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Zao - Zao In Tokyo CD (album) cover





3.44 | 10 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars The return of Zao is a winning one. Recorded over two nights in June 04 during a tour of Japan with ain Soph, the album's selection of tracks shows the group is amazingly well-kept form. Indeed, you'd swear this is a late 70's recording, because the group's music seems as actual now as it did back then. Well today's version of Zao reunites the two masters: Faton Cahen on keyboards and Yochko Seffer on winds. Should one of these be missing, it wouldn't be Zao, no matter that Seffer ended up leaving after the fourth album in the mid-70's. Also of interest historical-fan note is Gerard Prévost's presence on bass, Dugrenot's successor at that instrument and present for three or for albums. No Truong in sight though, a younger François Causse, while Lockwood's violin will find refuge inside guest Akihisa Tsuboy's bow for one track; and on voices is the impressive Cynthia SaintVille. The artwork is surprisingly un-Zao-like with Fuji-Yama Mountain rather than the Zao logo in some shape or another.

While the sets of two nights were recorded, it appears that they both contained the very standard material or "classics", four from Cahen's Zeuhl catalogue and four from Seffer's Zeuhl vault. When I say that the selection has the usual classics, I mean that outside its post-millennium date of recording, the set-list could easily be the one of the glory years and you'll find a lot of similarities between this one and the other two live albums that Zao had released.

Classic tracks as Chardaz, Natura, Isis are all given the usual treatment, although the level of improvisation varies greatly, but overall, you'll have no problems recognising the tracks. The set- closing Zohar is more reserved for the solos, including the obligatory drums solo, always overstaying its welcome. Overall, I found that Seffer's playing has aged better than Cahen's who seems a bit immobile and rigid. Prévost's bass was never that of Dugrenot but is close enough for comfort.

However as was always the problem during the 70's, an album worth of studio Zeuhl material that lasted some 40 minutes is already difficult to sit through, in a live show lasting the double Live album, this sensation of bombardment with the same type of music is doubled; which is reached easily with Musea's choice to fill a double disc's content on one album. So you'll saturate easily and my guess is that you'll listen to it in halves. In either case, you'll find that Zao's latest album is not indispensable if you already own another live album.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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