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Zeuhl definition

Zeuhl is an adjective in Koba´an, the language written by Christian Vander, drummer and founder of the French band Magma.

Pronunciation: zEU(h)l, while the EU are like a French E with a slight U, and the (h) is a semi-silent letter which is an integrated part of the EU, totaling in a "syllable and a half".

The word means celestial, although many times it is misunderstood as meaning "celestial music", since the members of Magma describe the genre of their music as Zeuhl. Zeuhl Wortz, though, means Music of the universal might.

The genre is a mixture of musical genres like Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Modernism and Fusion. Common elements: oppressive or discipline-conveying feel, marching themes, throbbing bass, an ethereal piano or Rhodes piano, and brass instruments.

Current team members (20/05/2016):
Raffaella (Raff)
Luca (octopus-4)
Ian (Nogbad_The_Bad)
Keishiro (DamoXt7942)
Ori (frippism)

Zeuhl Top Albums

Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Zeuhl | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.31 | 842 ratings
4.27 | 586 ratings
4.25 | 424 ratings
4.28 | 188 ratings
4.19 | 446 ratings
4.19 | 291 ratings
4.22 | 167 ratings
4.15 | 327 ratings
4.12 | 358 ratings
4.11 | 404 ratings
4.43 | 57 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.43 | 56 ratings
Thibault, Laurent
4.16 | 119 ratings
Top, Jannick
4.04 | 390 ratings
4.14 | 113 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.31 | 46 ratings
Bondage Fruit
4.06 | 109 ratings
4.09 | 83 ratings
Universal Totem Orchestra
4.06 | 94 ratings
Eider Stellaire
4.08 | 75 ratings

Zeuhl overlooked and obscure gems albums new

Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Zeuhl experts team

Seffer, Yochk'o
Happy Family

Latest Zeuhl Music Reviews

 Pourquoi Es-Tu Si MÚchant? by SUPER FREEGO album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.23 | 7 ratings

Pourquoi Es-Tu Si MÚchant?
Super Freego Zeuhl

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I'm not too surprised that there's no written reviews for this one as it is quite rare. Released back in 1982 this particular album was advertised as a Zeuhl/ New Wave cross and that's a pretty good description. I took the plunge because I am a fan of both, especially Zeuhl so I was intrigued to say the least. SUPER FREEGO were a French band with male and female vocals which are shared quite evenly and often singing together. The biggest surprise for me was seeing that the Guillard brothers are both on here playing sax and trumpet respectively. They certainly give this some authenticity in Zeuhl circles as these two guys played with MAGMA and were part of WEIDORJE as well.

The music is often hyper which I have never liked. It's why I have had trouble getting into some of the Avant and Zeuhl bands from Japan who like to go a million miles an hour, just not my scene. Anyway it's mostly the vocals that turn me off especially when they turn theatrical and they are often the focus. Now having said that the instrumental work is faultless. Man the bass player kills on here as well as the drummer. Some inventive guitar playing here as well but as I said earlier it's hard to get past the vocals at times. It's catchy and uptempo with vocals in French.

Keep in mind this is rated fairly highly by a lot of music fans who know a lot more about music than I do, but all I know is that it doesn't suit my tastes more often than not despite being impressed many, many times throughout this 35 plus minutes of music. I just get irritated with the frenzied vocals and sound at times. And on a final note the album art is just plain bad in my opinion. Glad I got to finally spin this though.

 Mekan´k Kommand÷h by MAGMA album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.67 | 97 ratings

Mekan´k Kommand÷h
Magma Zeuhl

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

3 stars After a pair of wild and unhinged jazz-rock fusion albums that introduced the world to the strange world of the fictitious world of Kobaia invented by the fertile mind of founder and drumming leader Christian Vander, he and his band MAGMA streamlined their sound significantly. Although their self-invented zeuhl sound had emerged already on the first album, it was a subordinate element surrounded by a smorgasbord of a million others. On their third album "MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h" the band created their first album that totally fit in with their new found focused sound and in the process created their most acclaimed record even ranking as 33rd greatest French rock album of all time according to Rolling Stone. Despite those impressive creds, the album didn't start out so perfect and the band originally turned in a more stripped down version in early 1973 but was refused by the record company and who sent them back to the drawing board which would end up finally being released in December of the same year.

MEKAN¤K KOMMANDÍH is that stripped down first version of "MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h" and was released in 1989 at the tail end of a decade of laying low when the progressive rock world trickled down to a mere pittance of its former 70s heyday. The similarities between the two releases is obvious but the differences are staggering in their impact. While the second rendition contained a whopping 13 members which included brass, flute, bass clarinet and seven vocal parts, the first version MEKAN¤K KOMMANDÍH included a modest seven members with only three of them uttering vocalizations of any sort. One of the greatest differences in this version is the introduction where Christian Vander offers some sort of Kobaian speech that sounds like some sort of declaration of war in their invented language which was nixed from the more famous "MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h."

Despite being a good decision to release it in a more perfect form, MEKAN¤K KOMMANDÍH gives a clue to the intent of the music somewhat. This album in its stripped down form really sounds like some sort of Teutonic march across the lands on their way to plunder, pillage and lay waste to any village that stands in its way. This is more pronounced as Vander's virtuosic drum antics are more in the forefront minus the inclusion of the smoothing out effect of the horn sections. While more dramatic in nature, this version also has the tendency to become a bit monotonous as well as somewhere around twenty minutes into the thunderous march the vocal tradeoffs tend to seem a little silly as the call-and-response effect carry on and on and on a wee bit too long and with minimal instrumental distractions to be found makes it all the more prominent. While the instruments are scarce by comparison, Zander rocks the house as expected but also of high caliber are the combo effect of bassist Jean Pierre Lambert and Jean Luc Manderlier's phenomenal piano and organ segments.

MEKAN¤K KOMMANDÍH can only be taken as supplemental MAGMA material for as good as it is, it pales in comparison to the more MAGMA-nanimous "MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h." I feel the original record company made the right decision to put these guys back to work as this version in its proto-scaffolding form sounds way too much like the Karl Orff cantina "Carmina Burana" which has always provided a wealth of influence in the overall Magma sound. Without all those jazzy brassy instruments adding extra layers of atmosphere and counter-bombast, the overall feel comes off as a bona fide Orff tribute album albeit more in a rock context. While personally these kinds of releases from the vaults type of albums don't usually do it for me, this one is an interesting way to hear how the ideas were layered over time.

I came across this one in a very strange way. This was my first MAGMA album which i mistook for "MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h." My initial reaction was a scratching of the head because i couldn't figure out why it was deemed in such high regard. Once i figured out that this was nothing more than a rough draft / first edition and finally heard the final cut, it all made sense. I avoided this one for a while simply because of that bad taste involved but now that i'm checking it out in a fresh clean slate, i have to admit that it's actually a pretty good album in its own right, it's just not on par with the much improved second rendition. Definitely a must for MAGMA fans but certainly not the place to begin exploration of their discography and eccentric career. Just be careful and don't assume that everything with the two invented words MEKAN¤K KOMMANDÍH in the title are the same. Even the bonus track of the same name on newer editions of "MŰkan´k DŰstrukt´ẁ K÷mmand÷h" is a different version. Now how's that for confusing? Ugh.

3.5 rounded down

 Mathematical Mother by UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.43 | 57 ratings

Mathematical Mother
Universal Totem Orchestra Zeuhl

Review by HarmonyDissonan


I highly enjoyed Universal Totem Orchestra's first two albums! And although I never critiqued them and it's been a while since I've listened to them (man's time is so finite) they would both have been in the 4 to 4.5 range. Both great albums themselves! Now their new album Mathematical Mother, has seen UTO take that step up to the 5 star plateau without a millisecond of hesitation on my part! And here I go contradicting myself, the last two songs seem to lose a quarter step on the rest of the album without affecting it's stance in the least bit. And yet when I listened to them first while preparing to write this critique, they both stood very well on their own! One of the elements that I feel I want to mention is the female vocal parts. Although I am not always a great fan of female vocalists, it works very well here and I can't help but feel as though I hear late 60's pop music jazz vocalizing going on to amazingly wonderful effect.What an album!! As I listened to it this morning, the description that kept coming to mind was transcendent music that hearkens to the Grace that transcends absolute nothingness. It is the deepest grove music I feel I've every come across! What an F'in' album! I can't imagine this album not being on many a best of 2016 lists! Wow! I do not hesitate to recommend this album! I can't wait to turn others on to this great piece of art! With that I bid you all farewell. Take care and enjoy God's gift of music!

 Mathematical Mother by UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.43 | 57 ratings

Mathematical Mother
Universal Totem Orchestra Zeuhl

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars

This band was originally formed as an offshoot of Runaway Totem, which probably goes some way to explaining why they released their debut in 1999, their follow-up in 2008, and this their third in 2016. They are often described as Zeuhl within the prog world, but I'm not convinced myself that the term has a great deal of merit outside of Magma, so let's instead keep this simple. However one wants to classify this album, or whatever sub-genre one wants to put it in, it can all be said in one little word, "beautiful".

Whether it is the soaring classical vocals, the perfect piano accompaniment, the amazing bass, or the move between jazz, fusion, funk, classical, Arabian and progressive styles, it really is the only word that matters. This is a delicate album with instrumental passages that are dynamic and powerful, with vocals that can be strident or fragile, with everything always working together in perfect harmony. Some of the guitar on opener "Terra Cava" is sublime, and it shows that even proggers can shred when they wish to, it's just that they often don't want to. At fourteen minutes long, this is an epic song in so many ways, not just in length, but in the sheer complexity and the way that all the passages make sense individually and come together to create a whole that is breathtaking both in its complexity and melody.

'Mathematical Mother' is a very special album, one that is incredibly complex and intricate, yet also very easy to listen to, and totally enjoyable the very first time it is played. Let's hope we don't have to wait quite so long for the next one.

 Mathematical Mother by UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.43 | 57 ratings

Mathematical Mother
Universal Totem Orchestra Zeuhl

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

5 stars When the band is categorized as Zeuhl, it seems to trigger a lot of debate and criticism. "Quixotic" is a word used in the band bio here. U. T. O. from Italy started out as an offshoot of a Zeuhl band Runaway Totem. Personally I knew nothing about this group or its origins in advance, when I was asked to review their latest (third) album. I recognize notable similarities with MAGMA - which has been a hard bone for me but which I have learned to appreaciate thanks to my prog friends. But I daresay this music sounds more eclectic and flexible in all its extreme complexity, and perhaps more impressive, than Magma averagely. The excellently produced sound features both eletcricity and acoustic approach (piano, saxophone, percussions), being occasionally slightly jazzy. The bass playing of Yanik Lorenzo Andreatta is marvelous.

The main vocalist Ana Torres Fraile is amazingly talented. She uses her strong and clear voice masterfully, from the operatic and Gothic soprano wailing to more intimate singing. The lyrics are in Italian; I have no idea about the textual contents. Occasionally there are also choir-like male backing vocals, but this music is not vocal-oriented, at least not in the common sense of the word. As with Magma's use of Koba´an language, the voice is pretty much like another instrument, and there are plenty of more or less pure instrumental sections too. The epic opener 'Terra Cava' (14:06) is a good example of that. It is truly gorgeous, actually so beautiful and perfectionistic piece of complex-and-yet-naturally-flowing prog that the expectations for the whole album are dangerously high. 'Codice Y16' attempts to pack a lot of things within 5 min 21 sec, sounding quite restless.

'Elogio del Dubbio' shifts from Gentle Giant-ish funkiness to ethereal Dead Can Dance -resemblance with Oriental flavour (tabla). Well, if there is a problem with this album, for me personally I mean, it's the occasional thought of overblown eclectic complexity. but then I'm disarmed once again by the serene and acoustic beauty in the beginning of 'Architettura dell'Acqua', the second longest track (11:27) that rivals the magnificent opener. 'Citta Infinite' has jazziness, operatic/Gothic flavour and instrumental excellence, for example in the form of a vibe solo by one of the guest musicians. Perhaps the closing track is a bit too restless (especially for the rhythmic complexity), as is the album in general, for my personal taste, but I certainly recognize highly original prog excellence when I hear it. In a word, this album is amazing. If you like complexity, operatic female vocals, superb use of instruments and bands as varied as GENTLE GIANT, MAGMA and DEAD CAN DANCE, you'll love this one.

 Mathematical Mother by UNIVERSAL TOTEM ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.43 | 57 ratings

Mathematical Mother
Universal Totem Orchestra Zeuhl

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Is there such a thing as electronic zeuhl? Apparently, the answer is "yes", and Universal Totem Orchestra's Mathematical Mother delivers a great steaming slab of it. Keyboardist Fabrzio Mattuzzi is the star player on this one, unleashing gibbering synthesisers on an unsuspecting listener. A substantial improvement over the previous The Magus, which I found a bit uninspiring, Mathematical Mother is Universal Totem Orchestra's most successful union of zeuhl, symphonic, and other prog styles yet, creating a thoroughly original sound which any fan of avant-prog will find a joy to digest. Ana Torres Fraile is backed by a range of supporting vocalists to provide crucial additional texture.
 Mythes Et LÚgendes, Volume III by MAGMA album cover DVD/Video, 2007
4.83 | 63 ratings

Mythes Et LÚgendes, Volume III
Magma Zeuhl

Review by UselessPassion

5 stars If I were to recommend one of the Epok series to a Magma newcomer, it would definitely be this one.

This setlist showcases Magma's range quite well, from the dark, oppressive atmosphere of Kohntarkosz to the uplifting neo-gospel stylings of Linhs and 'm'hnt'ht-R', as well as the more accessible jazz fusion stylings of Nono and The Last Seven Minutes. This setlist feels rich and fulfilling and hits all of the major emotional beats one expects from this incredible group of musicians, from the crushing weight of hell, to moments of poignant reflection and finally to the heights of ecstasy.

This particular DVD, Epok III, sees a considerable step up in sound quality compared to the last two releases. Christian Vander's drums are more appropriately mixed, still full of nuance and texture but not as overbearing and overtly harsh as they were at times on Epok I and II.

While Magma are excellent on album, they're truly a world apart when performing live and thanks to these DVDs, we finally have a small fraction of this integral part of their legacy available on relatively high quality video and audio. The performances here are precise and charged, and although the sound and video quality still isn't quite as fantastic as it could be, it captures far more than any other live Magma offering to date has managed.

If you're new to the group or already a fan of the studio albums (but have never heard Magma live and in high quality,) this DVD and the next in the series, Epok IV, constitutes the holy grail of zeuhl. The apocalypse of humanity has never sounded quite so beautiful.

 New Pleasure by NEW PLEASURE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2017
3.05 | 2 ratings

New Pleasure
New Pleasure Zeuhl

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

3 stars As though we stood upon another seashore in front of a newer musical mixture. A Canadian rock project NEW PLEASURE were founded in Edmonton as a key-synth-percussion-based chamber duo influenced by Zeuhl / RIO / Avantgarde progressive scene. This eponymous debut creation was released in April 2017 veiled in a fuzzy, vague picture-printed sleeve (really wondering if they are a duo or not). And as the sleeve pic says, their interpretation for avantgarde sounds minimalistic, sometimes pessimistic, and obscure, dry- fruity like Krautrock.

Yes their avantgarde melodic / rhythmic strides tinged with post-rock convolution and Krautrock dizziness reminds me of an electronic / Kraut oddball Kuppulung. On the other hand, for example via "In Tongues" it's amazing we can hear some Zeuhlish mysterious addictive melody distortion. So wonderful deep, heavy, complex sound theater can be screwed into our ears as if they are not duo nor chamber but temporarily orchestrated like in "The Clock". Generally a chamber duo cannot do a lot but their "limited" work full of minimalistic ambience with various rock essence is fine. Looking forward to their next stage ... what and how they will create in future.

 Kawana by ZAO album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.07 | 42 ratings

Zao Zeuhl

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

5 stars With a line-up of musicians such as this you really shouldn't go wrong:

- Franšois Cahen / Yamaha acoustic piano, Fender electric piano, Korg synthesizer - Didier Lockwood / acoustic & electric violin, artianal bass violin - GÚrard PrÚvost / Fender bass, hors phase bass, acoustic bass - Yochk'o Seffer / Soprano & Sopranino saxes, vocals, piano on F.F.F. - Jean-My Truong / orange double drums

1. "Natura" (7:03) sounds so much like a modern Pat Metheny Group epic--but it pre-dates all that! Piano, chunky and jazzy bass, and nasal soprano (sopranino?) sax all sound good together. Jean-My is a little quiet. (9/10)

2. "Tserouf" (8:59) a very tight funky jazz fusion song that could have come off of any of the American masters of the era--Miles, Chick, Stanley, Zawinal, even JLPonty, Area or Bob James! Great song. Very melodic. (9.5/10)

3. "F.F.F. (Fleurs for Faton)" (2:34) very nice little musical Útude performed by piano, acoustic violin and bowed double bass--like a gift from DÚbussy or FaurÚ. (9.5/10)

4. "Kabal" (4:14) very tightly performed, fast-paced opening before stepping down to a slower tempo at 0:50 for some synth work--but then things ramp up again with EVERYBODY getting into the act MAHAVISHNU style. The bass and drum work remain super tight and focused at the bottom throughout this display of virtuosity. (8.5/10)

5. "Sadie" (3:43) opens rather loosely, as if walking by a Jean-Luc Ponty-like street musician. The sopranino sax, bass, and electric violin melodies and harmonic support throughout this oft-shifting tempoed song are gorgeous. At 2:40 we are even treated to an overdubbed solo track for the violin. Nice. Creative, inventive song. (10/10)

6. "Free Folk" (10:44) there's a very relaxed vibe throughout this song--like a WEATHER REPORT song. As a matter of fact, there's very little here--or on this album--that harkens to Zeuhl music. Feels and sounds like the Zao crew has shaken loose from the Vander clutches and moved fully into the jazz fusion fold. Nicely done. Probably the weakest song on the album--almost anti-climactic fill--but still good. (8.5/10)

The question is: why is Jean-My Truong so sedate and/or mixed so low in the soundscape?

 Shekina by ZAO album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.88 | 45 ratings

Zao Zeuhl

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars Opening with one of my all-time favorite 'happy songs', "Joy!" (3:54) (10/10) a song that just grooves and gets into your bones so that you can't help but get up and dance, be happy, the rest of the album is interesting for the range of emotions it takes the listener through.

2. "Yen-Lang" (8:10) retains more of the band's Zeuhl foundations with its quiet start and slow build using a pulsing, bass-infused almost single chord (single key) melody line. Flute and strings are awesome on this one. (9/10)

3. "Zohar" (10:53) opens at breakneck speed with all band members laying it all on the line--though none more than drummer, Jean-My Truong. By the third minute the music transitions radically to an all-strings format. At 5:00 bass, drums, keys and percussion sneak back in while strings disappear. Cahen's experimentation with keyboard sound takes over for a bit. Though the band is tight in their occasional ensembleness, the song lacks cohesion and overall feels a bit more like a experiment in experimentalism. (8/10)

4. "Metatron" (8:17) opens with Zeuhlish voices and sax and bass before taking off on a run through a series of challenging sections of disciplined precision-timed chord sequences. At two minutes, driving bass and drum race us along while keys, horns and voices move at a deliberately contrasting snail's pace. Things finally shift around the frenetically paced drums as bass and keys open the way for some sax and keyboard solos. Very reminiscent of both Weather Report and even Brand X. Impressive song. Impressive drummer! (9/10)

5. "Zita" (4:38) opens quietly with strings and electric piano weaving into a little soundtrack chamber music exercise with a kind of sound similar to Eberhard Weber or Vangelis. The presence of the lone soprano voice slightly in the background is a cool effect. Beautiful and peaceful. (9.5/10)

6. "Bakus" (5:13) is just weirdness--though keys, bass and drums really put their Zeuhl chops on full display here. Really it's just Seffert's vocals--sounding more like the fore-runner of those from 21st Century Japanese bands Koenji Hyakkei or OOIOO. Solid song. (8/10)

Though Seffers, Cahen, PrÚvost and the rest of the band continue to move farther away from their Magma roots, and more into that of the Jazz-Rock/Fusion sub-genre, this is still an album I'd classify as 'Zeuhl'--unlike their next one, Kawana, which is pure jazz fusion (despite the addition of violinist Didier Lockwood). There's something I like so much about this album. Kind of like the way I feel about AREA's Arbeit Macht Frei versus the more polished and virtuosic follow up, Crac!

4.5 stars.

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Zeuhl bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
ALTA¤S France
ANAID France
ARKHAM Belgium
CORIMA United States
D▄N France
GA'AN United States
MAGMA France
NEOM France
NOA France
PSEU France
RH┘N France
SETNA France
VAK France
VAULTS OF ZIN United States
XING SA France
ZAO France

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