's just a pity that it doesn't flow seamlessly. You can tell it's a patchwork of unreleased material due to the miniscule fragments of silence between parts that join each other. A long, groaning throbbing bass with high pitched floating flute of indeterminate origin recurs for the next 10 minutes or so. Relentless Red Indian wig-wam camp fire drumming is finally broken up by airborne wind instruments during this next mysterious section which repeats to fade.

Warped muddy metallic sounds played in reverse announce the introduction of the final part of 'Music for a Spaghetti Western. David Lynch films spring to mind where evil deep vocals appear and vapourise just as quickly. Extreme stereo is used where plaintive vocals bounce from ear to ear along with bass-like horns. This is a Haunted house of cobwebs in which no living beings reside.

 Untitled by ZOVIET FRANCE album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.98 | 3 ratings

Zoviet France Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A totally chaotic recording, without rhyme or reason. it's raw and abrasive in execution. Cheap technological recording techniques are used throughout this self titled album that is full of primitive looping.

This untitled album originally came in a painted Hessian bag - and has been known since as 'Hessian'. It's damn aggressive and completely tuneless but is compelling listening nonetheless. You could easily be forgiven for thinking that this was recorded by the inmates in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'. Honestly folks, this is completely away with the bees.

'Ritual' kick starts their long discography off with peculiar wailing pipes and flute before some very heavy banging of drums and many demented screams and shouts. Believe it or not, there's even some straight electric guitar in there! It is however a totally bonkers recording with brutal stabs of horns at high volume intruding at many points. This is probably the only time they sounded like 'Throbbing Gristle'

'Mudbast Boys' reveals the only occasion I can recall hearing a real human voice on a Zoviet France recording. You probably won't like it though - as all thats uttered is 'Ok Boys' as battered irregular drums and a wildly out of tune piano flap about your face like a great big annoying moth.

'Sem Boys' displays the ugly raw, abrasive side to Zoviet France. It's the only tune I can think of where no effects are used at all. Everything is recorded at source in its original form. The funny thing is - they sound like a bunch of Comanche Indians.

Possibly one of the most annoying tunes of all time follows with 'Bring Hessa' a repetitive vocal diatribe which repeats the words 'Bring in Sheeves' but on listening sounds maddeningly like 'Bring in Cheese'. It reminds me a lot of the Roger Waters/Ron Geesin collaboration from 1970 - with all that whispering tomfoolery. Band members giggling in the background during the recording do not add to the finished product. Well, one thing's for sure. Once you've heard it you won't forget it. Believe me...

An unexpected tuneless funky bass brings in the 12 minute 'Ji Boys' which has a plenitude of destroyed piano and broken up percussion. Almost like a jig-saw that has been thrown up in the air in a fit of rage at being unable to find the missing piece. Five minutes in and things go totally AWOL - where blatantly loud clipped reverse drums and truly deranged bass guitar hammer out tuneless tones in this angriest of Zoviet France recordings. Those guitars come back in their shrilling, piercing manner which only adds to a fabulous ending.

The damage was done earlier on - in particular that 'Bring Hessa' track which is enough to try the patience of a Saint.

 A Flock of Rotations by ZOVIET FRANCE album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.00 | 2 ratings

A Flock of Rotations
Zoviet France Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'A Flock of Rotations' is an aptly named album for this collection of shorter Zoviet France tracks which only has a running time of 36 minutes. It has a theme running throughout, of sorts. It may be tenuous, but for the first 20 minutes it sounds like something is trying to break out from the inside of a short-wave radio.

A shouting garbled vocal from what sounds like the top of an Iranian Minaret introduces listeners to yet another highly peculiar and strangely alluring recording by Zoviet France. Large scraping noises burst in at various points which leads into 'Drive' - a rotating, swirling hotch-potch of what could be anything from a guitar to a dying badger. It's simply impossible to define the source of any one sound. Instead we're left with a kaleidoscopic maelstrom of oddness.

Things get more abrasive in the 30 second snippet 'Skritha' before 'Slide' does that thing that only Zoviet France can do. Ethnic percussion stuck through filter machines, gizmos and gadgets leave you wondering what on earth you just heard. The strange thing with this mob is that everything sounds vaguely musical after multiple listens. Newcomers would just look at you in confused bewilderment with a big frown on the face if you played this to them.

Something utterly strange is looped backwards in 'Mandrel'. I'm at a loss as to reveal what. Perhaps it's a guitar plucked with a fish head? 'Skratte' has some semblance of a human vocal permeating from the depths of hell. Another of those tracks which sounds like a ritualistic sacrfrice to the God 'Pan' in an empty dark 14th Century Church.

Reverberating tiny struck objects echoed to oblivion are what you'll hear on 'Ions Collis'. A shimmering, ethereal creepfest as if everything is bouncing off obsidian mirrors during 'Walpurgisnacht'.

There are what sound like oriental strings on 'Luh' - twisted and deformed as you'd by now expect. There's no real tune - but they pluck away sounding quite beautiful and pleasing to the ear until a slab of 'musique concrete' rears its ugly head in the background.

'Luh Windan' sums this album up in one fell swoop. Elements from all previous tunes appear but in a manner where you're not sure if you've actually heard them before. Things come to a fitting conclusion with 'Dream Hole' replete with a high pitched bouncing fake piano and deep foreboding human grumblings in the background. This actually sounds like the end of '2001 Space Oddysey' where 'Dave' is being observed by aliens in that bright white room.

A good enough album, but is quite forgettable amongst the collection of diamonds they recorded in the mid-eighties.

 :Garista:  by ZOVIET FRANCE album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.95 | 2 ratings

Zoviet France Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is the darkest and most unsettling of all Zoviet France albums. It's also their most unhinged, and next to their first release, the most unmusical. In my books that's no bad thing because it contributes to one very original recording, despite the technology used in its execution.

'Garista' is the second 'Zoviet France' release and is a big step up in construction from the first self titled album earlier in the same year. The best word for Zoviet France at this time is 'serendipity' - where by happy accident the Lo-Fi manner in which it's recorded actually contributes to the sound in 2013.

It's probably their most abrasive album. Certainly their most completely mental, where the best way to describe it to a newcomer would be to imagine the baddie from 'Blair Witch Project' making the recording just after she's tied that guy who's tooth was found outside the tent up to a tree, and is leaping about maniacally around him shouting and screaming in his face. Confrontational and very alien.

You could be forgiven for mistaking 'Scrama Mdags' for mid term 'Throbbing Gristle'. Hugely distorted flanges of screeching objects and grizzly chopped up electric guitar are the order of the day here.

Track two - 'Moshas' has what sounds like a kids piano and bashed metallic drums that are severely echoed, along with what will be their trademark - indescribable homemade horns and flutes that sound of no earthly origin. A monstrous, deep, wolf-like wordless vocal groans in the foreground which should be enough to make you spit out your wine in a choking fit.

'Mama Piss' continues in this vocal form but is joined by other band members adding delerious ritualistic wails and moans with someone clearly finding the whole thing funny, judging by his uninhibited guffaws.

'Nruknesh' is the track where the 'Blair Witch' imigary really starts to disturb. High pitched vocal screeches and barks makes this one intense and bellicose track.

Come to think of it 'Caarcuraz' is even heavier in atmosphere with a wailing adult human sounding like an infant backed by storms of electronic noise and wind-like gadgetry that is pugnacious in nature.

'M1 M1 M1' sports what sounds like enormously stretched out car horns whilst little bells and clunking reverbed metal sheets reverberate in alarming stereo. Those wordless, growling animalistic vocals still threaten throughout like a pack of wolves, as the effects become more extreme the longer it plays.

By far the longest tune on 'Garista' is the album ender with 'Rang Mabasm', which clocks in at over 14 minutes. As always, the longer tracks seem to be where the band are most comfortable, where proceedings get to evolve at a more natural pace. The piercing vocal that shouts 'Bobo Garista' will have you mouthing the words to yourself at the most inappropriate moments afterwards. Pots, pans, sticks, vocals and weird electric warbles are all diced up willy-nilly as things get ever more frantic and maniacal the longer it progresses. Some mental bloke starts giving it hell-for-leather with two minutes to go as the chopped percussion and drums go into overdrive in what is surprisingly the most cohesive track on the album.

What is probably the most tuneless recording in the entire 'Prog Archive' holds a special place in my heart. These guys were clearly 'away with the bees' whilst recording this noisy monstrosity. Overall, it has stood the test of time where in a world three decades ago a new branch of music originated in Britain - 'Post Industrial'. It won't appeal to many, especially Genesis and Yes fans, but this means far more to me than the aforementioned.

 Shadow, Thief Of The Sun  by ZOVIET FRANCE album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.95 | 3 ratings

Shadow, Thief Of The Sun
Zoviet France Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This Zoviet France recording is quite a departure from previous releases being far more ambient in nature.

'In My Secrecy I Was Real' comprises one long continuous airborne chord as hugely reverbed male vocals shimmer and flurry in a wordless haze. The almost Tibetan sounding horns are a useful addition but overall this should be half of its eight minute duration as very little changes despite the pleasant whipped reverse notes. This is as minimal as Zoviet France sounded during their previous nine years worth of output. Everything sounds hot and steamy from here on until the central defining track 'Come Infinite'

'Feel The Warmth' is full of vocals that are so heavily treated that they don't even sound human. They're looped continuously as a booming echoing clap of thunder rattles from ear to ear.

Surprisingly the production on this one is poorer than anything since '87. The quiet parts are fine, but all loud noises sound a bit distorted. The eight minute 'This Moment Obscure' continues with another one chord floaty keyboard note. This time however, there's a lot more activity involved. A multitude of lop-sided and backward objects are at play along with some pretty cool, almost tuneful droning vocals.

Do you remember in the old days when cassettes used to mess up and distort so badly that certain segments played in the opposite direction? Well that's probably the best way to describe 'Shadow, Thief of the Sun'. Here, however, it's all very clear sounding and very deliberate.

'A Democratic Smirk' - displays the more 'musique concrete' side of the band - very much like 'Cair Camouflet' from 88's 'Look into Me'. There's some annoying distortion on the louder parts which distracts and in all honesty isn't one of their more memorable moments. It sounds like a heavily amplified version of someone rubbing the rim of a wine glass with their finger.

Thankfully the highlight of this album is also the longest with 'Come Infinite' clocking in at a respectable 20.46 mins. Huge horns bellow and caterwaul from the outset whilst puny flutes tunefully but morbidly whistle away in a downbeat atmosphere. It's like the sound of dying whales where the electronics used remind me of waves crashing on an empty beach. After 7 minutes it all becomes rather beautiful and ambient where echoes and drones are at the forefront along with a few clanking objects that are electronically decayed beyond recognition. At 10 mins there's some wonderfully breathy horns that are at once tuneless and beautiful at the same time. They sound like the pipes used in the film 'Aguirre Wrath of God' - the bits where Klaus Kinski goes completely bonkers. They are however progressively and heavily manipulated by extreme filters leaving us with a more industrial 'Stalingrad 1943' sort of feeling. If the whole album sounded like this it would have been a dead cert five star effort.

'Thin Air' is played almost entirely in reverse. Idiosyncratic vocal grumbles, more horns (only this time muted) and a wildly flailing single electronic bass chord are what you get here.

Messed up South American Aztec percussion is the best way to describe what happens in 'Cahl-Yn-Yan'. They've still got that pretty little flute thing going on, but things sound decidedly creepy with those phased and morphed vocals.

Things get a bit on the dreary side with a tune that outstays its welcome with 'Static Fields'. It's pretty enough, but doesn't really add to anything that has gone before. Bloops and wheeps and more reedy electronic pipes see things to a conclusion.

Pleasingly 'Shadow, Thief of the Sun' has an excellent closing tune in 'Ciels Tenebreuse'. A mellow, shimmering mirage with almost Jon Hassell sounding horns and yet more backward vocals. One thing's for sure - they certainly became calmer and more ambient towards the end.

This was pretty much it folks... Robin Storey left afterwards, they released a few live albums all of which were pretty good, and a couple of studio albums too, but their best years were behind them. A window of nine years in which some of the most wonderfully original and unusual music of the 20th Century was recorded. Not by a big name in a flush studio with promotional backing, but by a small outfit of a bunch of ordinary guys from Newcastle. It makes you think doesn't it?

I've got around 5000 cd's, and I have to say that Zoviet France are quite probably my favourite band of all time. Oh - and If you want to buy this you can virtually write it off as a no hoper. This is one of of the most difficult to find in their entire discography. Sorry for wasting your time...

Thanks to philippe for the artist addition.

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